Quotes From Artists
What is the single most important change in
the medium over the last 20 years?
Ubiquity – Louis Hock
One could go on about the breakthrough in technological tools, not necessarily accompanied with any sort of roadmap in using them collaboratively… but I think the most important change in the medium is the gradual awareness that all media is now in – at least theoretical – competition with all other media. – Hugh Crum
There is the obvious change in affordability and access to the tools of media over the last 20 years, in terms of shooting and editing. Maya Deren said, “The task of cinema or any other art form is not to translate hidden messages of the unconscious soul into art but to experiment with the effects contemporary technical devices have on nerves, minds, or souls.” This should be easier, but it seems like we are still recycling the same forms and stories to make a buck.
– Richard Bott, Animal Charm
The fact that it keeps changing. – Jennifer Steinkamp
Perhaps the single most important change in the medium over the last 20 years has been its reaction to the shift in funding sources, from industrial, to governmental, then to private foundational, and more and more to self-production and self-funding.
One critical result of this fragmentation of centralized funding, has resulted in more and more ‘venues’ for the presentation of new media works. These venues are competing with the traditional art space, as the most viable method of introduction to emerging artists and art movements. This echoes, exactly, the same trends in blogs and social networks, as viable competitors to traditional newspapers and community activities.
The result is, that in the last 20 years, decentralization has been a major change. Decentralization offers the promise of further democratization, but also the risk of further marginalization. Organizations such as Freewaves mold an area of comfort between the traditional and emerging art distribution models, creating a venue for proliferation and appreciation. – Michael Masucci
Small Recorders Have Big Impact
We eat more food, want bigger houses, more money, bigger movie stars, but the tip of the spear is the smallness of our media and the impact it has on the rest of our lives. It’s strange to say but it’s all really a case of smallness and portability being the driving force – in stark contradiction to everything else about our culture. – David Rosenthal
I think there are two related changes with technology that have been most important to media art:
The first was desktop editing, allowing artists to control their productions as never before. This advance is even more important than access to affordable cameras, since many works appropriate footage.
The second advance is the distribution possibilities made available via the Internet. At last, artists have an easy way to make their productions available! Down with the “limited-edition” video! Video art for all!! – Nancy Buchanan
What is Freewaves besides a video organization?
An oasis in the belly of the beast. – Richard Bott, Animal Charm
Freewaves is a high-end advocate and venue for the exhibition, development and celebration of media art, without which such works by artists and media designers, who are often its “forward” developers, would have little opportunity to enter into cultures outside of academia and commercial based industries. – Jean Rasenberger
Freewaves connects media artists internationally, lets us view work from China or Latin America at 4 A.M. on any kind of device that streams media. Each two year festival, all Freewaves, all the time, offers (approx.) 180,000 hours to catch something we might otherwise have missed. – Beverly O’Neill
To me, Freewaves has been a collective of best, brightest and up-and-coming independent media makers in the country. – Martha Chono Helsley
LA Freewaves is a community-global, local, mobile, messy, vital, bickering, ephemeral, shifting, surviving, evolving; sometimes divine and inspirational, at other times frustrating and impenetrable. It is forever changing, growing, and unpredictable. In short, a living community. – Ming-Yuen S. Ma
Freewaves is organic. Freewaves is a family. It is a nurturing organization that breeds courage, innovation and ideas. When I attended my first Freewaves event I was still in school and I think I remember seeing John Fleck perform, watching some Skip Arnold videos and having a conversation with Ulysses Jenkins and Tran T. Kim-Trang. What I know I remember was leaving invigorated and filled with energy and the determination to be part of the community I had just encountered. It was fun and also important. It was progressive but not exclusive. It was doing, not talking. Freewaves has challenged the status quo and created a space for independent production and critical evaluation, outside of the commercial systems of validation that dominate video production in Hollywood. – Glenn Kaino
Freewaves, in being a video organization, is therefore, by nature of the medium, also a community organizer, an educational resource, and a forum for developing and emerging technologies. This is emblematic of all contemporary video/digital organizations, and is concurrent with the rapid evolution, adoption and integration of new artistic and socio-political vocabularies.
