Ken Rogers is Assistant Professor, Media and Cultural Studies at UC Riverside. He is Board President of the prominent Los Angeles-based media arts organization Freewaves, and he is an editorial board members of Resilience: A Journal of Sustainable Critique. His interdisciplinary research and publication concerns the intersection of labor, attention, political economy, art practice, and digital media.
Since 1989, LA Freewaves has produced the largest theatrical exhibitions of avant-garde video. But for 2006’s Too Much Freedom?, Freewaves scaled back its theatrical output to just four venues, using the Internet for the festival’s remaining programs. Freewaves has always articulated relationships and partnerships for distribution and promotion, such as KCET, cable access channels, museums and galleries, private collections, distribution houses, university systems. The paradox here is that this distribution model puts the alternative mode in the same category as studio arts. So the Internet turn of Too Much Freedom meant to move away from this condition of tricky obtainability.
However, Rogers argues, Freewaves may have in fact sacrificed the opportunities for community building with the intentionally democratic move. The exhibition opening event (two nights at the Hammer), like the website was intentionally directionally ambiguous, underscoring Freewaves dedication to the alternative distribution model. However, the site was still unidirectional (i.e. there was no comment field implicitly privileging the cultural producer over the viewer. Freewaves’ apparent democratic impetus, stymied, offering questions about how we can improve interactive opportunities online.