Artistic, political and technological context of Freewaves’ development

Freewaves was born at a politically heated moment, both domestically and internationally. In the U.S. the Culture Wars were escalating as physically violent forces were disrupting lives in Eastern Bloc nations. Closer to home, people in Los Angeles were experiencing increasingly heightened racial tensions.

Additionally, major advances in communications technology enabled new experiments in art and media.

This timeline presents only a tiny fraction of the events and milestones that transpired during Freewaves’ beginnings and the years since.

"Ekleipsis" by Tran Kim T. Trang - Photo by Doug McCulloh


LA Freewaves’ 1st Celebration of Independent Video: Launched at the AFI National Video Festival, with participation from 35 Los Angeles media and arts organizations. The three-week festival included unique events that were mounted at 30 sites, while 4 thematic programs called Road Shows traveled throughout the city.

Art spaces and organizations including Community Arts Resources (CARS), Highways Performance Space, Armory Center for the Arts and Museum of Jurassic Technology open in Greater Los Angeles.

The revolutions in Poland, Hungary, East Germany, Czechoslovakia, Bulgaria and Romania, also known as the Eastern Bloc, herald the fall of Communism.

The Tiananmen Square Massacre in Beijing, People’s Republic of China culminate at demonstrations that begin in April.

Germans begin tearing down the Berlin Wall.

Conflicting ideological worldviews spark culture wars in the U.S. Senators including Pat Buchanan and Jesse Helms attack the NEA for supporting what they view as “indecent art,” i.e. Andres Serrano’s Piss Christ. A Robert Mapplethorpe exhibition at the Corcoran Gallery of Art is cancelled, only to attract larger crowds at other venues.


Adobe releases Photoshop 1.0.


LA Freewaves’ 2nd Celebration of Independent Video: Convened with 100 arts organizations, cable stations, media centers and schools. It exhibited 44 thematic programs and 150 tapes from high school and college videomakers.

LA Freewaves creates the first L.A. media access guide.

Apple releases the first Powerbook.


LA Freewaves’ 3rd Celebration of Independent Video: With a live video installation/performance finale by October Surprise, is held at the California Plaza. LA Freewaves coalesced a broad-based response to the L.A. Riots through public access TV.

Los Angeles Riots, aka LA Uprising, is sparked after a majority white jury acquitted four white Los Angeles Police Department officers accused in the videotaped beating of African-American motorist Rodney King.

Windows releases AOL.


LA Freewaves presents Three Strikes: The Justice System: A catalog and video of Southern California Youth Media Programs.

LA Freewaves presents Hands On The Verdict: The 1992 L.A. Uprising: A video program produced by Liz Canner and Julia Meltzer.

The first web browser, Mosaic, is released.

Macintosh Color Classic, The Last Classic Mac, is released.

The graphical World Wide Web is born with the release of the NCSA Mosaic.


TV at Large—LA Freewaves’ 4th Celebration of Independent Video: Includes a video projection and live performance event at the John Anson Ford Amphitheater, 5 shows at the AFI Video Festival, and 5 programs broadcasted on cable TV.

Freewaves’ non-profit (501 c 3) status acquired and the first foundation grants are received.

Freewaves’ festival curatorial committee formalized.

California Proposition 187 (aka “Save Our State” initiative), initially passed by voters but later found unconstitutional by a federal court, attempts to prohibit undocumented workers from using social services, health care, and public education in California.

The RCA Digital Satellite System (DSS) begins broadcasting.


LA Freewaves distributes eight video programs free of charge to 66 LA libraries and 40 LAUSD high schools.

LA Freewaves presents Digi Days: A weekend of low-cost workshops, panels, lectures and demos on digital video and interactive media is at AFI.

LA Freewaves presents Artist and Activist CD ROMs: A weekend workshop and demo at USC, focuses on the production and distribution of artists’ CD ROMs.

Amazon.com is released.

Nettime is released.

Chris Marker creates CD-ROM Level 5.


Private TV, Public Living Rooms—LA Freewaves’ 5th Celebration of Independent Video: On display at MOCA’s Geffen Contemporary are 15 installations by local LA artists, as well as videotapes, CD ROMs, and websites by 140 artists. The programs traveled to 15 art centers and 32 cable stations.

