Footage Found was a collaborative project between students in the Video Art course (ASPH 3315) in the Meadows Division of Art and the G. William Jones Film and Video Collection at SMU. The students were provided footage from the WFAA TV News Film archive, part of the Jones Collection’s holdings, to create new works from and which resulted in a screening at Top Ten Records hosted by the D/FW Experimental Film Society (DEx). This project was a fascinating opportunity for students to gain experience of working directly with an archive while also learning what it can mean to make a new artwork from existing materials. The results were provocative and enlightening on a number of levels.
My goal as the instructor of this course was to introduce students to a broad view of how artists have historically worked with video as an art form, and archival practices (aka found footage) has been a prominent area of practice since the beginning. While many artists may appropriate images made by large corporations and media conglomerates in order to critique what was called “mass media”, it has also been common for artists to investigate images with a specific relationship to history and present them in new contexts.
Giving a new and specific context to historical images, bringing them into the present to give them new meanings, is exactly what the students did in this project. They began work toward these videos right as we were beginning to shelter in place due to COVID-19, and many of the videos bare signs of this unavoidable matrix that has re-oriented all aspects of our lives over the past two months. Images of protests against the Vietnam War, police investigations, the aftermath of violent crimes, political speeches, and many other images originally shot for broadcast on TV news in 1970 were given new frameworks through montage to tie our time together with theirs, suggesting a continuity to the role of power in public life and highlighting the related power of how images can create a narrative that becomes our reality.
Blog post: Mike Morris, artist and educator who works primarily with film, video and expanded media forms.