What is Video Art?

On the occasion of the annual edition of Loop Barcelona, we try to explain you video art

What is Video Art?



The first thing that we must keep in mind is that it’s an art that uses technology and, therefore, maintains a constant link with the age of information in which we find ourselves. It’s one of the branches of this artistic modality that enjoys greater health, but at the same time it is one of the most cryptic for the general public. But this, why? It’s because the video art implies four very distinguished characteristics: ubiquity, interdisciplinarity, immateriality and communication.

When we talk about ubiquity we are referring to the speed with which your messages can be transmitted, regardless of where you are. Interdisciplinarity implies that it requires, on the part of the creator, knowledge (more than basic) about different technical systems, sometimes even those belonging to the Fine Arts and their specific terminologies.

Intangible, why? This characteristic is not always common, since in the technological art it’s also possible that the work is the object itself, but in an usual way a video is considered art once it begins to be projected, that is, when the analog or digital device that contains it is started. In these cases the tape, the CD or the screen itself is not usually the artistic proposal, although there are some exceptions.

Experts agree to date the beginnings of video art with the realese of Sony portable video cameras in the United States during the sixties, from which it was possible to take advantage of multiple aspects of the language of movement, such as speed or image overlay.


We have to take into account that, in the end, this way of using video and television as a creative raw material is another way of demonstrating the experimental nature of contemporary art and its continuous search for new forms of expression. As Marshall McLuhan claimed, sometimes "the medium is the message."

Going into the history of video art would require another complete article, but we are going to differentiate the subtypes into which they are classified so that they help us understand the objectives that artists are looking for. 

You can talk about video-action in reference to the performances performed in front of the public, which are thus documented. On the other hand, the experimental video tries to investigate the proper language of the moving image, both in its formal characteristics and in its form of expression. This modality evolved, during the sixties, in an important critical aspect of social and political aspects, giving rise to images with aesthetic intent and claim content. 

This content used to be broadcast on American networks, often local, confronting the commercial system of private television. And finally, video installation or video sculpture is, as the terms announce, a way of creating installations and sculptures from televisions as the creation material.

Trying to encompass all the works of this discipline in these three categories is not a simple task as it seems, but having it in mind can help us understand the artistic functioning of video art.

What is Video Art?

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