Overshadowed by the controversy at the National Portrait Gallery, “Watch This!” opened last December at the Smithsonian American Art Museum to a relatively quiet reception. Fortunately the nine works on display have an extended viewing, and—considering their innocuous nature—are at little risk of being removed due to the cries of right-wing zealots. It’s more than a video show: It’s a brief but comprehensive introduction to the history of the moving image since 1969, showcasing early television, video art, and animation processed through LEDs. Nearly everything is bite-sized, looping every few minutes, with the exception of the Nam June Paik and Cory Arcangel works, which are long enough to be viewed like paintings. Indeed, Arcangel’s work is appropriately called “Video Painting.”
The exhibition is on view daily 11:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. at the Smithsonian American Art Museum, 8th and F Streets NW. Free. (202) 633-7970.