Tag Archives: democratic space

Rogers, K. (2007). LA Freewaves’ _Too Much Freedom?_ Alternative Video and Internet Distribution. _Spectator_, 27(1):56-68.

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.


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Filed under Annotated Bibliographies, Media Arts, Minor Field, Research Fields

Crawford, M. (1995). Contesting the Public Realm: Struggles Over Public Space in Los Angeles. _Journal of Architectural Education_, 49(1): 4-9.

Margaret Crawford, PhD Urban Planning from UCLA, is Professor of Architecture at UC Berkeley’s College of Environmental Design. Her research focuses on the evolution, uses, and meanings of urban space. She is known for her work on Everyday Urbanism, a concept that promotes the quotidian as the basis for urban theory and design.

Following Fraser’s (1992) “Rethinking the Public Sphere: A Contribution to the Critique of Actually Existing Democracy,” Crawford argues we’re not seeing an end to public space. Rather, our conceptions of public space and the agents who constitute them need to change. Here, the two populations most designed against are street vendors and the homeless. The splintering of democracy and attendant contests/tensions provides us with opportunities. Counterpublics comprise women, immigrants, workers, and they demand their rights outside the Habermasian public sphere. They blur the lines between private and public in their modes because they adopt unconventional practices, including acts of civil disobedience, in concert with the accepted legislative processes.

And following Holston’s (1996) “Spaces of Insurgent Citizenship,” these democratic uprisings take place in public arenas, whether Sorkin, Davis,  et al. choose to recognize it. Counterpublics affirm their is not one place that can adequately convey an inclusive, democratic space. This is because “public spaces are constantly changing, as users reorganize and reinterpret public space. Unlike normative spaces, which simply reproduce the existing ideology, these spaces, often sites of struggle, help to overturn it” (5). In the civil unrest of 1992 and in the time hence, marginalized groups have reclaimed the streets, sidewalks, and vacant spaces for their purposes, democratic, economic, and participatory. While no one calls them public space in full, their actions “reveal an alternate logic of public life” (6).

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Filed under Annotated Bibliographies, Community Development, Major Field, Public Space, Research Fields