Video Art

Video-ArtVideo art uses video technology to create visual art through one or more television monitors. Video art is named for videotape, which video artists used to record images from the 1960’s through the 1980’s. Today, video artists often work with DVD’s or other technology.

Video art may tell a running story or consist of still images. Much video art combines images with sound, such as music, spoken dialogue, or narration. A work of video art may last a few seconds or many hours and be repeated without interruption. The subject matter is almost limitless, including familiar objects, a performance by one or more actors, or animation. The work may be abstract or realistic.

Some video art uses elements of popular culture, such as advertisements or familiar TV shows. Many video artists use the form to make political or satirical statements. A live camera can be focused on the viewers, incorporating the public into the artwork.

Video artists may exhibit their work on a single monitor or as “installations” of massed monitors. The artist might group several monitors into free-standing shapes, arrange them against a wall, or scatter them. Each monitor might show a different image or set of images. An installation can re-create a specific environment, such as a supermarket, with several monitors showing different views around the environment. The spectator may view the monitors in a sequence or at random, depending on the effect the artist seeks.

Video art can be combined with other art forms. For example, video cameras and monitors can be included in or with a sculpture to create a multimedia work. Video art may also be incorporated into a live stage performance, such as dance or a play.

Video art emerged during the 1960’s and 1970’s with the advancement of video technology. The first widely known video artist was Nam June Paik, a composer, sculptor, and performance artist. He was born in what is now South Korea and settled in New York City in 1964. Paik began his career in video art in 1965, using a portable video recorder and magnets to distort TV images.