2018 Academic Year-End Discount


Use Code FY2018 for 20% off any compilation or box set
Use Code YEAREND18 for 10% off any other purchase
Through June 30th, 2018

As this year’s academic year draws to a close, now is the time to add groundbreaking experimental video art to your institution’s media collection! Save up to 20% on purchases made before June 30th, 2018 by taking advantage of VDB’s academic year-end sale.

Video Data Bank’s multi-title compilations and box sets offer great value to educational institutions, allowing students, faculty, and researchers direct access to the work of moving image practitioners shaping the field of contemporary art today including A.K. Burns, Ximena Cuevas, Kevin Jerome Everson, Renée Green, Kent Lambert, Linda Montano, and Ezra Wube.

Curated by Abina Manning, VDB Executive Director
Looking in the Mirror, I See Me

2018, 01:12:24, 1 DVD

The emergence of video art tools in the late 1960s and early 1970s paved the way for an extraordinary number of outstanding art works by women. Captivated by the relative accessibility, portability and immediacy of Sony’s Video Portapak recording system, a significant number of female artists began to experiment with the video format. Often taking a direct-to-camera approach, many of the resulting works reflect the burgeoning feminist movement in the U.S. at the time. Featured artists include Lynda Benglis, Hermine Freed, Suzanne Lacy, Barbara Aronofsky Latham, Susan Mogul, and Linda Montano.

VDB TV: Decades
2017, 07:47:37, 5 DVDs

VDB TV: Decades is a unique series that casts a distinctive eye over the development of video as an art form from the early 1970s to the present, produced to mark the 40th anniversary of the Video Data Bank. Each program in this five-disc box set was curated by an inspiring artist, scholar, or media arts specialist focusing on a specific decade, including Robyn Farrell, Omar Kholeif, Aily Nash, Solveig Nelson, and Steve Reinke.

Kevin Jerome Everson
I Really Hear That: Quality Control and Other Works

2017, 02:49:00, 1 DVD

Kevin Jerome Everson combines the observational and theoretical in innovative ways that shed light on life in Black America. In doing so, Everson asks us to meditate on the implications of Blackness, labor, and creativity. An original essay entitled Working Over Time, written by Terri Francis, accompanies this compilation as ROM content.

Ephraim Asili: The Diaspora Suite at Conversations at the Edge

Ephraim Asili: The Diaspora Suite
Conversations at the Edge
February 22nd, Gene Siskel Film Center, Chicago

Ephraim Asili, still from American Hunger, 2013

Thursday, February 22nd, 6.00 p.m.
Gene Siskel Film Center, 164 N. State St.

In 2011, New York-based filmmaker, DJ, and traveler Ephraim Asili began an extraordinary series of films on the African diaspora. These films—Forged Ways (2011), American Hunger (2013), Many Thousands Gone (2015), Kindah (2016), and Fluid Frontiers (2017)—bring together archival research and Asili’s travels through Brazil, Canada, Ethiopia, Ghana, Jamaica, and the United States to chart cultural connections across time and space. Fluid Frontiers, for example, explores ideas of resistance and liberation through Detroit’s Broadside Press, one of the most important presses for Black poetry. Asili asks residents of Detroit and nearby Windsor, Ontario, to read these poems without rehearsal, potently collapsing history, contemporary politics, and art through their magnetic performances. In earlier works like American Hunger, Asili knits together images from downtown Accra, Ghana’s coastal slave forts, and the Jersey Shore in an effort to understand his own relationship with Western colonialism and US imperialism.

2011–17, multiple countries, digital file, ca 92 min + discussion

Ephraim Asili’s films have screened in festivals and venues all over the world, including the New York Film Festival; Toronto International Film Festival; Ann Arbor Film Festival, Michigan; San Francisco International Film Festival; Milan Film Festival, Italy; International Film Festival Rotterdam, the Netherlands; MoMA PS1, New York; The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; and the Whitney Museum, New York. As a DJ, Asili can be heard on his radio program In The Cut on WGXC, or live at his monthly dance party Botanica. Asili currently resides in Hudson, New York, and is an Assistant Professor in the Film and Electronic Arts department at Bard College.

Read More
Fluid Frontiers—Wavelengths, Jesse Cumming, Cinema Scope (2017)

Meet the Distribution Team at VDB: A Q&A with Emily Eddy and Zach Vanes

IMG-5328.JPGDistribution Assistant Emily Eddy and Distribution Manager Zach Vanes

With well over 1,000 national and international orders being placed with VDB every year, the distribution team — Distribution Assistant Emily Eddy and Distribution Manager Zach Vanes — are kept on their toes. In an effort to shed some light on the work of this dynamic duo, VDB’s Development and Marketing Manager George William Price sat down with Emily and Zach to discuss all things distribution and video art related!

