Video mix—the video art form developed and practiced by Alan Powell, Associate Professor of Communications, and Connie Coleman, Adjunct Professor of Communications, was on display in a 13-screen Gallery Z exhibit, curated by Professor Philip Palombo of Rhode Island College, in November. The exhibit in New England surveyed the development of video art over the last 35 years.
The stage for the work was set by Powell in the 1970s at the Rhode Island School of Design and continues today in the Powell and Coleman studio in Philadelphia, take a look at the equipment (and the hairstyles) from the early 1970s. Read how the concepts of Quaker decision-making and agrarian living—along with “video’s capacity to layer moving images and sounds through real time manipulation”—not only formed “a strong combination of spiritual, social and intellectual issues (that) helped to establish my personal code” but also spawned a new video social movement/art form, as practiced by Powell and friends through the group Electron Movers.
“As the Electron Movers, Rhode Island’s earliest video artists, launch a retrospective of their work and that of the next generation on 13 video screens at Gallery Z tonight,” wrote Sheila Lennon of the Providence Journal, “it must be noted that their place in Providence history was secured by a 1978 art show largely comprising 2-D photos and prints of ‘Private Parts’ of the body. The original group arose at RISD in the early ’70s when the school purchased video equipment. By 1974, Laurie McDonald, Robert and Dorothy Jungels, Dennis Hlynsky and Alan Powell had founded the nonprofit Electron Movers: Research in the Electronic Arts, using grant money to buy equipment. They were soon joined by Ed Tannenbaum, and later by Larry Hyle, Randy Walters, and Philip Palombo. (Alan Powell’s Electron Movers 1972 – 1980 details the genesis of the group.)” Read more of her article.
“I was part of a video art collaborative in Providence, Rhode Island from 1974-78,” says Powell. “Our video co-op introduced the idea of community-based media centers. We had every fourth-grader in Providence, R.I., doing video and photography about their community and city as well as Junior League, Women’s Prison, and state mental hospitals. Our groups ranged in size from 5 to 30 people. We were very much into collaboration with musicians, electronic designers, dancers, sculptors, and theater people, all working together in our loft to create a new kind of art with new technology.” Read more about Powell’s journey in his own words.