Founded in 1976 at the inception of the media arts movement, the Video Data Bank is the leading resource in the United States for videotapes by and about contemporary artists. The VDB collections feature innovative video work made by artists from an aesthetic, political or personal point of view. The collections include seminal works that, seen as a whole, describe the development of video as an art form originating in the late 1960’s and continuing to the present. The videos in our collections employ innovative uses of form and technology mixed with original visual style to address contemporary art and cultural themes.
Through a national and international distribution service, the VDB makes video art, documentaries made by artists, and taped interviews with visual artists and critics available to a wide range of audiences.
The Video Data Bank is supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts, which believes that a great nation deserves great art, and the Illinois Arts Council, an agency of the state.
1888: Louis Aimé Augustin Le Prince makes “Roundhay Garden Scene”, in the UK. It is thought to the oldest surviving piece of film footage. Le Prince disappears in 1890. 1895: The Lumière brothers screen their first films. 1896: The film, “Le Coucher de la Marie” shows Mlle. Louise Willy performing a striptease . A film by Albert Kirchner, it’s perhaps the first porn movie 1908: Charles Pathé develops first “newsreel”. 1911: Herbert Marshall McLuhan was born. 1917: “The Gulf Between” , thought to be the first all colour feature film is made by the Technicolor Corporation. 1922: The original British Broadcasting Company (BBC) was founded. John Logie Baird demonstrates first working TV system in London 1928: Un Chien Andalou (An Andalusian Dog) by Luis Bunuel and Salvador Dali released. 1929: Dziga Vertov releases ” A Man With a Movie Camera” 1935: “The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction”, an essay by Walter Benjamin is drafted. Leni Riefenstahl develops the Tracking Shot in her propagandist film “Triumph Of The Will” funded by the German Nazi Party. 1940: The National Television System Committee (NTSC) was established in by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), in the United States. 1947: Institute Of Contemporary Arts (ICA) founded in London Thomas T. Goldsmith Jr. and Estle Ray Mann develop and patent a “video game” for playing on a Cathode Ray Tube (CRT) 1952: BBC uses Vision Electronic Recording Apparatus (VERA) video-tape system but eventually finds it unfeasible_ the tape moved at 5.08m per second. 1953: Henry Koster releases “The Robe”, the first feature film shot in CinemaScope, an anamorphic filming technique, 1954: Gustav Metzger publishes the first auto-destructive manifesto Auto-Destructive Art. This was given as a lecture to the Architectural Association in 1964, which was taken over by students as an artistic ‘Happening’. 1956: Ampex develop “Quadruplex” video recorders for television based on 2-inch tape technology. Used predominantly in TV for 20 years. 1959: Wolf Vostell incorporates a television set into one of his works, “Deutscher Ausblick” 1959. 1960: “Psycho” by Alfred Hitchcock released. "A bout de souffle" directed by Jean Luc Godard and screenplay by Francois Truffaut is released to great acclaim. 1962: “La Jetee” released by Chris Marker. It is composed nearly entirely from still images. The first satellite television signal was relayed from Europe to the Telstar satellite over North America 1963: “Le Mepris” by Jean-Luc Godard released. Phase Alternate Line (PAL) was developed by Walter Bruch at Telefunken in Germany. The format was first unveiled in 1963, with the first broadcasts beginning in Britain and Germany in 1967. 1964: Understanding Media: The Extensions Of Man by Marshall McLuhan is published. 1965: Ron Herron’s “Walking Cities” and Peter Cook’s “Plug-in-City” concieved. 1965: Sony releases the first portable video recorder, the Portapak. Andy Warhol is presented with a Norelco slant-track VCR and shows the first artistic videotapes at a party in NY on Sept 29. Nam June Paik buys one of the first obtainable Portapaks in the USA and soon shows the tape “Electronic Video Recorder” in the NY Cafe Au Go Go. 1966: The first home video game is developed by engineers from the company Sanders Associates in New Hampshire, a defence contractor. London Film Makers Co-operative set up based on Jonas Mekas model of an artist led centre and the New American Cinema Group. The film “The Battle Of Algiers” by Gillo Pontecorvo is released. 1967: Aldo Tambellini opens the Black Gate, the first ‘Electro-media theatre’ in NY, where he arranges performances and “environment actions” with video. The exhibition ‘American Sculptures of the Sixties’ in the Los Angeles County Museum Of Art shows a video installation by Bruce Nauman. Drury Lane Arts Lab opens in London. "Weekend" by Jean-Luc Godard released. 1968: Jean-Luc Godard and Chris Marker use the first Sony CV-2100 half-inch black and white recorder to make documentaries. "Wavelength" by Michael Snow is shown at Arts Lab. "2001: A Space Odyssey" by Stanley Kubrick released. "if" by Lindsay Anderson released. The Dziga Vertov Group was formed by politically active filmmakers including Jean-Luc Godard and Jean-Pierre Gorin. Their films are defined primarily for Brechtian forms, Marxist ideology, and a lack of personal authorship. The group was dissolved soon after the completion of 1972’s Letter to Jane (Godard+Gorin). 