Toying With Obsolescence: Pixelvision Filmmakers and the Fisher Price PXL 2000 Camera

Fisher Price PXL 2000 Camera

Fisher Price PXL 2000 Camera

This thesis is a study of the Fisher Price PXL 2000 camera and the artists and amateurs who make films and videos with this technology. The Pixelvision camera records video onto an audiocassette; its image is low-resolution, black and white. Fisher Price marketed the PXL 2000 to children in 1987, but withdrew the camera after one year. Despite its lack of commercial success, the camera became popular with avant-garde artists, amateur film- and videomakers and collectors, sparking a renewed interest in the obsolete camera. An online community has built up around the format, providing its members with information on how to modify the camera to make it compatible with contemporary digital equipment. Although Pixelvision garners little recognition from mainstream culture, the camera’s hipster cachet and perceived rarity has driven up prices in the community and in auctions. This thesis examines the position of the PXL 2000 camera within the history of moving image technology, and in the context of today’s digital video equipment. How has this obsolete video camera made the transition from analog to digital? The thesis also explores Pixelvision’s position in the cultural hierarchy of media, as well as the motivations of artists and users who are creating with the camera today, as it moves further and further into its obsolescence.

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