12/16/21: Virtual Talks with Video Activists: Not Channel Zero

A virtual screening/discussion with Tom Poole and Art Jones, members of the Black Planet Productions collective, which produced the show Not Channel Zero. The event will be moderated by Louis Massiah.

A full replay of the December 16th event.

On Thursday, December 16th, 2021, at 3 pm Central Time, Media Burn Archive will host filmmakers Tom Poole and Art Jones for a virtual screening and discussion focused on their work with the Black Planet Productions collective and their cable access show Not Channel Zero. The discussion will be moderated by Louis Massiah, executive director of Scribe Video Center in Philadelphia.

The discussion will be centered around Not Channel Zero’s The Nation Erupts (1992), which probed the aftermath of the rebellion in reaction to the beating of Rodney King and has contemporary relevance to the national reaction to the murder of George Floyd.

Black Planet Productions was a New York City-based video collective of African American video artists formed in the early 1990s. Their show Not Channel Zero combined alternative television style with a critique of commercial media, using low-end, accessible technology and extremely small budgets, sometimes only fifty dollars. For three years, the collective produced regular programming for Manhattan Cable Access on the anti-war movement, homophobia in communities of color, police brutality, sexism, and urban issues in Black and Latino communities. Revising the famous Gil Scott Heron phrase, their motto was “The Revolution, Televised,” asserting they were making “grassroots, Afrocentric television aiming at politics, culture, and re-education.” Not Channel Zero adopted Afrocentric style, form, and content, bringing hip hop strategies of slow motion, fast forwarding, and repetition to their videos as they appropriated commercial media images. 

Art Jones is an artist working with Installation, photography, the moving image, and audio. His work makes extensive use of popular music and mainstream media culture as raw material to be sampled and re-combined in order to examine implicit meanings or suggest new ones. He has collaborated with musicians and artists including Soundlab, DJ Spooky That Subliminal Kid, Phillip Virus with Alec Empire, Amiri Baraka, and Anti-Pop Consortium. Jones’ films and audiovisual performances have been presented at the Museum of Modern Art, London’s Tate Gallery, Roulette Intermedium, and numerous media festivals and broadcast outlets internationally. Jones works in a variety of genres, including fiction, documentary and music-related pieces. He lives in the Bronx, New York City. (bio from The Film-Makers’ Cooperative)

Tom Poole began his foray into media activism as a member of the video art collective Black Planet Productions. This experience enabled him to help create a grassroots public affairs program called Not Channel Zero, which catalyzed his embrace of the public access model as a tool for media activism. Tom Poole’s resume includes working on the PBS series Positive: Life with HIV as an associate producer (1993-1994), and as a segment producer for another PBS series called Signal to Noise (1994-1995). He has managed The Nuyorican Poetry Cafe’s video program, directed a media youth program YO-TV at Educational Video Center (1995-1998), ran the media distribution company Deep Dish TV (1998-2002), and was executive director of Pittsburgh Community TV. (bio from Video Data Bank)

Louis Massiah is a documentary filmmaker and the founder/director of Scribe Video Center in Philadelphia. His innovative approach to documentary filmmaking and community media have earned him numerous honors, including a MacArthur Fellowship (1996-2001), two Rockefeller/Tribeca fellowships, and a Pew Fellowship in the Arts. His award-winning documentaries, The Bombing of Osage Avenue (1986), W.E.B. Du Bois – A Biography in in Four Voices (1996), two films for the Eyes on the Prize II series (1987), and A is for Anarchist, B is for Brown (2002), have been broadcast on PBS and screened at festivals and museums throughout the US, Europe, and Africa. In 2011, he was commissioned to create a five-channel permanent video installation for the National Park Service’s President’s House historic site.



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