Video Art

Video Art


Typically, art was believed to be a static form. But with advancements in technology, art is becoming more and more dynamic and adopting many forms. Video art is a new variety of contemporary art where moving images are used. This kind of art is commonly seen in Installations, but also as a stand-alone art form.  

What is Video Art?

Video art is a contemporary art form, which is based on the use of video technology as a complete medium with both audio and video facilities.   

Video art is a very broad term and may include various art forms, such as recordings that get broadcasted, the installations that are displayed in art galleries and/or museums; works which are streamed online, or distributed as videotapes/DVDs; and performances which are projected on a screen.   

Video art may include one or more different channels, which can be shown simultaneously on multiple monitors or screens. This may be a standalone installation or a part of a sculptural installation. Video art has to quality to be combined with other mediums like video projected on paintings. With the latest technological advances, video art is gaining more popularity as innovations are getting introduced in this aegis, like interactive art. 

Nam June Paik | Internet Dream (1994) | Artsy

Nam June PaikInternet Dream, 1994, Video sculpture 

Origin of Video art:

Video art emerged as a modern art from during the late 1960s and early 1970s, largely due to advancements in technology.  It was around this time, retail consumers were exposed to new video technology, when Video Tape Recorders were available in open market, outside the corporate broadcasting.  

The credit of being the pioneer in the video art goes to a Korean-American artist, Nam June Paik. In March 1963 Nam June Paik showed at the Galerie Parnass in Wuppertal the Exposition of Music – Electronic Television. In May 1963 Wolf Vostell showed the installation6 TV Dé-coll/age at the Smolin Gallery in New York and created the video Sun in your head in Cologne. Originally Sun in your head was made on 16mm film and transferred 1967 to videotape. 

 File:Electronic Superhighway by Nam June Paik.jpg - Wikimedia Commons

Nam June Paik's Electronic Superhighway: Continental United States, Alaska, Hawaii 1995 

Once an expensive technology, Video art gained popularity, when Sony first created an economical consumer piece of equipment (Sony AV-3400 Portapack). This device was an instant hit, as it allowed everyday people access to vast new possibilities in the documentation. 

Around this time, Paik used his new SonyPortapak to shoot footage of Pope Paul VI's procession through New York City. The procession was shown on a screen the same evening in a Greenwich Village café. And that’s how video art was born. 

 Portapak - Wikipedia

Sony AV-3400 Portapak 

Before the launch of consumer video equipment, moving image production was only available non-commercially via 8mm film and 16mm film. After the introduction of Sony Portapak and its subsequent update every few years, a huge boom was seen in video art and many new artists began exploring this technology. In the 1990s, the original analogue videotape was the most common recording technology.  

Very quickly, video art became a major medium for artists who wished to exploit the high penetration of television in modern Western society. Their videotapes, often non-narrative and of short duration, could be broadcast over public airways or played through videocassette recorders (VCRs).  

Difference between Video Art and Theatrical Cinema:  

Though both use video as a medium to communicate with the audience, Video Art Cinema are quite different. Video art refers to art that utilises moving images. This form of art is quite different from the cinema with theatrical releases and even documentary filmmaking. One of the major differences between the two art forms is that video art does not necessarily rely on many of the conventions that are a part and parcel of the theatrical cinema.   

While a cinema has some actors, who play a role in it, video art may or may not have any actors. Unlike a Cinema, video art may not even have any dialogues. While a movie has some plot or storyline, a video art may not have any narrative or plot or adhere to any of the other conventions that generally define motion pictures as entertainment.  


Video art refers to art that utilises moving images with or without sound. This form of art came into being in the late 1960s and early 1970s where technology became more accessible. This form of art should be differentiated from a cinema with theatrical releases and documentary filmmaking, or even any other form of filmmaking.  

Video art can include one or many channels, being shown simultaneously on multiple monitors or screens. It can be an installation in itself or as a part of a sculptural installation and also combined with other mediums like video projected on paintings. With more technological advances, video art is gaining more currency with innovations being introduced under its ambit, say, with interactive art.