[-empyre-] Video Behind: On the history

ETC etc at experimentaltvcenter.org
Mon Sep 14 08:15:18 AEST 2015

Thanks Kathy for your post on glitch, resistance and resilience.

Video was born in resistance. Our medium of electricity describes a
phenomenon which reflects this: Ohm - a conductor opposing a message
sent through it.

We were all about the unexpected, the unanticipated. We tried to
create instruments which created images never before seen.

I agree with your analysis of the academy today.

I think it equally – and sadly – applies to the art world,
particularly the area of funding. It seems we must all now conform to
the models of the business world.

I am with you.

Long live bending.

On Sat, Sep 12, 2015 at 11:04 PM, Kathy High <kittyhigh at earthlink.net> wrote:
> ----------empyre- soft-skinned space----------------------
> 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
> discussions.
> 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:
> http://interartive.org/2014/01/glitch-art/#sthash.4s7J7lDC.dpuf
> 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
> _______________________________________________
> 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

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