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The Finger Lakes Environmental Film Festival from the interns' point of view
Saturday, April 9, 2011
Blog posting written by Peter Keahey, Film, Photography and Visual Arts, '12, FLEFF Intern, Yellow Springs, Ohio
I recently had the chance to conduct a very interesting interview with new media artist Philip Mallory Jones. Mr. Jones has worked with video, film, photography, and other venues going back to the 1960s. He has won numerous awards for his work, including the Arizona Governors Award for the Arts for his digital Paintings.
Currently, Mr. Jones works completely in digital and synthetic worlds, creating things such as 3D models and synthetic worlds. His work has been shown all over the world. He was also the founder of Ithaca Video Projects, a very important media center back in the 70's and 80's.
His FLEFF lectures are 4-6p.m. Thursday April 14 in Studio A in the Roy Park School of Communications, and Friday April 15 from 1-2p.m.
Peter: How long have you been involved with FLEFF?
Philip: This is my first time participating in the festival.
Peter: What made you decide to participate this year?
Philip: Patty Zimmerman contacted me and asked if I was interested in being a part of it. Because of the component of the festival involving archives and experimental television centers, and my long history in media in the Finger Lakes area, She felt it was a good idea, and appropriate, to contact me.
Peter: When you first began using “new media,” what sort of projects were you doing?
Philip: I began using video in 1969. That was the beginning of small format video. I’ve done a lot of different things for the past forty-something years. In 69-70, when Ithaca Video Projects first formed, we had a contemporary interests and concerns at that time. For me, working in video, which was new, with no courses or colleges to teach this, was the frontier. It was the possibility of inventing a new art form and a new media language. That in particular interested me. Just as many years before, filmmakers approached cinema in the same way, and photography, and so on.
Given that video, in it’s earliest days, was very different from television and very different from cinema, it was the opportunity for me and others involved at that time to really step into new territory and bring our own sensibilities and interests to this new form, and to experiment.
Peter: What sort of work was Ithaca Video Projects involved in?
Philip: Ithaca Video Projects closed in 1985. It ran for fourteen years. It was one of the first media arts centers anywhere. The involvement over those fourteen years was quite widespread not only in the Ithaca area, but also nationally and internationally. For instance, in 1985, I took that years Ithaca video festival to cities in Belgium.
During the active years of Ithaca Video Projects, we were involved with everything that went on in the Ithaca area, around New York State and beyond. We did all kinds of work with area arts associations and individual artists. It was quite extensive. It was accessible to others. We had a visiting artists program and also loaned equipment to groups and individuals in the area. It was a very community oriented arts association.
Peter: As a new media artist, how important is it to stay up to date with technology?
Philip: It’s important and it’s not important. I learned a long time ago, working with media tools, there’s always the chase for the current technology, and that hasn’t changed in forty-two years. That is a constant struggle and anxiety. With the advent of additional technologies, there’s also keeping up with the software. That’s an even bigger problem and a constant learning curve. I’m always looking at three to five different programs that I need to take the time to learn how to use.
As my ambitions and visions for work move with the technology, that’s my need to stay current. On the other hand, an artist working in any form can do great work by mastering that form and those tools. Great work can be made on a piano today just as it could several hundred years ago. It’s what the artist brings to the tool and the form that really shapes the work. So on one hand I struggle with this constant learning curve challenge, but I keep in mind, you can make great work with a stick in the sand if you’re good with a stick. It’s not the tool that makes the work; it’s the mind of the artist.
April 9 2011