Tell us a little about distribution at VDB — what does your job as Distribution Manager involve?

Zach Vanes: As the distribution manager, my job is very much about the ways that the work held at Video Data Bank is seen in the outside world. Unlike a painting or sculpture, a video can be shown as part of a museum’s permanent collection, at a commercial gallery, in a neighborhood microcinema, at an international film festival, or placed in university library; and it can appear in these spaces all at the same time! On a daily basis, I’m interacting with multiple levels of the contemporary art world on behalf of the artists represented by Video Data Bank.

What’s the favorite aspect of your role as Distribution Assistant?

Emily Eddy: I love being able to help our artists get what they need and deserve from the institutions we work with. So often artists aren’t paid by museums, galleries, and educational spaces, especially when working in time-based media. Artists are often made to believe that exposure is worth their labor, and though sometimes that is true, it’s not always the case. When Zach or I make a museum sale or arrange a major exhibition and get to relay the good news to the artist, that’s a really great feeling.

What has been your most memorable distribution puzzle that you’ve encountered during your time at VDB and how did you overcome it?

ZV: We’re dealing with all levels of the contemporary art ecosystem. The main responsibility of the Distribution Manager is to understand the difference between a film festival screening and a university library acquisition, or major art museum and a microcinema. If you don’t understand who you’re working with, and also the artists you represent, the work won’t circulate. At the end of the day, I want the work to be out in the world.

How has your understanding of video as an art form changed during your time at VDB?

EE: I studied in the Film, Video, New Media & Animation department when I was an undergraduate at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, and I’ve been curating and programming video since college as well, so I had a pretty good understanding of the form of video before I started here. However, I now have such an amazing grasp of the history of video art and video itself as a physical medium. I knew the basics of the history of video, but I had never seen the physical forms that people have used over the years, like half-inch open reel and U-matic tape, to older digital forms like Laserdisc and all the variations in between. I’ve learned so much from our Archive and Collection Manager, Tom Colley and our former Digitization Specialist, Kristin MacDonough; it’s been really fun to dig through the archive.

Where in the world has your position as Distribution Manager taken you?

ZV: In 2017, I spoke about the Video Data Bank at the Cairo Video Festival (Egypt), presented a program of new acquisitions at the International Short Film Festival Oberhausen (Germany), and attended Projections at the New York Film Festival. Travel allows me to share information about VDB face to face, and see up close how art spaces and festivals operate. Most importantly, when I travel I get to meet the artists who are currently thinking about video and creating the work.

As VDB’s Distribution Assistant you work with a great many moving-image festivals. Have you noticed any recent trends in the artists and types of moving image they are choosing to showcase?

EE: There are so many different trends in video art that come and go rather quickly, but for the past few years I think experimental documentary has been one trend that’s stuck – and rightly so; it’s really limitless and ripe for socially, culturally, and politically important and interesting work. I also see artists making longer works, in the 30-50 minute range. This directly challenges the festival model, which has always been generally split between shorts and features, shorts being under 30 minutes, and features being over 60. There was always a hole there where if you make a 45-minute piece, even if it’s amazing in every way, it’s more challenging to curate as part of a larger program. I think that that mentality is really changing, and I’m interested to see more and more mid-length and feature experimental works.

VDB as an organization is now more than 40-years old. Why do you think that the distribution of uneditioned video art is still relevant and necessary in the field of contemporary art today?

ZV: I think that distribution has incredible value in a time when artists are expected to be theorist, gallerist, and publicist of their work all the time. The fact that video can go anywhere and be seen at any time only increases that weight of responsibility. On the other hand, for artists, curators, and scholars, it’s an incredible innovation to have works of art that cannot be regulated by a single collector or institution. My hope is to mitigate the strain of the globalized art world on our artists while helping them to capitalize on the opportunities that are available within the current system.

Name some video works from the collection currently on your mind, and the reasons why.

ZV: A lot of my work experience prior to Video Data Bank involved documentary programming/ production/distribution. Because of that experience, I really appreciate artists who radically imagine nonfiction moving images, without resorting to #storytelling. Of course, I would argue that most of the Video Data Bank collection represents that idea, but here are a few I’m currently watching: Julie Zando’s Let’s Play Prisoners (1988), Anne McGuire’s Joe DiMaggio 1,2,3 (1991), Dani Leventhal Restack’s Draft 9 (2003), and Dena DeCola and Karin Wandner’s five more minutes (2005).

