DAVID CRITCHLEY
David Critchley studied at Stockport College, Newcastle Upon Tyne Polytechnic and the
Royal College of Art, London. One of the organisers of the influential series of installations
and media performances at 2B Butler's Wharf in the late 1970s, Critchley was also a central
figure in the organisation of London Video Arts from its inception in 1976, and as manager
between 1981-86. He taught video at the Slade, Chelsea and Croyden and was a visiting
lecturer at many UK art colleges in the late 70s and early 80s. His video artworks were
screened widely in the UK, in Europe, North America and worldwide. After LVA he formed
and ran the video production company Greenstreet Ltd until 1991. Now an art teacher, his
work combines video, photography and installations such as 'Cradle to Grave', a permanent
exhibit in the Wellcome Trust Gallery at the British Museum made in collaboration with
Pharmacopoeia-art.


PIECES I NEVER DID
David Critchley
1979
31 mins Colour Video

By 1979 when Pieces I Never Did was made, colour cameras, U-matic cassettes and a wider
range of colour monitors were available. Consequently I was able to visit many
performance, film, video, installation and sculpture ideas in the work.

Talking to camera, I described ideas that had never got beyond a note in a sketchbook.
Paradoxically, I was able to resurrect on video these items of personal performance that
had been edged out by the structuralism of early video art, such as shouting the words
"Shut Up!" until I lost my voice, having objects thrown at me until I changed colour, and
proposing to end the piece by blowing myself up. I intended the piece to be colourful and
action packed - far removed from the forty-minute single-take of 'Changing' in 1973.

Pieces I Never Did was probably the last piece of work I made which tried to reconcile some
of the material differences in the various media and methods I was using, and at the same
time presented a self critique and by inference a critique of other video art work going on at
that time. The work was intended to be screened on three monitors, and the thirty or so
sections of all three tapes were edited to run in analogue sync for the thirty-five minute
duration. This differed by fractions of a second from one screening to another depending
on how the pause and start buttons were pressed, in turn resulting in a very different sound
environment for the visuals to work in. In various combinations this work put together about
eighteen propositions for art works covering performance, film, video, installation and
sculpture.

The complexity of the video recording and editing in the making of this piece went far
beyond anything I had done before, yet was not the primary focus of the work. It is more
about the reading of each distinct piece as realised on video in one minute sections against
the justification for making them, or even thinking of them in the first place. It is about why
we make art at all. -- D.C.

FOOTNOTE 1 Pieces I Never Did was first screened as an installation of a work in progress
in a London Video Arts show at the Acme Gallery, Covent Garden (February 1979) Ian
Bourn showed Lenny's Documentary at the same event, and Helen Chadwick selected both
pieces for the 1979 Hayward Annual which was curated by several artists. Kevin Atherton
had been selected by another artist to show video, but when we saw the arrangements for
screening the video component of the exhibition - a small screened off area with a thinly
spread programme - Kevin and I objected and asked the Arts Council's representative for
equal billing with painting and sculpture in the form of a continuous display of each video
piece. This was seen to be too difficult technically, so Kevin and I withdrew our pieces from
that years Hayward Annual.