TTTP Video Collection, 1998

The dream of access to unlimited cultural material haunted the Internet
in the early 1990s, and one of the most sought-after items was
art videos. Access to such videos had been determined by the limited
number of videocassettes in circulation, but the advent of the
Internet led to the belief that these videos, once converted to digital
form, would soon be accessible on a global scale. The impressive list
of one hundred seminal media art works from the early 1970s to the
early 1990s that constitute the TTTP Video Collection is an accommodation
of this dream, fulfilling it with purported “Satellite and
Video Speed Internet.” However, the service does not quite work as
advertised. In fact, it was never supposed to. The collection has a significant
disclaimer stating that the videos are not accessible at times
when they are being screened in a museum. Users who try to access
the videos get messages such as “Your videos can not be downloaded
at this moment” and “Check you Internet Connection.” In the spirit
of open peer-to-peer communication, users can react to the collection
by clicking on the “Tells us!” button on the front page of the website.
Some users have expressed anger and called out the collection as a
joke, but the majority have praised it while desperately asking how
they could upgrade their system to access the collection and download
the videos. The complications were intended to generate critical
awareness of the new medium of the Internet and the promises of
its cultural imaginary. Even if several thousand art videos are today
accessible online on platforms such as Ubuweb, we still have reason
to be skeptical about how the Internet gives access to different kinds
of material.

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