EE: I could go on and on for hours, but off the top of my head, one piece I really love that I hadn’t seen until working at VDB is C.L.U.E. (color location ultimate experience), Part 1 (2007) by A.L. Steiner and robbinchilds, a kind of movement performance to the music of Kinski. I love this piece because it rides so many different lines of experimental video, music video, performance art, and dance film, and is also just really fun to watch. Another favorite is Psycho III The Musical (1985) by Mark Oates and Tom Rubnitz, a campy musical rendition of Hitchcock’s Psycho including hits like Loose Woman on the Loose, arguably the best song to ever get stuck in your head.

What do you get up to outside of the office?

ZV: About two years ago I entered the MA Visual and Critical Studies program at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, so most of my spare time is spent reading and writing. The program often engages with intermedia and contemporary art practices, so I find there’s a very productive overlap between work life and scholarship.

EE: I’m also a video artist and curator, and right now I’m working hard on programming the 28th annual Onion City Experimental Film & Video Festival! The festival runs March 8th – 11th, 2018, and is a program of Chicago Filmmakers, a local not-for-profit media arts organization and cinema. I’m so excited to be working with them. I’m also the co-director of the Nightingale Cinema here in Chicago, as well as the assistant director of an online curatorial project called Video! Video! Zine. I also occasionally write for a website which features weekly cinema-happenings in Chicago called Cine-File (cinefile.info).

Any final thoughts?

ZV: Our artists are the best! Also, not enough people realize that the VDB screening room is completely free and open to the public. Everybody, come visit us and watch some video!

EE: Working at VDB has been such a great experience. I love our crew, and our artists constantly amaze me!

Video Data Bank at the 47th International Film Festival Rotterdam


This month, Video Data Bank continues its longstanding collaboration with the International Film Festival Rotterdam (IFFR). The 47th edition of the Festival runs January 24th through February 4th, 2017, and VDB Director Abina Manning will be in attendance until January 28th. She can be contacted at abina@vdb.org. Please join us for the following special events at the festival:

Originals: DINAMO Distributor’s Screening
Saturday, January 27th, 5:30 pm, KINO 4

VDB will collaborate with international colleagues in the Distribution Network of Artists’ Moving Image Organizations (DINAMO) to present the program Originals, a collaborative showcase of video art and experimental film. VDB’s contribution will be Sara Magenheimer‘s MICKRYS (2011), a video about two fictional characters, as in letters, and two fictional characters, as in anthropomorphised mice, falling in love. Sara Magenheimer will be in attendance at Saturday’s screening.


Black & White: DINAMO Distributor’s Screening
Sunday, January 28th, 4:45 pm, KINO 4

VDB will also collaborate with DINAMO colleagues to present the program Black & White. Sadie Benning‘s Living Inside will screen alongside other experimental media works.


Perspectives: Pan-African Cinema Today
Thursday, January 25th, 8:00pm, KINO 4
Friday, January 26th, 12:00pm, KINO 3
Friday, January 26th, 5:30pm, Cinerama 5
Sunday, January 28th, 12.00pm, KINO 3

A multifaceted contemporary African and African-diaspora cinema with special focus on the history of the Pan-African movement as captured in film, featuring Ephraim Asili‘s Fluid Frontiers (2017). The fifth and final film in an ongoing series of films exploring Asili’s personal relationship to the African Diaspora. Shot along the Detroit River, it explores the relationship between concepts of resistance and liberation exemplified by the Underground Railroad, Broadside Press, and artworks of local Detroit Artists.


Bright Future: Memory Palaces
Thursday, January 25th, 8:00pm, KINO 4
Friday, January 26th, 12.00pm, KINO 3

Memories make us who we are. These filmmakers open up perspectives that allow us to come to terms with our memories, hold on to them or bring them back to life. Sky Hopinka‘s Anti-Objects, or Space Without Path or Boundary (2017) takes inspiration from the ideas of the architect Kengo Kuma, who suggests looking at everything as “interconnected and intertwined”, the filmmaker weaves connections to the Chinookan people who inhabited the land around Portland with audio tapes of one of the last speakers of chinuk wawa, the Chinookan creole.


