Video Art emerged in the 1960’s when the boundaries separating traditional art practices like film, sculpture, painting, performance, drawing, dance, music and writing – blurred. Artists began hybridizing various mediums combining them with new forms of technology, in particular - video.

Today Video Art has evolved into a hybrid stage combining all manner of digital technologies such as sensors and computer aided interactivity, projection mapping, robotics and augmented reality to name a few.


Part 1,  The evolution of the moving image in art

The Aspect of the Fantastic

Camera obscura (Early form of image projection - a pin hole camera that you can enter)

The magic Lantern (An inverted Camera Obscura with a glass lens instead of a hole)

A nineteenth century magic lantern projector

The phantasmagoria – (1820’s)

Thaumatrope (turn sound off!)

The Zoetrope - (1889)

(in class demonstration of  the  phenakistoscope and thaumatrope)

The first motion picture ever made (1889)

Refinements by the by the Lumière brothers (1896)

Early experiences in cinema were wondrous, magical – even shocking!

A Trip to the Moon silent film directed by Georges Méliès (1902)


Film evolves into a form of mass entertainment... Until?


* Dada:  1915-1920's Against cultural and intellectual conformity + Upend bourgeois sensibilities + Anti-Art + The Readymade  

* MOMA website -

Art Story Website

* WWI, Cabaret Voltaire & the beginnings of Dada (doc film - watch till 9:10) -

* Marie Osmond reads Hugo Ball's 1916 Poem "Karawane"

* Ballet Mechanique (1924 )  ://

The Ballet Mecanique Robotic Orchestra performs George Antheil's 1924 "Ballet Mecanique" at the National Gallery of Art

The first piece of music that has been composed OUT OF and FOR machines, ON EARTH.

Man Ray’s Emak-Bakia (Basque for Leave me alone) (1926)

* Marcel Duchamp’s Anemic Cinema (1926) (turn sound off!!!)

Sprang from his optical experiments –


Abstract Animation:  Non-narrative visual/sound experiences + Unique qualities of motion, rhythm, light and composition inherent in the medium of cinema

* Oskar Fischinger, Optical Poem (1938)

(Created decades before the appearance of computer graphics and music videos)


The Whitney Brothers were pioneers of computer graphics and minimal abstract films. Working with airbrush stencils, optical printing, computer-generated graphics, and then simply using light, the brothers created non-objective films in their California studio. By the 1970s, the two brothers had ventured off in different cinematic directions: John went to Hollywood. One of his most famous works was the animated title sequence from Alfred Hitchcock's 1958 film Vertigo, His work also inspired Douglas Trumbull – who created the visual effects for Stanley Kubrick’s film 2001. James went on to create highly mystical abstract films and was regarded as one of the great masters of abstract cinema. 

*James Whitney - Lapis - (1966)

*John Whitney "Catalog" 1961


Stan Brakhage’s his films were for him - painting made to move.

* Stan Brakhage

Mothlight (1963)


* To make Mothlight, Brakhage collected hundreds of insect wings, petals, blades of grass, pollen, and leaves and meticulously pressed them together with tape and then fed that tape into a projector.


“Over the lightbulbs there’s all these dead moth wings, and I … hate that. Such a sadness; there must surely be something to do with that. I tenderly picked them out and start pasting them onto a strip of film, to try to… give them life again, to animate them again, to try to put them into some sort of life through the motion picture machine.”wiki


*Contrast this to the Rutt-Etra video synthesizer (1970)

*Bill is still around today – supposedly with an updated software version of the synthesizer.

(a digression)


Thus far we have examined an evolution of Video Art through the lens of Cinema.


* Fluxus: (1960 - present) Huge tricksters + Mock the elitist world of "high art" + Destroy any boundary between art and life + Happenings

To establish a context for the transition from Moving Image Art into Video Art we need to introduce the Fluxus movement. Not unlike DADA Fluxus developed as an anti-art', anti-commercial anti-aesthetics “movement” in the early 1960’s . Flowing primarily from NYC, Fluxus artists did not agree with the authority of museums to determine the value of art, nor did they believe that one must be educated to view and understand a piece of art. So instead of “shows” in galleries and museums they staged a series of “Happenings” – or art events.  Happenings were artworks in and of themselves - they often merged mediums such as dance, performance, film/video and sound-works, chickens, and readymade events – ANYTHING!  Happenings required active participation from an audience to come to full fruition and were an early form of participatory art.


