• Muiruri George

Catherine Elwes, “From the Margins to the Mainstream,” Video Art: A Guided Tour


Let’s travel back in time, back to a period before video art was an “art.” Long before anyone could be an artist. Catherine Elwes, in her article, “From the margins to the mainstreams” takes us through the journey of the development of video art. During a period when video was not readily accessible to the public, creative use of the same as a form of art had not happened. Video was still used as a means of surveillance. Later on, Video made its way into museums where it was displayed as a means of historic preservation. After this period Video was available to the public to view through televisions. Later on, portable means of recording video became available to the public. This was during a period when the content on television was greatly influenced by cultural politics. As the portable video recorders became more accessible to the public, people were not only able to record videos but the urge to manipulate their work in creative ways sparked. This led to the need for an audience. I feel like this was the beginning of “art” in video. This development evolved fast and people started staging scenes and acts for recording. The roles played by various people in the creation of this pieces of art became more defined and complex. There was a great shift in the focus of art from other forms to Video. People who had, in the past, used photographs to preserve their findings or to create their art were adopting video for the same. It was imperative at this time that the role of the viewer be well established as the means was becoming more accepted among the people and was even being aired on television. This saw the development of the complex relationship between the viewers, the artists and their work. During this evolution the role of the artists in the creation of their work and its intended meaning versus the interpreted meaning saw great changes. We continue to see such changes to date as the field of Video art gets broader.

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