Dr. Dorcas Müller (1973) studied media art at the University of Design Karlsruhe with Professor Ulay (Uwe Laysiepen) and holds a PhD in media theory (Prof. Boris Groys). Among the recognition that she has received for her artwork have been stipends from the Kunstfonds Bonn and the Körber Foundation, Germany. Being research associate at the ZKM | Center for Art and Media Karlsruhe since 2004, she participated on numerous productions in the field of video art. In 2011 she became the head of the ZKM | Laboratory for Antiquated Video Systems.
Artists began to work with video
Artists began to work with video when the first mass-produced consumer systems became affordable in the 1960s. Since videopioneers of the first generation like Nam June Paik or the Vasulkas started with Sony Open Reel Recorders, they have seen over 100 different—and therefore incompatible— video formats selling on the market. Founded in 2004 as part of the ZKM | Center of Art and Media Karlsruhe, the Laboratory of Antiquated Video Systems is specialized in the preservation and restoration of video art made on magnetic tape. The machinery needed for this process includes a collection of around 300 increasingly rare video players with US and European system and coding variations. Almost all magnetic tapes in the archives sooner or later fall victim to chemical processes of degradation, even if they are stored under optimal conditions. It was only in 1981, when the first SONY Open Reel Tapes showed the so-called sticky-shed syndrome and were unplayable. In the late- 1990s U-matic tapes were discovered to cause problems with erosion of the polyester-based binding system of the magnetic layer. Today Betacam SP tapes often show poorer results than the original U-matic masters you will find in the second row of the archive. Electronic art that is stored in hermetic archives is continuously losing its value and is much more in danger of disappearing than any other art. Trouble is, these media are often shorter-lived than the people who made them. Many hours of early video art will only be rescued if transferred into digital formats. We have to face the suspicion that transferring obsolete media is an endless process, which would only be stopped by the end of human culture. The ZKM | Center for Art and Media accepts digitization requests from all over the world in exchange for copies of artwork either for the research library, or to be exhibited in the museum or as part of a wider collaboration. But capacity is limited.