Single-channel video artworks are created using technologies that were originally designed to be ephemeral. The video signal itself began its technological life as television, a medium designed for the live transmission of images, not their permanent retention. Videotape, introduced in 1956, was developed specifically to record live television programs for rebroadcast in later time zones.

The greater part of the videotapes which now find themselves in collections and archives were once recorded on formats and systems that are now obsolete, and can no longer be played back. Forms of expression, formats and new systems (with their (im)possibilities) still come and go at a great tempo. Standards simply do not exist. The videotape has known over 50 different analog registration systems, as well as various digital, the oldest of which dates back to 1965.

Video art, arguably the most well known form of media art, has today found itself integrated into many contemporary art exhibitions and collections. Due to it's relatively short life and technical, or otherwise variable nature it often requires specific preservation needs.

The rapid obsolescence of formats has also resulted in the digitisation of video art works.

This inevitably entails a modification of the work of art (whether visible or not). Digitisation can change the characteristics of the work and/or affect the artist's intention, but without it the work will soon deteriorate to such an extent that presentation in its original state becomes impossible.

Preservation video art
On February 5 th, 2003 the project Preservation Video Art was completed after two years of research, development and conservation of approximately 1700 works (created before 1993). On behalf of this project the book "Sustainability of Video Art" was developed.

For more information visit the following links:
The Sustainability of Video Art: part 1 - part 2 - part 3

For further information please refer to the article Video Art Preservation, by Gaby Wijers.

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