In the late 70s, the film medium's intellectual monolith Hollis Frampton announced that the video frame was "a degenerate ameoboid shape passing for a rectangle to accomodate cheap programming of late night movies." Never has this fact been more gloriously indulged than at the Museum of Art and Design's ongoing three-month celebration of everyone's magnetic tape: VHS. The series traces VHS' impact on every facet of the movie process from production to distribution, including workout tapes.
VHS assumed the throne of consumer videotape formats after defeating competeing Betamax and VX technologies. Rebecca Cleman, distribution director of Electronic Arts Intermix and one of the series' co-organizers, stressed that VHS was "an inferior format, that won over Betamax primarily because it could boast longer recording times. The poor quality of VHS, of course, makes it represent decaying technology, which always gets fetishized."
Video continues to maintain an aesthetic presence within the art world. From pioneers to contemporary practicioners, qualities associated with the aesthetic of VHS--a warm, gummy image, static lines and the low quality that comes from infinite playback--have become standbys of the gallery scene. Tonight, Cleman will present a lecture entitled Aesthetics of Analog, which will investigate the qualities of consumer video recording processes. Said Cleman: "It’s important to think beyond the VHS tape, to understand that this is part of a system of components – television, VCRs, camcorders – that created a really new culture (as of the 80s) of home video, that was very different than home movies (from film) . . . video engenders a participation that folds spectator, producer, and distributor into one."
In June, MAD showcased works like Herschell Gordon Lewis' 1967 psychic adventure Something Weird, the inspiration for Something Weird Video in 1990, which revivified Lewis' film along with works classics by Doris Wishman ...