The Online Encyclopedia and Dictionary






Video art

As opposed to film and theatrical cinema, 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, CD-ROM, DVD or on 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 performers, may contain no dialogue, may have no discernible narrative or plot, or adhere to any of the other conventions that construct cinema as entertainment. This distinction is important because it delineates video art not only from cinema but also from the sub-categories where those definitions may become muddy (as in the case of avant garde or short films). Perhaps the simplest, most straightforward defining distinction in this respect would then be to say that (perhaps) cinema's ultimate goal is to entertain, whereas video art's intentions are more varied, be they to simply explore the boundaries of the medium itself (e.g., Peter Campus , "Double Vision") or to rigorously attack the viewer's expectations of video as shaped by conventional cinema (e.g., Joan Jonas , "Organic Honey's Vertical Roll").

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. 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 millimetre 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 the technologies with which it could be combined. 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. Video art saw its heyday during the 1960s and 1970s and it must not be forgotten that important video art simultaneously emerged in EUROPE with work by Wojciech Bruszewski (Poland), Wolf Kahlen (Germany), Peter Weibel (Austria), David Hall (UK) and others. For key early British work see the website . Although it continues to be produced, it is most frequently combined with other media and is subsumed by the greater whole of an installation (see installation art) or performance (see performance art).


Video artists

Notable artists that have contributed to video art include:

Video art organizations

Video art institutions and distributors:

  • , Utrecht, The Netherlands
  • FAMEFAME , Toronto, Canada
  • LUX, London, England
  • Post Video Art , New York
  • Electronic Arts Intermix , New York
  • Netherlands Media Art Institute , Amsterdam, The Netherlands
  • Park 4DTV , Amsterdam, The Netherlands
  • Video Data Bank , Chicago
  • Le Videographe Montreal, Quebec
  • [1] , San Francisco
  • SnackOnÄrt TV each episode is curated by a video artist, New York
  • The Experimental Television Center , NY
  • Diana Thater [2]
  • Galen Pehrson Index [3]


  • Cinovid , database for experimental film and video art
  • New Media in Late 20th-Century Art by Michael Rush (Thames & Hudson, 1999).

See also:

Galen Pehrson "Cosmic Mimicry" [4] Galen Pehrson: Beautiful/Boring: La reproduction de l'émotion

Last updated: 02-09-2005 10:40:37
Last updated: 05-03-2005 17:50:55