The 2nd Routine
Unable to play video - your browser does not support any of the available video types.
The opening title remarks of Allan Kaprow's video 'The 2nd Routine' preface the viewer as to the subjectively illustrated viewpoint of this edit over one of pure documentation. The sequence of eight exercises that follows forms part of that 'blurring of art and life,' as the name of his later published book of essays and manifestos describe. We witness in each short episode a series of actions carried out by a man and woman taking place in a generic hallway on different floors of a commercial building. Kaprow tells us beforehand what action will occur by means of a dry logic titling each exercise; the couple are referred to as A and B, such that 'A pushes B' or 'B grips A's hand'. Each time, there are two actions, the first involving either A or B (or one mani…ulating the other) in a particular movement through the length of the hallway, such as polishing the floor or B dragging A. This is followed by a close shot of hands, where either B takes A's outstretched hand or vice versa. The handshakes vary in duration each time, sometimes to the point that their sweaty hands are shown to the viewer.
We see little of A and B's faces during these processes, and in fact the entire video is dry and unadorned, not unlike a video manual for do-it-yourself home improvement, where A and B are merely hardware or placement positions for the correct procedure of insulating a house. It is the subtly polemical nature of the actions which create an interesting dialectic between the experimental and the banal. We are left to question for ourselves the relationships between polishing the floor, standing upon chairs and shaking hands, for all of these variables are tested out in different combinations matter-of-factly, with the thoroughness of science. The result is Kaprow's challenge to the way we organize our daily lives and an example of how even the most minute of actions can become a meaningful call to dissent from the accepted reality.[Elaine W. Ho] Read more...