LA Freewaves launches it’s website www.freewaves.org.

LA Freewaves distributes 900 copies of CD ROM, a digital manifesto and toolkit for the internet.

LA Freewaves presents Live N.U.D.E. Artists Event: 9 artists’ CD ROMs that expose the movie industry to media arts.

WebTV is released using a television to access the internet.


Select Freewaves programs are screened on KCET, Deep Dish TV, Free Speech TV, 90s Channel, Moscow TV and public access in San Diego and the Bay Area.

LA Freewaves distributes eight video programs free of charge to 74 LA libraries and 40 LAUSD high schools.

DVD achieves a nationwide market.


All Over The Map—LA Freewaves’ 6th Celebration of Independent Video and New Media: Over 200 artists are displayed at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, and on the web, and on 6 video bus tours.

LA Freewaves produces a series of 25 free workshops on Intro to the Internet and Web Design, targeted to videomakers, visual artists, writers and musicians.

DIVX the Pay-Per-View DVD System

Google search engine is released.

Mobile phones become mass media channel, including the sale of custom ringtones, news, video, TV content and advertising.


LA Freewaves presents Open Studio/LA: A free 10-week web design workshop for 30 LA artists and arts organizations, in partnership with On Ramp and Visual Communications.

Artist-activists The Yes Men created www.gwbush.com, which is a satire George W. Bush’s campaign website. When a reporter asked what he thought about it at a press conference, Bush responded: “There ought to be limits to freedom.”

ReplayTV and TiVo release Personal Video Recorders.

Napster is released.


Air Raids—LA Freewaves’ 7th Celebration of Experimental Media Arts: Featuring 65 events at 35 venues throughout Los Angeles, including video bus tours, video billboards, artists’ CD-Roms, as well as exhibitions and screenings.


LA Freewaves presents TV or Not TV: 3 half-hour videos about media arts in Los Angeles that are distributed free of charge. Included are interviews with and excerpts from works by prominent, LA based media artists.

Terrorists attack the World Trade Center and the Pentagon on 9/11.

Apple releases iTunes and the iPod.

Russian Ark is shot, the first mainstream movie shot entirely in high-def video.


TV or Not TV—LA Freewaves’ 8th Celebration of New Experimental Media Art: Launched in Chinatown and featured 365 artists from 20 countries in 70 exhibitions and screenings. The festival also featured 5 panel discussions with 25 speakers who addressed the possibility of creating a culture TV channel.

Apple releases the iMac Pedestal Computer.


The U.S. invades Iraq. Two months after President Bush declares that major combat in Iraq is over. A banner behind him declares “Mission Accomplished”.

First steps are made towards creating an alternative art TV channel intended to bring contemporary arts to new audiences.

The Pirate Bay is released.


How Can You Resist?—LA Freewaves 9th Biennial Festival of Film: Video and new media art are on display at 4 downtown LA venues, including MOCA and the REDCAT.

LA Freewaves presents Inter-State: Two 1-hour videos that are intended for TV which explore the depth and diversity of new media art.

Facebook is released.

Firefox 1.0 is released.


LA Freewaves launches its online video archive.

YouTube is released.


Too Much Freedom?—Freewaves 10th Biennial Festival of New Media Art: Launched at the Hammer Museum in Westwood. International curators converged online from 8 different countries, evaluated work from 50 countries and selected a total of 150 works that examinie freedom and its conundrums, unpacking assumptions about artistic invention, political intelligence, ethical dilemmas and personal desires.

The pressures of branding and global programming push Freewaves to drop the “LA” from their name.

1 billion downloads from iTunes.

Twitter is released.

Google buys YouTube for $1.65 billion.


Freewaves presents Funrazor: A live immersion video event and benefit for the Hollywould Festival.

Apple releases the iPhone.

Amazon releases the Kindle.


Hollywould—Freewaves’ 11th Festival of New Media Art: At venues along six blocks of Hollywood Boulevard, from tattoo parlors to burrito shops to art venues, asking the question, “What could Hollywood be?”

Freewaves turns 20!


1 billion iPhone/iTouch apps are downloaded from iTunes.


Apple releases the iPad Tablet.