Elaine W. Ng
Video and the Economics of Traveling Light
It is a self-proclaimed video conspiracy that numbers more than thirty
groups in New York alone. It is spreading across the country, not only into
major urban centers but to suburbs as well. Whether from self-conscious media
radicals or high-school and college students, we are in for a revolution in
communication that aims to restructure our most powerful medium - TV.
Chloe Aaron, "The Video Underground." Art in America, May 1971
Video documentaries have been made from the beginning and continue to
be the most accessible of the independently produced works. The video documentary
will survive beyond the 80s, most likely through commercial, cable and public
television. More artists will be looking towards television and the home market
as an outlet for their work.
Barbara London. "Independent Video: The First Fifteen Years." Artforum, Spring 1980
I think many video artists were and continue to be daunted by the monolithic
enterprise of broadcast television.
Gregg Bordowitz. "Operative Assumptions." Resolutions: Contemporary Video Practices, 1996
If commercial, public, cable and satellite television once represented a major possibility for the dissemination of artists' video, then today the Internet represents an even more powerful site for video distribution. It is believed that on the Internet, video can maintain many of the fundamental elements of being an electronic medium used to convey contemporary ideas and issues in real time and space. Moreover, web channels are capable of transmitting ideas through distances far and near to a captured and interactive audience, recalling some of the early theories attached to the medium of video. There is a renewed hope amongst video's many users for the Internet to finally provide the long desired open forum. For some, the Internet is viewed as more accessible to a large number of people when compared to the existing modes of distribution (ref 1).
It is therefore, no surprise, that in the spirit of the video's infancy years, many of its users and promoters are re-attempting to take their projects back into the "global village" via the Internet. In the recent dialogues surrounding video and its existence, video producers, programmers, collectives and distributors urgently search for strategies to expand video's existing audience (ref 2).
In terms of economics and logistics, will the Internet fulfill this need for an alternative and more open space for viewing video? What variables must one consider when distributing on the Internet such as time demand, bandwidth, copyright issues and competing against e-commerce? Who has access to computers and the Internet? What effects will the Internet have on the existing modes of exhibiting and distributing video?
With the Internet's unparalleled potential to access an audience of greater size and diversity, this paper examines the challenges and opportunities the Internet offers to artists' video, the medium's producers, programmers and organizations involved in video distribution.
1.Michael Nash, "Vision after Television: Technocultural Convergence, Hypermedia, and the New Media Arts Field". Resolutions: Contemporary Video practices. Minnesota: UMinnPress, 1996.
2. For more on video's existence, see C.Chris "video Art: Dead or Alive?". Afterimage Nov/Dec 96, Bill Horrigan's lecture at AIC, "Identity Politics from Activist to Autobiographical Video: 1990-1999," 11/13/99, M. Kwella, "Is Video Dead?" Internationale Medien Kunst Festival Berlin Transmediale 1999 50-51.
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