Time-Based Media

Media - 2006.20 - SAAM-2006.20_1 - 66616

Nam June Paik, Zen for TV, 1963

The Time-Based Media Art Initiative at the Smithsonian American Art Museum reflects a commitment to develop the museum’s time-based media collections, research resources, and programs. Recent additions to the permanent collection have included works by Vito AcconciCory ArcangelJohn BaldessariChris BurdenJim CampbellPeter CampusKota EzawaChitra GaneshArthur Jafa, Christine Sun Kim, Simone LeighBruce NaumanDennis OppenheimCauleen Smith, and Bill Viola, among others. 

Each March, in honor of Women’s History Month, the museum presents its Women Filmmakers Festival. This annual event showcases a curated selection of powerful film, video, and interactive media works.

In 2009, the museum acquired the complete estate archive of visionary artist Nam June Paik. The Nam June Paik Archive, consisting of research material, documentation, correspondence, sculptural robots, and video and television technology from the artist's estate, is a core part of the initiative. The first exhibition to draw on the resources of the Nam June Paik Archive was Nam June Paik: Global Visionary in 2012.

In 2013, the museum first accessioned video games into its permanent collection—Flower (2007) by Jenova Chen and Kellee Santiago, and Halo 2600 (2010) by Ed Fries. These acquisitions represent an ongoing commitment to the study and preservation of video games as an artistic medium. The museum is acquiring works that explore and articulate the unique boundaries of video games as an art form, and plans to acquire additional video games in the future, working with artists, developers, and programmers to represent this new creative practice.

In 2015, the museum presented Watch This! Revelations in Media Art, a major exhibition of significant works by artists Cory ArcangelHans BrederTakeshi MurataBruce NaumanRaphael Montañez OrtizNam June PaikMartha RoslerEve SussmanBill Viola and others that highlight the breadth of media art, including 16 mm films, computer-driven cinema, closed-circuit installations, digital animation, video games, and more

Selected Works

Media - 2019.33.2 - SAAM-2019.33.2_1 - 138073
single-channel digital video, color, sound; 09:00 minutes
On view
Media - 2020.61A-C - SAAM-2020.61A-C_1 - 140060
single-channel video, color, sound, and printed score shown on music stand; Component A: 03:48 minutes
On view
Media - 2002.23 - SAAM-2002.23_1 - 81981
Electronic Superhighway: Continental U.S., Alaska, Hawaii
fifty-one channel video installation (including one closed-circuit television feed), custom electronics, neon lighting, steel and wood; color, sound
On view
Media - 2010.22A-C - SAAM-2010.22A-C_1 - 72595
Grand Central Station #2
custom electronics, LEDs, and mounted photo-transparency
Not on view
Media - 2010.23 - SAAM-2010.23_1 - 73854
digital animation, color, silent; 04:00 minutes
Not on view
Media - 2013.71 - SAAM-2013.71_1 - 91043
Monster Movie
single-channel video, color, sound; 04:19 minutes
Not on view
Media - 2007.33.11 - SAAM-2007.33.11_1 - 117316
Documentation of Selected Works 1971 – 74
single-channel video, color and black and white, sound; 34:38 minutes
Not on view
Media - 2008.21.3A-D - SAAM-2008.21.3A-D_1 - 117322
Art Make-Up
single-channel video, 16mm film on video, color, sound; 40:00 minutes
Not on view
Media - 2008.21.7 - SAAM-2008.21.7_1 - 117323
Semiotics of the Kitchen
single-channel video, black and white, sound; 06:09 minutes
On view
Media - 2013.73 - SAAM-2013.73_1 - 91039
Halo 2600
video game for Atari VCS, color, sound
Not on view
Media - 2012.56 - 2012.56_1a.jpg - 88539
The Fall into Paradise
single-channel video installation, high-definition, color, sound; 09:58 minutes
Not on view
Media - 2013.70 - SAAM-2013.70_1 - 91035
video game for SONY PS3, color, sound
Not on view
Media - 2011.55.1 - SAAM-2011.55.1_1 - 79825
Barn at North Fork
high-definition digital video, color, sound; 24:00 minutes
Not on view
Media - 2013.50.4 - SAAM-2013.50.4_1 - 117194
single-channel video, color, silent; 03:46 minutes
Not on view
Media - 2013.74 - SAAM-2013.74_1 - 95932
Six Colorful Inside Jobs
16mm film on video, color, silent; 32:53 minutes
Not on view

Related Artists

Vito Acconci
born New York City 1940-died New York City 2017
The artist Ravon Chacon stares directly into the camera in a black shirt
Raven Chacon
born Fort Defiance, AZ 1977
Cory Arcangel
born Buffalo, NY 1978
John Baldessari
born National City, CA 1931-died Los Angeles, CA 2020

John Baldessari was born in National City, on San Diego Bay in California in 1931. He enrolled at San Diego State College in 1949 and received his BA in painting in 1953. He also studied at Berkeley in 1953.

Chris Burden
born Boston, MA 1946-died Topanga, CA 2015
Jim Campbell
born Chicago, IL 1956
Peter Campus
born New York City 1937
Kota Ezawa
born Cologne, Germany 1969
Chitra Ganesh
born New York City 1975
Arthur Jafa- portrait
Arthur Jafa
born Tupelo, MS 1960

Arthur Jafa (b. 1960, Tupelo, Mississippi) is an artist, filmmaker and cinematographer.

Simone Leigh
born Chicago, IL 1968
Bruce Nauman
born Fort Wayne, IN 1941
Dennis Oppenheim
born Electric City, WA 1938-died New York City 2011
The artist Cauleen Smith sits in a chair in a pink top and green pants
Cauleen Smith
born Riverside, CA 1967
Media - portrait_image_114969.jpg - 134917
Nam June Paik
born Seoul, Korea 1932-died Miami Beach, FL 2006

Nam June Paik (1932–2006), internationally recognized as the "Father of Video Art," created a large body of work including video sculptures, installations, performances, videotapes and television productions.

Jenova Chen
born Shanghai, China 1982
Kellee Santiago
born Caracas, Venezuela 1979
Ed Fries
born Bellevue, WA 1964
Hans Breder
born Herford, Germany 1935-died Iowa City, IA 2017
Takeshi Murata
born Chicago, IL 1974
Raphael Montañez Ortiz
born New York City 1934
Martha Rosler
born New York City 1943
Eve Sussman
born London, England 1961
Bill Viola
born New York City 1951


Media - 2020.54.1 - SAAM-2020.54.1_2 - 139600
Musical Thinking: New Video Art and Sonic Strategies
June 23, 2023January 29, 2024
Musical Thinking explores the powerful resonances between recent video art and popular music.
Media - 2010.23 - SAAM-2010.23_1 - 73854
Watch This! Revelations in Media Art
April 23, 2015September 6, 2015
Watch This! Revelations in Media Art presents pioneering and contemporary artworks that trace the evolution of a continuously emerging medium.
Media - 2002.23 - SAAM-2002.23_1 - 81981
Nam June Paik: Global Visionary
December 13, 2012August 10, 2013
The artwork and ideas of the Korean-born artist Nam June Paik were a major influence on late twentieth-century art and continue to inspire a new generation of artists.