Video, once considered the final frontier in art-making, has become inextricable from the multidisciplinary creative landscape of the last decade. As more collectors warm up to the idea of editioned film, the average art viewer’s relationship to the medium has also grown more familiar, if not necessarily more comfortable. Since most institutions weren’t designed to show durational art, much less durational art beholden to the whims of technological obsolescence, tricky logistical hold-ups easily upend audience experience under even the best conditions—bad acoustics, noisy curation, and old machinery are often the culprits. From architecture to lighting, impediments to thoughtful viewership can drastically affect the integrity of a video piece, digital or analog, and it’s not just smaller spaces that can’t get it right.
With that in mind, here are 7 venues paving the way for video art in the modern age.
While their exhibition “Before Projection: Video Sculpture 1974-1975" closed last December, Queens' mainstay Sculpture Center has a long track record of hybridized curatorial practices that place video in larger cultural and artistic contexts, especially on their cavernous bottom floor, oft-reserved for emerging, avant-garde voices. A former trolley repair shop, SculptureCenter’s high ceilings and clandestine, quirky nooks combine to create a surprisingly ideal environment for video viewing. Because the museum’s focus is sculptural, its filmic contributions are as aesthetically considered as its objects, resulting in an integrated, immersive experience.
WALKER ART CENTER
The Walker Art Center is a Midwestern gem of a museum that happens to boast one of the best analog film theaters in the United States. Operating under the auspices of its Moving Image Department, the video capabilities of the Walker’s cinematic branch are twofold; it’s theater, which shows ticketed experimental features, like Cristobal Leon and Joaquin Cocina’s The Wolf House, and its Bentson Mediatheque, a free self-select service of more than 300 titles ranging from 1894 to present day. The Walker also commissions two artists seasonally to make video work responding to the contents of their expansive archive; this fall, Kevin Jerome Everson and Debroah Stratman are debuting pieces responding to documentarian William Klein and artist Barbara Hammer, respectively.
ZKM CENTER FOR ART AND MEDIA
This one-of-a-kind cultural institution expands upon the normal purview of a museum, taking on the simultaneous mantles of new media, video, and performance in the spirit of an updated electronic Bahaus. Equipped with a large multi-media theater and capacious, industrial architecture, ZKM organizes, curates, develops, and produces digital exhibitions both locally and worldwide, assisting artists in their response to the technological zeitgeist. Their current free exhibition, Writing the History of the Future, boasts a vast swathe of more than 500 objects from their unmatched 20th century media art collection, displayed to great advantage on their massive campus. Displaying video alongside computer-based work, holography, kinetic art and visual poetry, this ground-breaking show opens up fresh perspectives on the art of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, highlighting the ways in which rapid technological change has impacted visual communication.
BEALL CENTER FOR ART + TECHNOLOGY
The University of California, Irvine’s Beall Center for Art + Technology is home to a variety of innovative programs designed to bring digitized art to new audiences, effectively redefining the gallery experience in an interdisciplinary light. Through a mixture of public programs, workshops, exhibitions, and screenings, the Beall Center provides multiple opportunities to engage authentically with temporal media. Their annual Black Box residency initiative provides selected artists with a two-year research-based residency and culminating exhibition, encouraging an interdisciplinary, experimental response to internet-age media. With their focus on resources and presentation front and center, the Beall Center has fostered relationships between art, science, and engineering since their inaugural exhibition SHIFT_CTRL: Computers, Games and Art, curated by Antoinette Lafarge and Robert Nideffer back in 2000. While much of their curatorial ethos explores the artistic applications of data aggregation, a recent retrospective on the work of collaborators Christa Sommerer and Laurent Mignonneau mapped their development of the “tactile gaze” through a series of video-based artistic interventions.
HeK, HOUSE OF ELECTRONIC ARTS
This innovative Swiss institute is dedicated to digital culture and critical discourse on the sociopolitical implications therein, engaging with all aspects of the international art scene. In its efforts to establish a methodology for the collection and conservation of digital art, HeK has helped pioneer the future of digital production in Europe through artistic and institutional collaboration. Their current exhibition, a solo display of Lawrence Lek’s virtual animations and electronic soundscapes, invites viewers to enter a Gesamtkunstwerk-esque portal to the year 2065, a blaring utopia of video interplay and augmented interface.
FACT (FOUNDATION FOR ART AND CREATIVE TECHNOLOGY)
The Foundation for Art and Creative Technology is the premier destination for contemporary video art in the UK, supporting new media endeavors like virtual reality alongside more familiar time-based fare through a sleek combination of wide-ranging research methodologies and borderless, theatrical infrastructure. Over the past 15 years, FACT has commissioned and presented more than 350 digital artworks from artists like Pipilotti Rist, Nam June Paik, Apichatpong Weerasethakul, and Isaac Julien, and has partnered with the Arts at CERN to grant the Collide International award, a research residency granted annually to an artist concerned with the technological future of art. Their current exhibition, REAL WORK, features installations by artists Liz Magic Laser and Candice Breitz, presenting 15 uncensored stories on the subject of unrecognized labor.
Umea University, Sweden
This institution programs intellectually ambitious and internationally diverting exhibitions that address critical aspects of the human condition from its riverside location in Umea, Sweden. Known first and foremost for its innovative architecture, Bildmuseet’s dedication to cutting-edge content has led to some landmark curatorial decisions over the past five years, including an increased focus on digitally bolstered cross-genre interconnectivity. In spotlighting artists and designers by Julian Charriere, Iris van Herpen, Ryoji Ikeda, and Carey Young, the Bildmuseet makes a case for the radical synergy of science, art, and tech.