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AVF '87 - Scratch Video Installation, direct from Britain

4 September 198710 September 1987

The Australian Video Festival, 1987.

Curator: Brian Langer

George Barber
Duvet Brothers
John Scarlett Davis
Kim Flitcroft
Sandra Goldacher
Steve Hawley
Jeffrey Hinton
John Maybury
George Snow
Tom Steyger
Gorilla Tapes

It is difficult to say who originated the term but obviously there are analogies between the scratch music of New York and the emerging visual style of a group of English video makers. These analogies are mostly to do with a playful attitude to the endless offerings and noise of 'the media'. The comments of Ronald Reagan often appear on Rap records just as in scratch videos, famous T.V. productions or people provide the work's starting point.

The important contributions of scratch are its vigor and self-confidence, qualities sadly lacking in much of the video art that preceded it; it's engagement with the possibilities inherent in electronic technology for developing an aesthetic sensibility peculiar to the medium (and its unashamed enjoyment of the pleasures of technology); and, most importantly, its questioning of the whole notion of who owns what in terms of copyright and electronic media in the public domain. What scratch tells the viewer/consumer (a message that is also given implicitly by the home VCR itself) is that no-one/everyone owns TV images; they are there to be recorded, consumed, interfered with. TV of course understands this anyway and is thus barely threatened by the act of piracy. Indeed, it has proved eager to bring its wayward offspring back into the fold or at least to appropriate the stylistic conventions, the structural principles of scratch. Beyond scratch, video art is still faced with the task of developing other modes of representation, other uses of the media that are not automatically reabsorbed by the mainstream media.

Scratch Video is often edited in ‘advertising time' rather than 'Art time'.

Scratch Video can take T.V. footage and sometimes make points with it or show the contradictions within it but on the other hand, it can be the creation of an aesthetic experience that the same footage, taken from TV. wouldn't normally be considered to contain.

Scratch Video at its best is where images taken from TV are born again.