In 1999, British TV series The Dope Show profiled experimental animator Mary Ellen Bute (1906—1983.) Film editor Thelma Schoonmaker (who has since collaborated with Martin Scorsese on dozens of films) is interviewed. Also look for a young "Ronnie Walken," who appeared in one of her live-action films before changing his name to Christopher.
This video was created with Paik-Abe raster manipulation unit, Brewster analog modular synthesizer, Hitachi vectorscope, Panasonic CCTV camera, Processing 1.2.1, Final Cut Pro. Produced at the Experimental Television Center.
What happened before YouTube?
It's a question we've addressed here many times before. Many different histories lead to our current moment of video sharing and DIY media-making -- some subcultural (the history of fandom and a range of other communities of practice which are generating new content), some economic, some technological. Lucas Hilderbrand, author of Inherent Vice: Bootleg Histories of Videotape and Copyright, holds some critical pieces of the puzzle, writing with historiographical sophistication about the emergence of video as a technology and as set of cultural practices, about the debates it sparked especially around shifts in control over production and distribution, about the communities which formed around the sharing of tapes, and about how all of this looks forward to contemporary digital practices. It is a book which raises vital questions and provides a rich historical context for our current debates.
As someone who lived through the era when the VCR was launched, the book brought back many memories of things I had almost forgotten about the dramatic adjustments which the culture made to this transformative and transgressive technology. Working through the book for an interview, I was struck by the fact that I, like many other instructors, have had very little to say about videotape in my current course on new media and culture, something I will work on the next time I teach it.
Given my enthusiasm for this book, I was delighted to be able to interview Hilderbrand and share with you his own reflections on the ways the history of video can help us to understand some contemporary media developments.
Originally founded in 1979 by Richard Fielding, Andrew Wright and Tom Ellard, Severed Heads was an electronic group based in Sydney. They used synthesizers, tape loops, and an array of electronics to yield a distinctive sound, one which could most easily be described as industrial music, which later developed into abstract pop. While the lineup changed over the years, Tom Ellard has been the main continuing force in the group, up until his announcement of its end in 2008. In 1983, Severed Heads began integrating live video in their performances, which became a mainstay in their work. This post collects videos of the group, the majority of which date from the early 1980s, and many of which document their use of video synthesizers. For more information about everything Severed Heads, check Ellard's official site.
From April 13 - 19, as part of their 40th anniversary programming, the Electronic Art Intermix (EAI) will organize a special project in Time Square. Partnering with the Times Square Alliance and MTV, EAI will be showing a program of video works on MTV's MTV 44½'s large-format LED screen. The selected pieces by Vito Acconci, Dan Asher, Phyllis Baldino, Dara Birnbaum, Gary Hill, Shigeko Kubota, Takeshi Murata, Nam June Paik, Martha Rosler, Stuart Sherman and William Wegman span EAI's 40 year history and are only a fragment of EAI's vast archive.
The videos will play at the top of each hour, between noon and 4pm and between 6pm and 11pm. On Saturday, April 16 and Sunday, April 17 the complete program (25:16 min) will also play at noon.
The sixth Video Vortex conference was held in Amsterdam at Trouw, a building that used to house the printing presses where the eponymous newspaper was created. These days, Trouw is a restaurant and club and occasional conference venue. The venue’s former purpose reinforced the passing of the torch from old news media to the online media being discussed, alongside other relevant topics, at Video Vortex. Michael Strangelove, the first speaker of the day, referred to the “holocaust of capitalism” and how online video enables a subversion of the notion of culture as private property. As newspapers struggle to redefine themselves in this online era - the New York Times’ new paywall being a prime example - the war of ownership over content resonated not only throughout the conference sessions but even in the venue’s inkstained floors.
The initial speakers of the day, Michael Strangelove and Andrew Clay, made salient points about the notion of “compulsory visibility” (Foucault, via Strangelove) online, the “douchebag effect” induced by online video platforms (Strangelove), and the communities and revenue streams which develop around online smash hits such as Annoying Orange (Clay). Talk of douchebag effects and inane chattering fruit was unfortunately juxtaposed with the gravity of the tragic earthquake and tsunami in Japan, unfolding at the very same time. All morning, YouTube quickly populated with shocking videos of the damage, and it seemed immediately inappropriate to ponder how many millions Annoying Orange makes.
NOTE: This is one of the pieces from an ongoing psychedelic/ambient video project.
This project (yet to be titled) was inspired by the idea of 70's progressive rock concept albums. It will consist of several short videos. Each piece will be autonomous, but when viewed together will create a larger whole. The final number of videos and the total lengths are yet to be determined; each video will be released as it is completed.
All videos will be directed and produced by Yoshi Sodeoka. Music will be composed by a collaborative effort of Yoshi Sodeoka and Daron Murphy.
Digital Arts and New Media (DANM) Technical Coordinator