Q and A: Dale Hudson

By Queline Meadows, March 5, 2021
An interview with the FLEFF Digital Curator.

Dale Hudson

Dale Hudson, FLEFF Digital Curator

Blog posting written by Queline Meadows, Culture and Communication with minors in French and Honors Interdisciplinary Studies, ’23, FLEFF Intern, Buffalo, New York.

Dr. Dale Hudson teaches film and new media at NYU Abu Dhabi. He has been involved with FLEFF since 2007. This year, he is serving as FLEFF Digital Curator for the Entangled Infiltrations online media exhibition with Dr. Claudia Pederson.

This week, I had the opportunity to ask Dr. Hudson some questions about new media and FLEFF via email.

QM: What is your history with new media? Why are you passionate about it?

DH: New media has changed a lot since I first started including websites and blogs in my classes in the late 1990s.

I think that as the digital divide, which is a term used to describe the inequity between communities within and without access to the internet, has closed, the variety of media and the perspectives that it conveys have increased, which is what keeps me interested.

For many communities, it had been a first opportunity to represent themselves rather than be represented by someone else. There is always something new to learn. 

Also, artists are rethinking their practices through digital technologies, such as software that harvests images and data from websites, or exploring how technologies and systems work in more familiar practices, such as films about underwater cables that allow the internet to function or the toxic seepages from our e-waste, that is, our old devices that we hope to recycle or epicycle but more often than not end their life cycles on a container ship as dangerous waste sold to poorer countries.

QM: I’d like to know more about your role as FLEFF Digital Curator. What has this role entailed in the past, and how is it different now that the festival will be 100% virtual?

DH: My role actually is probably one of the few at FLEFF that hasn’t changed much with the move to fully online. Claudia [Pederson] and I work together via email, posting an open call for submissions online. 

The exhibit is also an online one. The one difference this year is that we will be participating in a roundtable in Zoom. 

QM: Tell me about the exhibition you’re curating with Dr. Claudia Pederson, Entangled Infiltrations. What inspired this exhibition? What types of works can we find as part of it?

DH: The exhibit this year is actually an extension of the theme of infiltrations that FLEFF announced for 2020 before the pandemic. Last year, Radical Infiltrations focused on efforts to contest the deadly combination of neoliberal economics and rightwing politics that infiltrates democracies.

In the United States, the government denied the climate crisis was real, and corporations like Amazon continued to destroy communities and worker’s rights; In India and Israel, the governments redoubled their efforts to marginalize groups of citizens.

This year with Entangled Infiltrations, the work looks more at how politics and economics are entangled with biology in the sense of the pandemic caused by a virus, and internet technologies, in the sense of “info-demics,” that cause misinformation to spread.

It happened even outside the United States, but governments were usually good about combating it. 

We also have work that looks at how our data is valuable to corporations, perhaps more than our lives.

QM: What advice do you have for festival goers who will be engaging with new media for the first time at this year's festival?

DH: There are different kinds of media in the exhibit. Some of it is short films, but other work is documentation of live performances or operates on an interactive interface.

I always think that it is helpful to think about the particular form and platform that the artists select to prompt us to think about things differently.

You can experience Entangled Infiltrations firsthand at this year’s Finger Lakes Environmental Film Festival. Be sure to attend the exhibition launch on Monday, March 22 at 3 p.m.