Perhaps this is enough. A black and white image of a woman, freckled, wind in her hair, hand up to her mouth, looking off camera.
I came of age when a camera cost $80,000 and editing equipment was unaffordable and inaccessible – this is how I ended up working for 15 years in ‘the industry.’ After a particular video was finished, then followed the hurdle of distribution. Video artists were rejected by the art world due to lack of collector/commercial value and rejected by film festivals due to lack of…film. Broadcast television was out of reach, except for a lucky few that had been deigned safe for awkward slots on PBS. We hated the passivity of television and dreamt of a truly interactive, democratic, messy, anarchistic tv.
I was reminded of all of this twice, first by a passing comment in Berlin on how YouTube was giving people an attention span of 20 seconds, and then, when reading Ed Halter‘s lovely essay television for the people on Jeff Krulik, director of Heavy Metal Parking Lot. Krulik made the video for a public access television station (public television was also where I got my start in Ithaca, NY), and also Public Access Gibberish made up of ‘notable’ clips from his station. Watching a man in a purple jumpsuit stating ‘my name is Timothy, I come from the bottom of the sea’ I realized how Public Access was post-vaudeville and pre-YouTube, albeit with the added value of a cheap television studio and use of the solidity of a tripod. Few artists (Jeff Turtletaub being the best example I can think of) truly succeeded at using Public Access as a platform for interesting work.
Fast forwarding (brrrrrrrrrr) several decades. Now we’re in a time of broad access to both video cameras and editing (the means of production) as well as the Internet (YouTube, Vimeo, etc) as a cheap or free means of distribution. This could represent a kind of democratic opportunity. Perhaps I should change that word to should. Anyway, nice typing those words in the same sentence – democracy, opportunity.