Video 101: Presaging the Network

Few institutions have a collection of video work that can match Paris' Centre George Pompidou in its historical scope and comprehensiveness. The museum's holdings range from early video used to document performances to later work that explores formal properties specific to the medium, and recent video that borrows narrative strategies from experimental film. The exhibition 'Centre Pompidou Video Art: 1965-2005' takes a 40-year look at the medium, pulling work from all areas of the collection. Founding father Nam June Paik anchors the show with The Moon is the Oldest TV (the oldest work in the Pompidou's 'New Media' collection) but, in addition to greatest hits from video history, the exhibition includes a few surprising precursors to contemporary Web-based practices. Valie Export's use of video to both stage and disseminate events, for example, presages networked performances, while Thierry Kuntzel's studies of the temporal and electronic foundations of on-screen images looks ahead to work that grapples with provisional arrangements of digital information. The touring exhibition's current stop, at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Sydney, Australia through February 25, is a rare chance to see those seldom-shown but influential works on that continent. - Bill Hanley