About > Video Pioneer Skip Blumberg
by Professor Marty Lucas, Hunter College
Having Skip Blumberg here is a reminder that at schools we not only teach history, in this case, the history of the documentary, but we make history… deciding what is history or what will be part of the historical record that is taught to the next generations.
In fact, Skip comes out of a period that is very available, very local and not particularly well historicized or, as you might say, well documented. Significantly, one of the best texts remains "Subject to Change," by Deirdre Boyle, a mentor for our own Reiko Tahara at the New School.
Skip Blumberg was one of the first wave of video artists in the 1970’s, who helped make video the artistic medium it is today. Perhaps as significantly, he was part of a movement that can be easily seen as a predecessor of many of today’s most au courant and avant-garde practices from social practice art and relational aesthetics, to collective production, multimedia installation, art and technology and more.
In an era when film versus video seems like little more than a choice of formats, it is worth asking, “What was Video?”
It is hard to recreate or perhaps even understand the special moment that the invention of video was. Video was conceived as a replacement for home movies in the mid-nineteen-sixties. It quickly became a creative tool for artists, and since we’re talking about the Sixties, a tool for people interested in changing the world -- often in collective fashion. Skip was at the center of that early scene, part of Videofreex, working with TVTV, and an active influence on many of groups that followed in the Seventies and Eighties, including Paper Tiger Television where he was on set at the very first show with Herb Schiller back in 1981.
Since those days Skip has continued to work in this medium exploring its capabilities in many years of amazing work, both on his own pieces, and on work for programs including Sesame Street and a variety of others.
Throughout his career, Skip’s work offers an intimacy -- a relationship that is possible with other media, but is, I believe close to the soul of videomaking -- he is able to seek out the specialness that lurks just behind the surface of life. In places often passed over, he finds rich treasures.
Tonight we’ll have a screening of a sample his work... Emmy-winning "Pick Up Your Feet: the Double Dutch Show," "Flying Morning Glory," and shorts for Sesame Street. Let’s watch, and then afterwards we’ll have a chance to have a dialog with Skip.