Research project, ECAL 2020


From Video Art to New Media: The Case of the Locarno VideoArt Festival (1980-2001)

This research project looks into the shift from video art to new media, taking a major but little-studied event, the Locarno VideoArt Festival (1980-2001), as a case study: a pioneering space for broadcasting video art in Europe and a place for exploring electronic art which took place every year from 1980 to 2001 on Monte Verità. The analysis of the festival’s archives and the creation of an exhibition of the works presented there highlight its pioneering role for those who wish to explore the history of information and communications theory. 
This research project seeks to refresh our understanding of video art and serves a dual purpose: as a piece of curatorial research to test the hypothesis that video art is characterised by its interactive quality, and a systematic enquiry into the nature and function of video art and new media. 
The research work spreading out over a three-year period combines tools developed in information and communications science with contributions from the history of video and electronic art, as well as contemporary art theory, curatorial studies, aesthetics and critical theory.
As a result the project re-evaluates the place of Switzerland and Europe in the international video art network. Additionally, the previously unpublished festival’s archives, the audio-visual documentation of the seminars and our recorded interviews with the festival’s major artists are published on the project’s dedicated website. 
The curatorial project, which takes place at the Elisarion in Minusio, is centred around the idea of a virtualisation of video art through computer-generated images and the internet. The core ideas behind the research are thus combined with the exhibition medium in order to assess their coherence.

VideoArt Festival Locarno: a Prospective

Main applicant

Dr François Bovier (project leader)

Research team
Dr Adeena Mey (researcher)
Maud Pollien (researcher)
Cédric Fluckiger (assistant)

Visiting lecturers
Lorenzo Bianda
Marco Maria Gazzano
Guest artists 
Lorenzo Bianda
Robert Cahen
Francesco Mariotti
Francisco Meirino

Claudio Berger, Centro culturale e museo Elisarion, Minusio
Elio Schenini, MASI – Museo d’arte della Svizzera italiana, Lugano
Nicole Schweizer, Musée cantonal des beaux-arts, Lausanne
Samuel Gross, Istituto Svizzero, Rome
Marco Maria Gazzano, Università Roma Tre, Rome
Grégoire Quenault, Alain Carou, Labex project, Université Paris 8 and the French National Library, Emergence of video art in Europe


October 2017 – September 2020 

Supported by 
ECAL/University of Art and Design Lausanne
SNSF – Swiss National Science Foundation
Centro culturale e museo Elisarion, Minusio

Invitation card, graphic design by Eurostandard, 2019.  © ECAL/Niccolò Quaresima

Exhibition view. © ECAL/Niccolò Quaresima

Exhibition view. Francesco Mariotti, Alterità (Alterity), 1994, installation based on Amiga 500 computer. 

© ECAL/Niccolò Quaresima

Spreads exhibition catalogue, graphic design by Eurostandard, 2019.

© ECAL/Niccolò Quaresima

Exhibition opening. Francisco Meirino, Sound Performance, 7 August 2019. 

© ECAL/Niccolò Quaresima

Exhibition view. © ECAL/Niccolò Quaresima