Videofreex (Vanishing Archives and Video Preservation)
Presentation and Round Table Talk by Zachary Vanes, Video Data Bank’s Distribution Manager
Videofreex was founded in 1969 by David Cort, Mary Curtis Ratcliff and Parry Teasdale, after David and Parry met each other, video cameras in hand, at the Woodstock Music Festival. The group soon grew to ten full-time members–including Chuck Kennedy, Nancy Cain, Skip Blumberg, Davidson Gigliotti, Carol Vontobel, Bart Friedman and Ann Woodward–and produced tapes, installations and multimedia events. In 1971 the Freex moved to a 17-room, former boarding house called Maple Tree Farm in Lanesville, NY, operating one of the earliest media centers. Their innovative programming ranged from artists’ tapes and performances to behind-the-scenes coverage of national politics and alternate culture. During the decade that the Freex were together, this pioneer video group amassed an archive of raw tapes and edits.
In 2001, Video Data Bank took on the collective’s archive, amassing the tapes from a variety of locations across the country, cataloging them, and beginning the work of assessing their condition. The Videofreex Archive consists of 1,500 videotapes on a variety of obsolete formats, including 1/2” open reel, 1” open reel, and 3/4” U-matic. The tapes require cleaning and special handling before they can be viewed and re-mastered to current formats, including digital. Over the past fifteen years, the Video Data Bank’s preservation initiative has fostered museum exhibitions, a feature length documentary and critical writings on the Freex.
The event is open to the public with limited capacity and requires registration.
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Video Data Bank
Founded at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC) in 1976 at the inception of the media arts movement, Video Data Bank (VDB) is a leading resource in the United States for video by and about contemporary artists. The VDB’s collection has grown to include the work of more than 600 artists and 6,000 video art titles. VDB is dedicated to fostering awareness and scholarship of the history and contemporary practice of video and media art through its distribution, education, and preservation programs. The VDB collection is available to museums and galleries, libraries and educational institutions, cultural institutions and alternative exhibitors through a far-reaching national and international distribution service. Programs and activities include maintaining both analog and digital archives, preservation of historically important works of video art, the commissioning of essays and texts that contextualize artists’ work, the publication of curated programs and artists’ monographs, and an extensive range of public programs, including the popular online streaming program VDB TV.