Video art

Video art

Video art is a type of art which relies on moving pictures and comprises video and/or audio data. (It should not however be confused with television production or experimental film). Video art came into existence during the 1960s and 1970s, is still widely practiced and has given rise to the widespread use of video installations. Video art can take many forms: recordings that are broadcast, viewed in galleries or other venues, or distributed as video tapes or DVD discs; sculptural installations, which may incorporate one or more television sets or video monitors, displaying ‘live’ or recorded images and sound; and performances in which video representations are included.[1]



Video art is named after the video tape, which was most commonly used in the form's early years, but before that artists had already been working on film, and with changes in technology Hard Disk, CD-ROM, DVD, and solid state are superseding the video tape as the carrier. Despite obvious parallels and relationships, video art is not experimental film.

One of the key differences between video art and theatrical cinema is that video art does not necessarily rely on many of the conventions that define theatrical cinema. Video art may not employ the use of actors, may contain no dialogue, may have no discernible narrative or plot, or adhere to any of the other conventions that generally define motion pictures as entertainment. This distinction is important, because it delineates video art not only from cinema but also from the subcategories where those definitions may become muddy (as in the case of avant garde cinema or short films). Video art's intentions are varied, from exploring the boundaries of the medium itself (e.g., Peter Campus, Double Vision) to rigorously attacking the viewer's expectations of video as shaped by conventional cinema (e.g., Joan Jonas, Organic Honey's Vertical Roll).

History of video art

Video art is often said to have begun when Nam June Paik used his new Sony Portapak to shoot footage of Pope Paul VI's procession through New York City in the autumn of 1965. That same day, across town in a Greenwich Village cafe, Paik played the tapes and video art was born. The French artist Fred Forest has also used a Sony Portapak since 1967. This fact is sometimes disputed, however, because the first Sony Portapak, the Videorover did not become commercially available until 1967 (Fred Forest does not contradict this, saying it was provided to him by the manufacturers [2]) and that Andy Warhol is credited with showing underground video art mere weeks before Paik's papal procession screening. Fred Forest does however stipulate on his website that in 1959 Wolf Vostell incorporated a television set into one of his works, "Deutscher Ausblick" 1959, which is part of the collection of the Berlinische Galerie possibly the first work of art with television. In 1963 Vostell exhibited his art environment "6 TV de-coll/age" at the Smolin Gallery in New York. This work is part of the Museo Reina Sofia collection in Madrid.

Prior to the introduction of the Sony Portapak, "moving image" technology was only available to the consumer (or the artist for that matter) by way of eight or sixteen millimeter film, but did not provide the instant playback that video tape technologies offered. Consequently, many artists found video more appealing than film, even more so when the greater accessibility was coupled with technologies which could edit or modify the video image.

The two examples mentioned above both made use of "low tech tricks" to produce seminal video art works. Peter Campus' Double Vision combined the video signals from two Sony Portapaks through an electronic mixer, resulting in a distorted and radically dissonant image. Jonas' Organic Honey's Vertical Roll involved recording previously recorded material as it was played back on a television — with the vertical hold setting intentionally in error.

The first multi-channel video art (using several monitors or screens) was Wipe Cycle by Ira Schneider and Frank Gillette. An installation of nine television screens, Wipe Cycle for the first time combined live images of gallery visitors, found footage from commercial television, and shots from pre-recorded tapes. The material was alternated from one monitor to the next in an elaborate choreography.

At the San Jose State TV studios in 1970, Willoughby Sharp began the “Videoviews” series of videotaped dialogues with artists. The “Videoviews” series consists of Sharps’ dialogues with Bruce Nauman (1970), Joseph Beuys (1972), Vito Acconci (1973), Chris Burden (1973), Lowell Darling (1974), and Dennis Oppenheim (1974). Also in 1970, Sharp curated “Body Works,” an exhibition of video works by Vito Acconci, Terry Fox, Richard Serra, Keith Sonnier, Dennis Oppenheim and William Wegman which was presented at Tom Marioni's Museum of Conceptual Art, San Francisco, California.

Prominent video artists

Many of the early prominent video artists were those involved with concurrent movements in conceptual art, performance, and experimental film. These include Americans Vito Acconci, John Baldessari, Peter Campus, Doris Totten Chase, Norman Cowie, Dan Graham, Joan Jonas, Bruce Nauman, Nam June Paik, Martha Rosler, William Wegman, and many others. There were also those such as Steina and Woody Vasulka who were interested in the formal qualities of video and employed video synthesizers to create abstract works.

Notable pioneering video artists also emerged more or less simultaneously in Europe and elsewhere with work by Pascal Auger (France), Domingo Sarrey (Spain), Juan Downey (Chile), Wolf Vostell (Germany), Slobodan Pajic (France), Dieter Froese (Germany), Wojciech Bruszewski (Poland), Wolf Kahlen (Germany), Peter Weibel (Austria), David Hall (UK), Paul Wong (Artist) (Canada), Lisa Steele (Canada), Rodney Werden (Canada), Colin Campbell (Canada), Miroslaw Rogala (Poland), Danny Matthys, Chantal Akerman (Belgium) Krishna Murti (Indonesia), Ray Langenbach (USA/Malaysia), Emil Goh (Malaysia/Australia), Nadiah Bamadhaj (Malaysia/Indonesia), Wong Hoy Cheong, Liew Kungyu, Hasnul J Saidon, Masnoor Ramli, Kamal Sabran, Roopesh Sitharan, Hayati Mokhtar, Goh Lee Kwang, Kok Siew Wai (Malaysia), Akram Zaatari (Lebanon), Mireille Astore (Lebanon/Australia) and others.

