What's That For?


1970 | 00:06:41 | United States | English | B&W | Mono | 1/2" open reel video

Collection: Videofreex Archive, Single Titles

Tags: City, Film or Videomaking, TV production, Video History

This early Videofreex production exemplifies the type of imaginative approach that the collective adopted when exploring the medium of video, and how, in many ways, this balance of play and experimentation defined and unified the group's work from the very start.

Skip Blumberg, one of the co-founders of the collective, carries a box through the streets of Manhattan. Spliced with shots of an outdoor festival, a food market, and an underground train rushing by, the act offers an entangled visual narrative about the machinery of transportation. On and off throughout the video, the audio of someone asking, “What’s that for?” can be heard. This deceptively simple question, routinely asked by people new to the portable video technology upon encountering the Freex, emphasizes how a mix of anxiety and intrigue informed both the collective's ongoing projects and their reception. 

Additionally, by creating a mise-en-scene of screens, as displayed in the closing scene of the video, the Freex provide a provocative answer to the open-ended question “What’s that for?” They suggest that the medium had "just been let out of the box." The value and use of video had yet to solidfy.

—Fay Gleisser