SOLD AS BLANK / POSSIBLE LOST MEDIA explores the phenomena of eBay sellers who market used VHS video tapes with desirable content as “blank” to skirt eBay rules. Copyright and bootlegging are surely at issue here; there is also plenty of home movie material for voyeurs or others with a camcorder-shot footage fetish. Some of these tapes have sold for over $200.00; others make it to $50.00. Many more sell for just a few dollars or don’t sell at all.
Are eBay sellers with a lot of TV time on their hands and the need for cash becoming our new media archivists? These video data farmers are an important link in the digital preservation chain for all kinds of material. Local history and newscasts, commercials, broadcasts that stations never saved, films that never officially made it onto VHS or DVD or are out of print, key social and political events, and more wind up on home recordings. Once watched, described, listed and purchased, these tapes may be converted from analog to digital and uploaded to various websites for wider public consumption by other video obsessives, researchers, and historians. As the magnetic tape in these objects degrades, the clock is ticking for people who want to view and save this stuff.
The reprinted excerpts in this booklet were selected from completed eBay auctions held in 2019. The most obsessive of these listings reveal hours of watching and note-taking with the obvious hope that some nugget of footage will be the precise thing a buyer has been searching for. Photos of the image quality shot off of a TV screen are also included in some listings.
Author(s): Marc Fischer, Public Collectors
Dimensions: 5.5 x 8 in.
Process: 3 color Risograph