EAI's Artists' Media Distribution Service is one of the world's leading resources for video and media art. As EAI's core program, this service features the international distribution of our major collection of over 3,700 new and historical experimental media works by emerging and established artists. EAI provides access to this collection to arts, educational and cultural audiences across the nation and around the world.
Access is key to EAI's mission. EAI's media art collection is made available for screenings and exhibitions, as well as for acquisitions by museums, educational and cultural institutions, and private collectors. EAI works closely with educators, curators, programmers and others to facilitate exhibitions, acquisitions and educational uses of media artworks. EAI also assists individuals and institutions with the development of video art collections, and provides curatorial, programming and educational guidance.
EAI is a nonprofit organization that is committed to the distribution of uneditioned or non-editioned video or media artworks, which allows for broader access to the works. Nearly all of the works in the EAI collection are uneditioned. A video work that is "uneditioned" has no limit to the number of copies that may exist; however, there are restrictions governing who may make copies, how they are made, and how they may be used. These restrictions are outlined in the license agreements that must be signed before the work is sold or exhibited.
Uneditioned video works reflect a different economic model than that of the commercial gallery system, and different historical and philosophical approaches to handling a reproducible medium. With uneditioned video, artists are typically paid a royalty when the work is exhibited or sold. Thus, exhibitors pay a fee for the inclusion of an uneditioned work in an exhibition or screening.
The works in the EAI collection are available for rental for screenings and exhibitions in a range of formats, including DVD, BluRay, and file formats. Institutions or individuals should acquire media art works on accepted archival formats, such as Digital Betacam (also known as DigiBeta), and uncompressed files. Archival formats, when stored properly, will ensure the longevity of the work and provide the best quality video image and sound. Exhibition and acquisition fees for the works in the EAI collection vary depending on a range of variables, including the desired media format and the terms and rights being acquired.
Technology-based and variable, video art poses unique issues for exhibitors and collectors. EAI's Online Resource Guide for Exhibiting, Collecting & Preserving Media Art features detailed information on media formats, basic questions about exhibiting and collecting video art, technical guidelines, and much more. Please refer to Ordering Information for detailed information on ordering works from EAI.
EAI's comprehensive Online Catalogue provides a detailed guide to the collection, while the Viewing Room provides an opportunity for visitors to view and research works in the collection by appointment, free of charge.
EAI is committed to the stewardship of the collection through preservation, cataloging and restoration efforts. Our preservation activities result in institutions receiving the best quality copies available and a broadening of the range of works available for exhibition. Our new digitization initiative is a major ongoing project to ensure that the collection will be accessible and viable in the future.
EAI also provides an art historical and cultural framework for the collection, with related activities that include extensive online resources, educational initiatives, and public programs such as artists' talks, panels, lectures, exhibitions and screenings.
What was originally termed the Artists' Videotape Distribution Service was founded in 1973 to answer a need for a new paradigm for the dissemination of artists' video works, apart from the conventional gallery system. Many artists of that time were drawn to the utopian notion of a medium that was easily reproducible and therefore democratic and widely accessible. Video works were (and continue to be) distributed in unlimited editions at relatively low prices. Created around a core of seminal video artists, this service grew into one of the world's foremost resources for video art, and remains the oldest existing distributor of artists' video.