MexIndex - free database of experimental visual arts and image works by  Irish artists

Defining Artists’ Moving Images

Artists’ moving images: Towards a definition

To help you assess if a moving image  work falls into this genre, the work should have some of the following characteristics:

Most experimental filmmakers conceive, shoot and edit their films on their own or with a minimal crew.
Experimental film is mainly made outside of the film industry economics. This low budget approach buys independence.
Experimental works are usually short, under say a half an hour long, but can be over 8 hours long!
Experimental filmmakers are commonly the first to try out new ways of making films, after which these new technologies are adopted by the mainstream.
Avantgarde filmmakers often continue to use old formats such as 16mm film long after they go out of commercial use.
Most experimental films give primacy to the visual.
Experimental films typically ignore, subvert and/or fragment the storytelling rules of Hollywood.
Experimental film doesn’t offer a clear, unequivocal ‘message’. More frequently than mainstream film, it is fraught with conscious ambiguities, encourages multiple interpretations and marshals contradictory techniques and subject matter to create active participation of the viewer.
Experimental film tends to make conscious use of the materials of the cinema that call attention to the medium.
Experimental film may form part of a gallery installation.

As you can see, even the definition (an adaptation of a definition by Edward S. Small in 1994), is still a point of fine judgment!