Ghosts off the Shelf
Organised in the frame of the Berlin-based electronic music festival CTM, Ghosts off the Shelf displayed more than 40 videos made by photographers, painters, sculptors, performance artists… It was an attempt to reveal a never seen archive, to bring a different audience to new media art exhibitions and to play with the aesthetic of VHS and other videos on magnetic tape.
How many ghost movies does Hollywood produce every year? How many books with mystical apparitions become summer bestsellers? How many people try to communicate with the beyond by using old techniques or new technologies? But if we really want to search for ghosts nowadays, we could simply look inside some small black plastic boxes that sit quietly on our shelves
Ghosts Off The Shelf is about the slow disappearance of VHS, S-VHS, VHS-C, Video 8, Hi-8, Betamax, Betacam and other lesser-known analog video formats that use magnetic tape. We all still possess a few of those objects, and because we no longer have the relevant equipment, we can’t see (or even know) what’s on those recordings.
New media artists have for years confronted the question of digitization and preservation of their works. Instead, the participants here are visual artists who produced, in the last decades, some forgotten (i.e. invisible and perhaps never-seen) video pieces. For whatever reasons, they produced analog video, then decided to leave the work behind, moving on to another medium or technique. They share in common a critical point of view with regard to the use of tools, an inventive relationship to their media, or a strong connection with the uncanny in art. Each of the invited artists deliver a tape, we digitize it and create an ‘archive’ of about 30 videos. Having a slight memory of these things that they did years ago — and probably haven’t seen for a while — we ask them to give us ‘ghosts’, pieces that exist only in their memories but which find a new (digital) existence through the exhibition.