Museum Home Past Exhibitions California Video

March 15–June 8, 2008 at the Getty Center

ExhibitionOverviewEventsPublicationsYour Reaction
Solo Flight / Labat

This exhibition reveals the variety of artistic experimentation that has occurred in the video medium throughout California over the last 40 years. Video has grown to be one of the most common media used by contemporary artists, and Greater Los Angeles, San Diego, and the San Francisco Bay Area have been among the world's most important centers for its development. The extraordinary variety of video art produced in California also points to one of the difficulties of describing its nature. The term has come to encompass several different kinds of art that often have different intentions and audiences.

While portable video is ubiquitous today, in the late 1960s and 1970s it was a new technology. Visual artists were among the first to experiment with video, and many saw the new medium as a revolutionary tool that could alter the way art was made and distributed. They began using it in a variety of ways—as an abstract electronic canvas, as sculpture, as an extension of live performance, and as a vital form of political art. These early approaches to video differ greatly from one another, but they also share some important traits, foremost of which is a desire to produce something utterly unlike commercial television and film.

As video evolved throughout the 1970s and 1980s to become an accepted form of gallery display, a proliferation of technical advances brought access to a wider range of tools, including color video, better editing equipment, basic special effects, and much more sophisticated sound. These advances, along with the remarkable new possibilities offered by digital video, have led artists to explore new forms of performance, narrative, political activism, and effects-driven presentation without the formal and mechanical limitations of earlier periods. Tools such as video projection have also allowed artists to create new forms of video installation, a type of video art that occupies space in a sculptural and architectural way. The artists featured in this exhibition provide a sampling of the rich history of video art in California, from its earliest days to the present.

This exhibition was co-organized by the Getty Research Institute and the J. Paul Getty Museum.

Bring Your Own!

Each video kiosk in the exhibition has two sets of headphones available.

Avoid waiting at the video kiosks by bringing your own headphones to the exhibition.

Visit the Video Gallery

California Video promotional trailer