[-empyre-] Video Behind: On the history

Renate Terese Ferro rferro at cornell.edu
Fri Sep 11 00:15:37 AEST 2015

Dear Sherry, 
Many thanks for making this initial post about ETC.  For our international
subscribers who have never made the trek to Upstate New York I thought it
might be a good idea to talk about where the Experimental Television
Center was located and how it all began in 1972.  I was very lucky to have
a residency at the center in 2006. The aura of years past and especially
from the international artists who where there before me seemed to be
seeped in the archive of equipment as I worked.  To have your insightful
perspective Sherry and our other guests on that early history I think
might fascinate our subscribers.

Also subscribers for those of you who have a history in video both analog
and digital we hope you will join our conversation.
Really looking forward to the month.

Renate Ferro
Visiting Associate Professor of Art
Cornell University
Department of Art
Tjaden Hall, Office 306
Ithaca, NY  14853
Email: rferro at cornell.edu
URL:  http://www.renateferro.net
Lab:   http://www.tinkerfactory.net

Managing Moderator of -empyre- soft skinned space

On 9/8/15, 8:48 PM, "ETC" <etc at experimentaltvcenter.org> wrote:
First, thanks to empyre ­ and especially to Tim and Renate ­ for the
invitation to participate this month. I have been a long time, mostly
silent observer, and have learned so much over the years from all of you.

I have spent over 40 years working with the ETC, a (very) small ­ and
intentionally so ­ media arts ³organization² in Upstate New York. When we
decided to end the Residency, Research, Grants and Sponsorship programs at
ETC in 2011, I was often asked, ³So, are you closing? Will you retire?²

I was unprepared for the query and had no answers. I didn¹t feel retired. I
looked at the 1Ž2² open reel videotapes which still fill our beer cooler qua
climate-controlled storage facility, and wondered about our respective

At the time we closed many of the ETC programs, I was very involved with
Kathy High and Mona Jimenez, along with many brilliant scholars and
artists, on completing the two volume book ³The Emergence of Video
Processing Tools: Television Becoming Unglued². Once the book was finally
published in 2014, I took a step back and reconsidered some of the topics
we had tried to address: from ideas as general as how do art, science and
technology intersect, and are the collaborations that evolve specific to
cultural and social environments; to topics as specific as those involving
talk of codecs, wrappers and containers.

We became involved in the topics of media history and preservation in the
   -  were among the founding organizations of the groups that became Media
Alliance and Independent Media Arts Preservation
   -  organized the conference Video History: Making Connections (Syracuse,
   -  participated in the National Moving Image Database (NAMID) project of
the American Film Institute as they created a template for cataloging
moving image media works, that addressed specific properties of electronic
media as opposed to film
   -  organized several symposia on preservation at Buffalo State College
and in NYC in 2002
   -  began (1996) and continue the History website.

Some of you were also at some of those meetings, I'm sure.

One result of the book was a mass of research materials, historical texts,
artists¹ statements, technical descriptions which have not been put on the
History site and even more questions:
   -  how do we preserve instruments; what about functionality
   -  where will the ephemera live: how do we preserve cultural context
   -  can you preserve the ethos, the spirit, the hungers of a particular
   -  what is lost if ephemera is disassociated from instrument
   -  how does history matter; looking back and looking forward with
contemporary makers
   -  how can we create environments that nurture collaborations of art,
technology and science; can we devise models for the sustenance of these
   -  what are reasonable criteria for determining which works are
preserved; by whom and how are these determined

ET is very grateful that the Rose Goldsen Archive of New Media Art at
Cornell has accepted the ETC¹s collection of ephemera, to accompany our
videotape collection; it is a very compatible home for us. Over the summer
I had the privilege of working with two creative and intelligent Cornel
grad stuents, Alana Staiti and Lauren van Haaften-Schick, on constructing
an inventory for these materials. It proved to be an overwhelming,
exciting, hilarious, tedious, exhilarating and at time cringe-worthy
experience. It can be difficult to understand the history of something you
have been so much involved with.

The ephemera will form one of the major sections for the upcoming
exhibition organized by Hunter College Art Galleries and the Rose Goldsen
Archive of New Media Art at Cornell, "The Experimental Television Center: A
History, Etc . . . " opening at the Galleries on September 24th, and
running through November 21st. The exibition was organized by Tim Murray of
Cornell and Sarah Watson, Curator at Hunter. Also on view are videotapes by
over 40 artists, hand-crafted now obsolete analog processing equipment,
performances by contemporary artists working with custom-designed
instruments, and tools built by artist/technologists for day¹s

We are always looking for conversations about video and its histories, and
I¹m sure I¹ve come to the right place.


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