Art Term

Time-based media

Refers to art that is dependent on technology and has a durational dimension

Bruce Nauman, ‘MAPPING THE STUDIO II with color shift, flip, flop, & flip/flop (Fat Chance John Cage)’ 2001
Bruce Nauman
MAPPING THE STUDIO II with color shift, flip, flop, & flip/flop (Fat Chance John Cage) 2001
Tate
© Bruce Nauman/ARS, NY and DACS, London 2017
Roderick Buchanan, ‘Sodastream’ 1997
Roderick Buchanan
Sodastream 1997
Tate
© Roderick Buchanan
Christian Marclay, ‘Video Quartet’ 2002
Christian Marclay
Video Quartet 2002
Tate
© Christian Marclay

Usually time-based media are video, slide, film, audio or computer based. Part of what it means to experience the art is to watch it unfold over time according to the temporal logic of the medium as it is played back.

Early examples of time-based media date back to the 1960s, in particular the art of Bruce Nauman, who would record happenings to be played back in the gallery. His Performance Corridor, made in 1968, was a recording of a performance in which people edged their way down a dark narrow tunnel. Since Nauman’s early explorations, artists have also experimented with the elasticity of the medium in order to stretch time and space. In 1993 Douglas Gordon slowed down Alfred Hitchcock’s film Psycho for twenty-four hours.