Now Available On YouTube: Exploring the VSW Archive – Early Video Art & Community Media in Western NY

Published On: August 11, 2020 |
Portable Channel video activists

On August 5th, 2020, BAVC Media streamed a video event with Visual Studies Workshop (VSW), and we’re happy to announce that the recording is now live on YouTube!



Over the last two years BAVC Media has been working with VSW in Rochester, NY to preserve their archive of early video recordings.

The VSW Film and Video Collection holds more than 4,000 video tapes, many of which were made between 1970-1990 by artists, activists and collectives throughout New York State. This fascinating collection includes over 1,500 ½” open reel recordings from community access programs such as Portable Channel, SYNAPSE, Woodstock Community Video, Experimental Television Center, and the Videofreex. Many of these programs were funded by the New York State Council of the Arts, which provided artists, activists and collectives with the resources and technology to tell their own stories outside of mainstream broadcast media. These stories span a huge range of subjects, including youth poetry, fine art, political resistance, and police brutality, and paint a picture of the artists, politicians, and everyday people that made up these communities.

The digitization of these materials was made possible through BAVC Media’s Preservation Access Program,

which offers preservation-grade digital transfers at a greatly subsidized rate. BAVC Media is very proud to have been involved in the preservation of these materials, and is now excited to be able to share this content with you! Tara Nelson from VSW and Morgan Morel from BAVC Media will introduce the clips, provide context for the materials, and discuss the experience of archiving and preserving the media.

The event was hosted by BAVC Media’s Morgan Morel, and VSW’s Tara Nelson.

As Curator of Moving Image Collections at Visual Studies Workshop, Tara Nelson oversees the assessment, cataloging and digitization of nearly 10,000 titles on 16mm and magnetic video, and manages the preservation of significant films and videos in the VSW collection, including original works by filmmaker Robert Frank and video activists Portable Channel. In 2019, Tara coordinated the installation of a preservation-standard Media Conversion Lab at VSW, facilitating the digitization of early video and sound works in the VSW collection. Tara presents on the preservation and exhibition of experimental film and video at national and international conferences, including Northeast Historic Film Symposium, the Association of Moving Image Archivists (AMIA), Orphans Film Symposium, and the Oberhausen Short Film Festival.