Case Study: Video Art in the Digital Era

The glorious invention of digital editing software and plasma flat screen monitors in the 1990s injected new life into Video Art, a previously anemic and fringe visual culture format that had always struggled to compete with Painting, Photography, and Film, its more alluring cousins.  Though a few artists working with clunky, low-res televisions and analog recording technologies managed to contribute memorable masterpieces to the canon of contemporary art (Peter Campus and Nam June Paik are the obvious examples), these works belie the fact that early Video Art was challenging for viewers even when the most ‘advanced’ technologies were exploited.

Prone to tape deterioration caused by mechanical friction, difficult to calibrate across environments, limited by awkward cabling and mounting structures, and subject to the basic constraints of simplistic image capture and weak audio fidelity, Video Art languished as the foster-child of the fine arts, largely ignored by major museums and provided shelter mostly by visionary yet funding-challenged new media galleries.  Like Harry Potter living under Vernonand Petunia Dursley’s stairwell, this medium was skinny, self-confidence challenged, visually impaired, and underappreciated, ignorant of the magical power it would soon learn to wield.  Continue reading