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On Bring Your Own Beamer

Historically, proponents of the avant-garde have been adept at diversifying the means of their expression. With traditional forms of exhibition generally denied to them, the avant-garde of the early twentieth century turned to publishing. In the interwar period, and with a shift from Europe to the USA, printed matter was supplanted by the increasing versatility, immediacy and descriptive narrative ability of film. In terms of medium, things remained relatively unchanged until the introduction of home video and artists including Peter Campus, Nam June Paik and Joan Jonas were able to manipulate not only the form but also the modes of exhibition. Engaging with video, its relative low costs and ease of production meant that artists were freer to create content more abstract in concept and even take a more participatory approach to creation and exhibition. Currently, with industry-standard hardware and software available to the interested consumer, the shift at the moment seems to have made the amateur filmmaker or artist capable of producing work that, in aesthetic at least, is closer to mainstream filmmaking rather than an exploration of nonfigurative techniques.

The collective LuckyPDF have been active in South East London since 2008; their work places video and performance art in a non-traditional gallery environment. As broadcasters, LuckyPDF defer to the fundamental simplicity and engagement with video, as both practitioners and an audience. For anyone who grew up in the 1980s, video played the most significant part of media consumption; a postmodernist meta-narrative played out on your terms from your own television set and VHS player.

BYOB stands for Bring Your Own Beamer. Originally concieved by Rafaël Rozendaal and initiated by Rozendaal and Anne de Vries, BYOB is a series of one-night-only exhibitions, a space is found and invitations sent to as many artists as possible to bring their own projectors and show something of their own. BYOB events have been held in Berlin, Athens, NYC, LA, Portland, Austin, Vienna, Toronto, Mexico, Dublin, Vancouver, Paris and Chicago.

For the last BYOB London, held at in late March 2011 at The Woodmill, where LuckyPDF have a studio residency, they were invited to participate by curators KERNEL. Exhibited here, LuckyPDF went one-step further and present work by broadcasting and creating work in-situ. The feature-length work is a compilation of filmed events, interview and new work.

While studying filmmaking at university the dream for me was to be a video artist so perhaps I’m biased, but there was no fashion for video art until very recently, and the framework for exhibition was limited. Fashions, though, are cyclical and with artists including Ryan Trecartin and Lizzie Fitch making the hypermodern transnationality of contemporary multimedia manifest, using video techniques where today the use of film in art draws more on the characteristics of narrative feature-length moviemaking, these postmodern meta-narratives seem more at home in a gallery than at any point in the last thirty years. (Is it ironic that we’re screening this on the web? I hope so.)