Archives came into their own during the fifteen years preceding the onset of the commercial Internet (1980-1995). During this time new collections became available, especially in New York City, enabling once-enclosed images to emerge from hiding and flow freely into artworks, independent and commercial media. Attraction to archives developed into a full-frame romance for many artists, who appropriated images that sometimes arrested the eye, but perhaps more often offered a vivid account of covert persuasions and long-lasting efforts to manufacture and sustain public consensus in the interest of profit and public order.
Beginning in 1986, Prelinger Archives began regular screenings at cinematheques, galleries, clubs, museums and homes in New York and elsewhere that were attended by many working media makers and artists. That year it also published two anthologies of sponsored and educational films (TO NEW HORIZONS and YOU CAN’T GET THERE FROM HERE) on laserdisc and VHS (later on CD-ROM) through pioneer new media publisher Voyager Company. The material in these collections found their way into countless ambient and club screenings, video artworks and public events.
This screening combines key films drawn from Rick Prelinger’s curated screenings from the late 1980s that first introduced audiences to the history of public persuasion embedded in sponsored and educational films. When first introduced, each was a small epiphany revealing corporate and elite efforts to influence and control public behavior. While this history is much better known today, the films are almost taken for granted. This screening aims to reconstruct the atmosphere of excitement and discovery that surrounded their exposure in 1980s New York.
ARE YOU POPULAR? (Coronet Instructional Films, 1947, 10 min)
A DATE WITH YOUR FAMILY (Simmel-Meservey, 1950, 10 min)
LIVE AND LEARN (Sid Davis Productions, 1951, 10 min)
LONG DISTANCE (Audio Productions for AT&T, 1941)
IN THE SUBURBS (On Film, Inc. for Redbook Magazine, 1958, 20 min)
HABIT PATTERNS (Knickerbocker Productions for McGraw-Hill, 1954, 14 min)
DESIGN FOR DREAMING (MPO Productions for General Motors, 1956, 9 min)
Rick Prelinger is an archivist, writer, filmmaker and educator. His collection of 60,000 ephemeral films was acquired by Library of Congress in 2002. Beginning in 2000, he partnered with Internet Archive to make a subset of the Prelinger Collection (now 7,000 films) available online for free viewing, downloading and reuse. His archival feature Panorama Ephemera (2004) played in venues around the world, and his feature project No More Road Trips? received a Creative Capital grant in 2012. His 25 Lost Landscapes participatory urban history projects have played to over thirty thousand of viewers in San Francisco, Detroit, Oakland, Los Angeles, New York and elsewhere. He is a board member of Internet Archive and frequently writes and speaks on the future and politics of archives and archival access. He is currently Professor of Film & Digital Media at University of California, Santa Cruz.
Organized on occasion of Gretchen Bender: So Much Deathless, Meet the Makers is a program of artists talks and performative lectures based on a series that originated at The New York Public Library, which will take place select Thursdays at 7PM. Meet the Makers brings together today’s media makers, theorists, scholars, and artists to promote visual arts literacy and explore the ways we engage with emergent media and new technologies.