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Canadian Film and Video Art and where to find it

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Iga Janik, Curator of Contemporary Art | June 23, 2017

Canadian Film and Video Art and where to find it.

We spend so much time with media. So much video. Everywhere. And yet, so little art. Video art in particular. With so many streaming platforms out there, why is there no Netflix for media art? We’ve been protecting artists work for so long, we may have moved it too far from the public realm.

I’ve been working in galleries for more than a decade now. And while my strengths are in sculpture and installation, over the past five years I have been involved in media arts organizations, with great interest in how we preserve, and distribute single channel work by artists to a broader audience. We cannot remain gate keepers preventing access to so much valuable material for the fear of having the works copied, stolen, plagiarized. Especially now, where content is shared so readily. So how do we protect while sharing?

Last summer I attended a conference of centres that produce, present and distribute media art in Canada. Some have been around for many years, others are new on the scene. If you’ve never considered video art, how to find it, how to see it, you probably don’t know that one of the largest distribution centres in the county is V Tape.

It’s a brilliant place for research, and viewing content. It’s a place where old technology is treasured, and replaced so that obsolete formats can still be accessed. And yes, you can browse their catalogue online, but you’d better get there in person to really get a sense of what tremendous holdings are available.

But we watch things from our couch. On the train. On our phones. If you’re not a researcher, why bother spending all this time looking for work you don’t even know exists. And if you’ve never seen video art, how would you know what it even is.

Several years ago a fair number of organizations got together to talk on how to solve this future access problem. How to place Canadian artists work in the hands of the public. How to make the works easy to find, and quick to preview.

Last year, as a result, VUCAVU was born. It’s a site where you can find it all (eventually). While launched last year at the very conference I mentioned and still quite young, I took a look at what’s been uploaded, and how access is provided. I love the three tiers access to the full works. I love the easy preview, and the search categories make it so easy to navigate. I hope you’ll take a look at what’s already there. And watch the site grow with content. Video art is strange, in the best ways possible. See for yourself.