[fig. 01] Vidéothéatre, 1980


Dominique Sirois-Rouleau

The history of video art is intrinsically linked to Vidéographe’s history. The centre evolved alongside new tools and methodologies and it has facilitated the development of new technical and artistic possibilities ever since. For an ever-growing number of artists, Vidéographe’s 50 years represent as many years of experimentation, exploration and innovation. The original experimenters have become established artists, indeed trailblazers of video creation. They made advances in production, taught their successors, and developed practices that nourish and inspire new discoveries in each new generation.

[Fig.02] Unité de visionnement

In his text, Luc Bourdon, himself a child of this era of video creation, talks about the emerging videomakers’ journeys and how they gained the recognition of the previous generation, who were excited by the recent technical transformations. Vidéographe acted as a catalyst by bringing under one roof the people and the techniques that would make video art a recognized and celebrated art form. Having been involved in the early years of Vidéographe as well as its 50th anniversary celebrations, Bourdon looks at the the organization and its role in the community from a human perspective. Maria Nengeh Mensah indirectly continues the theme of the social aspect of the centre’s mandate by specifically underlining the importance of remembering, which is made possible through its collection. Today, the collection at Vidéographe comprises some 2,500 works. Its platform Vithèque is an important research tool for the history of video. Mensah highlights the important role the artist-run centre can play in academic research, as its collection offers access to historical knowledge and practices, and encourages the showcasing of these through emerging research such as her own. The author is interested in works from the 1980s and 1990s that address HIV/AIDS and the experiences of communities affected by the disease. She revisits the political aspect and proposes an intersectional reading of the corpus. Her research demonstrates how important it is to the advancement of knowledge about the medium that the works and writings be accessible.

[Fig.03] Got Away in Dying Moments, 1992.
[Fig.04] Libidante, 1972.

The convergence of technical exploration and research that has distinguished Vidéographe over the decades is demonstrated by Julie Ravary-Pilon’s exploration of the influence of the videographic tool in artistic practices that centre around the body. The author explores notions of voyeurism and the representation of the sexualized body at a time when effects made possible through the video medium were just being discovered. From flesh to image, from one materiality to the other, Ravary-Pilon reveals the telescopic play of the subject’s transfiguration through distortion. Methods of video retroaction and retroproduction are also studied by Sam Meech. He describes video feedback techniques from an historical perspective, identifying the works and artists fundamental to these practices, and their importance to video art. Meech’s proposition calls attention to materiality and formal procedures, which can be veiled by the narrative momentum of some works.

France Choinière’s text concludes this anthological exercise with an overview of technological advances and other technical innovations that have brought the medium to its current form. The author approaches the historical subject with a sensitive and clearly well-informed understanding of the work and those who produced it, so that the thread that Bourdon began on the subject of community subtly ends on the subject of materials. In summary, 50 years of moving image practices reminds us that, beyond the medium itself, video is primarily the business of creatives who have never ceased to challenge and push the boundaries of art for their curious audiences.



[Fig.05] Vidéo-cortex, 1974.

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[Fig. 01] Musique d'intermission, 1970
Luc Bourdon