Bright Future: Commodity Culture
Saturday, January 27th, 2:00pm, Cinerama 2
Sunday, January 28th, 1.45pm, KINO 4

Commodification is the transformation of goods, services, ideas and people into objects of trade. Some things ought not to be treated as commodities – education, information, data, knowledge and art. Deception emerges as the central theme in Sara Magenheimer’s video Art and Theft (2017) that grapples with the constructed nature of storytelling. As a deer raids a house, a playful collage of images on theft taken from paintings, the internet and film history distract us from the maliciousness of the act of stealing.


Bright Future: Sunstone, Louis Henderson and Filipa César
Saturday, January 27th, 5.00pm, Cinerama 2
Monday, January 29th, 3.00pm, KINO 3

Incorporating 16mm celluloid images, digital desktop captures and 3D CGI, Sunstone explores how optical technologies of military and colonial design – from lighthouse Fresnel lenses to global satellite navigation systems – both inform and are informed by Western models of knowledge.


2017 End of Year Discount


Special Offer Valid Through January 31st, 2018

Use code HOLIDAY2017 for 10% off VDB TV: Decades Box Set

VDB TV: Decades is a unique five-disc box set that casts a distinctive eye over the development of video as an art form from the early 1970s to the present, produced during 2017 in celebration of the 40th anniversary of the Video Data Bank. Each program was curated by an inspiring artist, scholar, or media arts specialist focusing on a specific decade, diving into the archive of the VDB to create personal, distinctive, and relevant programs, accompanied by original essays and texts. VDB TV: Decades is the perfect accompaniment to VDB’s iconic anthology Surveying the First Decade: Video Art and Alternative Media in the U.S. 1968-80, providing another essential tool for understanding the development of video and media art over the past five decades.

Programs Include:
1970s: The Electric Mirror — curated by Robyn Farrell
1980s: Problematizing Pleasure / Punk Theory — curated by Steve Reinke
1990s: The Whole World is (Still) Watching — curated by Solveig Nelson
2000s: Sandwiched Between Trauma and Apocalypsecurated by Aily Nash
2010s: Future-Past-Present — curated by Dr. Omar Kholeif

Artists Include:
Basma Alsharif, John Baldessari, Rosa Barba, Liza Beár, Lynda Benglis, Sadie Benning, Dara Birnbaum, Paul Chan, Cecelia Condit, Ximena Cuevas, Simone Forti, Leah Gilliam, Nancy Holt, Doug Ischar, Tom Kalin, Paul Kos, Barbara Aronofsky Latham, Jesse McLean, Susan Mogul, Tony Oursler, Nicolas Provost, Walid Raad, Steve Reinke, Tom Rubnitz, Suzie Silver, Keith Sonnier, Martine Syms, William Wegman, Matt Wolf, Akram Zaatari, Julie Zando.

Ordering Info
Multi-region DVD | Institutional Purchase Only
$1,500 (not including 10% discount) plus shipping | Contact: info@vdb.org

#GivingTuesday — November 28th, 2017

We believe in the unique vitality of our community, a belief that we share with our artists, customers, and partners. This #GivingTuesday please consider a tax-deductible donation to Video Data Bank, your support will allow us to continue to serve both the artists represented in our collection, and the wider visual arts community that benefits from our resources. www.vdb.org/support

2017 #GT Lock Up.png

New Release from Eduardo Kac: Telepresence, Bio Art & Poetry [1980-2010]


Video Data Bank is proud to present the pioneering work of bio artist Eduardo Kac. Telepresence, Bio Art & Poetry is a three-disc box set featuring art works that expand the limits of locality, light, and language. Included is a 119-page monograph containing seven essays that investigate and elaborate on how Kac uses communication processes, biological life, and digital networks to create works that explore fundamental human experiences such as the fluidity of language, dialogical interaction, and awareness of our relative place in the larger community of life. The release of this box set will allow access to groundbreaking work never before readily available to audiences worldwide.

“The impact of Kac’s transgenic art — and in particular his daring creation of new animals — on the contemporary art scene has been considerable. Looking at his works as a whole, one can see the artist’s audacious inventions and achievements as a decisive contribution to an expanded definition of art in the 21st Century. Kac’s works introduce a vital meaning into what has been known as the creative process, while also investing the artist-inventor with an original social and ethical responsibility.”

