Muhammad Ali

Muhammad Ali

Start watching
Fine Cut

Fine Cut

Start watching
SoCal Update

SoCal Update

Start watching
a large damn with graffiti of a woman with a hammer on it, mountains in the background

Earth Focus Presents

Start watching
Southland Sessions

Southland Sessions

Start watching
Professor T

Professor T (Belgium)

Start watching
Artbound

Artbound

Start watching
Emma

Emma

Start watching
Guilt

Guilt

Start watching
Line of Separation Key Art.

Line of Separation

Start watching
Us

Us

Start watching
The Latino Experience

The Latino Experience

Start watching
Key Art of "Summer of Rockets" featuring Keeley Hawes and Toby Stephens.

Summer of Rockets

Start watching
Death in Paradise Series 10

Death in Paradise

Start watching
millionaire still

KCET Must See Movies

Start watching
Independent Lens

Independent Lens

Start watching
MJ250sC-show-poster2x3-Bflky7i.png

Tending Nature

Start watching
Earth Focus

Earth Focus

Start watching
City Rising

City Rising

Start watching
Lost LA

Lost LA

Start watching
Member
Your donation supports our high-quality, inspiring and commercial-free programming.
Support Icon
Learn about the many ways to support KCET.
Support Icon
Contact our Leadership, Advancement, Membership and Special Events teams.

If it Works, It's Obsolete

Support Provided By
PXL_2.jpg

Gerry Fialka is LA's tireless advocate for alternative media and DIY culture generally, and the creative potential of the PXL 2000, a cheap, plastic toy video camera made by Fisher-Price in the 1980s, in particular. The camera produces a glitchy, chunky black-and-white image that's, well, often quite beautiful. For 20 years, the Venice-based media proponent has been showcasing videos made with the PXL 2000 camera in the PXL This video festival, which returns with a celebratory 20th annual showcase this Monday night, December 13, with two shows (7:00 p.m. and 9:00 p.m.) at the Unurban Coffeehouse at 3301 Pico Blvd, Santa Monica. I took the anniversary as an opportunity to ask Gerry a few questions, starting with what makes the PXL 2000 camera interesting in a world where we now have so many video camera options.

"McLuhan said, 'If it works, it's obsolete,'" says Gerry. "The PXL is remarkable because it does not work." Gerry is referring here to the fact that the camera does not even attempt to mimic reality; it's not interested in clarity, resolution or fidelity. Instead, the camera produces a glimpse of the world, one that underscores visual manipulation and dismisses attempts at perfection. "Giving the viewer less information might mean more involvement by the viewer," Gerry suggests. "It enables the possibility of 'breakdown as breakthrough.'" Considering the array of camera options, Gerry adds, "There's lots of video cams on the market that have some similar features, but none with the unique gothic dreamy look - there are lots of cool words that have described its services and disservices!"

PXL_1.jpg

Shooting with the PXL 2000 is also fun. It's nicely shaped, lightweight, and now, nearly 30 years after its birth, boasts a sleek retro look that the little Flip video camera will never have. Oddly enough, the camera records onto sound cassettes, and the image itself is framed with a black matte, giving the resulting footage an elegant look in contrast with the chaos of the imagery itself. When you use a PXL Vision camera, you really have to negotiate with the camera; the process is about discovery rather than capture. "We are really about McLuhan's adage, 'We shape our tools, then they shape us,'" adds Gerry. "That's the meta-cognition here." He goes on to suggest that often artists try to rekindle the visionary delight of children, and using a toy contributes to that sense of creativity and rule-breaking. Gerry notes that technically he does not "curate" the festival. "I show every entry," he explains. "We welcome kids and homeless people and rich art kids and so on. We celebrate a tool, and we leave it to the audience and press to make aesthetic judgments." He adds that audience reactions definitely shift each year. "'Anything that's popular is a rear-view image,'" Gerry adds, again quoting Marshall McLuhan. "We are not a popular festival." That said, the show is an annual highlight for those seeking offbeat imagery and storytelling, and creativity that emerges in dialogue with imperfect and magical toy tools. More info: 310-306-7330.

[Images taken from a PXL 2000 user's manual, available here.]

Support Provided By
Read More
Three people stand looking at the destroyed landscape after a mudflow, one woman has her hands on her head

What Happens After a Mudflow Destroys Your Home? The Hidden Costs of Rebuilding Post-Fire

Even after a wildfire is fully suppressed, the danger may not be over. Fires increase the likelihood of devastating mudflows after a rain. And unforeseen costs place financial burdens on those looking to rebuild.
Operations Section Chief Jon Wallace wearing a yellow jacket looks at and reached out to touch the protective foil wrapping around a big sequoia tree called General Sherman at Sequoia National Park, California

California Moves on Climate Change, but Rejects Aggressive Cuts to Greenhouse Emissions

Drought, wildfires, extreme heat: California lawmakers cast climate change as the culprit in an emerging series of public health threats, setting aside billions to help communities respond. But they stopped short of more aggressively reducing the state’s share of the greenhouse emissions warming the planet.
A wide shot of families walking along the concrete banks of the LA river with a bridge in the background

Near, Far, Wherever They Are, Angelenos Love the L.A. River

In a new, multilingual poll, 91% of L.A. residents supported river revitalization, while only 48% of those would support a tax increase to do it. Meanwhile, 76% of respondents prioritized ensuring that revitalization projects don’t displace locals.