Media and Performance Art

See what happens when artists perform—live or on-camera—and incorporate themselves and their audience into their work.

Tools & Tips:

Media and Performance Art


Performing for the Camera

Artists break the molds of video and film, and broaden the boundaries of art.


Participation and Audience Involvement

Without viewers playing a part, the work of these artists would be incomplete.


Since the early 20th century, artists have been incorporating such non-traditional forms as dance, music, and their own actions into their art. The artists of the Dada and Futurist movements, for example, presented provocative performances meant to shock the public awake to their vision of society. But before World War II, performance occupied a less privileged place in the art world than the traditional mediums of painting, printmaking, and sculpture. Even the relatively newer and rapidly developing mediums of film and photography were more readily accepted as art than performance.

By the late 1950s, artists found themselves confronted by the realities of postwar reconstruction, new wars and ideologies (among them the Vietnam War and Communism), burgeoning social movements spurred by historically disenfranchised populations and increasingly disaffected younger generations, and a flurry of technological innovations. Within this cultural climate, artists began to question the role, relevance, and definition of art as they knew it. They blurred the boundaries between disciplines and embraced and re-configured new technologies, creating works that have come to be known as Media Art.

Perhaps most radically, artists from the early 20th century on have been breaking down the barriers between art and life by presenting projects outside of the context of museums and galleries, staging performances in the public sphere, and bringing everyday activities and materials into their work. Suddenly, art could be anything, and everything could be art.

1. A series of moving images, especially those recorded on film and projected onto a screen or other surface (noun); 2. A sheet or roll of a flexible transparent material coated with an emulsion sensitive to light and used to capture an image for a photograph or film (noun); 3. To record on film or video using a movie camera (verb).

An image, especially a positive print, recorded by exposing a photosensitive surface to light, especially in a camera.

A three-dimensional work of art made by a variety of means, including carving wood, chiseling stone, casting or welding metal, molding clay or wax, or assembling materials.

A work of art made from paint applied to canvas, wood, paper, or another support (noun).

A term describing a wide variety of techniques used to produce multiple copies of an original design. Also, the resulting text or image made by applying inked characters, plates, blocks, or stamps to a support such as paper or fabric.

A term that emerged in the 1960s to describe a diverse range of live presentations by artists.

The materials used to create a work of art, and the categorization of art based on the materials used (for example, painting [or more specifically, watercolor], drawing, sculpture).

Related Artists: Marina Abramović, Vito Acconci, Halil Altindere, Joan Jonas, Bruce Nauman, Roman Ondák, Yoko Ono, Howardena Pindell, William Pope.L, Hito Steyerl