Michael Chernoff

Video Artist

Videosphere: You Are Always On A Screen Somewhere...

Surveillance Installation + Video Archeaology Lab
MFA Thesis  (2023)

“Videosphere” is a term coined by critic and theorist Gene Youngblood in the book Expanded Cinema (1979)

At the time of writing, Videosphere was a conceptualization of a new video enviornment influenced by the dominance of broadcast television as means of mass connectivity. As new video technologies infiltrated homes and industries, video would shape architecutral and metal space globally. Video colonizes real space with its live signal which turns all spaces into live and observable places. While we observe video we are simultaneously observed by a surveillance system of physical and virtual cameras existing within and around the interfaces of video screens. Wherever video occupies we ineivably appear on a screen somewhere else...

To represent this idea of the video environment of the Videosphere as a global surveillance space created by an infinite number of video devices, I assembled an installation of analog and digital video technology. The apparatus comprised of cathode ray and LCD monitors, digital projections, tablets, and a virtual reality headset provide individual sites of interactivity for audience members who become particpants in a performance with video. These sites of video as historical and interactive objects also made the Videosphere a labratory akin to the uses of panoptic surveillance (Foucault). The reason for this “Video Archeology Lab”  with different eras of technology was designed to show how the passage of electronic signals from one era to another reveals the purpose of video as an invisible medium meant to make all things totally observable. We become aware of a surveillance system by seeing ourselves in screens in the same enviornment that is simultaneously represented as video.

The spaces of physical and video signal are not truly seperate but indivisible as video has come to play an integral role as mass media and user interface. That the space outside and inside of video screens is equally observable.  Yet as an installation with overt channels of observation the shock of so many cables, cameras, and lit screens fades out as interactivity between the audience and their transmitted appearance erase fearfulness of this raw surveillance system. There is not even a point at which a human observer can see and not be seen in the classical sense of private surveillance. Instead what we get is video watching and appearing with/within in itself, waiting to be activated and observed. The Videosphere operates openly.

Exhibition Site Plan

Room One: Self-Surveillance

When first entering Videosphere, audiences are met with stacks of analog video monitors. Instead of centralized observation, the studio monitors are turned in differenct directions while security cameras watch the monitors. These old technologies provoke a sense of surprise and bewilderment upon seeing so many screens that are now obsolete but were once the dominant way of seeing information. But video image as a box is an “other” object that attracts viewers to see what exactly is on screen. What they got was the room it self on multiple closed-circuit feeds. Within monitor screens is the presence of the monitors. And when the audience aproaches the monitors, the vieweres themselves appear on one screen, then turn and see themselves elsewhere. A game begins where invidivuals try to figure out which cameras are connected to which monitors and what monitors are displayed. Knowing the locations of overt or open surveillance can be resolved by using one’s own body to activate screens. Interactions with self-image and the screen serve to help the viewer understand dislocated space.

Like Bruce Nauman’s Video Corridor, this room was effective in turning the screen into an object of curiosity which invites interactivity. All people present become incidental performers for screens whose cameras are merely surveilling surveillancy technology. The presence of a surveillance system is evident not only because of wires, cables, hums, and CCTV equipment but that the observation space is what is being observed and that surveillance is represented in its own private feed. What is creepy occurence of private video feeds made public turns surveillance  into an aproachable activity.

Whether the auddience members perform with their own image with sways and repeating motions or just watching the physcial and screen activity, nowhere can someone see Videosphere and not be seen by it.


Room Two

Black Partition Room 

Videosphere VR

In a room which was concealed by the white sheet projection and black plastic strips is where the  supposed final point of observation. In a 


Raw Build Images

Center For The Arts 278 Production Studio

Center For The Arts 271 Graduate Studio

Hours & Location

1270 Niagara Street Buffalo, NY 14213
2nd Floor Adjoined by Buffalo String Works

Opening Reception - Friday April 28th 6PM-9PM

Saturday April 29th 2PM-5PM

Sunday April 30th Closed

Friday May 5th 4PM-6PM

Saturday May 6th 6PM-9PM

Sunday May 7th 5PM-8M

*May 1st through 4th by Appointment Only macherno@buffalo.edu

Thesis Commitee Faculty Members

Associate Professor Mark Shepard (Chair)

Assitant Professor Jason Gesitweidt

Professor Dave Pape

Assitant Professor Sama Waham

Breeser Development Group LLC
Dept. of Media Study - University at Buffalo
UB Graduate Student Association

Exhibition Artist Statement

My thesis installation broadly takes in many contexts of video as medium in order to publicly explore how video operates. Being a video artist for me means involves using many different kinds of electronics, machines, and programs. When I work with video as material, I notice just how much space is taken up around me in the form of media players, computers, wires, cables, power sources, cameras, and screens. Borrowed from Gene Youngblood, Videosphere is a term that describes how video occupies architectural and metal space. Video is not only TV or a camera but also an interface for other electronics whose presence in turn increases the signal output of video. As the territory of video devices expands physcially video signal becomes more live. What is video universally in all of its past and present technical iterations is that is a live signal which visualizations a space on screen which hosts other signals. Not just the communcation of machines and media but also the feedback of generated between interfaces and users. This idea of video occupying and being a form of space on a screen is an invisible networking of television, computers, internet, and mobile points of access whose simultaneous use, synchronizes the observation of individuals and environments. The presence of video as a Videoshpere is a space formed by signal and screens that are always occuring and whose spatial interactions of real and virtual collpase into indivisibility. 
But is the installation a point of surveillance or interactivity? By arranging cameras and screens people will always appear on a screen in which we see ourselves and others and the contents of one screen looked at becomes the content of another screen. However this installation is not about just human beings apearing on a screen. This Videosphere is about being seen with video. It is a system arranged to be a self-surveillance of videos presence. The live images beg to viewed, interacted, and recorded not by users, viewers, or operators. In this performative space everyone is an interactor.  And as for surveillance video, there is no point in which someone can privately view the exihibit without being seen themselves. Instead we should be aware that our dependence upon video as interface means that we are always appearing on screens without exact knowledge of when, where, and whom. Videosphere, is about video self-communicating through modulations. The only information in the actual exhibit is whatever can be interacted with. 

Special Thanks:

Laura Maloney
Bill Breeser
Matthew Schery
Ellen Chernoff
Ian Hunter
Carl Lee
Mike Bouqard
Alex Reid
Paige Sarlin
Elaine Schwartz

Mark Shepard
Jason Gesitweidt
Dave Pape
Sama Waham
Famous Clark
Cort Lippe

Olurotimi Akanbi
András Blazsek
Tim Georger
Jesse Rodkin
Lewuga Benson
Alex Casetti
Bello Bello
Walker Tufts
Kelsey Rupe
Rachel Galet
Ana Lavatelli
Bill Sack
Bernard Dolecki
Jon Bolt
Salem Browning
Matt Kenyon
Peer Bode