The Rise of Video Art

The availability of TV technology outside of a corporate environment—preeminently Sony’s marketing of the first portable videotape recorder in 1967—gave rise to a video art movement. From the late 1960s through the 1970s, visual artists employed television technology in the service of abstraction or to explore personal, psychological, or political issues.

These videos by Otto Piene and Allan Kaprow were originally commissioned by Boston public television for The Medium Is the Medium (1969), the first TV program devoted to the subject of video art. This historic show brought the story of artists on television full circle, celebrating artists whose work embraced TV technology while transcending its corporate and commercial motivations.

Otto Piene on TV

Kaprow on TV

Screen captures, The Medium Is the Medium, WGBH, 1969. (Above, top) Otto Piene, Electronic Light Ballet, 1969; (Above, bottom) Allan Kaprow, Hello, 1969