How Video Transformed the World

Mar 5–Jul 8, 2023


Dara Birnbaum. Tiananmen Square: Break-In Transmission. 1990. Five-channel color video, four-channels of stereo sound, surveillance switcher, and custom-designed support system, dimensions variable. Installation view, Dara Birnbaum, Marian Goodman Gallery, London, November 8, 2018–January 12, 2019. © 2022 Dara Birnbaum. Courtesy of the artist and Marian Goodman Gallery
  • MoMA, Floor 6 The Steven and Alexandra Cohen Center for Special Exhibitions

Video is everywhere today—on our phones and screens, defining new spaces and experiences, spreading memes, lies, fervor, and power. Shared, sent, and networked, it shapes public opinion and creates new publics. In other words, video has transformed the world. Bringing together a diverse range of work from the past six decades, Signals reveals the ways in which artists have posed video as an agent of global change—from televised revolution to electronic democracy.

The exhibition highlights over 70 media works, drawn primarily from MoMA’s collection, with many never before seen at the Museum. Featured artists include John Akomfrah, Gretchen Bender, Dara Birnbaum, Tony Cokes, Amar Kanwar, New Red Order, Nam June Paik, Sondra Perry, Martine Syms, Stan VanDerBeek, and Ming Wong. Signals enables audiences to experience video art’s wildly varied formats, settings, and global reach, from closed-circuit surveillance to viral video, from large-scale installation to social networks.

With this broad range of forms and media, artists have championed and questioned the promise of video. Some have hoped to create entirely new networks of communication, democratic engagement, and public participation. Others have protested the rise of commercial and state control over information, vision, and truth itself. Signals focuses on the ways in which artists have used video to ask urgent questions about society and propose new models of public life.

This exhibition contains works with graphic content. Visitor discretion is advised, particularly for those accompanied by children. Please be advised that this exhibition contains flashing lights and strobing which may not be suitable for all visitors.

Organized by Stuart Comer, The Lonti Ebers Chief Curator of Media and Performance, and Michelle Kuo, The Marlene Hess Curator of Painting and Sculpture, with Erica Papernik-Shimizu, Associate Curator, Department of Media and Performance, and Lina Kavaliunas, Curatorial Assistant, Piper Marshall, Exhibition Coordinator, Eana Kim, Marica and Jan Vilcek Fellow, and Rattanamol Singh Johal, Mellon-Marron Museum Research Consortium Fellow, Department of Painting and Sculpture.

Thanks to Athena Holbrook, Dana Liljegren, Binghao Wong, and Simon Wu.

  • 360-degree video view of Stan VanDerBeek’s Movie-Drome (1964–65) at MoMA. To watch the 360 video: When viewing on a desktop computer, click and drag to look around. To view on iPhone, download the YouTube app (if you don’t have it already); open the YouTube link in the YouTube app (mobile browsers do not support 360 video playback yet)

The exhibition is made possible by Hyundai Card.

Leadership support is provided by the Jill and Peter Kraus Endowed Fund for Contemporary Exhibitions.

Major funding is provided by The International Council of The Museum of Modern Art, the Wallis Annenberg Director's Fund for Innovation in Contemporary Art, and the Thomas H. Lee and Ann Tenenbaum Endowed Fund.

Additional support is provided by the Annual Exhibition Fund. Leadership contributions to the Annual Exhibition Fund, in support of the Museum’s collection and collection exhibitions, are generously provided by the Sandra and Tony Tamer Exhibition Fund, Sue and Edgar Wachenheim III, Jerry I. Speyer and Katherine G. Farley, Eva and Glenn Dubin, the Kate W. Cassidy Foundation, Anne Dias, Kenneth C. Griffin, Alice and Tom Tisch, the Marella and Giovanni Agnelli Fund for Exhibitions, Mimi Haas, The David Rockefeller Council, The Contemporary Arts Council of The Museum of Modern Art, Kathy and Richard S. Fuld, Jr., The International Council of The Museum of Modern Art, Marie-Josée and Henry R. Kravis, and Jo Carole and Ronald S. Lauder. Major contributions to the Annual Exhibition Fund are provided by Emily Rauh Pulitzer, The Sundheim Family Foundation, and Karen and Gary Winnick.


  • Signals: How Video Transformed the World Exhibition catalogue, Paperback, 188 pages
  • Press release 0 pages


Installation images

How we identified these works

In 2018–19, MoMA collaborated with Google Arts & Culture Lab on a project using machine learning to identify artworks in installation photos. That project has concluded, and works are now being identified by MoMA staff.

If you notice an error, please contact us at [email protected].


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MoMA licenses archival audio and select out of copyright film clips from our film collection. At this time, MoMA produced video cannot be licensed by MoMA/Scala. All requests to license archival audio or out of copyright film clips should be addressed to Scala Archives at [email protected]. Motion picture film stills cannot be licensed by MoMA/Scala. For access to motion picture film stills for research purposes, please contact the Film Study Center at [email protected]. For more information about film loans and our Circulating Film and Video Library, please visit

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