Video Art

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Video Art is a subset of artistic works which relies on "moving pictures" and is comprised of video and/or audio data. The precise medium of storing this data is variable and at the discretion of the artist; the medium of storage is usually magnetic video tape although the data may also be stored as a computer file (or files) on a hard disk or CD-ROM, or on film.

Video art came into existence during the 1960s and 1970s. It has grown rapidly and is today integrated in main contemporary art exhibitions and collections. Video art has moved from brief showings on tiny screens in alternative art spaces to dominance in international exhibitions and artistic events, in which vast video installations sometimes occupy factory-sized buildings or video projections take over the walls of an entire city block. It embraces all the significant art ideas and forms of recent times—from Abstract, Conceptual, Minimal, Performance, and Pop to photography and film.


[edit] Video Art Vs Cinema

Throughout the seventies and eighties there were harsh criticisms and raging debates about whether video was an art or television. At that time, video artists maintained that they did not rely on many of the conventions that defined theatrical cinema, and so were different from filmmakers. Here are some other points of departure --

  • Video art does not necessarily use actors
  • Dialogue, though used sometimes, is not essential to Video Art.
  • While cinema's ultimate goal is to entertain (i.e., to get someone to watch the film) Video Art's intentions are more varied -- be they to simply explore the boundaries of the medium itself or to rigorously attack the viewer's expectations of video as shaped by conventional cinema.

Fast forward to the digital age and all this has changed. The boundaries and concerns with which video art once defined itself have disappeared. Video art, experimental film, television commercials, motion graphics, documentaries, music promos, and even some mainstream cinema have all merged and crossed over. Many times the only distinction between the genres is how the creator wishes to be defined - film maker or video artist, or where the piece is shown - in an art space with a bench or in a cienema with seats. Often, it is both.

Today video technology is considered an important art form. Stunningly beautiful, feature-length art videos by internationally renowned artists like Viola are projected in major museums.

[edit] Did You Know?

  • Video art is 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. That same day, across town in a Greenwich Village cafe, Paik played the tapes and (so legend goes) video art was born.[1]
  • Video Art may be expressed either as just a video or as an installation, where a video is placed in conjunction with traditional media such as sculpture.
  • In this digital age, the boundaries of Video Art have become blurred -- today, the terms Video art, experimental film, television commercials, motion graphics, documentaries, music promos, and even some mainstream cinema could all refer to a single project!
  • Andy Warhol's Outer and Inner Space (1965)was one of his most significant works, as well as the very first works of video art.

[edit] Traditional Artists Experiment

Video art also attracted the more traditional artists to experiment with video and incorporate video imagery and technology into their work. Painters, collage makers and other visual artists incorporated video stills into their canvases and graphic artists included video frame grabs in illustrations. Mary Lucier , a sculptor/photographer turned multi-media artist, is credited with creating eerie architectural spaces using video images as landscapes.

[edit] Technological Advancements

New technological advancements, the Internet, the streaming and downloading capabilities are revolutionizing the video art industry and at the same time exposing a lot of new talents who earlier found it difficult to make a mark. New technologies which combine computers with video have opened up new ways to expand output. Artists Grahame Weinbren and Johnson use a series of projectors and computers to create interactive video installations which convert an essentially passive audience art form into an active one. Digital technologies offer artists greater versatility at lower cost.

[edit] History of Video Art Form

The history of video art spans through a short and intense period of a little more than four decades. During this period technologies have evolved with such speed that museums have not been able to get for themselves the antiquated equipment needed to show work from the early days.

With the development of the film and video technology in the twentieth century, the art form of video also expanded. American Andy Warhol, Korean Nam June Paik and Canadian Joyce Wieland are among the artists who dominated the period. They were followed in the 1980s by Bill Viola and Gary Hill who used video to capture a stream of conscious thought, to show the mind's eye moving from one thing to the next as a narrative (complete with metaphors).

Post-9/11 ushered in the YouTube era which expanded video art into a popular culture. Charles Moffat, a young tech-savvy artist, created playful music videos like "Samurai Jack is Too Sexy" (2004) and also blatant anti-war art like "Fear Americans 1: Bushitler" (2004).

[edit] Video Art Becomes a Commodity

Early artists wanted in video art a form that couldn’t be collected but broadcast on television. From the 1980's, however, dealers and artists started turning video into a commodity as advanced technology and the growing legitimacy of the form allowed video artists to move from video tape to digital video.

Unlike other art forms video works are without handmade aspects that differentiate between originals and copies. In spite of legal agreements, there's nothing to prevent a collector from making and sending out several copies of the art.

[edit] Preservation Techniques

Video art is one of those media art forms with specific preservation needs because of the following reasons --

  • It has a short life
  • Technical in nature
  • Rapid obsolescence of the formats

Thus, while it is possible to discover and study 3,000 year old cave paintings and pottery, we cannot decipher any of the contents of an electronic file on an 8-inch floppy disk from only 20 years ago. Film too is a longer lasting medium than video. Video storage is unstable. Contents of a videotape have to be periodically refreshed by copying it onto another physical strata before the original deteriorates.

In the digital age, preservation techniques of video art forms continue to evolve beyond its original format. Stacks of rusty cans and boxes filled with quickly decomposing films and videos are being replaced by managing of enormous collections of digital files, containing dozens of formats.

Archivists of tomorrow will be more concerned with the management of component parts of the work that may in fact be reused in other works than in the preservation and restoration of individual titles.

[edit] What is to Follow?

It is impossible to anticipate how emerging technologies will impact video artists in the future. All kinds of new video tools will be available to artists, enabling them to create hitherto unimagined art forms

[edit] Source

  1. [1]

[edit] References

  • Boston Art
  • Art Gallery
  • New York Times Article
  • Art History Archive
  • Videomaker
  • Blogs on Video Art
  • Comprehensive Directory of Video Artists
  • Videos may be posted at Video Art founded by video artists and filmmakers in New York City.