THE BEGINNINGS OF VIDEO ART

The discipline of the video has its origins in the 60s, a time when domestic television became popular and the presence of the image on the screen spread throughout Western society. By that moment, there was, not just a crisis of a social model within the great economic powers of the moment, whose foundations of identity were weak and vulnerable, despite having a solid capitalist base; but also a crisis of the individual and his role in a context of growing influence of communications. Thus, the 60s gave way to some great collective demands, in addition to new forms of expression outside the prevailing orthodoxy. It is the birth of graffiti, of performative art, the break with post-war classicism, the rise of a new prosperous and promising awakening that did not hide the vestiges of a deep social wound dominated by the lack of solidarity, the anti-communist conflicts and the unstoppable anxieties of freedom.

Nam June Paik. Electric highway

The irruption of an element such as the screen in a context still used to traditional communication was a turning point in the evolution of later art. The impact of the television medium prompted deep reflections in the creators, who began to use the object itself as a recurrent ingredient in their creative proposals. Then, topics such as dehumanization, isolation, lack of solidarity, aesthetic impositions, the creation of fashion streams... began to flood the contemporary art scene for new generation artists immersed in the maelstrom of this change of habits. The screen as the axis of creation, the invasion of the media and the alienation of the individual staged many pieces at the beginning of the 70s.

Bill Viola's frames

But a new creative trend also opened up, a new audiovisual discipline that saw video as an evolved form of expression, regardless of the consolidated film industry, reserved for great speeches, or the expansive television production, with content more friendly and digestible to the domestic sphere. Video art established as an alternative space for experimentation with traditional techniques, with a yet unknown versatility... This discipline found easy accommodation among other trends of the time such as fluxus art, happening, or conceptual art. This was the main line of work of leading authors as the Korean Nam June Paik or the German Wolf Vostell, both creators immersed in an insatiable exploration that led them to test different techniques and themes.

Video installation of Jaume Plensa in Chicago

Today video art has its own label, different from that of experimental video, video installation or video action. We are facing a particular trend, increasingly tempting and suggestive that remains an expressive refuge for artists who do not want to be confined in traditional formats and who need to give free rein to a discourse intimately connected with our time. The image continues to play a crucial role in the communication of art, and video creation attracts more and more public interested in a new language, more refined and elegant.

 

Thirteen years have passed since its beginnings, and in all this time the Video Art Festival PROYECTOR has grown and consolidated its position as an essential event in this discipline. Since its inception, the initiative has tried to give visibility to a discipline that has always been relegated to the background in the usual exhibition circuits. Although video creation is not new, since it emerged by its own in the 60s of last century, the way to get to know it and enjoy it has not always been easy. On many occasions, the exhibitions only included a few isolated pieces within the main route, as if the video was the anecdotal contribution to the whole. However, our daily lives are invaded by moving images, and there is a paradox that video art, despite being a format of artistic expression very much in tune with the habits of today's society, remains a minority discipline

Frame from “Hel City”, by Gregorio Méndez Sáez, 2019

To some extent, PROYECTOR was born to reverse this situation, to value video as a creative format and to offer a wide, itinerant space to host a multitude of proposals, coming from inside and outside our borders. In this time, the growth of the festival has led it to travel the world, but also, to be a benchmark that each year arouses more interest. In the open call to receive proposals, they reach almost half a thousand, and a hundred works selected by the jury are a representative sample of different ways of understanding video creation, with pieces mainly from Europe, Latin America, Southeast Asia and the Middle East.

In turn, PROYECTOR wants to be more than a video showcase and offers a large program with talks, workshops, masterclasses, meetings with artists, visits and concerts. A complete experience that always has the moving image as a backdrop.

El Instante Francisco Ruiz de Infante. El bosque que se mueve (errores de medida)

In this evolution, another circumstance stands out: video is a creative format that has its own codes, but it is also one of the disciplines most open to artistic hybridization and the widening of uses. The video may, therefore, be the genuine idea of an author who conceives an autonomous project to be carried out in this format, but it can also be the complementary result of an action or the documentary record of a previous performance being recorded to guarantee its survival. The versatility of the moving image and the potential that it has acquired in recent years allows us today to speak of numerous branches of art that focus on the fusion of languages and the integration of techniques and methodologies from other sectors, and in many of them, the video is still a cornerstone. So it is with technological art, interactive sound art, performance recording, the transformation from big data to image, artificial intelligence, and a long etcetera. Precisely for this reason, PROYECTOR offers a panoramic vision of this reality, with an extremely interesting program that plays with the variety and wealth of proposals.

Frame from “Herdança”, by Thiago Rocha Pitta, 2007

The 2020 edition will run from September 9th to 20th. As usual, the program displays in various venues throughout the city of Madrid, each of which will house a small section of the activities. This year the festival will count with the collaboration of the Casa Árabe, White Lab, Cruce, El Instante Fundación, ¡ésta es una PLAZA!, Extensión AVAM (Matadero Madrid), Institut Français de Madrid, Medialab Prado, Quinta del Sordo, Sala Alcalá 31, Sala El Águila, Secuencia de Inútiles and White Lab, in addition to the collaboration of the INELCOM Collection and the video art collection of Teresa Sapey.

The festival is also the ideal place to articulate the cultural fabric, since it involves numerous professionals in the sector, from curators to creators, from centres managers to critics and teachers. The 2020 program also has the collaboration of the FUSO Festival and the Museo Reina Sofía, which are providing some of their pieces for the exhibition.

In short, an appointment that lovers of contemporary art should not miss and that promises many novelties in this 13th edition.