In this screening and talk inter-disciplinary artist Jason Martin presents his work with the expansive collective Brown Cuts Neighbors, a band and Public Access TV program that ran from 1989 to 2002 in Schenectady, NY. In these years, Brown Cuts Neighbors created more than one hundred videos that revel in the liminal spaces of late night television. Bringing together bizarre fables, a cast of imaginary characters, and a channel-surfing montage, these intensely chromatic films unveil a submerged media satire and wonderment. This event is part of 2013 New York Electronic Art Festival.
[Jun 28] Channel 16 – Brown Cuts Neighbors
Friday, Jun 28, 7pm
Harvestworks – www.harvestworks.org
596 Broadway, #602 | New York, NY 10012 | Phone: 212-431-1130
Subway: F/M/D/B Broadway/Lafayette, R Prince, 6 Bleeker
In 1989, high school students Jason Martin, Marc Arsenault and James Kopta started a project called Brown Cuts Neighbors. The group took its name from an imaginary band Jason formed with his younger sister Colleen, at ages 6 and 4, respectively. Martin, Arsenault and Kopta took the concept and brought it to a collective music/performance/video project and long-running Public Access TV program on Schenectady NY’s Channel 16.
While Jason’s practice includes music composition and performance, specifically rock music and noise, his work is defined in terms of art, regardless of format, and its ability to communicate in an active and engaged manner. It’s all about transmission and reception, in technical and esoteric aspects alike. While he was an employee and producer at Schenectady Public Access Channel 16, the goal was to transmit, to put a signal within the spectrum of channel flippers around the city, back when there were fewer channels to choose from. Reception and feedback came in many forms: from emails inquiring about collaborations to vitriolic complaints on the station’s answering machine. Another form of feedback was accomplished after discovering a specific type of live video feedback that caused television tubes, in viewer’s homes, to ring at various frequencies, long before the days of flat screens.
After fellow collaborator James Kopta passed away at age 29, the group was disbanded. Jason abandoned video to concentrate on his musical projects and recording studio business, but he never gave up transmitting: creating experimental radio plays for college stations, broadcasting pop songs through megaphones on the roof of his studio, performing and curating live music in unorthodox settings.
Currently, Jason‘s work in transmission and reception can be found in an ongoing series called Power Animal Systems. Following the template and inspiration from his early work with Brown Cuts Neighbors and Public Access TV, Power Animal Systems engages video and performance with the idea of transmission and reception at the forefront. With a cast of performers, he channels half-human, half-animal beings who visited him as a child in dreams and waking visions, claiming to be from another dimension, demanding to be brought into our reality. Jason kept them secret for decades due to a fear of their power. When he decided to incorporate them into his art practice, these beings became real. Now evolving, connecting, transmitting. Finding reception by intersecting with other artists and forces in our culture. They are “out there” now, transmitting and receiving, in a widening range of situations and actions.
The Brown Cuts Neighbors TV series has only recently begun to see the light of day since its original broadcasts, by way of casual screenings in the New York area, and a small sampling of youtube clips online. But that’s beginning to change. As Jason’s current work with Power Animal Systems moves forward, there is a renewed interest in Public Access TV, creating a new context for this early work. Bringing it full circle, Power Animal Systems have performed on Public Access TV in other artists’ programs. Recent activities include presentations and discussions of works with cohorts such as Chris Gethard and ESP TV, who are regulars on the Manhattan Neighborhood Network.