Last Party at West End Avenue before Leaving for the Country

1971 | 00:29:44 | United States | English | B&W | Mono | 4:3 | 1/2" open reel video

Collection: Videofreex Archive, Single Titles

Tags: Documentation, Television, TV production, Video History

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In this video, the Videofreex host a party during which the main source of entertainment is a video-television feedback loop. In one room, a video camera linked up to a television set allows party guests to see themselves, as if in a mirror, while guests in the other room can also watch the recording, and may speak to them through a microphone. Although the voices of the off-screen guests can be heard on the tape, they are always imageless. In effect, the set up in the first room allows people to hear but not see those with whom they attempt to communicate, while those in the second room, although visually unknown, become the more authoritative narrators and choreographers of the videotaped acts captured in this tape recording. 

Davidson Gigliotti and his young son, Murphy, as well as Mary Curtis, Nancy, Carol, Frank, and other guests of the Videofreex, filter in and out of the two rooms to play in this impromptu video installation. Using masks and other props, they experiment with the feedback loop’s possibilities for communication and mistranslation. The last fifteen minutes of the tape become increasingly surreal as the high pitch of the sound system increases, and the camera, now rotated to its side, creates a world of total spatial and audio misalignment.

 While the party context is a playful one, the larger implications of this feedback installation resonate with the politics of representation utilized and constructed by the news media. It was exactly these types of mistranslations in the media's coverage of Vietnam and Civil Rights events, conditioned by the misalignment of visual and audio information, that alternative media groups, such as the Videofreex, and activist collectives like the Black Panthers, sought to expose and critique.

—Faye Gleisser