The Museum of Arts and Design in New York kicked off a retrospective dedicated solely to VHS film. DVDs may have eclipsed videotape years ago, but we’re still nostalgic for the rickety plastic cassettes of yore. There’s something about the exposed magnetized spools. Compact discs (or .mp4 files) just don’t have the same I-taped-over-your-dance-recital-to-record-the-new-Beastie-Boys-video tactility.
VHS tape has fascinated New York-based Lithuanian artist Zilvinas Kempinas for a decade.
In Parallels (2007), the artist strung thousands of lines of tape across the ceiling of the Contemporary Art Center in Vilnius. He experimented with setting celluloid in motion: In Double O two high-powered fans keep two reels of tape airborne in constant rippling motion.
A residency at Atelier Calder produced Tube, a circular walkway of tightly threaded tape that produced eerie optical illusions.
In Tube, Kempinas painstakingly strings thousands of feet of unspooled VHS tape between two white doorways, creating a featherlight portal of rippling black lines. Walking through the portal, the strings of tape dance and undulate around you. From certain angles, the strands disappear. From other angles, they reflect their surroundings.