1969: Catalonean artists Joan and Oriol Duran Benet are the first to experiment with closed-circuit video (Daedalus Video) Exhibition “TV as a Creative Medium” at Howard Wise Gallery inn NY. 1970: First book on Video art “Expanded Cinema" published in NY. Stephen Beck builds first direct-video-synthesiser. ”Berlin Horse" by Malcolm Le Grice released. US Federal study estimates that the total retail value of all the hard-core porn in the United States is no more than $10 million 1971: Electronic Arts Intermix (EAI) a leading nonprofit resource for video art and interactive media is founded David Hall’s TV Interruptions broadcast without announcement on live Scottish TV. Gerry Schum opens his video gallery in Dusseldorf, 2 years after founding a TV-gallery in Belin. Stanley Kubrick releases “A Clockwork Orange”. He later has the film withdrawn in UK because of “copycat” violence Steina and Woody Vasulka establish The Kitchen Audio Test LAboratory in NY for the presentation, production and distribution of video-art-works. Tony Palmer releases “200 Motels” featuring Frank Zappa and the Mothers Of Invention. It is the first feature film shot entirely on PAL video. Chris Burden is shot by a friend with a .22 pistol as part of a performance called SHOOT and is recorded on video. 1972: Sony launches the first portable colour VCR and introduces a standard system for video cassettes. Godard releases “Tout Va Bien” and “A Letter To Jane”. 1973: Flor Bex opens a video department at the Internationaal Cultureel Centrum in Antwerp and becomes a most important centre of video production and distribution. "Westworld" by Michael Crichton features 2D computer graphics for the first time in a feature film. 1974: A series of video presentations named “Projects:Video” opens in the Museum of Modern Art, NY. 1975: Video exhibitions : “Artists Video Tapes” in the Palais des Beaux-Arts, Brussels; “Video International” in Copenhagen; video section with 28 artists at the 9th Paris Biennale; “Video Show” at the Serpentine Gallery; “First International Exhibition Of Video” in Milan; “Art de Video” in Caracas; “Projected Video” in the Whitney Museum of American Art, NY. Sony develops Betamax, making it possible to record TV broadcasts on video tape at home. 1976: “Video Art: An Overview” in the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. London Video Arts (LVA) is set up JVC and Panasonic release VHS tape format. "Rocky" by John Avilsden is the first film utilising Steadicam technology 1977: The Centre Georges Pompidou establishes a photo-film department and buys around 50 artworks. "Star Wars IV: A New Hope" by George Lucas is the first feature film to use 3D vector graphics within it. 1979: First Ars Electronica Festival in Linz. Circles set up in London to distribute and produce woman artists’ films and viideos. 1980: Sony presents the first consumer camcorder. "The Shining" by Stanley Kubrick released. 1981: “Performance, Video, Installation” exhibition at the Tate Gallery, London MTV launched on August 1, first video played was “Video killed the radio star” by The Buggles. 1982: Sony release the component BETACAM format. Quickly becomes industry standard. Digital variants follow, HDCAM released in 1997. 1983: Chris Marker releases Sans Soleil. 1985: Video art is shown for the first time at the National Film Theatre, London. 1987: Jean Luc Godard starts the video series “Histoire(s) du Cinema" of which the first 2 parts are shown at the Cannes Film Festival. 1989: “ARTEC ‘89”, the first biennale for art and technology takes place in the Nagoya City Art and Science Museum. 1990: “GoodFellas” by Martin Scorsese released. Adobe release Photoshop. 1992: George Holliday videotapes Rodney King being beaten by LAPD officers. The event and its reportage sparks the 1992 LA riots. 1995: Pixar’s “Toy Story” is first full length CGI feature film. 1996: A 23 year old student in America sets up the “JenniCAM” website. Until 2003 it displays her activities in real time, 24hrs a day. Douglas Gordon wins the Turner Prize, the first video artist to do so. Walter Murch accepts Oscar for editing “The English Patient” (which also won best picture), which he cut on an Avid Suite. This was the first Editing Oscar awarded to a digitally-edited film. 1997: Sony launch the first digital camcorder in USA. The Lux Centre opens in London, combining the LFMC and London Electronic Arts. 1998: Bruce Nauman retrospective at Hayward Gallery, London. 1999: Apple release iMovie. The first series of Big Brother is aired in the Netherlands, September 1999 2000: “Three Decades Of Video Art” is presented by VideoCulture in Detroit. 2001: The Lux Center Closes 2002: Endoscopic camera that can be swallowed in a capsule and transmit live images of the internal body developed. Two thirds of all middle and high schools in the US are equipped with surveillance systems. 2003: Americans were estimated to spend as much as $8 to $10 billion on pornography. The majority of pornographic video is shot in the San Fernando Valley. 2005: The Artists Cinema at The Frieze Art Fair opens.