Saturday, July 11, 2015

Saturday, April 23, 2011

The Elayne Zalis Video Studies Archive at Cornell

The Elayne Zalis Video Studies Archive at the Rose Goldsen Archive of New Media Art, Cornell University, is an extensive collection of study tapes, rare catalogues, and correspondence that documents the history of US video art.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

A New Home for My Video Art Archive

I donated my personal collection of video art research and tapes to the Rose Goldsen Archive of New Media Art at Cornell University. The collection reflects my studies of video art in the late 1980s and early '90s and contains many primary documents and out-of-print catalogues. I hope scholars, students, and media artists will find this material useful.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Artists Television Network: Archive at U of Iowa

I discovered an online inventory of videos in the Artists Television Network (ATN) Archive at the University of Iowa, where I earned my PhD. I worked with this collection -- and with the extensive collection of related paper documents -- while I was a grad student and created a catalogue of my own. I often wondered what happened to those videos. I'm glad they've been preserved and made available to researchers. A sampling of videos can be previewed in the Iowa Digital Library, although permission is evidently required, since I could not access the clips.

From the Web site:

The Artists Television Network (ATN) was an artists' organization that aired video art, performances, interviews, music videos, and a variety show series from 1976 through 1983 on Manhattan Cable Television. The station sought not only to bring art into viewers homes and to explore the possibilities of a new art venue, but also to counter-act and speak out against the commercialization and anti-democratization of cable television as a social space. The collection offers an intimate look into the convergence of Modern and Post-Modern art making tendencies within the then experimental medium of video. Formalist pursuit of deviation, anti-form, Fluxus, social activism, and the no wave punk movement all played a role in exploring the boundaries video and of broadcast television.

ATN was discontinued in 1984, and the video archive was donated to the University of Iowa in 1986. The Artists Televsion Project was then formed. I worked with Hans Breder and Herman Rapaport on that project.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

“California Video” at the Getty: Preserving Cultural Archives

“California Video” runs from March 15 to June 8, 2008, at the Getty Center in Los Angeles. I’ve taken a special interest in the exhibition because it was instigated by the Getty’s acquisition of the Long Beach Museum of Art’s video collection, which I managed in the mid-1990s as LBMA’s video archivist. The impressive show “reveals the variety of artistic experimentation that has occurred in the video medium throughout California over the last 40 years.” For my reflections on the opening, please see “Transforming California Video: A Change of Address.”

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Sunday, February 10, 2008

DIY Video Summit

The University of Southern California (USC) sponsored the 24/7 DIY Video Summit this weekend, February 8–10. On Saturday afternoon I was able to catch the plenary session, “Envisioning the Future of DIY [Do-It-Yourself],” moderated by Howard Rheingold. Other panelists included Henry Jenkins, Joi Ito, John Seely Brown, and Yochai Benkler.

Because I’ve studied independent video movements that emerged during earlier media revolutions, beginning in the late 1960s, I was intrigued by the focus of this conference and the questions it raised. While listening to discussions about democratizing modes of new media production, distribution, and exhibition; inventing novel discursive styles and formats; and empowering underrepresented populations by allowing them to speak for themselves and tell their own stories, I was reminded of those earlier video pioneers who in many respects paved the way for the new media makers of today. Although social contexts have changed and communications technologies have evolved, relationships do persist between media artists and activists of the late twentieth century and DIY video makers at the beginning of the twenty-first century who are introducing theories and practices of their own.

Connections between the eras became increasingly evident to me as I watched the first curated screening of DIY videos, arranged according to genre. (I wasn’t able to stay for the second show, which showcased the curators’ favorites.) Fan videos, remixes with personal and political commentary, and various first-person pieces brought to mind some of the work that artists and activists were experimenting with in the period before the advent of the Internet, especially as post-production editing facilities become accessible and affordable. The list is too long to outline here, but a few memorable videos by innovative women include Joan Braderman’s Joan Does Dynasty (1986), a form of stand-up theory combined with first-person confession intercut with appropriated footage from the TV show; Dara Birnbaum’s Technology/Transformation: Wonderwoman (1978), appropriated footage of another TV show reedited and set to music; Branda Miller’s Birth of a Candy Bar, with members of the Henry Street Settlement in New York City (1988), a collective effort to empower underrepresented youth; Ilene Segalove’s Why I Got into TV and Other Stories (1983), humorous first-person reflections on the role of TV in the socialization of boomers; Valerie Soe’s New Year (1987), childhood remembrances of the maker’s Chinese heritage told through childlike drawings; Sadie Benning’s If Every Girl Had a Diary (1990), a teenager’s first-person confessions told in a direct-address style; Linda Gibson’s Flag (1989), an African American woman’s life story conveyed through dance and performance and embellished with cultural artifacts, as well as with readings from the maker’s childhood diary; and Vanalyne Green’s Trick or Drink (1984), a one-woman performance that portrays the maker as a young girl and avid diary writer who struggles with a dysfunctional family and the American dream.

The latter two videos, Gibson’s Flag and Green’s Trick or Drink, are worth examining in particular for the ways that they use excerpts of childhood diaries the makers wrote in the mid-1960s, a time when diary writing was a private activity and young diary writers often felt alone, without confidantes, audiences, or readers. Given the prevalence of diaristic and autobiographical videos on the Web—and hence the abundance of “private” disclosures now easily disseminated in the “public” sphere—Gibson’s and Green’s videos also suggest how makers might draw on their own “raw” material for creative work in the future. For an analysis of such possibilities, see my article “Dear Diary Revisited: Transforming Personal Archives, Flag and Trick or Drink.”

I hope to publish an inventory of my own video collection in this blog. It will include single-channel videos and archival texts. Check back soon.

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