It is no secret that video art is one of the hottest mediums of our times. Perhaps the popularity of video art is due to the fact that it is a reflection of our technology-driven lives or maybe people relate to it because the pieces often demand the viewers attention. However, video art has many problems and a lot of potential regardless of the reasons it is enjoyed.
Attend any major art fair or biennial and you will observe that art involving technology is becoming very popular. However, popularity does not mean that the work is selling. The simple truth is that collectors are reluctant to buy video art. It has yet to earn that form of acceptance. This is the major problem facing video artists today- acceptance.
This Year's Art Basel had a plethora of plasma screens and art utilizing high technology. As always, the video work attracted crowds and was awarded praise by onlookers. However, on the secondary market, video art does not fair (no pun intended) so well- selling for far less than it would elsewhere. In other words, if video art does not sell at a major art fair it may stand little chance of selling at an art auction.
Another problem for video art is the very thing that attracts people to it. Unlike traditional art forms, which are still and silent, video art is often alive with noise and rapid visual movement- moving art that attacks the senses. The average collectors enjoys observing these works, but are not apt to purchase video art due to the fact that the piece will "Invade the environment of the collection", as one anonymous collector put it.
The strongest supporters of video art are primarily museums. This is partly due to the fact that they have more room to exhibit video installations. Another key factor is the fact that museums can purchase video art for their collections at a relatively cheap price compared to other forms of art- including photography, which for the longest time struggled in the art market.
For example, a museum can purchase video art by a famous artist for as much as three times less than what they would pay for a painting by the same artist. How long will those great buys last? Each new generation embraces technology more than the last. Remember, many people thought that television would never 'take off'.
Video art has the potential to 'take off' as well- with each new generation that embraces it. I'm certain that future works of art that involve technology may struggle as video art has in recent years. However, the children of tomorrow will be far more accepting than the adults of today. That is something that the collectors of today must remember!
That is the biggest issue for video art, the fact that it can take decades for people to accept new forms of technology that are used in artistic creation. Take photography for example, people questioned the validity of photography as an art form for the longest time. There are still some people today who do not accept photography as art, but it is far more accepted than it was 50 years ago.
The torch of 'is it art' is now being passed to video artists and will continue to be passed to artists who further utilize technology for their artistic endeavors in the future. However, like photography, video art will be far more accepted by future generations. History tends to repeat... collectors need to acknowledge that now or regret it later.
The strong foundation that video art has today occurred during the 1960s and 1970s. Artists like Nam June Paik, Fred Forest, and Andy Warhol rooted the art form where others had failed. However, video art will continue to have an uphill battle for acceptance no matter what famous names are attached to it. That is a fact that collectors must consider, but I don't think it should hold them back from making a purchase.
Think of it as a 'ladder of acceptance'- one form of art involving technology takes the next step toward acceptance once a new form of art involving technology takes the very first step- that first step can have a very long fall! It may take a decade or two for video art to gain the level of respect that photography has at this time. Collectors will flock to purchase video art once that acceptance is gained.
A savvy collector would be wise to collect video art now while the prices are so cheap. I have a strong feeling that many collectors will have big regrets twenty years down the road for having not bought into that market today. Collectors should consider the purchase of video art as an investment in a form of art that has the potential to become a major influence in the art world in the near future.
Will video art replace the value of traditional art? I doubt it. However, it is obvious that future generations will embrace art that utilizes technology. Think about how photography is accepted today compared to 50 years ago. Think of the number of children today who know more about computers and other forms of technology compared to the knowledge of their parents. Think about how computer media has influenced the youth of our time. It only makes sense that their children will will fully accept high technology as well... even if it is in the form of art.
The children of tomorrow WILL embrace the video art of today.
Take care, Stay true,