The Early Video Project


Interview with John Reilly

By Davidson Gigliotti

Recorded: December 14, 1999


Look, I record these, John,


OK, so I'm just telling you. OK, John, I'm preparing an e-mail right now which is going out to all the participants in this project. You will be getting one, you're on the list. I've sort of created a mailing list. It's not a real mailing list in the sense that, an interactive mailing list. I'd like to do that, it would really be good if we could have a sort of Early Video List, you know, where people could sort of...

We could all kind of share things with each other. That would be fun.

Yeah, that would be fun, and I think that I would like to do something like that.

If you could do that that would be actually a great step in the right direction, 'cause I've been thinking a lot about this too. But my list is relatively incomplete.

All right. Well, you'll be receiving an e-mail from me which explains the project and my role in it and how it all came about, and so on. What I'd like to do is I'd sort of like to get back into your history before Global Village - you know, where you came from and how you got involved in filmmaking. I know you were a filmmaker. And basically what life was like in New York before you did that?

OK, do you want to start in any particular place, or just have me...

Well, I don't know, you got out of school, right. Education is not that important, what's really important to me is well, you know. Well...tell me a little about your education.

All right. Well I went to undergraduate work at Seton Hall University. There was no televison or film program at the school. They had what they called Communications, basically which translated into radio. They had a fairly good FM radio station. And we did programming. I created a program for them for FM about avant-garde theater in New York. I would go into the city and do interviews with the new emerging theater groups. Judith Malina and Julian Beck and people like that.

That was an innovation for the station because they never did anything like that before, but I was really interested in visual, that was my thing and not audio. So I convinced them to let me work in film, and, uh, in exchange for them buying a Bolex camera, I wrote course descriptions for them to create a new section in film that they would have. So, that was the trade-off, and they bought the Bolex. I then took my own courses that I created - I think I was the only student - and eventually made a film.

It was a fiction film, an experimental film. Took place mainly in the New York City subways, as I recall. But it....the influence for me at that point was probably early films being shown by Jonas Mekas and Stan Brakhage things, and, uh...

So you were going into New York a lot and looking at avant-garde stuff.

All the time, all the time.

Tell me about those experiences.

Early on there was a theater in the East Village that Jonas Mekas took over and I can't remember the exact years. I'm recalling it was mid-sixties.

Was this the New Charles?

That's right, exactly right, you're exactly right.

It was right across the street from Stanley's.

And we got to know Stanley along the way, like a lot of people, right?


So there's the connection for me, and that was a revelation. Because you couldn't see this stuff anywhere. If you think back in those days there was no place to really see this kind of film, this alternative kind of film. You could see European film in art houses and whatnot, but you couldn't really see the experimental groups. So, you have that, and then eventually I showed one of my films in the Charles and, uh...

So you must have hung out at Stanley's a bit.

Oh, yeah. You used to be there?

Oh, often, often.

When he passed away it was kind of sad, a lot of us felt badly.

I didn't even know. When did he pass away?

I dunno, after that period, not too long after, I think, my guess is the late sixties.

He was the one who did the Dom, too. That was him.

That's right. Yeah, a he had a heart attack and just died like suddenly. Just like that.

Jesus, I'm trying to remember if I knew that.

And his sister, or somebody, took over...something like that.

I don't think there's a bar on that corner anymore.

I don't think so. But that was a wonderful place.

It was, it was a beautiful place. I used to go there with my friend Willy Murphy. We used to hang out there all the time, you know, looking for trouble, etc. But, you know, it was an artist's place kind of, and we enjoyed it very much.

So this period was very important to me, this period of development. Before this though, what really brought me into the city on a consistent basis - I still lived in New Jersey - what brought me into the city on a consistent basis was going for the masters at NYU. And I went to the Film School, there's this great teacher they had, Haig Minujian, and Scorsese dedicated two of his films to Minugian.

[conversation off topic]

Also in the film school was Scorsese, Marty and I became friends, and his influence in terms of pulling me more in the direction of feature film and thinking about that was important. At the time I didn't think that important, because my main work was in documentary. But having him around and full of energy the way he was, and is, was quite remarkable. There were a number of others there in the Film School that were of influence to me. So my goal at that point was working in film, right, except that I couldn't afford it. I really...the usual dilemma of not wanting to do commerical work and not having the money to go out and make elaborate 16mm films. Even if you shot in black and white, it was a lot of money in those days. It was an unrealized frustration, an unrealized dream, a big frustration for me. And I taught on and off, here and there, to make money, to earn money.

