Anne Bray: Video on the Loose

"I'm picturing a network of youths, artists and nonprofits who are talking to the entire county," explains LA media artist Anne Bray, who is also the founder and director of the media festival LA Freewaves. She's talking about programming created for the televisions on LA city buses in a project called Out the Window recently funded by the MacArthur Foundation. The project will incorporate GPS technology so that specific banners or notes to riders will be triggered as buses pass through specific neighborhoods. "In some ways it's the opposite of photography, where you go somewhere, take a picture, and take that picture somewhere else. In this case, people will take pictures, and put them in a particular place." Bray imagines the system incorporating text messages from riders, and videos made by youths, artists and nonprofits that speak about specific places. In this way, the the material becomes a conversation that unfolds across the city by the people who live here.

Bray has worked to share media across Los Angeles for more than 20 years, from the days of VHS tapes circulated from group to group to alternative programming for television. Recently, Freewaves published a book and DVD compilation titled Video on the Loose: Freewaves and 20 Years of Media Arts. The book outlines the history and themes that constitute Freewaves, and the two-disc DVD of videos was curated around four topics, including responses to commercial TV news and advertising; videos about the body and embodiment; interrogations of conflicting points of view; and artists' takes on dangerous topics. The collection offers both an overview of Freewaves programming and interests, and a testament to the incredible diversity of voices that characterize Freewaves.

The book also includes a great compilation of quotes from artists. Example: media artist Ming Yuen S. Ma on Freewaves: "LA Freewaves is a community-global, local, mobile, messy, vital, bickering, ephemeral, shifting, surviving, evolving; sometimes divine and inspirational, at other times frustrating and impenetrable. It is forever changing, growing, and unpredictable. In short, a living community." That about says it, and soon that living community will be mobile.

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