These vocabularies are sourced and informed from a variety of intellectual platforms, including academia, the ‘grass-roots’ movements of blogging, podcasting and other social/community networks, as well as the mainstream info-tainment industries.
Freewaves stands at the forefront of this investigation, and as an ambassador to international communities of artists, who can convene virtually in its web space, as well as its physical site-specific exhibition and curatorial projects.
– Michael Masucci
What is a favorite memory of Freewaves?
Anne putting up a show at the Geffen single-handedly – Louis Hock
I think my favorite memory of Freewaves was finding out that it exists, and here in Los Angeles of all places. Being from where I’m from, one always stands up for the underdog, or the little guy if you so will. To stand up for community media means you have to find some signs of local media to stand up for, otherwise one is in for a bit of a lonely struggle against mainstream media domination of the sociosphere at large. Thanks to Freewaves, there it was: evidence of community media Life Itself. Right here. The real thing. And lots of it. O happy me! – Hugh Crum
In 2005 Anne Bray helped organize an Animal Charm show at Roberto’s Mexican sports bar in Chinatown. He had just opened, and we noticed the amazing amount of flat screens, and projectors. Anne came with us to meet Roberto and we worked out our live show there. Right before our show was a major boxing match, so the fans where left over from that, with full on Mexican gangster rap DJ, so there was a great mix of the post fight people, and the Freewaves people and animal charm fans all in one video sports pinball machine. – Richard Bott, Animal Charm
Anne Bray getting a J-walking ticket at my exhibition. – Jennifer Steinkamp
First seeing the work of Harry Gamboa Jr., Frances Salome España and Sean Carrillo at Self-Help in Freewaves 1989. – Jesse Lerner
Putting together the huge video installation show at the Geffen MOCA. Somehow it was like birthing a baby – hard labor and painful at the time (Murphy’s Law and technology) – but later being amazed that we put that show together. – Martha Chono Helsley
A favorite memory is Freewaves 2002 in LA’s atmospheric Chinatown.
– Charlene Boehne, Freewaves staff 2002-09
In 1992, I had just graduated from CalArts, and it was one of my first public exhibitions. I went to the opening screening at the Raleigh Studios on Melrose, and Anne Bray was one of the first people there who introduced herself. I was finally able to match that extraordinary voice, previously only heard over the phone, to a face! I picked up a festival program, saw that there were seventy-five venues (!) that year, and spent the next month or so attending screenings all over Los Angeles in all these new and exciting neighborhoods. I believe it was one of the key experiences that convinced me I had indeed found a home and a community here.
– Ming-Yuen S. Ma
Community in Los Angeles?
I formed my organization IN VISIBLE COLORS (IVC – for the promotion and distribution of work by African American, Asian American, Latina/o and Native artists) – during the first year of Freewaves. With Freewaves and IN VISIBLE COLORS many overlooked and emerging artists were able to participate in screenings, and find resources for future projects. These forums were, and still are, crucial for promoting video in a society dominated by film.
Freewaves artists and organizations really worked to build a community in a town not known for “community.” I found a very supportive community in Freewaves because it connected many amazing and generous people. For instance, when I was preparing for an IN VISIBLE COLORS program for Freewaves at Black’s Gallery, Abe Ferrar from VC set up the equipment for me. Another time I needed chairs and Mar Elepano arrived with a truck and plenty of chairs just because, he “thought I could use a hand.” At every turn Freewaves people – Anne Bray, Terry Lawler and the wonderful Ken Kirby at AFI, Suzy Kerr and Michelle Hirshhorn at LACPS – were close at hand.
I did a lot and I learned a lot while I was involved with Freewaves. Tony Cokes’ classic appropriated footage video, “Fade to Black,” continues to influence my work, as does the work of Gina Lamb, Ben Caldwell, Michael Masucci and Janice Tanaka. These connections may not have happened without Freewaves.