This is an audio lecture by Allen Burkoff, (born June 20, 1951) an artist and social psychologist who has been a part of the Fluxus movement since the 1980’s. Its really more of a manifesto on “How to make a Happening”

* Keep in mind that the Fluxus practitioners were huge tricksters!! This is a very informative narrative on Fluxism by Burkoff with a slideshow - 

It was also about this time that the Sony AV-3400 Portapak was introduced. 

* Here is a fun Snip-it from "Portapack Conversation" by David and Carol Martin

* Some of the earliest pioneers of Video Art were part of the Fluxus movement including Charlotte Moorman, Wolf Vostell and Nam June Paik. Early early examples of their work often feature the appropriation, deconstruction and manipulation of mass media and culture as a form of political critique.


Wolf Vostell, (1932 - 1998)

Sun in your head, (1963 )

* Wolf Vostell E.d.H.R. Electronic dé - coll / age, Happening Room (1968)

Charlotte Moorman (1933-1991)

A retrospective documentary on her -

* Nam June Paik / Charlotte Moorman - Charlotte Moorman performs with Paik's 'TV cello'

Nam June Paik (1932 -2006) – Often cited as the father of video art.


Exhibition preview for the 2012 Smithsonian Exhibition.

* Tatshots video

Electronic Superhighway (1995)

* Fascinated by the image of the Robot -

* – a piece from later in his career, a description by conservator Glenn Wharton

Kind-a long audio piece with images

Part 2, In the 1960 and 1970’s “Video Art” came into existence. Since then it has evolved into...


A spectacle in service of media and cultural critique

Ant Farm - Media Burn (1975) Classic (satirizing the media, the media event, officidum, facts, television, the automobile... play till 7:22)

Dara Birnbaum (repeated transformations expose the illusion of fixed female identities in media and attempts to show the emergence of a new woman through use of technology)

Wonder Woman (1978)


Antonio Muntadas, Video is television? (1989) (Deconstructing the mechanics of the message and the medium)

EBN Emergency Broadcast System (1990’s)

Documercial (show first)

Electronic Behavior Control System

Get Down -

Commercial Entertainment Product


I am a man

What's Happening

A vehicle for introspection

Bill Viola - This video of an exhibition of his work provides an excellent overview

Ocean Without a Shore - Venice Biennale 2007

Tiny Deaths and Martyrs

Frustrated Actions and Futile Gestures


Bruce Nauman - Good Boy, Bad Boy (1985)

A means of dissecting and rewiring the body to examine human behavior

Tony Oursler – human behavior as art

Documentary… kind-of

Tate interview and studio tour (watch)

Installation at AROS Exhibition Center, Aarhus, Denmark 2012.

Bound Interrupter

Walk through of "Face to Dace  (2012)


A kind of immersive moving painting about language, music, movement, lousy flowing pictures, poetry, commotion, premonition of death, sex and friendliness

Pipilotti Rist

Video Overview:

I’m not the girl who misses much (1986);19/action;showpage/page_type;video/page_id;Pipilotti_Rist_I_m_Not_The_Girl_Who_Misses_Much_flv/

She discusses “I’m not the girl…”

Pipilotti Rist - Be Nice To Me (Flatten 04) (199?)

Ever is overall – (1997)

Pipilotti Rist Retrospective at Kunsthaus Zürich (curator discussion)

In German – great installation footage + underpants!!!

She talks about her installations – great interview

Pipilotti Rist sums up Video Art

Pepperminta! – Here venture into feature format


You can watch all episodes on youtube

As a Segway into Cinema

Steve McQueen (director of 12 years a slave!) talks about the screen – the spectator – and the story.

Interview talking about his early video art works

Interview at MOMA – great setup!, too long for class

His retrospective exhibition in 2013 – deadpan is at 3:10

Article on how his video art was a preamble for his films

Buster Keaton house fall –

Stills from McQueen’s Deadpan





Deadpan -

A tool for exploring nature and technology, memory and place

Leslie Thorton - Midnight Moment, Binocular Menagerie (2014)

Luna (2013)

Friedrich van Schoor and Tarek Mawad  - The bioluminesent forest

Behind the scenes

A means to  explore feminine iconography and identity within popular culture

Rachelle Beaudoin


Dara Birnbaum

Wonder Woman (1978)

Pipiloti Rist

Ever is overall

FYI - Beyonce vs Pipiloti

A medium for the body to express/extend itself

Camille Utterback


Bruce Nauman

Interview: "Poke in the Eye/Nose/Ear"

A tool for reshaping architecture


Unknown artists - big commercial/state projects


A dance/sound and performance partner

Liz Phillips- Excerpts from Roulette Performance (2012)

Liz Phillips – Echo Location – multiple projectors and sound sources


Laurie Anderson - O Superman (1982)


Charles Atlas/Leigh Bowery - Mrs Peanut Visits New York (1999)

Charles Atlas/Leigh Bowery – Teach (1997?)

