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

For curator critics and artists

‘Experimentalism may be said to be moving into a gap in the human adaptive potential left open by the increasing computability of a globalised world. Let us seek to be, and keep being, trained by it’ László Tarnay – Film Experimentation and the Sublime – Journal of Moving Image Studies 2004

For curators and critics

We encourage curators, researchers and students to contact us if they would like further information or backup when searching the website.

Each year we appoint a Curator in Residence. Each curator develops a themed selection for a public event at the end of their curatorship. In addition the curator is asked to view the works in the unpublished list and make their selection of works they recommend for publication.  Then the adjustments are made, the work will be published on the public area of the website, and so it can be accessed by the public.
We are also always looking for comparative writings and overview papers in pithy plain English to add to our library of papers that focus on Irish artists’ moving images. We regularly commission such writings, but if you know of existing texts of such a nature please contact us at [email protected]

[email protected]

For artists:

Does your work fit the genre

To help you to assess if your work falls into this genre, see here for an assessment list for this genre.

As you can see, even the definition (an adaptation of a definition by Edward S. Small in 1994) is quite loose!

The process of adding works to the index

The way the site works is this: (this process is being revised at present Sept 2020)

  • You send us links to a minimum of 3 moving image works that you would like us to consider for the Index.
    we assess if it fits the category.
  •  If it does, we send you a form to fill in for each work giving details of the work
  • We then enter the information in the MExIndex unpublished Repository.
  • We ask our regularly visiting MExIndex curators to select new works from this database for publication onto the live webistesite.
  • Before an entry goes live on the site we contact the artist to let him/her know so that they can check and comment on the information on their page.

So to sum up, artists can send us links where we can view their works (with a password if necessary) and confirmation that they will be willing to send the MExIndex additional information on the selected pieces and that they agree to be published on the site if selected in the future.  This process can also be used by curators and gallerist to suggest works that they feel should be on this national database.

A Note to Students

This website aims to be the ‘go to’ space for curators, galleries and institutions looking for Irish artists’ moving images and experimental film information. The website is the national searchable information base for this kind of work. It contains substantial information.

For contemporary students experimenting with moving images, it facilitates to deep knowledge of what has gone before and for students of fine art generally, it allows access to a wide range of works that give a comprehensive survey of this genre in Ireland. Many of the works are playable on the site and so it is an invaluable resource for students to assess both the history and the Zeitgeist of this genre in Ireland today.

The MExIndex also provide backup for such contacts, if they require additional information or guidance.


A crash course in the history of Artists’ moving images and experimental film.

For those who would like a little more information, here is a little background on the subject:

Artists’ moving images and experimental film are in an area between the visual arts and film which concentrates on the questioning of how film can be perceived when conventional approaches to the moving images are deconstructed. It is fundamentally a way of seeing the moving image free from preconditions and the carapace of conventions.

The early silent movie makers realised that certain kinds of shots and certain combinations of shots could move a storyline along in a way that was intelligible to the audience at large. So the process of trying to tell a story in moving images started to develop a language which the audience intuitively

understood. A sort of film ‘grammar’ started to evolve. This grammar was developed and codified in the 20th century by directors like D.W. Griffith in the U.S. With ‘Birth of a Nation’ (1915) and Sergei Eisenstein in the Soviet Union with ‘Battleship Potemkin’ (1925). Commercial filmmakers, particularly mainstream Hollywood directors, all over the world today still use these basic rules for shooting films.

But even as the new film industry started to settle down to this neat production model for the making of popular films, others outside the film industry

became curious about film as a medium. A small marginal group outside of what was becoming a multimillion-dollar industry. were investigating the new

medium in a much more radical way. In particular, visual artists got involved.

In the early 20th century visual artists, intellectuals and writers had been challenging the status quo of the established visual arts scene. The traditions of

the past were been thrown aside in a spirit of experimentation. They quickly started to move toward abstraction in movements such as Surrealism, Dada, Minimalism etc. This kind of critical engagement led to a wave of visual artists experimenting using new ways of seeing with new materials. Naturally, some of these artists started using film! Anyone wanting to see these pieces had to seek out rare prints, until the advent of youtube. But though not widely seen at first, the influence of these experimental film works grew over the decades and as film making began to be taught in colleges their influence had more and more effect.

Today they remain influential on film and media art. Their stamp can be seen in modern cinematography, editing, visual effects, and aesthetic and art criticisms. The whole area is still in flux, still fighting definition and still morphing in surprising ways. For those of you wanting to know more, we recommend the following.

A very short overview of the main works that caused this wave can be found here.

Here is some viewing links that should give anyone new to this area a feel for the range and history of experimental film/artists moving images:-

Why the MExIndex ?

On returning from an international festival in 2014 an experimental film artist noted that curators reported that Irish artists’ moving images were not much represented internationally because they were difficult to access,  ie. there was no systematic way to find them. Whilst looking for experimental films for MEx (Maynooth Experimental based in Maynooth University Ireland), I found the same problem. Word of mouth seems to have been the most common source of information on the subject, but many visual artists are solo flyers and therefore not ‘in the loop’.

Launch of the MExIndex at NUI Maynooth 2015


Motivated by the conviction that the index of a culture’s health and vibrancy lies largely in its margins, in those works of art that are created outside the commercial mainstream, the MExIndex strives to advance the cause of Irish moving images works that struggle to be seen.

If you have any other queries, please email us.