The Staircase 1986

Memory Vault: Curating Community Access Television

As a kid, I jumped at the chance to register for a video production course offered through my hometown “summer recreation” program. Whatever skills I picked up from those early years of media-making gave me a raw toolkit I used as an adolescent and teenage rabble-rouser to bring all sorts of dumb and/or wild ideas to small screens. (Mostly just screens in my own house, admittedly).

A couple decades later, as a dormant practitioner of no-budget media production, I attended a one-night showcase in Somerville, MA, that pulled together community media from local-access stations across my home state spanning 40+ years. Given the ridiculous amounts of fun I had with deck-to-deck tape editing and running around with a camcorder in my youth, this sort of material hit close to home. The program found the right mix of absurd, surprising, and deeply profound. This piece for NEMMC.org detailed some of the screening’s highlights, and provided some background context for the curatorial process behind the showcase.

The program began with the off-screen voice of sitting U.S. President Barack Obama as he spoke at Cambridge Public Library in 1995. In another sequence, a skeleton chatted away while wearing colonial garb. An amateur scientist earnestly guided the audience through the relationship between containers and the ‘invisible’ force of physics. A young Tracy Chapman delivered a subdued but stirring musical performance. Through roughly two hours of programming, the audience was subjected to shifts in tone and subject matter, some subtle and others jarring, but they felt seamless and familiar” …

Memory Vault, Curating Community Access Television (NEMMC.org)

Read the full article at NEMMC.org

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