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Watch This! New Directions in the Art of the Moving Image

December 10, 2010 – March 2, 2012

Read more about media arts in the collection

Image for Watch This! New Directions in the Art of the Moving Image

Marina Zurkow, Elixir II, 2009, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of Gary Wolkowitz © 2009, Marina Zurkow

The Smithsonian American Art Museum has assembled a collection of video and time-based artwork that examines the history as well as latest developments in the art of the moving image. A newly installed permanent collection gallery dedicated to media arts, located on the museum’s third floor, extends the range of contemporary art on display and allows for the presentation of the full range of media art practices.

Watch This! New Directions in the Art of the Moving Image, the first in a series of installations, takes stock of the cutting-edge tools and materials used by video artists during the past forty years. The installation features key artworks from the history of video art as well as a new generation of artists on the cutting edge of new media art practices. The works on display range from Nam June Paik’s early, innovative experiments with video to Cory Arcangel’s reworking of Nintendo games and obsolete computer systems. The nine featured artworks are: Cory Arcangel, Video Painting (2008); Jim Campbell, Grand Central Station #2 (2009) and Reconstruction #7 (2006); Peter Campus, Three Transitions (1973); Kota Ezawa, LYAM 3D (2008); Svetlana and Igor Kopystiansky, Yellow Sound (2005); Nam June Paik, 9/23/69: Experiments with David Atwood (1969); Bill Viola, Surrender (2001); and Marina Zurkow, Elixir II (2009). John G. Hanhardt, senior curator for media arts, selected the works. The majority of these artworks are recent acquisitions, with five entering the museum’s collection in 2010. The works by Viola and Campbell’s Reconstruction #7 are on loan.

Dedicating a permanent collection gallery to time-based art is an important new aspect of the media arts initiative at the museum, which includes acquisitions, exhibitions, educational programs, and archival research resources related to film, video, and the media arts. In 2009, the museum acquired the complete estate archive of visionary artist Nam June Paik. Hanhardt, the leading expert on Paik and his global influence, is organizing the archive. Research into the archive will be the basis for a series of publications of Paik’s writings, exhibitions, and a catalogue raisonné. In 2012, the museum organized the exhibition Nam June Paik: Global Visionary, the first to draw on the resources of the Nam June Paik Archive.

Read More About Media Arts at the Museum
Washington City Paper, March 31, 2011, " Rediscovering Paik: A Chat with Smithsonian Curator John G. Hanhardt" by John Anderson
The Art Newspaper, March 4, 2011, "Fast forward video art" by Anny Shaw
The Washington Post, December 17, 2010, "Watch This! at Smithsonian American Art Museum worth a look" by Michael O'Sullivan; also "The Story Behind the Work: Igor and Svetlana Kopystiansky's Yellow Sound in Watch This!"
Smithsonian magazine, Around the Mall blog, December 10, 2010, "New Video Art Show Opens at the American Art Museum" by Jesse Rhodes

Read More on the Museum's Blog Eye Level
Read This! Five Questions on Media Art with John Hanhardt, February 4, 2011

The James F. Dicke Family Endowment generously supported Watch This!