In the video work Corner Piece, 2002–3, Paul Pfeiffer digitally manipulates television footage from a boxing match. The artist concentrates on the intervals between rounds that punctuate the fight, during which the athlete is treated for injuries by his trainer. The image of the principal figure, however, is expunged, while the action that unfolds around him remains visible. Echoing the structure of the boxing ring, the video is projected on a monitor, forcing each individual viewer to crowd into a corner in order to see it. Evoking the dynamics of a close-range encounter, the artist thus manages to create a claustrophobic situation.
Drawing mainly on television broadcasts of sporting events, in his works Pfeiffer reflects on collective myths, focusing primarily on those that dominate the imagination of television audiences in the United States. In particular, the artist analyzes the complex level of construction of the public image of famous athletes and sport celebrities. Pfeiffer’s working method consists of appropriating existing material, erasing the player or the athlete, and subsequently elaborating the resulting images to create videos and photographs. The insistence on this process of cancellation contradicts the centrality entrusted to the role that Western art grants the human figure, which Pfeiffer, instead, reduces to a sort of “disturbance” in the context of the digital transmission.
Carrying out another operation of removal, Pfeiffer erases the theatrical dimension related to the event in question, paving the way for an intimate and almost hypnotic experience of the work. His videos are often mounted in continuous loops and transmitted on small monitors. In addition, in manipulating the conditions of dialogue with the viewer, Pfeiffer also designs the wall brackets and metal structures that support the monitors, creating installations that have a strong sculptural presence.