—Frank Popper
Professor Emeritus of Aesthetics, University of Paris, 2017

Kac’s work has been exhibited internationally at venues such as Exit Art and Ronald Feldman Fine Arts, New York; Maison Européenne de la Photographie, Paris; Castello di Rivoli, Turin, Italy; Mori Art Museum, Tokyo; Reina Sofia Museum, Madrid; Zendai Museum of Modern Art, Shanghai; and Seoul Museum of Art, Seoul, Korea. Read more about Eduardo Kac

“No one medium can hold Eduardo Kac. His work ranges from body-based performance art and graffiti to the use of fax machines, slow-scan, digital poetry, telerobotics, the web, and biotechnology. In Kac’s art what matters is not the storage medium but the concepts which, in his case, can only be expressed through the use of new technologies.”

—Annick Bureaud
art press, 1999

Ordering Info
Multi-region DVD | Institutional Purchase Only | $650 plus shipping | Contact: info@vdb.org

Order Now

VDB at the Chicago Art Book Fair


This November we are delighted to be participating in the inaugural Chicago Art Book Fair as a vendor and programmer. The CABF is dedicated to showcasing emerging directions and diverse legacies within small press arts publishing. The fair features an international group of over 100 arts publishers, small presses, book artists, comics artists, zinemakers and printmakers. The fair will take place over the course of three and a half days from November 16th-19th, and will also feature satellite programming and after parties. CABF is free and open to the public.

Stop by booth 114 and say hi! We will be selling books and media from artists in our collection, as well as some fabulous VDB swag. Additionally, there will be a special screening of recent VDB acquisitions, Saturday 18th at 5.30pm. The program features work screened at the 63rd International Short Film Festival Oberhausen (Germany), including groundbreaking new releases from Nadav Assor, Sky Hopinka, Kent Lambert, Dana Levy, Jessie Mott & Steve Reinke, and Martine Syms.

Chicago Athletic Association
12 N. Michigan Ave.
Chicago, IL 60603

Find out more about the Chicago Art Book Fair via http://cabf.no-coast.org/

New on VDB TV “James Casebere and Landscape with Houses” by Rima Yamazaki

VDB TV: James Casebere and Landscape with Houses (2011)
Rima Yamazaki

Since the mid-1970s, James Casebere has been making photographs of tabletop models which he builds in his studio. The subject of his work ranges from suburban interiors to institutional structures, inspired by political events and social issues. In his photographs, these models often give the impression of reality. Each image transports viewers into an ambiguous environment, evoking a sense of emotional place.

For this documentary, the filmmaker Rima Yamazaki visited the artist’s studio in Brooklyn on a regular basis, from the spring of 2009 to the fall of 2010, and documented the process of making the series titled Landscape with Houses, for which Casebere built his largest model to date. As the subprime mortgage crisis occurred, he became interested in American suburban neighborhoods, and started building a model of an American suburban landscape.

The film mainly consists of the sequences shot in an observational style, and a sit-down interview conducted in May 2010.

About Rima Yamazaki

Rima Yamazaki is an independent documentary filmmaker specializing in contemporary art and architecture. Her practice is an exploration of cinematic expression in documenting, studying and reflecting on the arts. She works as a one-person film crew; all her films are directed, photographed and edited by herself. Her films have been shown at various film festivals and venues internationally. She received a BA in Social Sciences from Hitotsubashi University (Japan) in 2005, and a BA in Film from Hunter College (NY) in 2008. She currently lives and works in New York.

About VDB TV:

VDB TV is a rotating series of groundbreaking programs presenting essential video art, streaming free for the first time to the general public on the Video Data Bank website. From early media pioneers, to sensational contemporary artists, VDB TV provides unprecedented access to the culturally significant Video Data Bank archive of more than 600 artists and 6,000 video art titles. VDB TV is curated by prominent programmers and moving image art specialists. To advance accessibility to the VDB collection, all programs included within VDB TV feature closed captions for the hearing impaired.

Preserving Video History at VDB: A Q&A with Digitization Specialist, Kristin MacDonough

Video Data Bank has long been dedicated to the ongoing preservation of video works in the collection, and we have been working for a number of years towards the goal of full digitization of the archive. In September 2014, we welcomed archivist Kristin MacDonough as Digitization Specialist. During her tenure at VDB, Kristin’s work has been committed to the digitization project.

Working with Archive and Collection Manager Tom Colley, Kristin maximized the efficiency of VDB’s ongoing efforts. Thanks to her project leadership, we are delighted to announce the digitization of the entire VDB collection. It was with a heavy heart that in September 2017 we bid Kristin adieu; however we take comfort in the fact that she won’t be traveling far — in November, Kristin becomes the first Time Based Media Conservation Fellow at the Art Institute of Chicago. Congratulations, Kristin!