– O.Funmilayo Makarah
Introduction to the Internet, Sounds Crazy Now
Imagine if you will a collection of very diverse artistic people of all ages, sexual orientations and ethnic backgrounds pooled together from across Los Angeles to learn about the internet. And learn we did. Over a course of weeks we learned things that, let’s be honest, would have cost a pretty penny in a commercial facility. But the program was free. Amazing. Graphics, connection speed, uploading, downloading, web design and on and on it went. The class culminated in a final project and debut of our final projects.
Professionally, what I learned in class has been useful to me now almost every single day of my life. By being in the program waaaaaay back in 1998 allowed me to be an “early adopter” of internet usage and put me and all my fellow students light years ahead of most people at the time who were pretty much just doing email. Today I make my very living from the internet and I’m able to research, fund and supply my artistic projects from internet based resources.
However for all the technical elements involved in the project, I believe the real core of this experience was the bringing together of so many people who really probably would not have met. All artistic people don’t run in the same circles-I know, shocking. Anne even involved some local youths to act as teacher’s aides. And I learned not only a lot about computers from those kids, but the city itself. I would ultimately count many of those people as friends from that point onwards. – David Rosenthal
I remember a young undergraduate intern of mine, Lisa Tripp, who at the time had no curatorial experience, asked me if she could curate a show at EZTV, as part of Freewaves. She had felt that significant works had been overlooked by the ‘professional’ curators, and created a show called “Through the Cracks”, which I was delighted to see became among the best reviewed shows in that year’s festival. – Michael Masucci
What do you hope the field of media arts will become?
Less like General Motors and more like Google. – Louis Hock
The paradigm by which all other media shall be judged. Also, globally networked on its own terms. – Hugh Crum
I think the field is becoming what I hope for – a sensitizing force. The power of social networking and video sites like YouTube is the possibility for decentralizing media and offering opportunities for instant feedback. I think the isolation caused by classic television can be deeply corrosive. The new interconnectedness offered through contemporary media is truly wonderful. I also hope that media arts offer ways to share deep connections with the places and landscapes around us. I hope that with media we will explore, rather than replace, those connections. – Enid Baxter Blader
I hope the field of media arts becomes as accessible, rich and important as written language is. – Rubén Ortiz Torres
If I had my way, media arts would become part-and-parcel of the visual/video mediascape. I’d really love to see it be a basic part of television, film, video, visual art curriculum. That is, I’d like to turn on the TV sometimes and think: “Ooooo, Interesting!’ in the same way that I do at Freewaves events.
Even if only a little bit. – Titus Levi
More democratic, decentralized, and free. Less corporate, brainless, and balkanized. – Jesse Lerner
I’ve lived through 1/2″ reel-reel, 1″ reel-reel, 3/4″ portapacks, video disc, betacams, camcorders, VHS, Beta, S-VHS, VHS-C, 8, high 8, miniDV, CD, DVD, HD, BlueRay, the vacuum tube, LCD, broadcast, cable, direct satellite transmission, internet and beyond. It is truly a very cool time when we can see and experience the technological evolution happening before our eyes. But it takes a visionary to push the technology to its limits, develop new aesthetics and use the tools to tell stories that represent the times at hand. That pioneering vision comes from the media arts field – always has, always will.
– Martha Chono Helsley
I would like to see a truly hyper-participatory project that spans continents…is there a way to do something that’s collective and coherent to get beyond the 140 characters of “look at me” to something bigger that has meaning?
– Brian Kane
In so many ways, I feel that the media arts have already become what I had hoped for, a vehicle for alternative expression of intellectual, artistic and socio-political ideas. One thing, however, I would like to see, is recognition, within the art communities, of the immense contribution which our collaborators in fields such as engineering and software design have been to our work as artists. No history would be complete without such recognition.
I hope that the fictitious differentiation that still exists residually, between artist and advocate, between artist and witness and between artist and audience, both general and specific, will finally completely erode, so as to foster even more access to these alternative works, by greater numbers of people internationally.
In this regard Freewaves serves as an exemplary model for how this may be accomplished. – Michael Masucci