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What Is Video Art?

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  • Written By: Jason C. Chavis
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 07 September 2016
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Using the concept of moving pictures, video art is a medium that can either accent other forms of art or stand by itself in installations at galleries. The designs use video presentations that can be combined with audio if that artist so desires. Although the concept generally takes a similar form as television presentations or experimental film making, it is considered a distinct art form more aligned with painting and photography.

The first instances of video art came from developments into video technology during the 1960s and 1970s. As video production methods became more prominent and cost-effective, modern artists of the era began to utilize the medium in conjunction with other art exhibits. With the advancements in digital technology during the late 20th and early 21st century, video became much more prominent within galleries alongside traditional artworks. The medium moved from primarily using video tape to formats such as digital video disk and solid state hard drives.

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The primary distinction between video art and cinema is the fact that it does not utilize the traditional aspects of film making such as a concrete narrative or plot line. Oftentimes, this art style simply uses imagery that does not contain any dialogue or actors whatsoever. Sometimes, it may include a repeated motion image used to represent a facet of the overall artistic piece. The largest distinction between video art and film is the concept of entertainment. Movies are generally designed to give the viewer some sort of emotional satisfaction, while video art may employ characteristics that widely vary depending on the intent of the artist.

Modern video art has developed into different platforms that use the full gamut of new media art technologies. Popular examples of formats include interactive film, visual music and real-time computer graphics. Interactive film focuses on bringing the viewer into connection with the piece. Visual music can employ different facets of audio technology that may or may not contain actual musical accompaniment. Real-time computer graphics use an algorithm-based computer program to create computer-designed imagery that is constantly changing in real time, giving the viewer a completely unique experience.

The art form is generally broken down into two different methodologies of presentation: single-channel and installation techniques. Single-channel presentations are shown to the viewer similar to a television broadcast, in which the art is simply broadcast. The installation technique employs video as a much more involved facet to the overall piece. Essentially, the video becomes simply a part of the entire work, which may employ other artistic media as well.

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Engelbert
Post 2

I'd tend to agree with @roser, as the distinct difference between cinema and video art might be a bit off-putting at first. If you don't have a lot of access to art galleries though, popular video artists like Bill Viola and Matthew Barney have works available on DVD.

roser
Post 1

Video art is undoubtedly a big part of contemporary art but a daunting medium to get into and understand. I'd suggest trying to see some of the more installation based pieces in an actual gallery to get a feel for it. Projection mixed with lighting or sculpture can be used to make really interesting visual pieces. Don't overthink it!

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