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by Bill Lasarow

See a complete list of L.A. Freewaves venues

The sprawling 7th biennial festival of media-based art L.A. Freewaves will be popping up--and quickly retreating, in proper guerilla fashion--all over Southern California throughout the month of November. The more than 100 artists have been brought together as though they are a military unit mobilized to “attack the banality that reduces our neighborhoods to sites of somnambulism,” to quote Festival Director JoAnn Hanley.

The deployment of the nearly fifty exhibits, screenings, “video bus tours,” performances, and cyberspace projects dramatize in one explosive, dizzying month the idea that art is not defined by its medium but just the reverse: any medium may be used to shape art. The spirit here is to offer a range of experiences that comment on, react to, and subvert the popular channels of mass media.

Nearly thirty host venues will range from the mainstream (MOCA and CSU Northridge will offer special installations), to alternative spaces (Side Street Projects alone will show experimental video and film on nine separate evenings), to non-art locations (The Rose Bowl in Pasadena will be turned into a drive-in theater for one night), to god-knows-what (the Festival Finale will be held at the Vermont Music Cafe, a Koreatown karaoke club. Yikes!). The sheer quantity of video and film screenings, exhibitions and performances guarantees that you can get out literally any day or evening this month to see new media art in some part of town. A series of six Video Bus Tours sound especially intriguing, all but one setting out to uncover hidden corners of Los Angeles you probably never knew were there. Another will offer a more conventional circuit of selected Festival sites.

Chance encounter is also part of the ubiquitous mix. While driving around town you might run across a couple of video billboards that will run commercial tag lines or philosophical platitudes at you. Or stay at home. A host of local public access cable television stations will be broadcasting an L.A. Freewaves-produced documentary that tells the story of new media developments in L.A. over the last decade. Then go online and check out about 15 original Web projects. Caveat: try to have a DSL connection to cope with all the graphics and animation starting out from the L.A. Freewaves site.

For a complete schedule or further information, contact the L.A. Free-waves office at (213) 617-3950, or go to the website at

“The Chiapas Media Project" (film still), 2000.

“Audrey Chung, "Institute
Pavlova" (video still), 2000.

Lana Lin, "Taiwan Video
Club" (film still), 2000.

Laura Purdy/Kristy Guevara-Flanagan,
"Blow Them Up" (film still), 16mm, 2000.


Information on most physical venues will be found here in the ArtScene site. Those that are NOT fine art venues appearing here receive no HTML link. Contact the host venue or the L.A. Freewaves main number or website for specific events and dates.

Exhibition Venues
Acme Gallery (West Hollywood)
Otis Gallery (West Side)
L.A. Contemporary Exhibitions (Hollywood)
MOCA, Geffen Contemporary (Downtown)
CSU Northridge (Valley)
Art Center (Pasadena)
CSU Los Angeles (East L.A.)
UC Irvine, Beall Center (Orange County)

Screening Venues
J. Paul Getty Museum (West L.A.)
Loyola Marymount University (West Side)
Otis Gallery (West Side)
Santa Monica Museum (Santa Monica)
UCLA (West L.A.)
Side Street Projects (Downtown)
USC (Downtown)
CSU Northridge (Valley)
Armory Center (Pasadena)
DA Center (Pomona)
The Rose Bowl (Pasadena)
California Museum of Photography (Riverside)
Long Beach Museum (Long Beach)
Laguna Art Museum (Orange County)

Performance Venues
EZTV (West Hollywood)
The American Film Institute (Hollywood)
Side Street Projects (Downtown)
Self Help Graphics (East L.A.)
Art Center (Pasadena)

Video Bus Tours
Five tours depart from the Japanese American National Museum (Downtown), one from the Southwest Museum (Pasadena).

Go online:
Special events related to the Web will be at these venues:
UCLA (West L.A.)
REACH L.A. (East L.A.)
Plaza de la Raza (East L.A.)
California Museum of Photography (Riverside)

And more. . . .
• “TV or NOT TV”, documentary on video and new media in Los Angeles on various public access cable channels.
• Video billboards on the Sunset Strip and at Wilshire Blvd. and Western Ave.
• Festival Finale December 2nd at Vermont Music Cafe, Karaoke and Billiards, 191 S. Vermont Ave., admission $8