Where did you teach?

I taught at New York Institute of Technology, and on the island, at Westbury, and I taught briefly at Rutgers, but not very long, adjuncting. Full time at the New York Institute, and one year I went out to the University of Kentucky in Lexington, one year. It was fun, because I treated it as a kind of visiting artist thing for me. They had a different idea of what I was going to do there, it was a conflict, but really I saw it as a chance to work with local artists in that area, and I had a lot of fun and I made a film about Appalachia called Harvest of Hope. And it was commissioned by the state, they have several programs that they wanted to show, and I hired Scorsese to edit the film. He and I worked together for four months on the film.

Beautiful! Is that film around, I mean, can you see it?

Yeah, I have a copy of it. I think at one point I had given it to the Museum of Modern Art after they got interested in my video. I don't know what they did with the print, but I gave them a copy.

Do you have it on video?

Not at the moment, I only have 16mm.

Should put it on video so other people can look at it. I know it's a big deal projecting 16mm film, it's not such an easy thing, but, you know, if you have them on VHS ...

So that brings us up to '68. I'm back in the city, I'm living in the city.

Where are you living?

At this point I'm living on Spring Street.

Where? What number?

192 Spring. It's about a block in from 6th Avenue.

South side of the street?

Yes, South side of the street, correct. It's a small apartment, it's not a loft, it's a small apartment, inexpensive, but it gave me freedom to pursue other things by not having a big rent, and that was through '68. Then I got a loft down further on Spring Street, 118 Spring, down near Mercer.

Did you get to meet Rudi Stern by this time?

No, I didn't get to meet Rudi until '69. At this point I was working with Ira. And Ira and I had formed some company, briefly involving Frank Gillette, might have been called Information Structures. I was trying to think of the name....

How did you meet Ira?

I met Ira, let's see now, how did I meet Ira?

You know, I've got a business card somewhere with you two guys name on it.

Yeah, yeah, yeah, we started this company together. You know, it's funny. Through some friends who told me about Ira and introduced us and brought us together, I don't remember who it was, some artist as far as I can recall it. And they said Ira was working with this portable video and had been out in Ohio, I think Frank was with him.


Antioch, right. And they had these incredible tapes, and it blew my mind. Here I am unable to make 16mm film because I can't afford it, and here they come along with this beautiful process. I always felt that the texture of those early black and white video cameras had a special quality to them, it may be my mind playing tricks on me.

No, they did have a special quality, and I've written about it. Hold on a second, let me see if I can....yeah. basically what I said here was "There is still a nostalgia among video artists who practiced in the sixties and early seventies for the old course-grained black and white images of early video. Part of the power that they transmitted was the power of image and sound so stripped of detail that only the most direct messages had relevance."

That's quite good, actually. I think you're right.

Yeah, they were powerful. It was a powerful...not just because it was new to us, but it was powerful in its own right, you know.

Image-wise it was powerful, aside from the process which was powerful. The images were powerful. And I was struck by the simple things that Frank and Ira had done. All three of us, for a while, formed a company. I even believe, for a short time, Paul Ryan was involved in that company. Frank created quite a remarkable piece for the Howard Wise Gallery, and it might have been called Wipe Cycle.

Yeah, Wipe Cycle, Frank and Ira did that.

Frank and Ira, and that was an important piece for a lot of us because it really showed the live camera, the interaction, the bank of monitors...

Oh, it was a remarkable work, I saw it.

A remarkable work, exactly, and that influenced the first presentations we made at Global Village. When we actually started to construct Global Village, at some point in '69 Rudi entered the picture.

Tell me about Global Village. Was it a 501(c)3?

Yes it is, it still exists.

When did you found it?

In '69, Fall of '69. I think it was dated September, I went back and looked at some articles about it.

Did you, uh, that was the loft on the corner of Broome and...


The second floor. Did you have to renovate that loft? Did you just walk in and..

