Easy access to high-resolution video capture, projection, and display devices has generated a surge of interest in creating and displaying artwork based on moving images. At events such as the Moving Image Art Fair in London and New York, international commercial galleries and non-profit institutions present single-channel videos, single-channel projections, video sculptures, and other larger video installations. Degree programs in video art or moving images are popping up in art schools.
Video art is also becoming increasingly popular in corporate workplaces, bars and restaurants, and hospitals and health clinics.
Display Your Video Paintings at Open Gallery
One enterprise that has pioneered a form of video art is Open Gallery, which originated as a division of TVF Media in London. TVF Media is an independent multimedia company that was founded in 1983 as Television and Film Productions by the filmmaker, philosopher, and video artist Hilary Lawson.
After publishing a theory of “Closure” in 2001, Lawson began shooting video in a way that supported his theory that art offers a way to avoid closure of thought and approach openness.
Escaping the narrative traditions of documentary filmmaking, Lawson sought a subjectless frame, kept the camera static to avoid introducing meaning, and allowed the camera to roll for several minutes. This type of art is now known as a video painting.
As Lawson began to shoot more video art, a collective of artists formed around the video painting format.
In a video painting, there is no subsequent editing or manipulation of the image. There is no dialogue or sound. It is about as far removed from the limitations of narrative filmmaking as you can get.
Open Gallery was founded in 2006 and works exclusively with video painting and practitioners of video painting. Today, Open Gallery works with well-known artists such as Sarah Turner, George Barber, and William Raban who have created video paintings as well as rising stars such as Roz Mortimer and Sidsel Christensen.
Joe Smith of Open Gallery says the gallery doesn’t officially ‘represent’ the artists whose video paintings are shown their site: Instead, “We collaborate with them on commissioned projects.” Some projects are group series, which are curated around a certain theme. Others are solo artist series.
In addition to showing video paintings, Open Gallery designs and installs custom displays for video paintings. Open Gallery has created public art installations as well as installations in corporate and hospitality environments.
Clients who purchase video paintings can have them displayed in wall-mounted digital frames or as larger-scale projected-video installations.
Open Gallery offers an assortment of handmade frames in a variety of sizes and finishes. The frames are built to accommodate a display screen and the compact “Laluna” device that stores the artwork and plays the video paintings in a non-linear, intelligent sequence.
Laluna Technology Overcomes Repetitive Loop
Endlessly repeating the same sequence of images in a permanent installation of video paintings would become annoying. In 2003, Open Gallery created technology to overcome the problem of the ‘repetitive loop.’
Their proprietary “Laluna” technology enables video paintings to be combined and titled to form bodies of work that never repeat in the same sequence. Yet they still retain the structure determined by the artist. As a result, says Smith, “Artists working with video painting can incorporate themes and direction in their work without reverting to traditional narrative formats.”
“The artist has full control over the curation of a solo series or of the works included within a group series,” says Smith. “Artists also control the scheduling of a number of different series at exhibitions or festivals.”
But for permanent installations, the software and hardware of the LaLuna computer system ensures that an extended sequence of videos are fed in a way that encourages openness but in a nonlinear way in which the changes are subtle and non-abrasive.
If you check out some of the collections in the Open Gallery, you will see that some series of video paintings will run for hours without repetition.
According to Smith, clients are attracted to the abstract, non-narrative imagery and the subtleties in how the series are curated and the morphology of the sequencing. Open Gallery has installed video paintings in architecture firms, asset management companies, private health clinics, private clubs, bars, and hotels.
“Not only do video paintings provide a genuine fine-art addition to individual homes, clubs, and corporate workplaces,” says Smith. “But they also represent a long-term investment. The works can be swapped out with new material, subject to the terms of the client’s contract with Open Gallery.”
Smith acknowledges that the idea of collecting video art can be a little tricky, because a video painting isn’t quite the same as an “art object.” Having the right environment for screening a collection is also essential to presenting the art as it was conceived to be presented.
Artspace recently published Rachel Corbett’s interview with Pam Kramlich, a pioneering collector of video art. Kramlich says that as video art has an increasingly important place in museum exhibitions, there is likely to be more interest in collecting it.
Open Prize for Video Painting
To raise awareness of video painting as an art form, Open Gallery works with artists who want to exhibit at fairs and festivals. The gallery also sponsors the Open Prize for Video Painting to help discover other artists who are creating video paintings.
Artists with an interest in showcasing their video paintings are encouraged to contact Open Gallery.
The gallery is planning an online screening of a series the first week of September. The details will be announced via Twitter (@OpenEyeGallery).