Video art today

Although it continues to be produced, it is represented by two varieties: single-channel and installation. Single-channel works are much closer to the conventional idea of television: a video is screened, projected or shown as a single image, Installation works involve either an environment, several distinct pieces of video presented separately, or any combination of video with traditional media such as sculpture. Installation video is the most common form of video art today. Sometimes it is combined with other media and is often subsumed by the greater whole of an installation or performance. Contemporary contributions are being produced at the crossroads of other disciplines such as installation, architecture, design, sculpture, electronic art, VJ (video performance artist) and digital art or other documentative aspects of artistic practice.

The digital video "revolution" of the 1990s has given wide access to sophisticated editing and control technology, allowing many artists to work with video and to create interactive installations based on video. Some examples of recent trends in video art include entirely digitally rendered environments created with no camera and video that responds to the movements of the viewer or other elements of the environment. The internet has also been used to allow control of video in installations from the World Wide Web or from remote locations.

Emerging in the 1970s, Bill Viola (USA) continues as one of the world's most celebrated video artists. Matthew Barney, the creator of the Cremaster Cycle, is another well-known American video artist. Other contemporary video artists of note include Gary Hill (USA), Arambilet (Dominican Republic – Spain), Fred Forest 1967 (France), Tony Oursler, Mary Lucier, Paul Pfeiffer, Sadie Benning, Paul Chan, Eve Sussman and Miranda July; Eija-Liisa Ahtila (Finland), Kirill Preobrazhenskiy (Russia), Pipilotti Rist (Switzerland); Surekha (India);Stefano Pasquini (Italy); Shaun Wilson (Australia); Stan Douglas (Canada); Douglas Gordon (Scotland); Olga Kisseleva (Russia); Anne-Mie van Kerckhoven (Belgium); Martin Arnold (Austria); Matthias Müller (Germany), Heiko Daxl (Germany); Gillian Wearing (UK); Stefano Cagol (Italy); Helene Black (Cyprus); Shirin Neshat (Iran/USA); Aernout Mik (Netherlands), Jordi Colomer (Spain/France), Sergei Shutov (Russia), and Walid Raad (Lebanon/USA).

List of video art organizations

  •, International Video Art Network Denmark
  • Electronic Arts Intermix, New York, NY
  •, New York, NY
  • V tape, Toronto, Canada
  • Vidéographe, Montréal, Canada
  • Video Data Bank, Chicago, IL.
  • The Experimental Television Center, New York
  • LA Freewaves is an experimental media art festival with video art, shorts and animation; exhibitions are in Los Angeles and online.
  • Lumen Eclipse - Harvard Square, MA
  • LUX, London, England
  • London Video Arts, London, England
  • n.b.k.Videoforum, Berlin, Germany
  • Perpetual art machine, New York
  • Raindance Foundation, New York
  • Impakt Festival, Utrecht
  • MADATAC Festival, Madrid, Spain
  • Netherlands Media Art Institute, Amsterdam, The Netherlands
  • Souvenirs from Earth, Art TV Station on European Cable Networks (Paris, Cologne)
  • Malaysian Video Art Collection, Muzium & Galeri Tuanku Fauziah (MGTF), Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM)
  • EMACM (Experimental Musicians & Artist Co-operative,Malaysia), Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
  • SicKL (Studio in Cheras, Kuala Lumpur), Malaysia
  • Video Olympic, Devon, UK
  • OPTICA Festival, Gijón, Spain
  • Tresorg Imagenacion, Murcia, Spain
  • Video Art Festival Miden, Kalamata, Greece

See also


  1. ^ Hartney, Mick. "Video art", MoMA, accessed January 31, 2011
  2. ^ [1]

Further reading

  • Videography: Video Media as Art and Culture by Sean Cubitt (MacMillan, 1993).
  • A History of Experimental Film and Video by AL Rees (British Film Institute, 1999).
  • New Media in Late 20th-Century Art by Michael Rush (Thames & Hudson, 1999).
  • Mirror Machine: Video and Identity, edited by Janine Marchessault (Toronto: YYZ Books, 1995).
  • Video Culture: A Critical Investigation, edited by John G. Hanhardt (Visual Studies Workshop Press, 1986).
  • Video Art: A Guided Tour by Catherine Elwes (I.B. Tauris, 2004).
  • A History of Video Art by Chris Meigh-Andrews (Berg, 2006)
  • Diverse Practices: A Critical Reader on British Video Art edited by Julia Knight (University of Luton/Arts Council England, 1996)
  • ARTFORUM FEB 1993 "Travels In The New Flesh" by Howard Hampton (Printed by ARTFORUM INTERNATIONAL 1993)
  • Resolutions: Contemporary Video Practices', (eds. Renov, Michael & Erika Suderburg) (London, Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press,1996).
  • Expanded Cinema by Gene Youngblood (New York: E.P. Dutton & Company, 1970).
  • The Problematic of Video Art in the Museum 1968-1990 by Cyrus Manasseh (Cambria Press, 2009).
  • "First Electronic Art Show" by (Niranjan Rajah & Hasnul J Saidon) (National Art Gallery, Kuala Lumpur, 1997)
  • "Relocations - The Electronic Art of Niranjan Rajah & Hasnul J Saidon" by (Roopesh Sitharan) (Muzium & Galeri Tuanku Fauziah & Artspace Gallery, 2007)

External links

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