REWIND Artists’ Video in the 1970s & 1980s

“Of the 47 minutes of film exposed in 1895, the world’s archives presently hold about 42. But of the work from 1896 to about 1915, a tiny fraction remains. In those years the feature film was born, and we have reports of extraordinary experiments with colour, sound and widescreen as well as revered performers and artists captured on film but now lost.

The arrival of the video-portapak in 1968 was as essential a moment of cultural history. The early days of a new medium are always immensely fertile, since no-one knows what they are supposed to do with it, so that pioneers feel free to try everything. Those experiments can be immensely fruitful for new makers”

– Sean Cubitt

The original project ‘REWIND|Artists Video in the 1970s & 1980s’ was established in 2004 with funding from the Arts & Humanities Research Council.

The project was to provide a research resource to address the gap in historical knowledge of the evolution of electronic media arts in the UK, by investigating specifically the first two decades of artists’ works in video. There was also a danger that many of these works might disappear because of their poor technical condition and obsolescence. The project aimed to conserve and preserve a significant number of them, to enable further scholarly activity.

So far REWIND has remastered and archived over 450 works (single screen and installation) on Digital Betacam and as high-quality files on disk. These new masters have been deposited at the University of Dundee and the National Library of Scotland Moving Image Collection. Viewing stations (videotheques) are available for curatorial, scholarly and public access at the Visual Research Centre, Dundee Contemporary Arts and Central St Martins College of Art & Design, University of the Arts London. These videotheques allow users to access the majority of single screen works and documentation of installation works.

The artists approached to take part in the project were selected by the project team and advisory panel, who were seen as the most influential and important UK based artists of the time.

Most of artists agreed to be video interviewed, which were also transcribed, these are all available in the database section of this website. Along with these are artist profiles, scanned documents relating to the artist and their works, technical information, reviews, stills and some clips of the works. Full works will be added to the website where possible in due course.

A DVD Box set entitled REWIND+PLAY was produced in conjunction with LUX focussing on the 1970s. More information here.

A printed publication ‘REWIND|British Artists’ Video in the 1970s & 1980s’ was produced in 2012 (published for UK by John Libbey Publishing; and for USA by Indiana University Press), with contributions from Sean Cubitt, Grahame Weinbren, Yvonne Spielmann, Malcolm Dickson, Stephen Partridge, Adam Lockhart, Jackie Hatfield, Emile Shemilt and Mike Leggett, with a Foreword by Brian Winston. More information here.

Many exhibitions and events have taken place either curated by REWIND or co-curated with other galleries/curators. These can be found in the Events page on this website. Quite a number of artists’ work has become more visible and some artists have started to make work again due to the endeavours of the project.

Original Team:

Principal Investigator: Prof Stephen Partridge

Co-Investigator: Prof Sean Cubitt

Research Fellow: Dr Jackie Hatfield

Media Archivist: Adam Lockhart

Research Asst: Emile Shemilt

Interviews: Maggie Warwick

Assistants and Interns: Rebecca Clark, Holly Knox -Yeoman, Johanne Cameron, Sanna Dyker, Julie-Ann Delaney, Harriet Warman, Donna Hart, Charlotte Jones, Chloe Mutton, Victoria Stobo, Sarah Laing, Claudia Muller-Herman, Danny Hill, Natalie Rubczak, Jana Pisarikova

Advisory Panel: Ian Christie, Clive Gillman, Catherine Elwes, Julia Knight, Janet McBain, Charlie Gere, Jane Prophet, Stuart Cross