Birnbaum, one of the most important and influential artists working in video and multi-media installation, will discuss the creative processes surrounding analogue video editing and EAI's "laboratory-studio" atmosphere of the early 1980s with editors whom she worked with at EAI. A selection of Birnbaum's video works from that period, including Pop-Pop Video: Kojak/Wang (1980); the rarely seen New Music Shorts (1981), with musicians Radio Fire Fight and Glenn Branca; Remy/Grand Central: Trains and Boats and Planes (1980); Fire!/Hendrix (1982), and PM Magazine/Acid Rock (1982), will be screened and discussed in depth.
Dara Birnbaum's groundbreaking video works of the late 1970s and early 1980s, including Technology Transformation/Wonder Woman (1978) and Pop Pop Video (1980), were distinctive in their use of popular television as source material and appropriation as a strategy to deconstruct and reassemble meaning. In the early 1980s, Birnbaum produced a series of music-based video pieces, edited in whole or part at EAI, which signaled a new direction. In New Music Shorts she documented the downtown New York music scene; in Fire!/Hendrix and Remy/Grand Central: Trains and Boats and Planes (both commissions), she employed the language of mass media advertising as critique. Created at a time when MTV had just debuted as a significant pop cultural force, these pieces can be seen as "alternative music videos."
In the late 1970s and early 1980s, EAI was part of a small but vital ecosystem of nonprofit editing facilities for video artists that were associated with alternative spaces or "TV labs" at public television stations nationwide. The goal was to provide artists with the tools needed to create media-based works, at a time when such access was scarce. This era also ushered in new possibilities for how video could be circulated and the contexts in which it could be seen, including video lounges in New York clubs such as the Mudd Club and Danceteria, and video art on public access cable TV.
As EAI celebrates its 45th anniversary, this special event brings Birnbaum together with Matt Danowski, Pat Ivers, and Ann Volkes – three former EAI editors who went on to highly recognized professional careers in news, documentary, or media art editing – to discuss the creative spirit and collaborative processes around analogue editing in EAI's "laboratory-studio" of this period, a dynamic and foundational moment in the development of media art.