Thomas Redoldner - Sunny Afternoon (2012)


Marina Abramović


A part of a ceremony/meditation

Mary Lucier Procession – (2012)


Bruce Nauman - Anthro/Socio (1991)


A lens for surveying surveillance

Julia Scher – Predictive Engineering

Film… but also sculpture

Matthew Barney - Interview on Cremaster (1994 – 2002) (Goto 3:40)

Cremaster Cycle Trailer

Cremaster 1


An emotional object

Camille Utterback Potent Objects 2003 (see also Tony Oursler)


A technology for observing the body's collision with technology

Klaus vom Bruch,

Propeller Tape (1979

Azimut (1985)

Liat Berdugo


As a means of Immersion

Anthony McCall

Five Minutes of Pure Sculpture


Ryoji Ikeda

WARNING : A very small percentage of people may experience a seizure when exposed to certain visual images, including flashing lights or patterns in this artists work. 


The radar – interview – play first

Test pattern



Micro Macro


Kurt Hentschläger and Ulf Langheinrich / Granular Synthesis 

Modell 5 (1996) -

Notte Digitale 2008


A capture device for exploring phenomena

Rodney Graham

Coruscating Cinnamon Granules (1996)

Torqued Chandelier Release (1997)

Lobbing potatoes at a gong (poor quality – multi generation)


Dennis Hlynsky


A disembodied eye for viewing unscripted  magic

Megan and Murray McMillan

Vimeo channel:




 A way examining/suspending time

Christian Marclay - The Clock (2008)

Bill Domonkos

His tumbler  -

His web site - 

Stop and Go (note these are GIFS!!!!!)  -


Gary Hill (Interview)


Bruce Nauman:

Interview: "Poke in the Eye/Nose/Ear"


a screen for  revealing the cliché that is Hollywood… or is it humanity??

Bruce & Norman Yonemoto – Made in Hollywood (1990)

Bruce & Norman Yonemoto – The Vault (1988)


A means of provoking performance

Vito Acconci (Situation maker) (not a video piece – but important for the following)

Theme Song , Part 1 of 4 (1973)

Undertone (1972)

A kind of magical method for blurring the line between Virtual and Physical

Davy and Kristin McGuire


Jam Jar Fairies


Theatre Book - Macbeth is an augmented reality pop-up book that brings 'the Scottish play' to life with miniature projection mapping.


Alchimie de Courvoisier - Projected Paper Diorama


The Hunter (Theatrical Installation)




****Ophelia’s Ghost



Also - Gabriel Barcia Colombo  - People in Jars


Site -


A way of discovering and remaking rhythms

Renaud Hallee

Gravity (2009)

Combustion (2013)


Dan Tapper 

Changing Signals (2013)

Steina and Woody Vasulka

Noisefields (1974)


A laboritory for experimenting with new forms of narrative

Eija-Liisa Ahtila  The House - 1 and 2 (2003)


Steina and Woody Vasulka

Golden Voyage (1973)

Scan Processor Studies by Woody Vasulka & Brian O’Reilly (featuring the Rutt Etra video synthesizer)

Documentary on Steina and Woody " Binary Lives *Steina and Woody Vasulka - Peter Kirby / 1996"

A Vehicle for addressing issues of language and sign

Bill Seaman


Martha Rosler: "Semiotics of the Kitchen" (1975)


Barbara Kruger - New York Windows


A means of reimagining spaces and places and things

Kit Webster



Enigmatica Mars (2009)


Mécaniques Discursives - Fred Penelle & Yannick Jacquet (2012)

Némo Biennale, Paris (2015)

Mécaniques Discursives at Renaissance Lille 3000 (2014)

A short documentary

BOX , Bot and Dolly - (2012)

The making of

Real-time face tracking & Projection Mapping

A delicate dance that interweaves animation and installation

Ondrej Rudavsky


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