For those who think the VHS has seen its final days, think again! Similar to the recent vinyl comeback, the VHS is making a new name for itself.
Over the last few years, several media outlets have released obituaries for the VHS, as a way to send the medium off to the technological graveyard. On the surface level, some may choose to see the VHS as obsolete or ‘dead’, however, we must keep in mind that all media are renewable.
The VHS has vacated the social mainstream, and entered what McLuhan would refer to as a state of remediation. The medium is now being used in two unique ways that both focus on research and special collection. The VHS has spurred a new cover-art movement, as artists have begun to design VHS covers for newly released films, and later copying these new films onto the VHS format.
Subsequently, various VHS tapes are being compiled for preservation, as scholars believe them to be one of the best research tools for socio-historical insight.
“but it could be an important way to analyze who we are and how we perceived ourselves as a culture at a particular time. So it’s imperative that we don’t treat videotape as garbage, because if we do a piece of our shared history is going to vanish.”- Josh Johnson
The VHS is a portal into the past, that will continue to be used in the future. Whether it be the wedding tape of loved ones, or momentous events from our childhood, each of us has personal memories stored somewhere on a VHS. Although the purposed of the medium has technologically evolved into advanced video storage devices such as the DVD, there is a certain personal novelty found within this medium. the VHS allows us to better understand our past, offering up a critical insight into our understanding of the current and future position of Western society. As artists and researchers continue to preserve this medium, will you?
Lastly, we need to park our Western notion of ‘new media,’ when we think of the VHS. It is important to consider relational aesthetics, or how different people see the same event. Those who have moved towards the DVD and digital video files, see the VHS as obsolete. In other parts of the world, particularly in developing countries, the VHS is still being used in its traditional function, while also being repurposed.