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Lindsay Bosch May 23, 2014 at 12:51 pm

The rest is history… and also the present. Thanks to the author Corinna Kirsch for illuminating the important work of the CSTF and the origins of the distribution system for uneditioned video art in America. It is worth noting that the system set in place by the CSTF is not a historical outlier, but a robust and ongoing facet of the economic landscape of media art. With great foresight, CSTF recognized that the non-profit model might better support video art distribution in the long term. After closing in 1985, CSTF donated the bulk of their master tapes to the Video Data Bank in Chicago and Electronic Arts Intermix in New York. These organizations, along with a small number of other video art distributors around the world, took up the mantle of preservation and access, continuing to serve scholars, educators and curators, and to “plant” video outside the system of galleries and private collectors.

Each of these non-profit organizations continues to work to bridge the gap between the aesthetic and commercial realms of video art. Their videos are available to educational customers including universities, festivals, museums, and community media centers worldwide. It is particularly notable that these organizations charge fees that are nearly identical to those charged by CSTF for the same work in 1974. Contemporary non-profit distributors work to promote accessibility, and maintain a cost model that allows access to rare media work for those outside the economic art centers. Proceeds from sales and rentals go to partially support the archive and preservation activities of the collections, while also providing the artists’ with compensation for the continuation of their practice.

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