Video Art – An Introduction

Video art is a type of art which relies on moving pictures with audio. Video began in the 1960s and 1970s. Video art can be seen in video installations seen in museums and art spaces.

Video art shares the language of film but excludes many of the techniques.

No Actors

No Plot or narrative

No Dialogue

The first video art was created by Nam June Paik who used his new Sony Portapak to shoot footage of Pope Paul VI’s procession through New York City in 1965. Later that day Paik played the tapes in Greenwich Village and video art was born. The French artist Fred Forest has also used a Sony Portapak since 1967. Before the PortaPak, amateurs used film cameras such as 8mm, Super 8, and 16 mm. Film needed to be developed which often took days while video was viewed immediately. With the early video, special effects were crude or non-existent. Peter Campus’ “Double Vision” combined the video signals from two Sony Portapaks through an electronic mixer, resulting in a distorted and radically dissonant image. Joan Jonas – Vertical Roll (1972) 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 was “Wipe Cycle” by Ira Schneider and Frank Gillette. It was an installation of nine television screens. It was the first video art to combine 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.

Today there are two varieties: single-channel and installation. Single-channel video art works are much closer to the conventional idea of television: a video is shown as a single image, Installation video art 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.

Video art today is digital. The very powerful video editing and effects tools available to everyone open many doors. One trend is entirely digitally created environments by programs such as Adobe Photoshop and After Effects. Many of these videos use no camera. Some video is programmed to respond to the movements of the viewer or other elements in the environment. The Internet is naturally an important player in today’s video art. Internet controlled video files can interact with other people

Some good sites where you can see contemporary video art

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3 thoughts on “Video Art – An Introduction

  1. Hal

    Glad you like it. If you want to make video art, study what others have done. Then just start making videos without actors, plot or narrative, or dialogue. Send us a link to it and we will post it here. Just start.

  2. Tiph Hunter

    I shot footage of my partner Belly Dancing at the UGLY Gallery in New Bedford, Massachusetts. At home, I turned the footage black and white, and then rotoscoped her out of the gallery and onto an ocean side hill inside anime studio. To view the resulting animation, go here,

    Ed. Note: The Links that were provided were dead ends so they have been deleted.


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