Scratch's Third Body: Video Talks Back to Television

Author(s): Goldsmith, Leo


Emerging in the UK in the 1980s, Scratch Video established a paradoxical union of mass-media critique, Left-wing politics, and music-video and advertising aesthetics with its use of moving-image appropriation in the medium of videotape. Enabled by innovative professional and consumer video technologies, artists like George Barber, The Gorilla Tapes, and Sandra Goldbacher and Kim Flitcroft deployed a style characterized by the rapid sampling and manipulation of dissociated images drawn from broadcast television. Inspired by the cut-up methods of William Burroughs and the audio sampling practiced by contemporary black American musicians, these artists developed strategies for intervening in the audiovisual archive of television and disseminating its images in new contexts: in galleries and nightclubs, and on home video. Reconceptualizing video’s ‘body,’ Scratch’s appropriation of televisual images of the human form imagined a new hybrid image of the post-industrial body, a ‘third body’ representing a new convergence of human and machine.

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Preferred Citation
Goldsmith, Leo: Scratch's Third Body: Video Talks Back to Television. In: VIEW Journal of European Television History and Culture, Jg. 4 (2015-12-30), Nr. 8, S. 114-126. DOI:
 author = {Goldsmith, Leo},
 title = {Scratch's Third Body: Video Talks Back to Television},
 year = 2015-12-30,
 doi = "\url{}",
 volume = 4,
 address = {Hilversum},
 journal = {VIEW Journal of European Television History and Culture},
 number = 8,
 pages = {114--126},
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