Nam June Paik, Bill Viola and Matthew Barney are pre-eminently the names that every Videoart lover would mention without hesitation.
Two video installations by Bill Viola
But what is the Videoart? Looking at what is proposed today, one would say that it is everything that deals with the moving pictures and Art.
Personally i believe that there is confusion, or at least that the term is misused to define any cinematic artwork.
The Videoart was born only four decades ago, yet today it has been already distorted, and many expressive techniques joined in it.
The Videoart was born with the appearance of the first television systems and the relative methods of video-recording.
Nam June Paik can be considered the father of Videoart; he has defined the two ways with which an artwork of Videoart can be enjoyed.
The first way is the simple and direct one for which the artwork is transmitted by a television screen; for example as in the video of Zbigniew 'Zbig' Rybczynski.
Some frames of "The fourth dimension" (1988) by Zbigniew 'Zbig' Rybczynski
The second way is the one that expects the use of the television screen itself as a part that constitutes the artwork; in this case we are talking of Videoart installations. This is the way that characterizes the artworks by Nam June Paik.
"TV Buddha" (1974) installation by Nam June Paik
In both cases the Videoart expects that the artwork is based on the use or the presence of video and television technologies.
"Flusso elettronico" (Electronic flow, 1982), Video-performance by Giuliano Sturli
We could mention for example also the commercial videoclips by Chris Cunningham, known for his collaboration with Aphex Twin. Many of his Cyberpunk style videos are artworks of Videoart in every aspect, because the video is at the base of their realization, of the fruition and sometimes also of the subject.
Some videos by Chris Cunningham
If we accept these parameters on which the Videoart has been founded, we realize that some artworks, today considered Videoart, indeed do not suit to this definition.
In fact today the Videoart seems to have become the cauldron where to include all the cinematographic artworks that still do not have a proper category, a proper definition.
Let us take for example the cycle "Cremaster" by Matthew Barney: where the video element is present? The video is absolutely not determinant: the artwork is too close to the cinematographic productions, and if it were a film or a theatrical representation it would not change much. In my opinion the series "Cremaster" needs a different definition; they are artistic films, experimental cinema or something that has not been defined yet.
Moreover "Cremaster" introduces all those characteristics typical of the cinematographic Art, that is to say they are artworks realized thanks to an establishment of different artistic disciplines, with the collaboration of different artists: scenography, lights, make-up, costumes, dance, et cetera.
Some instants of the "Cremaster" cycle
If artworks like "Cremaster" can be defined Videoart, then it is Videoart the whole cinematography, including the films with super-heroes, sentimental dramas and comedies.
Do not misunderstand me: Matthew Barney is an Artist and i am not comparing him to that merely commercial films.
I am saying that the Videoart and the experimental cinema are different things; and a film with some intellectual contents, not easily comprehensible or with an eccentric aesthetics, is not necessarily Videoart. With Cremaster we estrange too much from the definition of Videoart, landing to an "artist's cinematography", as for example the one by David Lynch.
Cinematography, Videoart or what other? If we made to join all the animation visual arts in one only category, this would be too much generic. In the other hand definitions are used to define finite ensembles of things.
Giuliano Sturli - La videoperformance
contribution by Atelier Sturli, 3 May 2008
Nelle Videoperformance Sturli ha sempre progettato l'azione che eseguiva personalmente, servendosi nei primi anni Settanta di un operatore che eseguiva rigorosamente il suo progetto. Successivamente con le tecnologie più avanzate, con il comando a distanza, riusciva a realizzare le sue opere in videoperformance da solo.
Il suo desiderio creativo, è stato sin dall'inizio quello di riunire in un unico linguaggio, l'azione corporale, la ripresa video e la sonorità. La sonorità inventata da Sturli non è una colonna sonora esterna, ma un marchingegno realizzato con oggetti o materiali vari, in presa diretta con il movimento del corpo.
L'opera di Sturli è immateriale e si muove nello spazio e nel tempo. Significative sono state le sue teletrasmissioni di opere-video per i Licei Artistici e l'Università di Genova, dove gli alunni poterono vedere nelle aule, una rassegna di videoperformance teletrasmessa. Queste teletrasmissioni furono eseguite dai primi anni Ottanta in diverse città italiane. Attualmente Sturli continua il suo lavoro artistico nell'ambito della medial art.