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Early video: an emerging object in our audiovisual heritage

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BNF, dép. de l'Audiovisuel
Presentation type: 
spoken paper
30 Sept Wednesday
Start time: 
Grand Auditorium

At the end of the 60’s, video entered the amateur and non-professional practices of moving image. The quarter- and half-inch video tape recorders offered news ways of filming and showing images outside the culture and media industry. In the political context of the 1970’s, video embodied the hopes of “alternate media”. For various reasons, notably the so-called “poor quality” of these images and the rejection of any intention to make lasting works, early non-broadcast video was not taken in charge by heritage collections until ten years ago. However, the significant cultural, social and historical value of these tapes is now obvious. Unexpectedly, most of the tapes have survived till today and their content can still be retrieved. This paper will focus on the way the French National Library (BnF) has undertaken to collect and digitize them, in a fruitful relationship with scholars in the “Video des premiers temps” research program. It will also suggest that early video could provide some help to solve the difficult question of online videos legal deposit today (that is, collecting user-generated contents for a long-term heritage purpose), since they have some characteristics in common : non-professional works, widespread by their authors without “editorial” control ; the indifference or refusal to have them last in a heritage collection ; the use of pseudonyms, etc.