[-empyre-] Video Behind: On the history

Kathy High kittyhigh at earthlink.net
Sun Sep 13 13:04:41 AEST 2015

Hi Sherry,

Congratulations for getting all the items off for the Hunter exhibition
and for their successful arrival!

And thank you also for these great comments and assessment of our

You summed up very nicely the materiality of video and the material
concerns of this earlier, and now contemporary, era. Thank you again!

But there is another side to all this materiality - which is thinking
about how to use technological ‘tweaking’ as a kind of resistance! As a
kind of shifting of consciousness, a radical awakening of how to this
about our present situation and our future.

My university (Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute’s) president has just
launch a campaign around the theme of “resilience” - and with that she
means resilience to budget cuts, corporate mandates and ever increasing
administrative overhead. All responding to American corporate leadership
and ‘ownership’.

But I am someone who would rather think about resistance, immediacy,
potential, a crack in the frame, and the means to bend the technology to
shape glitches and erasures. I think Isak’s work speaks beautifully to
this topic as well. There is a broad corporatization of universities on
this country today - so there is a further need for “the glitch” as there
was in the late 1960s, 70s and so on. The glitch as a re-reading of time,
a break in the ‘synchronization of the signal’ and the perceptual shift in
a ‘standard’ reproduction of the world around us.

"The machine holds within it a potential for the glitch, with the
possibility to generate unforeseen results. Therefore, “malfunction and
failure are not signs of improper production. On the contrary, they
indicate the active production of the ‘accidental potential’ in any
product”, as Paul Virilio noted.” -
“The wilderness in the machine”: Glitch and the poetics of error |
See more at:

These day I welcome the signal bends!
Thank you, Kathy

On 9/12/15, 9:12 PM, "ETC" <empyre-bounces at lists.artdesign.unsw.edu.au on
behalf of etc at experimentaltvcenter.org> wrote:

