The Emergence of Video Art in Europe (1960–1980): history, theory, sources and archives.

The Emergence of Video Art in Europe (1960–1980): history, theory, sources and archives.

To date, there is no European-wide history of video art. It is this gap that the present research programme proposes to fill. Firstly by gathering data on the artists, the works and the events that enabled the emergence of this new artistic practice in the 1960s, or that were important in its development in the following years in Europe, and by bringing to light specific national conditions of production and distribution. 

Research project (2021) with François Bovier

This programme is based on an initial mapping of video art on a European scale undertaken between 2016 and 2020 thanks to the organisation of research seminars at the Bibliothèque nationale de France (BnF), the Institut d’histoire de l’art in Paris (INHA) and ECAL in partnership with the Université Paris 8. This first research programme was jointly funded by the Arts H2-H laboratory of excellence and then ESTHC, with ECAL and the BnF as partners. This indexing should be continued in many other regions with the aim of transnational rewriting.

The objective of the research project is twofold. On the one hand, it aims to re-evaluate continental production, to take the measure of its richness and variety, and to identify a European identity – mixed, plural, open, but nevertheless forming a cultural whole – in the practice of video art. On the other hand, the aim is to rewrite the history of this medium on an international scale, counterbalancing the America-centric character of the specialised literature on the subject in order to draw other topographies, which also include Japan or South America, with Europe constituting a node within a wider network.

In order to carry out this project to renew the approach to video art, both historiographically and theoretically, we are relying on the network of some fifty national and international specialists, researchers, archive holders, artists, and witnesses that the previous programme enabled us to establish. By questioning the medium of video, the aim is also to contribute to the creation of an archaeology of new media in Europe through a series of publications and an exhibition.  


Main applicants

ECAL/University of Art and Design Lausanne
François Bovier (project leader)
Grégoire Quenault

Research team

Ségolène Liautaud
Stéphanie Serra


february 2021 – february 2025


Université Paris 8, Saint-Denis
Bibliothèque nationale de France, Paris
Zentrum für Kunst und Medien, Karlsruhe

Supported by

Swiss National Science Foundation
Agence Nationale de la Recherche


ZKM (under discussion)

A series of books in English (ECAL/Les presses du réel)

1. Calame_labyrinthes_fluides_SMALL.jpg
Geneviève Calame, Labyrinthes fluides (Still), [1976-1980], video (colour/sound), prod.: Studios ART
2. Cahen_invitation_au_voyage_SMALL.jpg
Robert Cahen, Invitation au voyage (Still), 1973, video (colour/sound), prod.: O.R.T.F.
3. Otth_abecedaire_televisuel_II_SMALL.jpg
Jean Otth, Abécédaire télévisuel II , 1973, video installation and monitors, prod.: Jean Otth
4. Early_Video_Art_and_Experimental_Film_Networks_cover_SMALL.jpg
Book cover: Early Video Art and Experimental Film Networks , François Bovier (ed.), Lausanne/Dijon, ECAL/Les presses du réel, 2017