“We’re All Videofreex: Changing Social Media from Portapak to Smartphone,” a free symposium on the DNA of social media and citizen journalism, comes to the SVA Theatre on Friday, April 5 from 4 – 9pm. The program features panels, screenings, and Q&As with original members of theVideofreex, a pioneering group of artists who rode the first wave of independent video production in the 1970s. Organizer David A. Ross, chair, MFA Art Practice Department, and Ron Simon, curator of television and radio at the Paley Center for Media, moderate discussions with members of the collective, media historians and current video artists.
Underground collectives like the Videofreex used the Portapak (the earliest small format video camera) to capture the zeitgeist of the ‘70s, creating original content for broadcast over the public airwaves. Abbie Hoffman, the FBI, CBS, the FCC, the Black Panthers, and Woodstock all had supporting roles in the Videofreex story. Yet this chapter of media history has been largely overlooked. SVA Close Up caught up with Skip Blumberg, one of the original Videofreex, to learn more.
What was your initial vision for the Videofreex in its earliest days?
Tele – vision. We weren’t trying to make cheap films with the newly introduced medium of small format home video. We worked together and as individual producers to make TV shows and to explore how video was unique. We were the alternate TV network for the 1970s alternate culture and radical political movements. This comes across in Pirate TV Show, which we’ll be screening at the SVA symposium.