We originally worked...we tried to raise some money to get investors involved. Rudi had a lot of experience creating models and things so he created a model of the loft which showed it as a theater. And we used the model to raise... we didn't raise much, but we raised enough to begin.

This is with Rudi and Ira and....

Ira was...yeah, in the first several months Ira was involved, and then Ira dropped out. We had a parting of the ways. I'd rather not go into all of that. He went his seperate way and Rudi and I went our seperate ways, and somewhere in that period we launched Global Village. I recall September of '69. That's my recollection.

What was your aspiration for Global Village?

To experiment with video was my aspiration and to have a space that we could present the video in various forms. And not have to worry about censorchip, not have to worry about rejection by networks, not have to worry about...cable didn't exist. There was no such thing as access or anything else, that came later. We predated that. So the really - if you think about it where would you show anything? You could show it in galleries, right, but even then there weren't very many who were into it. You could probably count them on one hand. If even that. They were't there. So we created a space, part gallery, part theater. We originally sat on the floor, there were no chairs, we put foam down on the floor. Mekas reviewed it that first year and liked the show but complained about having to sit on the floor. He said he had long country legs, or something like that.

Yeah, something...

He didn't want to sit on the floor. And so we did a mixture of material and what had influenced me was Gillette's - I keep on saying Frank, I know Ira was involved in it too, but the theory was more Frank's of the Wipe Cycle and the multiple monitors, the bank of monitors - so we created 12 monitors and we had three channels of video and three channels of audio that we fed into it. And one innovation we made was it could be performed. You could actually perform a piece and do it live with a switcher.


The switcher was built by C. T. Lui.

Of course.

Right? We all turned to Lui at that point.

Oh, sure. Was Lui involved with you guys at all?

No, no, other than support. He came to the show, enjoyed himself. But no, he had no direct involvement, but through Lui you met everyone else, because everyone was hanging out down there, and stopping in and.....

Sure, Lui was kind of a catalyst.

He was kind of a catalyst and he played an important role. We needed a C.T Lui at that point.

[tape change]

I'm sorry, go ahead.

I was saying we needed somebody like Lui, even though he was himself not, quote, an artist, he played a very important role.

Yeah, I bought my first deck from Lui.

Exactly, and Ira bought the first things we had, and on and on. We dealt with him regularly after that. He was a very important catalyst. He designed the switcher for us. And it was, I don't know, a little box with buttons on it, very mechanical buttons, by the way, nothing electronic. And each button would give you a different pattern of the 12, of the three channels, three audio, blah, blah, blah. So we designed programs for it, and that was the earliest Global Village formal presentation was this performance piece that was made up of a lot of things - tapes we had shot, short little documentary pieces, the Woodstock material that Ira and I split up.

Did you go to Woodstock?

He was there, I was in Europe, I was doing something else in Europe.

What were you doing in Europe.

I was trying to show my earliest video in London, with mixed success. I mean people were like looking in disbelief, because there was no European movement. Anyway, I went over there. I was a little ahead of myself, right. A couple of years later it was very successful. Meanwhile Woodstock took place and we had material from it and we had that in the program. I shot erotic material, we had that in the program, we had Abbie Hoffman, the trial might have just started, the Chicago Seven - remember all that?

Yeah, yeah.

I had that in the program. Rudi did tapes about witches, that was in the program. I mean it was like transexuals, we had an unbelievable mix of all the stuff that couldn't go anywhere else. The Woodstock, of course, could. But nobody was seeing it because the film wasn't out yet. So we had the only video. So there was all kinds of material and it was mixed together in a collage. That was the interesting part.

Had you run across people like Howard Gutstadt and David Cort yet?

We had met them almost concurrent with that period. Whether they came by...I think they actually did at some point. I know Paik would come occasionally and bring somebody with him to see the mix. Woody and Steina Vasulka were there.

Right. They were around those years, very early.

Very early, very early. In fact we met Woody when we were doing - after the Wipe Cycle - the company was called, I believe, Information Structures, and we were going to do large installations and it was Ira and I and Frank and probably Paul Ryan.

Something about the American Can Company or something?

Exactly. And somewhere in that mix, not working directly for them, but somewhere in that mix was Woody Vasulka working for a guy who did slide presentations. Woody was his master builder of these devices.

