Laboratory for Antiquated Video Systems

A very old, small TV monitor, an old video camera and a remote control with integrated bottle opener

Works of video art produced on magnetic media since the mid-1960s are in acute danger of deteriorating due to material aging processes, and in a few years they will no longer be readable. By means of scientific conservation, restoration, and digitization this cultural good can now be temporarily secured and archived for the long-term.

A Modern Noah’s Ark for Media Art

The Laboratory for Antiquated Video Systems, founded in 2004, has committed itself to the difficult task of conserving video art in the ZKM archives and its current projects and exhibitions.

Precisely because so few museums collect so-called »media art«, and the works of art – whether installations or single-channel videos – often circulate only in the form of a few analogue copies in museums around the world, the ZKM feels especially committed to this challenge. In view of the conservational intergeneration contract, ZKM CEO Peter Weibel refers to the ZKM as a »Noah’s ark for media art«.

The Sustainable Combination of Analog and Digital Technology

The Laboratory for Antiquated Video Systems maintains a collection of functioning original video devices from past decades, from the first consumer video systems on open reels through to contemporary cassette formats. With its machine park of over 300 devices, the laboratory is capable of high-quality digitizing of nearly fifty up-to-date video formats. Because of the highly fragile condition of the digital data created in the laboratory, mirroring them is among the central tasks. In other words, data are copied and stored in various sites on conventional storage media. The digital archives do not fully replace the analogue archives, but rather, supplement them. Alongside the development of a meta-data structure for databanks in which the digital artifacts are registered, the ZKM relies on precise media documentation so as to ensure that information about the content in inventories of diverse origins remains accessible, and that it can be quickly found, and if necessary, interlinked.

Exhibitions & Publications

Video documentation of the exhibition »RECORD > AGAIN! –«, which was shown at the ZKM from July 18–Sept 6, 2009…

The publication of the project »RECORD > AGAIN! – – Part 2. The History of the German video art from its beginnings in the 1960s and 1970s until the beginning of the twentyfirst century«…

Video documentation of the exhibition »Wolf Kahlen: Video Tapes 1969–2010«, which was shown at the ZKM from July 3–Sept 26, 2010…

Video documentation of the exhibition »Vidéo Vintag 1963–1983«, which was shown at the ZKM from Sept 22, 2012–Feb 10, 2013…

ZKM | Karlsruhe
Wissen - Collections, Archives and Research

Lorenzstraße 19
76135 Karlsruhe


ZKM | Laboratory for Antiquated Video Systems
Contact person: Dorcas Müller
Tel: +49 (0) 721-8100/1864