<videovortex> Video Surfdom--Three Questions for DeeDee Halleck

Geert Lovink geert at xs4all.nl
Mon Dec 24 21:02:59 CET 2007

Video Surdom
Three Questions for DeeDee Halleck
By Geert Lovink

In preparation of Videovortex 2 (Amsterdam, January 18/19) I sent the 
video activist and artist DeeDee Halleck (Paper Tiger TV) from New York 
a few questions.

GL: How do you look at YouTube from your long media activist 
perspective? So much of the earlier dreams seem to come true.

DDH: Yes, more people are able now to share their stories in electronic 
form from many corners of the globe-- which enables more connections to 
more places.  But I have an inherent suspicion about the contract one 
agrees to on the corporate sites-- youtube or even blip. After you 
post, you are giving up your right to determine the use. Who knows how 
your creativity, your hard work, the good-hearted collaboration of your 
friends/subjects  will be used in the future?  You won't have any say 
in that!  Is this autonomy?  That's why I hope the transmission folks 
come up with a good interface and some huge servers.

GL: Can we speak of a pleasure to roam around such large video 
databases? Do you enjoy the abundance after so many years of hardship 
(little money, heavy equipment, difficulties with distribution)?

Occasional pleasure, maybe. but overall a sort of slot machine.  The 
jackpots are far between.  Distribution is still difficult.  The 
infrastructure for non-commercial media is under siege all the time 
now.  The great experiment in media democracy--public access-- in the 
US is about to be legislated out of business by the Verizon and ATT 

The  whole so-called public interest infrastructure in the US is full 
of mine fields-- or perhaps it's more like a field of hungry replicant 
ghouls.  From the art centers to alternative media channels to the 
whole media education system.  Take USC for instance. There we have an 
educational institution that feeds the creativity of its students to 
the military machine.  The Department of "Defense" has taken over the 
centers of media experimentation and development-- MIT and USC and many 
others are basically branches of the military now.  Homeland security 
is using PEG gov channels  to promote their snooping.  See anything 
suspicious?  Public access channels now have news programs and 
recruitment promos from many branches of military.  Join the coast 
guard and secure our borders! The educational channels are running 
programs for Bush's abstinence initiatives.

GL: From the conservative perspective we hear complaints about 
copyright abuse and futility of the amateur. One could say that there 
is not enough activist video out there. But is this really true and 
would such a critique make sense?

DDH: Copyright? Well if the corporations own the distribution system 
who's to worry?  What ever brings eyeballs is what they count on.  They 
can take it down when the initial attraction is over. My step son in 
law is a stand up comic who is sometimes on jay leno, etc.  his fans 
tape him and everyone loves it. it's the best publicity Jay Leno ever 
had.  They take it down when the hits level off. No, it's not the 
futility of the amateur-- the amateurs are the utilty of the 
professionals.  It's really a form of feudalism.  We're the serfs.  
They get a big percentage of our crops. The biggest problem is the 
isolation of this stuff. It is so addictive and comforting to have your 
PC on your lap. How are we going to get people into the streets?

GL: Thanks, DeeDee.

(in a seperate mail she sent me the link to this YouTube video, a 
message to a soldier in Iraq:

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