Yeah, he was a very good engineer. What was your involvement withy the American Can Company project?

That was mainly Frank Gillette. We were involved in...Information Structures was the company that designed it, which we were all involved in. But the real work on it was mainly Frank, Frank was the one... Frank was not the easiest person. I don't know how well you know him.

Oh, I know him well.

He could be difficult. He could be challenging. He was wonderful - he was a genius. But they sent him off to meet the American Can people and they didn't appreciate Frank.

Perhaps that was not the right guy to send, no.

No, no, no, they were baffled by Frank. Amazingly the thing got built, but somehow we got ripped off. We got money for it, but they walked off with this matrix of about 50 monitors. So it didn't wasn't what we envisioned. Somehow Woody was involved, somehow this other company was involved that made slide shows, and through that we started a friendship with Woody that's lasted till today. Woody and Steina. And Woody would come to the early Global Village shows, and somewhere in that period he started the Kitchen, a little bit later. In the old hotel on Broadway.

So the early Global Village was place for mainly Rudi and I. We did have other people come in eventually.

A lot of people went through there.

A lot of people went through there and worked on things with us.

Tell me about some of them. Andy Mann went through there.

Andy Mann who had some contribution to the early construction of that switcher and matrix. He worked on it. If anyone who deserves credit other than Lui or us thinking about it was Frank Gillette for inspiring it. It was a performance thing.

Did Andy come in, like, and work on stuff with you guys more or less regularly?

Oh, Andy was there for almost a year, or more, a year and a half. He was our right-hand person.

Starting when, about sixty...

You know, dates are a little fuzzy for me. I'm gonna say '69, late '69, in that period.

Who else?

Edin Velez?

Yeah, I remember Edin, I used to know him pretty well.

Edin was married in our loft space to Ethel Velez, and we actually had him staying there for a while when he lost his apartment. It was a funny thing, a funny period. It was big space, it was 125 feet long, 30 or 35 wide, and we had a lot of space to do things in there. Later on, tons of people went through.

Well, you know something, this is off topic, but one of the things that I'm really interested in - I have the idea that probably several hundred people went through Global Village in terms of its classes and workshops and so forth, and I imagine that if you at the credits of a lot televison programs today you probably find many of them.

Find names.

A lot of people who went into the industry, or who went into video in some way or another.

You'll find some people who were already established. For instance, Larry Rivers came to us at one point and said, "I want to take a class in video". No, he didn't say class, he said, "I want you to teach me video, I just bought this camera, and I want to start using it." So Rudi and I actually set him down in a class, but that didn't work, so then we did it privately. And subsequent to that he sent a wife, and he sent two girlfriends over the course of several years. So one day we'd get a call and it would be so-and-so coming by and she'd work with us for a while. And Larry, by the way, has a lot of tapes. I just saw him recently out here, and I told him I'd help him put together some of the tapes. So there were people like that that came by, Rauschenberg got interested in what we were doing, eventually did video himself, but came by. People from the Hollywood community - Ah, I'm not very good with names - several prominent actors spent time there. They were involved with some underground film projects and they came by. Of course Abbie Hoffman and Jerry Rubin and all of the people involved with them came by the space. They were there quite frequently. They were in the show, they were permanently part of the show.

Permanently part of the show. What do you mean exactly?

We had a performance piece that was repeated, and it ran for almost two years.

And they would come by live?

They would come by and be there. Yeah. And sometimes get up and say something, sometimes do nothing, sometimes bring people. Sometimes we'd all go into front office and we'd smoke something, you know, on and on and on.

Yeah, all that.

Yeah, it was like a gathering on the weekend. And the other connection that we had - these were groups, I'm not talking about only individuals - the other connection we had through Rudi was to Tim Leary, and the whole crowd from Millbrook. So they would come, and Leary would come.

Rudi was tied in with them a little bit.

Tied in with them, exactly. Rudi did slide show presentations as part of it.

Right, over on Second Avenue.

That's right. So through all of that was his friendship with Leary. And then the Warhol group came in. Now Andy Warhol, to my knowledge, never showed up at the space, but if you name people from his group...

Paul Morrisey

Paul Morrisey was there, who I developed a friendship with later. Several of the actresses would come by, one or two of the tranvestites, I mean, you name them. One called Holly Woodlawn...

