Video is an electronic recording of image and sound, flowing seamlessly without divisions. It may exist live, with a recording camera and simultaneous monitor playback, or be fixed as a record on videotape, cassette, or disc. With video, shooting and recording happen together; unlike film, no lab need intervene for development of image or sound. Video is a self-directed format because it's relatively easy and inexpensive to produce. Video has overturned the scale and physicality of the film studio—the empire of celluloid recording and its hold over theatrical distribution. Video, so to speak, has freed ideas and image making from a small group holding power and returned them to the individual.
The dissemination of access to equipment and production control has led to a new potential for egalitarianism. The issues addressed in video art practices give evidence of this shift - as explored in the themes of the Video Art in Canada online exhibition. From monolithic film studios and television broadcasters - as late as the 1970s even the largest cities had no more than five TV channels, all controlled by companies (or governments) with massive investments of money and human resource-video has focused on increasing miniaturization. No longer dependant on studio recording, individuals with hand-held cameras can bring their tools anywhere and hide them easily, at any political demonstration, film, or music festival, any home or office. A fully professional music studio, or a complete editing system for sound and images, can easily be on your own laptop. Cell-phone cameras further miniaturize, offering every chance for witness and evidence. The Internet completes the picture, offering material almost anywhere and at no charge. Piracy is easy; sharing is constant. File-sharing communities have nearly completed their decentralization, with no central server as target to be located and shut down.
George Orwell's image of surveillance and control, portrayed with unnerving reality in his novel Nineteen Eighty-four, was only partly right. Yes, cameras are everywhere. Nothing is hidden. But control has turned out to lie not only at the top through a malevolent "Big Brother". The many individuals now have tools: the question remains, what to do with them?