Looking for Video Artists

November 3, 2009

Perhaps the easiest way to find (established) video art on YouTube is to search the site using the name of an already famous video artist. What you will find, then, is one of three possibilities:

1) Their work is not on YouTube.

2) An interview with the artist is on YouTube.

3) Their work has been (badly) scanned and anonymously and probably illegally posted, in fragments and probably not with the artist’s permission.

These three truisms have some associated corollaries.

Most established video artists do not put their art on YouTube because it undermines what are already highly tentative (and quickly collapsing) underpinnings of the (dying) form: it is (was) at least partially financed by sales; it is (was) confirmed through institutional sanction(s); it needs to be viewed in and through controlled contexts and formats (in a white room, with a specified duration on a black box, without ads and surrounding text).

While the interview of the artist does contribute some sort of (positive) sanctioning function, its appearance on YouTube (as is true of everything there) follows much the same distorted logic of sanction already in place in the real world and the YouTube that records it: the more famous you are, the better chance you’ve actually been interviewed, that your interview can be found, or that some people would think that they might want to watch it.