If you were bored in the late 80s/early 90s you could always catch something weird on public access television. XFR Collective and METRO bring you a selection of oddities from the weekly arts-oriented show Downtown Tonight. First a stream of consciousness rant on the eve of the 1992 presidential election… “You kids do not know how much we waited for computers.” Then Craig Silver interviews poet Elizabeth Rogers on living in China through the 1980s followed by a “Cool Couture Fashion Show” at Tompkins Square Park. Last but not least Downtown tonight brings you scenes from the June 11th, 1988 March for Peace held in Central Park and an opening at the Helio Gallery for Jose Ortega.
This program will be hosted by Spectacle Theater on Thursday, July 22nd at 8:00 pm. You can stream it here: https://stream.spectacletheater.com/
From 1987 to 1993, artists Craig Silver and Lynn Seeney produced Downtown Tonight. They interviewed and profiled visual artists, musicians, writers and filmmakers and documented the cultural scene of New York’s Lower East Side. They also presented original experimental video work. The videotaped programs were aired on Channel D on Manhattan Cable TV, which evolved into Manhattan Neighborhood Network.
These episodes of Downtown Tonight were lovingly transferred by XFR Collective from big ‘ol U-matic tapes on a rack built for the Metropolitan New York Library Council community. The tapes are among the shelf stock of the Monday Wednesday Friday Video Club, which was a video store and distribution network founded in 1986 by artist Alan Moore. Sort of like a DIY Blockbuster, the idea was to bypass the gallery system of a screen in a white box, and bring video art directly to viewers at home at affordable prices. In 2018, XFR Collective began working with Moore to slowly digitize each tape in the MWF collection.
XFR Collective partners with artists, activists, and community organizations to lower the barriers to preserving at-risk audiovisual media – especially unseen, unheard, or marginalized works – through digitization, screenings, educational workshops, and pop-up events. Operating through a non-hierarchical model, we work to create an inclusive environment in which to explore practical methods for media preservation, archiving, and access.