>----------empyre- soft-skinned space----------------------
>Thanks to  Isak  and Kathy High for bringing up the notions of
>physicality / materiality.
>Isak, thank you for posting your work. For me, it is a powerful
>statement about memory and time, and how they intersect in history.
>And a mirror of the degradations of political systems and
>technological systems. Thank you.
>The early days of video seem to be an intersection of the immaterial –
>electronic, invisible, signals changing through time (waveform and
>duration, both unknown and unknowable to me) and the physical.
>Kathy describes very well the physical-ness of early video. The
>apparatus was heavy. Early ‘portable’ equipment weighed well over 20
>pounds – some closer to 30. The earliest of portable video systems:
>recorded only in black and white, 20 minutes total record time, did
>not play back (you needed to rewind the tape on that deck with a
>special rewind knob and then play pack the tape on a separate deck).
>The editing was a strange combination of film editing (some people
>used grease pencils on the tape, probably residue from film) and
>guess-work – rewind for 5 seconds and start both decks at exactly the
>same time. There were glitches. They were unavoidable.
>Some people in those days embraced these artifacts of the processes.
>Others tried to ‘overcome’ these flaws and sought to emulate more
>professional standards.
>Today we embrace the glitch, the imperfect, the error, the bug in the
>system, the ghost in the machine. We are very distant from the
>physical, working with the hands, crafting, manipulating the real
>world. I wonder how the contemporary interests in instrument building
>are a response to disconnects with the physical world, and a desire to
>reconnect. A need to be hands-on, to mess with the material…
>Notes from the archive: Yesterday, we packed up the ephemera and
>instruments for the Hunter show in September. Sarah Watson and Tim
>Murray have been wonderful collaborators in the process. Today all
>arrived in New York. Life is good...
>On Sat, Sep 12, 2015 at 4:36 PM, Kathy High <kittyhigh at earthlink.net>
>> ----------empyre- soft-skinned space----------------------
>> Hi Isak,
>> Thanks so much for your posting. It is so great to get to know your
>> “The End of History” effectively and viscerally details the Yugoslavian
>> war in ways that are really compelling. Again the glitch! The glitch and
>> stutter and halting of it all – the interruption.
>> The split of time - and even the split of frames - in times of war. It
>> makes me think of  a very different kind of moment. I appreciate how
>> this piece moved me.
>> How else to explore the limits of representation?  Would love to hear
>> further thoughts.
>> Thank you.
>> Kathy
>> On 9/10/15, 11:56 PM, "Timothy Conway Murray"
>> <empyre-bounces at lists.artdesign.unsw.edu.au on behalf of
>>tcm1 at cornell.edu>
>> wrote:
>>>----------empyre- soft-skinned space----------------------
>>>What a coincidence, Sherry.  As I spent the night doing archeology in my
>>>study to make way for house renovations, I unearthed boxes and boxes of
>>>catalogues and zeroxed articles on video art.  Nothing of the magnitude
>>>your incredible ETC archive, but a sharp reminder of the depth of
>>>thought that was birthed by the rapid rise of video art. The rapid rise
>>>production of video art brought with it a similarly striking explosion
>>>thinking about video and its representations.
>>>Your mention of the commonplace of "erasure" also brought my eyes to the
>>>new collection edited by Brad Buckley and John Conomos (who will be one
>>>our guests later in the month), Erasure the Spectre of Cultural Memory.
>>>It think it's fair to say that the recent return to "erasure" as well as
>>>the emphatic emphasis on cultural memory carried forth by the trauma and
>>>memory theorists of the 90s and early 2000s owes a good deal of its edge
>>>to the practical and critical experimentations with the erasures of
>>>tape.  A really interesting, and important contribution.
>>>Timothy Murray
>>>Professor of Comparative Literature and English
>>>Taylor Family Director, Society for the Humanities
>>>Curator, Rose Goldsen Archive of New Media Art
>>>A D White House
>>>Cornell University,
>>>Ithaca, New York 14853
>>>On 9/10/15 3:32 PM, "ETC" <etc at experimentaltvcenter.org> wrote:
>>>>----------empyre- soft-skinned space----------------------
>>>>Referring to a conversation with Lynn Hershman Renate wrote,  “During
>>>>that chat I asked her why she archived so much and she reminded me
>>>>that as a woman artist she had to ensure that her work was archived
>>>>properly because ‘who else would do it.’”
>>>>And Renate’s follow-up question to herself: “how much do we preserve,
>>>>how much space do we have, who will record our history if we do not.”
>>>>Both of these made me consider where this impulse to preserve comes
>>>>In thinking back to the earliest days of video, I really don’t recall
>>>>a lot of conversations about history, legacy, archival records and the
>>>>like. It seems that we were all busy making work, making
>>>>organizations, making structures and processes and weren’t engaged in
>>>>thinking about the future of it all. Accepted was the fact of
>>>>impermanence of this new medium, in all its many guises. The tapes
>>>>were electromagnetic. They could – and often were – erased, often to
>>>>allow for a new recording. The tapes were frequently palimpsests,
>>>>imperfect erasures with the flicker of the ghosts of previous
>>>>recordings haunting the imagery. The tapes were fragile, easily
>>>>deformed – stretched, broken. We didn’t expect them to last, really.
>>>>The longevity has been a surprise.
>>>>Of course, that all changed as the medium evolved and became more
>>>>accepted by society, the academy and the arts infrastructures.
>>>>Practitioners had territory to carve out and protect, boundaries to
>>>>mark. Our field struggled with how to turn a reproducible medium into
>>>>one that rewards the precious object. Could some of us find a way to
>>>>cash in? Could others of us even make a small mark on history?
>>>>Others of us simply went on making work and figuring out strategies to
>>>>help others make it too. And thinking about ways of exhibiting,
>>>>distributing, and eventually saving the works for scholars and artists
>>>>following us.
>>>>There wasn’t much interest, really, in the tiny backwater of video
>>>>often referred to as image processing. Those of us engaged,
>>>>recognizing that little value was placed on this art, by default began
>>>>saving materials, tools, letters. I think, though, that this impulse
