Inherent Vice

‘Inherent Vice,’ this book’s peculiar title, comes from a phrase librarians use to describe the acidity of chemically processed wood-pulp paper, the manufacturing toxin that supposedly burns through old books, turns the interior pages yellowish brown, and makes them brittle. ‘Inherent vice,’ perhaps¬†perversely¬† cuts to the core of videotape. Home video was introduced as a blank format, essentially as a bootleg technology, for the purpose of recording television without permission. As I argue through the concept of bootlegs’ aesthetics of access, the specificity of videotape becomes most apparent through repeated duplication, wear, and technical faulure: that is, we recognize videotape as tape through its inherent properties of degeneration. Its inherent vice, then, points to both its intended illicit uses in recording and its format specificity.

Lucase Hilderbrand, Inherent Vice, pg. 13.