“Our daily living is now arranged around time-based digital communication. News is updated constantly; we are reading, listening, browsing, watching all the time, trying to sort through images, sounds and videos to amalgamate our reality out of this “ocean of information”. To question this, to see other possibilities, to be surprised – art is one of the few possibilities for that escape.” – Robert Seidel 

Vellum, Robert Seidel 

For many years the focus of the moving image was on film and television, but when artists discovered portable video cameras, things began to change.  Video production was no longer expensive. 

“The framed screen of the television set could be a transformative space for painting and, me being the first video generation, the first television generation to grow up (I was also a painter and I grew up studying painting and sculpture) spending vast amounts of time in front of the TV. It was natural for me, once I was immersed in the conceptual pool of contemporary art in the mid-70s, to immediately gravitate to the moving image. I made a very conscious decision in 1975-76, and I just picked up the camera, a Portapack, to take a lot of the things I was painting that were really frustrating me because they were, in some profound way, feeling dated and hopelessly mired in art’s historical antecedents, and make them come alive when I was able to move things in time and space and animate them inside the TV frame. That said, I was also interested in turning the whole thing inside out again as soon as I got inside the picture frame.“ – Tony Oursler 

Tony Oursler 

Because of the pervasiveness of the film genre however, and a few other reasons, moving painting did not begin to flourish until the 21st century.  Two developments sped things along: the arrival of the flat screen television, and the increase in computer power. The flat screen TV looks like nothing if not a digital canvas.  Now that this is the mainstream form of TV, wiping the older cathode ray tubes off the planet in less than a two decades, this display unit provides unique opportunities for the digital artist. The second development is the critical mass of PC power.  Memory and computing power becoming affordable enough to permit professional grade video production workstations at prices accessible to the ambitious artist.  This led, too, to the development of affordable video editing software, powerful suites of tools allowing all manner of manipulation and combining of  moving images.  Combined with the affordability of the high definition video camera, we now live in an age of hi-fi video ubiquity: powerful screens everywhere you look sporting millions of colors in high definitions and the tools to bring content to them.    

Anne Spalter, artist, collector, and author of The Computer in the Visual Arts explains, “Not so long ago, there was enormous political risk. Artist and galleries had to fight tooth and nail to convince people that this was, in fact, art. Now people are used to seeing screens everywhere, they communicate through their smart phone and laptops–the fear of the technology is greatly diminished. “    

Like traditional painting, most moving painting is strong on visual composition.  The shapes and lines interlock to create composition and form.  Visual dialects of color and gesture vary but bear much resemblance to the tongues spoken by generations of oil painters.