>>>>to collect, to order,  is probably more rooted within us as
>>>>individuals. You either do this, and can’t imagine not doing it, or
>>>>you don’t – you deaccession and move on.
>>>>Renate’s point about saving our own histories is well taken, since
>>>>with video in general there was very little interest in the art; if we
>>>>didn’t value it, who would? None of the cultural institutions seemed
>>>>engaged. So some of held on to our collections. Those of us Upstate
>>>>often had the luxury of more space than our colleagues in the city.
>>>>And some of us filled it.
>>>>And now many are involved with trying to find homes for these
>>>>collections – places which will put the materials in context, and
>>>>place it in the hands of researchers, students, and scholars.
>>>>On Thu, Sep 10, 2015 at 12:13 PM, Timothy Conway Murray
>>>><tcm1 at cornell.edu> wrote:
>>>>> ----------empyre- soft-skinned space----------------------
>>>>> Hi, Sherry,
>>>>> Sarah Watson and I have just completed preparing the videos for
>>>>> in the ETC show that will open on September 24 at Hunter College.
>>>>>As I
>>>>> was reviewing the screening list, I remembered my early days of
>>>>> experimental tapes during screenings at ETC.  What was particularly
>>>>> compelling to me as a young theorist was the conceptual verve of even
>>>>> most formal experiments with the video tools that were developed in
>>>>> ETC lab by Nam June Paik, Shuya Abe, David Jones, and others.  The
>>>>> flexible analogue tools available to artists at ETC catalyzed the
>>>>> theorization of video as an art form, as well as contributed to
>>>>> philosophies of time, movement, light, and the electronic extensions
>>>>> montage/collage.
>>>>> As we move through the month discussing video art writ-large, I hope
>>>>> can celebrate the cerebral demands on the artists who suspended their
>>>>> artistic conventions in order to give themselves over to the emergent
>>>>> concepts of time and space happening via their building and
>>>>> with this emergent gear.
>>>>> Welcome to the month of Video, behind and beyond!
>>>>> Tim
>>>>>  9/10/15 10:15 AM, "Renate Terese Ferro" <rferro at cornell.edu> wrote:
>>>>>>----------empyre- soft-skinned space----------------------
>>>>>>Dear Sherry,
>>>>>>Many thanks for making this initial post about ETC.  For our
>>>>>>subscribers who have never made the trek to Upstate New York I
>>>>>>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
>>>>>>a residency at the center in 2006. The aura of years past and
>>>>>>from the international artists who where there before me seemed to be
>>>>>>seeped in the archive of equipment as I worked.  To have your
>>>>>>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
>>>>>>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
>>>>>>          http://www.privatesecretspubliclies.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
>>>>>>I have spent over 40 years working with the ETC, a (very) small ­ and
>>>>>>intentionally so ­ media arts ³organization² in Upstate New York.
>>>>>>decided to end the Residency, Research, Grants and Sponsorship
>>>>>>ETC in 2011, I was often asked, ³So, are you closing? Will you
>>>>>>I was unprepared for the query and had no answers. I didn¹t feel
>>>>>>looked at the 1Ž2² open reel videotapes which still fill our beer
>>>>>>climate-controlled storage facility, and wondered about our
>>>>>>At the time we closed many of the ETC programs, I was very involved
>>>>>>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
>>>>>>published in 2014, I took a step back and reconsidered some of the
>>>>>>we had tried to address: from ideas as general as how do art, science
>>>>>>technology intersect, and are the collaborations that evolve specific
>>>>>>cultural and social environments; to topics as specific as those
>>>>>>talk of codecs, wrappers and containers.
>>>>>>We became involved in the topics of media history and preservation in
>>>>>>   -  were among the founding organizations of the groups that became
>>>>>>Alliance and Independent Media Arts Preservation
>>>>>>   -  organized the conference Video History: Making Connections
>>>>>>   -  participated in the National Moving Image Database (NAMID)
>>>>>>the American Film Institute as they created a template for cataloging
>>>>>>moving image media works, that addressed specific properties of
>>>>>>media as opposed to film
>>>>>>   -  organized several symposia on preservation at Buffalo State
>>>>>>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
>>>>>>artists¹ statements, technical descriptions which have not been put
>>>>>>History site and even more questions:
>>>>>>   -  how do we preserve instruments; what about functionality
>>>>>>   -  where will the ephemera live: how do we preserve cultural
>>>>>>   -  can you preserve the ethos, the spirit, the hungers of a
>>>>>>   -  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
>>>>>>technology and science; can we devise models for the sustenance of
>>>>>>   -  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
>>>>>>videotape collection; it is a very compatible home for us. Over the
>>>>>>I had the privilege of working with two creative and intelligent
>>>>>>grad stuents, Alana Staiti and Lauren van Haaften-Schick, on
>>>>>>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
>>>>>>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
>>>>>>Archive of New Media Art at Cornell, "The Experimental Television
>>>>>>History, Etc . . . " opening at the Galleries on September 24th, and
>>>>>>running through November 21st. The exibition was organized by Tim
>>>>>>Cornell and Sarah Watson, Curator at Hunter. Also on view are
>>>>>>over 40 artists, hand-crafted now obsolete analog processing
>>>>>>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
>>>>>>I¹m sure I¹ve come to the right place.
>>>>>>empyre forum
>>>>>>empyre at lists.artdesign.unsw.edu.au
>>>>> _______________________________________________
>>>>> empyre forum
>>>>> empyre at lists.artdesign.unsw.edu.au
>>>>> http://empyre.library.cornell.edu
>>>>Sherry Hocking
>>>>Assistant Director
>>>>Experimental Television Center Ltd.
>>>>109 Lower Fairfield Rd.
>>>>Newark Valley NY 13811
>>>>empyre forum
>>>>empyre at lists.artdesign.unsw.edu.au
>>>empyre forum
>>>empyre at lists.artdesign.unsw.edu.au
>> _______________________________________________
>> empyre forum
>> empyre at lists.artdesign.unsw.edu.au
>> http://empyre.library.cornell.edu
>Sherry Hocking
>Assistant Director
>Experimental Television Center Ltd.
>109 Lower Fairfield Rd.
>Newark Valley NY 13811
>empyre forum
>empyre at lists.artdesign.unsw.edu.au

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