|Moving image is an unresolved term. Despite its ubiquitous centrality in the discourses and sites of contemporary art, it lacks a sustained history. In its current use, moving image is an overarching designation that abridges the distinct practices of video, film, and more recently digital images. It encompasses contrasting exhibition forms that range from film projection to sculptural video installation. It presupposes a homogenous genealogy of continuity, conflates and obscures the specificity of individual media histories, and tends to blur the differences between technological supports and artistic forms.
But what do we refer to when we talk about moving image in contemporary art? What is being addressed? Film, video, or the abstract convergence entertained by the digital? How to historically account for the inherent hybridity of moving image?
It is precisely from the question of what constitutes, and how to methodologically frame, the history of moving image in contemporary art that this dissertation departs. Considering the founding moment circa 1970, when video art first emerged and destabilized the centrality of film as the predominant technology for the production of images in motion, it establishes a theoretical historiography for moving image around three main axes: hybridity, exhibition and geography.
First, it delineates a historical framework for moving image in contemporary art grounded on specific examples drawn from the hybrid history of video and film. It positions the 1965 film-video installation Outer and Inner Space by Andy Warhol as the first moment in the history of moving image. Secondly, it focuses on how hybridity was both addressed and shaped architecturally in the context of the nascent moving image exhibitions. It addresses in particular the creation of objects for the simultaneous exhibition of film and video, such as the Visual Jukebox designed for the 1970 exhibition Information at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. Thirdly, it examines the situated political geographies that gave origin to marginal histories for the moving image. It focuses on how the emergence of video as a forcibly hybrid practice in Portugal and Brazil (countries where ruling dictatorships in the 1960s and 1970s prohibited the entrance of new equipment) historically questions the globalizing techno-utopian genealogy for the interaction between art and technology in the context of moving image production. Finally, it elaborates on transfer as the inherently material process providing a definition for moving image in contemporary artistic practices. Transfer as a process mobilizes moving image’s historical past, and makes operative the performance of its fictional futures.