Skip to main content

Research Projects

£433,539 (Value to University of Dundee: £400,000)
02.2004 – 12.2008
Prof Stephen Partridge, Principal Investigator


Artists’ Video in the 70s & 80s

Main project collaborators

Prof Stephen Partridge, DJCAD, University of Dundee (Principal Investigator)
Dr Jackie Hatfield, CARTE University of Westminster (Co-Investigator)
Prof Sean Cubitt, University of Melbourne and Editor in Chief of Leonardo Book Series

Research logosDJCAD Team

Prof Stephen Partridge (Principal Investigator)
Adam Lockhart (Technical Archivist)
Emile Shemilt (PhD Researcher)

Context and background

Rewind‘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’ – Prof Sean Cubitt.

Aims and objectives

REWIND addresses 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 a danger that many of these works might disappear because of their ephemeral nature and poor technical condition. The project aimed to conserve and preserve them, to enable further scholarly activity. An archive, major publication, exhibitions, salons and a website, have been employed to disseminate the works to the public and academic community.


RewindREWIND has re-mastered and archived both single screen and installation work on Digital Betacam: the collection currently includes 400 works. These new masters are deposited at the University of Dundee and the Scottish Screen Archive. DVD viewing copies form the basis of the REWIND | Artists’ Video Collection, located at the University of Dundee’s

Visual Research Centre (Dundee Contemporary Arts) and (from 2012), the British Artists’ Film and Video Study Collection Central St Martins in central London.

The website (powered by a Content Management System) offers a searchable database with access to technical information, ephemera, reviews and critical texts on the artists and works, paper archives, interviews, oral testimony, clips and still images from all the works.

The REWIND website, archive and collection are now established as significant resources for researchers, students, teachers, curators and artists.

A major publication, The First Two Decades of British Video Art, edited by Prof Stephen Partridge and Prof Sean Cubitt, will be published in late 2011. Extensive exhibitions and screenings of the Collection, including re-staged installation works, have taken place at major UK venues. LUX (international arts agency) have co-curated and produced, a 3-disc DVD box set REWIND + PLAY, with works from 28 artists from the REWIND collection.

The REWIND team have also presented at numerous conferences, seminars and acted in a variety of advisory roles. The REWIND project facilitated two further successful research grant applications to the AHRC. The Expanded Cinema project resulted in two major outcomes; a symposium at the British FiIm Institute and a three day conference at TATE Modern and a book by TATE Publishing (2011). International interest in REWIND has resulted in Prof Partridge being invited to undertake a similar research programme on Italian video art from the same period.

REWIND - click here to download PDF description

Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC)
£433,539 (Value to University of Dundee: £400,000)
02.2004 – 12.2008