  1. Tell us a little about your background, what inspired you to work in video preservation?

I think I’ve always been interested in general concepts and principles surrounding preservation. I strongly considered archeology or art history research, but in exploring these paths, I realized they weren’t quite in the direction I wanted to go at the time. Somehow, and I don’t recall how, I heard about audiovisual preservation. The more I learned about it, the more I discovered that the balance between hands-on work and forward-thinking research was at the heart of my interest in preservation. Then during my graduate studies, those same interests led me to specialize in video preservation. The learning curve has been steep since I don’t consider myself an engineer, but I also believe this is knowledge that needs to be passed on to the archiving field since the number of engineers currently capable of handling Sony ½” open-reel decks or CRT televisions is low. Plus, it’s unlikely people entering engineering fields will need or want to learn about this equipment, so archivists will be the ones dealing with them now and in the future.

  1. What have you been working on during your time at VDB?

When I started three years ago, I was hired to digitize the backlog of videotapes in the video art collection. Since the video collection includes tapes from the early 1970s to today, most of the tape masters are on either U-Matic (¾”) or Betacam SP, with a few Digibetas as well. I made suggestions for purchasing new equipment and set up two new digitization stations in order to digitize more U-Matic tapes where I could constantly monitor the process. After the first year, the project was extended to include the Videofreex Archive, a collection consisting of mostly original ½” open reel videotapes. Then in the third year, we made our services available to other departments across SAIC and digitized collections for them. During the three-year project, I digitized over 2,500 video and audiocassette tapes.

  1. What technical puzzles have you encountered during the Digitization Project and how did you overcome them?

At times, every day of the week could feel like a technical puzzle. Format, machine, and software obsolescence are persistent concerns when digitizing video, and with that in mind, machines and software need to remain interoperable. Upgrading a Mac OS or changing out a machine in the equipment chain can affect the digitizing process. When changing a component, I had to be sure to track or document each step I made and be able to reverse my steps if they didn’t work out.

  1. How has your understanding of video as an art form changed during your time at VDB?

The exposure to so much video art has really helped me understand the scope of work that is out in the world. We know artists make works for a variety of reasons, but there is almost always a message, whether it’s an aesthetic, a political, or social one. At the same time, it is hard for me to watch video art and not look for errors or unintentional video artifacts, but I also feel like I get to see beyond what the artist originally intended.

  1. You spent a great deal of time with the Videofreex collection. Would you tell me how you went about preserving and digitizing those tapes?

About fifty percent of the work on the Videofreex collection was building a functioning playback environment. The ½” open reel machines came to us in various states of disrepair and deterioration. We acquired several ½” open reel playback machines, cleaned them, and with the help of a local engineer, Gary Chang, we were able to repair five decks and bring them to full working order. Along with Electronic Industries Association of Japan (EIAJ) standardized ½” black and white tapes, we are now able to digitize tapes recorded before 1970 (pre-video standardization) and tapes recorded in color. The other part of the work was stabilizing the media. Some of the tapes were not kept in the best storage conditions since they were recorded nearly fifty years ago. The tapes were cleaned with a custom built tape cleaner — which VDB commissioned — and then baked in a food dehydrator to temporarily stall the effects of deterioration so the tapes could be played. During the digitization process, tapes were monitored for technical errors to determine if those errors were recorded into the content or part of the playback/digitizing process. To determine this, multiple recordings were often made and compared side-by-side. It was important to remember that this was new technology at the time, and the Videofreex were still learning as they went along. Still, our goal was to capture the best image possible.

  1. Name some of your favorite video works from the collection and your reasons why.

Some of my favorites are the early recordings from the Videofreex and the experimental works they made. The group documented political demonstrations in New York City and Washington D.C., including the 1971 May Day protests against the Vietnam War. The videomakers would record public service announcements (PSAs) from organizers, which they would show the other attendees later in the day. The content included information about staying safe while protesting, or how to talk to police if you’re detained. A step towards democratic social media, which seems as relevant today as it did in 1971.

In some of the experimental work, such as Me’s and Youse and Mushwolf, they played around with superimposing faces in the video, which created a comical effect. In Pulsa, another experimental piece, they took advantage of the inherent image lag of a Portapak cathode ray tube, by setting up strobe lights in the yard at night and recording the lights turning on and off or moving around. The image lag creates an effect that makes the lights look like bright comet tails in the dark.

  1. Any final thoughts?

With regards to the archive, I’m very proud of what we’ve accomplished. Digitization at VDB has helped the artists by making their works more technically accessible, and getting those works out into the world.