Yeah, Holly Woodlawn, all that.

They would come by. And it had this funny quality that we didn't intend, by the way, that wasn't necessarily why we were doing it.

Yeah but you were accessible, you were there, and you were doing this stuff so, you know...

Right. And it was clearly more on the experimental end. Something else developed at that point which we were compared to once in a while, which was totally wrong. It was called Channel One.

Yeah, Ken Shapiro

Ken Shapiro.

Right, I remember Ken Shapiro. I went to one of those Channel One things.

Well that wasn't us. And he was not involved in kind of this video underground.

No, it was a different thing. He was working with Chevy Chase.

Exactly, he was working with Chevy Chase, but in the reviews they would sometimes lump it all together.

And of course you were the only people in town doing that at that time because the Videofreex were all involved in that CBS thing.

[Off topic conversation ensues.]

What we were doing to certain parts of the establishment was a threat. It wasn't to be controlled, they way they had a great control of the networks. And this particular process you couldn't put back in the bottle any longer.

No, no, it was scary to them, I agree.

It was scary, and people like Don West who were trying to make a bridge with you guys, eventually his bosses realized, "Hey, you can't control this situation - its not going to be neat the way you think it's going to be."

No, no, I know. They were basically mortified to be getting involved with it and that's sort of how that went. But, you know, what were you reading at that time?

Well, I think one of the things that influenced us, obviously from a choice of the name was McLuhan. Paul Ryan, I guess, among others, for me it was Paul, brought McLuhan to New York.

Well, what happened was that McLuhan had a year at Fordham, and Paul...

Culkin,it was Culkin.

Yeah, Father John Culkin. Did you know him?

Yes, I did.

Tell me about him.

He was an extraordinary man, he was also one of the most intelligent people I've ever met in my life. And very much believed in, somehow, Catholicism and you could mix it all toegther and you have this wonderful excitement of people like McLuhan. So he brought McLuhan in to Fordham and they had that year. I think it was a full year. And a number of us met McLuhan while he was there.

McLuhan had a brain tumor and had to be operated on, it was not a great year for McLuhan. He was in the hospital recovering from brain surgery much of that time.

I recall, he was not in great shape. But there were several meetings that were set up that...

Paul was his graduate assistant.

Anyway that was a big influence, and later on we wound up... the guy he did several books with, I can't remember his name, but the visual books, remember the ones...

Fiore, I think that was his name.

Fiore. We worked with him on another project, Rudi and I. And got to know him. So that was a very seminal and influential period for us, this whole business of McLuhan. And when we used the name, we called him. He was back in Toronto, I think and we called him and asked his permission. His daughters came by to look at the program, that's what he told me. "They are going to come and look at it. I can't get down there at this point. If they think it's OK you can do whatever you want with the name." And they came by, and fortunately they liked what we were doing at Global Village and they told him that and he called back and said, "That's great, go ahead and have fun with the name." But of course he didn't own the name, we just did it as a courtesy, right. The book was called, right - The World is a Global Village.

I'm jumping around a lot.

I'm sort of looking back at Culkin again and your relationship with him and how you knew him and what kind of person he was.

I was always very impressed by Culkin. Remember of course, at one point he was active as a Catholic priest, and that was this period. Later on, I believe, he left the priesthood and I knew him in another capacity because he worked to some degree with the New School. And in 1971 we started our long relationship with the New School.

Tell me about that. How did that come about?

It came about through some friends of ours who were filmmakers who had been teaching courses the New School. And they brought us over there to introduce us to the people who ran the program at the New School, and the key person to giving approval for what we were doing was the Dean. And the Dean's name was Allen Austel.

Austel was one of these unsung heroes in this whole thing, who was wide open to experimentation with courses, ideas, people at the New School and would sanction things. And then if it worked, he would support it. And so he gave his blessing, so we got the thing rolling in the beginning, and that's what it was. Now we had a wonderful relationship with him because we operated out of our loft on Broome Street. We didn't need his space, and more interestingly they didn't have a space, which was actually perfect for us, because had they had a space we would have been more under their control. The point is we didn't want to be under their control, we wanted a lot of freedom. You know, we wanted to be able to do the transexual tapes, we wanted to be able to do...we did one called "Feedback", a study in feedback which involved a class and which resulted in a huge lawsuit.


