The idea for e-flux video rental started last summer when e-flux decided to get a physical space. And since e-flux is an artist run information buro, to launch the space with an art project seemed like the logical thing to do.

We are very interested in the role that is played by distribution and circulation within the cycle of production and consumption. Being a little skeptical and fearful of the state of the market nowadays –the transformation of cultural capital into economical capital is seamless-, and inspired by Felix Gonzalez Torres’ notion of viral replication, we set out to blur the edges of the transactions, and complicate things a little bit. And since we are much more interested in these notions than on the process of selecting the participating works according to our individual taste, we decided to ask a group of 46 international curators to send us each a selection of works –now there are close to 60 participating selectors, and over 550 film and video art works.

A recent article by Jorg Heiser published in frieze presents the question of “what is to be done, for whom and how?” as a central one to the issue of circulation and its aesthetic ramifications, and as a substitute to the older and simpler “what is to be done” which proposed by Lenin in his 1902 pamphlet on how to organize the working class. At the core, e-flux video rental is an exercise in redistribution and empowerment, both for the public and the artist. We wanted to create a practical “corporate model” that could function both within the coded realm of art and art history, as well as without, in the everyday –what Alan Kaprow dubs the “blurring of art and life”.

It is important for us to explain that this project is not a philanthropic exercise, but rather a proposition for alternative transactions of cultural capital. That there is a transaction that takes place every time a member of the video rental takes out a video, aims to remind you that this is not a gift, and is not without value. To think that accessibility undermines the value of a work is to make no distinction between artwork and commodity, and that is the equation that we want to upset.

Granted, this is a little bit like Xerox copies as opposed to hardcover, leather bound book editions. They don’t look / sound / feel exactly like the original experience intended by the artists, but are still better than a black and white film still or the second hand knowledge transmitted by way of mouth and magazine articles and reviews –which is sadly the way in which most film and video art circulates; a perplexing thing if one takes into account the inherent mass media quality of these artistic practices.

We have devised and arcane system similar to library cards in order keep track of the rental process of the videos, and we like to track the geographical expansion of the project… if you can imagine a map, with marking pins or little red flags indicating the home of each and every renter, the size of the project suddenly changes, and it is not only the smallish, spare storefront location, but also every apartment where someone may have been watched, or coked to, or had dinner to or fast forward or fallen asleep to any of the participating videos.

In a sense the project resembles slightly the model of the Linux open source operating system: There are 3 editions of the project, and we encourage the hosting venues to add curators and artists to the growing list, and we co-design with them a program of screenings…. So the project will keep growing and moving and circulating and hopefully complicating things a little bit by way of cultural contamination…until its scheduled death at the end of 2006, when all the tapes will be disposed off.

Julieta Aranda and Anton Vidokle, Project Directors