Difficulties of Archiving, Preserving and Re-Exhibiting Vintage Video Artworks

Adam Lockhart (Contributing member)

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review


Artists began using video in the mid 1960s when the technology was in its infancy. This became even more prevalent with the arrival of the portable Sony Video Rover in 1967 known as the ‘Portapak’. Due its lower cost compared to studio equipment, it enabled more artists to access video technology and was seen by many as a preferential alternative to film due to the immediacy of playback. It also allowed for experimentation – pushing the technology to its limits and playing on the idiosyncrasies of its failings.

Although many of these early pieces were single screen artworks, there were also many installation based works and live performances. Due to constantly changing technology this work very quickly became obsolete. At the time the practitioners never really considered the issues of long-term preservation of their work and, less so, the equipment that was used to exhibit the work, particularly in art installations. Even works produced more recently have suffered similar obsolescence problems.

The paper highlights these issues and provides examples of work that has been rescued, restored and re-exhibited for the first time - including how these problems were overcome. It details the compromises that have to be made, the difficulties of presenting such work in digital forms and overcoming the lack of knowledge in many galleries.

Also discussed are the important sensitivities that are sometimes overlooked when dealing with artworks and artists. Each artwork has to be considered individually and the original intentions of the artist should be respected.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 26 Nov 2014
EventArchives 2.0: Saving the Past, Anticipating the Future - National media Museum, Bradford, United Kingdom
Duration: 25 Nov 201426 Nov 2014


ConferenceArchives 2.0
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom


Dive into the research topics of 'Difficulties of Archiving, Preserving and Re-Exhibiting Vintage Video Artworks'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this