Monash University

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From the canvas to the web : the expansion of video installation through space.

posted on 2017-01-16, 04:16 authored by Galimberti, Elena
This thesis proposes a novel interpretative key for the study of video installations based on the recognition that these artworks are products of a spatial practice. Through this interpretation, I revisit the history of video installations starting from the seminal work of Lucio Fontana, who, in the 1950s, advocated the expansion of art beyond the limits of the canvas and of matter itself. Video art in turn heralded the production of artworks freed from physical matter, in a free-floating video signal. This was occurring at the same time as Minimalist artists stimulated forms of active spectatorship through the confronting blankness of the often industrially produced art object, leading to what has become known as installation art, which elicits spatial narratives through complex three-dimensional arrangements. Video installation represents in many ways a synthesis of these practices that enables artists to generate immersive environments. On the basis of this history, I argue that the development of video installation has involved its expansion through space. While video installation initially transcended the boundaries of the television set by colonising the exhibition space and the space between screens, a more recent expansion entails the use of large screens in public spaces and projections against architectural elements in the city. The future of this evolution is starting to take shape with the emergence of locative art and the exploration of the interplay between space and place-based technologies. However, if Fontana's vision of art freed from matter is becoming a reality, the 'immaterial' nature of video and the irreproducibility of site-specific video installations produce a problem for the conservation of these artworks. Such conservation issues are compounded by the perishability of supports and the fast rate of obsolescence of video formats. Acknowledging the risk of cultural amnesia associated with the rise of a culture, of immediacy, this thesis considers the currently burgeoning platform for the archiving of this art form: The quasi-utopian space of the Web.


Campus location


Principal supervisor

Daniel Palmer

Year of Award


Department, School or Centre

Theory of Art and Design


Doctor of Philosophy

Degree Type



Faculty of Art, Design and Architecture

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