Planning Process

The planning process for a single-channel video exhibition is determined by a range of variables, including the content, scale, venue, and context of the screening or exhibition. Whether one is mounting an exhibition of looped video works on screens in a gallery or presenting a compiled video program in a theatrical setting, it is important for curators and exhibitors to fully research and consider all of the steps and timelines involved. Single-channel video works are typically sourced from video art distributors or commercial galleries, a process that may require exhibition rental fees, loan or license agreements, and considerable time to fulfill requests. One must consider critical issues such as the technical specifications and requirements of the works involved, the specific conditions and design of the exhibition space or venue, the acquisition of the appropriate equipment and technical support, the details of the installation process, and the budget.

The following is a general outline of basic practical considerations and recommendations for the process of planning single-channel video exhibitions or screenings.


Acquiring Exhibition Copies

Installing the Exhibition

Exhibition & Documentation

Follow up


Create a Checklist

The first step of any exhibition or screening is to draft a title checklist. (This list should not be considered final until availability of the works is confirmed and rental/loan fees are shown to be within the project budget.)

Contact Distributors and Galleries

Research the distributor or gallery that handles the rental or loan of the requested work. Inquire about availability of titles, as well as exhibition formats, rental/loan fees, lead time, and installation guidelines as described below.

Communicate with Artists

Notify artists of your exhibition or screening. A distributor or gallery will likely handle this contact, but it is a courtesy for the exhibitor to send a notice to the artist as well. This is particularly important in cases of an exhibition at a prominent venue, or a screening where the artist may wish to be present. Artists should receive an invitation to the opening or screening, as well as any press or printed materials related to the exhibition, including catalogues.

Exhibition Formats

What exhibition formats are available? What formats are best for your exhibition or screening? Keep in mind what, if any, in-house equipment you plan to use and what equipment you will need to acquire.

Rental/Loan Fees

What are the rental or loan fees for each title? Can your budget accommodate these fees?

Lead Time

Distributors and galleries have requirements regarding how far in advance a loan request must be made. (For example, orders with EAI should be placed at least five weeks in advance of a desired date of receipt.) Note that the works should be received several weeks in advance of your exhibition opening to allow time for addressing any unanticipated technical problems.

Exhibition Requirements & Guidelines

Research what exhibition requirements are associated with each title. Are there restrictions regarding projecting the video or exhibiting it on a monitor? Are there any guidelines about sound, the use of headphones, or the amount of light in the exhibition environment?

Plan Exhibition Design

Ensure that the exhibition design can accommodate the proper installation of the selected works, adhering to the restrictions and guidelines for each work. If multiple works are to be shown with amplified sound in the same space, address the potential for sound overlap, which may compromise the individual works.

Technical Support

Consult with technical staff or other qualified individuals (such as the artist or artist's assistant) to ensure that all technical requirements are being met. Skilled staff members should be easily accessible during installation and the duration of the exhibition in order to address any problems. It is also important that all departments involved in the exhibition (curators, registrars, installers, technicians, press, etc.) are in communication to ensure consistency in exhibition practices.

Playback & Display Equipment

Secure appropriate exhibition playback and display equipment.

Prepare Promotional and Educational Materials

Consult with your design, promotion and education teams to determine when they will require a final checklist, images, and text for promotional materials and educational publications. For large institutions, this information may be needed many months in advance of an exhibition. Galleries and distributors can assist in providing this material, but will have their own policies regarding the turn-around time for delivery. (For example, EAI requires two weeks to fulfill requests for images.) Review these issues early in your exhibition preparation.

Acquiring Exhibition Copies

Order Works

Place orders or requests for exhibition copies with distributors and galleries. Works should be received several weeks in advance of your opening or screening to allow enough time to correct any problems discovered during playback test.

Note that rights to reproduce media works are specific to each license agreement or contract. It is safest to assume that copying of any kind is forbidden unless you have drawn up and signed an agreement with the artist, distributor, or gallery that specifically allows for duplication. Compilations for exhibitions should only be made with written approval (and often supervision) from the artist or distributor/gallery, and should be produced from high-quality source material. Typically all screening and reference copies must be returned after the exhibition.

Installing the Exhibition


Test exhibition copies in playback equipment. Test looping function. Adjust color and sound based on any guidelines provided.

Adhere to Installation Requirements & Guidelines

Follow any exhibition requirements discovered during exhibition research, paying close attention to restrictions regarding projecting the video or exhibiting it on a monitor, guidelines about sound, the use of headphones, or the amount of light in the exhibition environment.

Exhibition & Documentation

Train Exhibition Staff

Train all appropriate staff members that will be present during the exhibition duration. Training should include instructions on how to turn on and off equipment and a review of general troubleshooting procedures should a problem occur during exhibition hours.

Document Exhibition

Document exhibition within the guidelines of loan/rental agreements.

Follow up

Following the close of the exhibition, return rental copies in protective (non-fiber fill) packaging.