Yeah, one of the class member's husbands sued us for a million dollars.

For what?

For destroying his marriage.

In what way did that happen?

Well, his claim was that this tape that I had put together of the class taping themselves and then playing the tapes back to members of their family and then building on that, a simple process of using the video for what it could do - you know, it was one of the ways we worked with it, we all did these things - he claimed it introduced radical ideas to his wife through this process and caused his marriage to disintegrate.

Maybe it did.

Maybe it did, maybe it did, and, uh, he sued us for a million dollars. And, of course, the New School at that point had a fit, and not knowing quite what to do. So they called me in and I met with a bunch of lawyers and they said, "You have to think about the way we can defend this. This guy's serious." So I said all right, I'm going back to look at all the tapes. So I went back and looked through the boxes of tapes and I found much more damaging material in the boxes than we ever used in the final project, mainly with him making outrageous statements about how he was controlling things, how this, how that, and how his home was a castle and how he was going to throw everybody out. I mean, control his wife and his children, on and on - I took it all out.

So the material in the box, which I had taken out to try to be fair to him, before we knew about any lawsuit, was far more damaging. And so that was taken in and shown to the judge. And the judge said, "You were far worse than anything these people put in this tape. Case dismissed." and threw it out.

Wow, that's good.

But anyway the relationship with the New School went through all of this stuff. And another person who was key at the New School was Mike Engel, of the Engel Hart industrial family. And Mike was a person who eventually, when he came into some of his inheritance, gave money, not to us but to the New School and helped build part of their facilities. But he was also instrumental in the beginning in allowing us to exist and experiment.

I always enjoyed teaching, it's always been a part of my life.

Yes, I know, I understand that. I think of Global Village as a teaching facility.

A larger part of it was actually.

What year did you become involved with the New School?

I think it was also '71. The earliest catalog I can find was 1971. It might have been '70, but the earliest I can come up with is 1971. And we offered probably two courses in video. And eventually at its peak it was about twelve courses, and about ten people worked for me.

When was the peak of this, do you think?

Peak was probably in the early '80s. Up to about '85, I think.

Have you kept good records of all of that stuff?

I have a lot of it.

In other words, if we wanted to see just who the people were who went through there it could be done.

It possibly could be done. I would, yeah, possibly. And also I could call people and try refresh their memory, if they could remember people as well. Literally hundreds, you're right.

I think so. I think it was hundreds of people who went through that place. And I know that I lectured there once or twice, you know, and I remember it was a room full of people, and, you know John Trayna, I guess was involved.

John Trayna was involved. Shirdar Bapat was involved with us first, and then he went with Woody and Steina, and somewhere else, and somewhere else.

He wound up working with Nam June a bit. He was good friends with Al Robbins.

Right. So we had the thing of... because we were open to the public, a lot of them came to us first, and then would go to other groups.

You had a lot of walk-in.

Yeah, a lot. Exactly. Wheras in the beginning you guys had this big project, but it was closed in, because...

Yeah, we didn't start having...we started doing these Friday night showings, video theater kind of stuff, but that wasn't until the new year of 1970. Jan one, 1970 was when we finally got out of that CBS project.

Now I remember, though, attending at least one evening while the project was still going on.

Yeah, that was the big event when all the guys from CBS came. Mike Dann was there, and Fred Silverman...

Didn't you have a performance of rock or something?

Yeah, yeah, Buzzy Linhart!

Buzzy Linhart, OK. Obviously you remember better than I do.

No, everybody was there. Jud Yalkut was there, Beryl and Ira were there, and there was a big room full of people, the whole video community of New York City, basically was sitting in that room. Not only that but Fred Silverman was there, Mike Dann was there, I think maybe even Fred Friendly was there. And I've got to say that it was...well, never mind, someday I'll...The Adventure Which So Nearly Cost Us All Our Lives. I don't know. I've often felt that was a true waste of energy for us in a way. To spend that time involved with those people doing that thing, because it distracted us I think from other stuff we should perhaps have been doing. But that's just beside the point, in any case. It's gone down in history, and people talk about it like it was something -it was something. But it was, I don't know, it took a long time to recover from.

