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week11    by Andries Loots

 VIDEO AS AN ART MEDIUM
The Association for Visual Arts ( AVA ) at the Metropolitan Gallery, 35 Church Street,
Cape Town, is hosting an exhibition of  Video Art entitled  " CHANNEL ". This groundbreaking exhibition seeks to expose new work by the foremost practitioners in the Video discipline and will be on till the 10th April 1999.

Video Art describes the work of artists who prefer this medium to painting,  drawing or sculpture. The work can be narrative but often explore other methods of conveying their message like written text or visual imagery. Video Art can also form part of a bigger installation. As in any other medium quality also plays an important role when utilizing this medium.

The video revolution started in 1957 in American TV Stations where Black & White images were recorded on cumbersome magnetic tape recorders.

Pioneering artists like Nam June Paik,  Peter Campus,   Richard Serra and Vito Acconci grabbed at this new technology but it was only in 1968 when a portable video camera and recorder became widely available that this technology moved outside the recording studio's to become an art medium.

In South Africa in the late 60's the Minister of Post and Telegraph,  Dr. Albert Hertzog regarded television as " the tool of the devil " and it was therefore only introduced long after his death. Video equipment only became commercially available in the late eighties. Some art films were still banned up to 1994 and the government of the day exploited TV for their propaganda.

The fist major local video was shown by artist Malcolm Payne in 1974 in Johannesburg. Morris La Mantia produced a video in the early nineties utilizing the now freely available video medium. He refilmed his own images off a screen repeatedly while painting on the screen. Artists documented their performances at very low expense and some of these video's were made for less than R 30 ( US$ 5 ).

1991 Saw one of the earliest exhibitions in South Africa and in 1993 Barend de Wet and Hofmeyer Skolz made the first video installation nominated for an award. 1996 Saw a complete video exhibition called " Scramble " which gave new exposure to Video Art in this country.

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