You guys had the unique thing of having more individuals involved in a group than any other video group, and that was an interesting thing. You were like a traveling theater company.

Yeah, well that was, as a matter of fact, that was David's vision.

Was it.

Yeah, David came... you talked about Beck and didn't mention Grotowski but you may as well have, and David kind of was coming a little bit out of something like that. And he kind of wanted us to become something like a traveling theatrical troupe, in a way. But he couldn't do it with those people, because while some of them were kind of into that, some of them were definitley not. We had to do different kinds of things at that point.

Did you move up to Woodstock when they finally...

Oh yes, I didn't leave them until 1974. I was with them from '69 to '74. The last Videofreek closed the door on Maple Tree Farm in 1978.

Oh, God, really? I didn't think it went on that long.

Yep.The last Videofreek walked out the door in 1978.

And left the lights on and the video camera rolling?

Turned the lights off, and that was it.

Oh, man, that was a very interesting, uh....

Oh, it was. It was just wonderful - for me it was wonderful, I loved every minute of it. It was, is, something that I constantly think back upon. It was a very wonderful, it was very enabling for me, it enabled me to do other things later on, you know.

Didn't you guys carry on after Cort was no longer part of the....

Cort was part of it right up until.....

Not up until the end, though. He left before that didn't he?

No,no. Cort moved to the country. He was there all the time I was there. He got sort of more loosely involved in it around 1973, maybe, or '74.

I still remember something, it was just talk, that he was no longer a key player in what was going on.

Well, he might not have been a key player, but he was certainly there. He had a room there and was in and out of there a lot. And he certainly was a part of it, of course. But he had his own projects, and things he wanted to do, and so on.

What happened to David Cort?

David Cort lives in Boston.

[ off-topic conversation ensues]

Early on in this process, through Paik, we got involved in the Avant-Garde Arts Festival...

Charlotte Moorman!

Charlotte Moorman, but Paik made the phone call, spoke to me or Rudi, both of us probably - we would both pick up the phone - and said why don't you come in, and we are just doing video the first year, and on and on, things like that. And we did, and for like five years, every year we would do a piece, and it would connect us again to all of these people. It was wonderful. And I think you guys were involved...

Well, not the Videofreex so much, but me, yes.

You were involved.

I would do it myself.

You were involved, because I remember seeing you there. You had pieces in it.

Oh, yeah, absolutely.

That wasn't a Videofreek project?

It never really was. They were not...they were always a little bit shy of involvement in works that they felt self-consciously art-oriented. I was not, because art was kind of the direction I was interested in and was going in. So although they would support me in these activities, they usually would remain behind the scenes, so to speak. But my first one was in 1971. It was a the old Armory.

Very important year, by the way.

Yeah, that was the year Shirley Clark had her big Ferris Wheel.

John and Yoko were involved.

I believe they were. '71, that was the old Armory.

Cause during that period he gave me money to finish one of my works.

Oh, really, so anyway, go on about the Avant-Garde Fesitivals.

Well, it was a terribly important thing, and it was really Rudi who had been involved in the art world more than me. Remember my background as a filmmaker.


And filmmakers and art world avant-garde art shows don't necessarily mix. Now with Shirley Clark they did because she was an experimental filmmaker. But there were a lot of fimmaker friends of mine who thought I was crazy to be involved in all of this. You know - the Scorsese group, let's say, loosely speaking - who just would turn their nose up on it. They saw no relevance in anything to do with this crowd. And to be drawn into it and to begin to think textural ways and environmental ways, and all of the elements that we did with these events was wonderful. And it really liberated me as person. It become very important challenge every year, and the contact all through the year, to be in touch with all these people, was wonderful. Woody and Steina had a piece, it was a circular...

Oh, I remember that piece well. And it was one tape and one deck, and a circle of monitors facing inward, and they had this image zipping around on that thing - that was smart, that was a smart piece.

Very smart piece. It was a very exciting event. And somehow we all mounted the shows and whatever we were doing, and somewho the money was there, and on and on and on. It just went on for a while, and it cemented contacts for me to a lot of these other artists, which was very important.

All right. I want to continue on this discussion with you. I need another time from you. What would be good?

[scheduling information.]

End Part One.

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© Davidson Gigliotti, 2000CE