Field + Streaming Youth Project

Leah Breuer

Lewis Kaye is preparing for the Field + Streaming's hands-on media production and webcasting workshop. This is its third consecutive year, and CSV is eager to open its doors to the participants. The following is an abridged version of a conversation with Lewis at CSV in March:

Leah: Why don't you [start by explaining] the project?

LK: It's an integrated media production workshop for youth, typically between the ages of 16 and 25, although we can be flexible with that. In a short period of time we focus on a number of production skills that typically have been organized around [an] aesthetic or conceptual theme. The participants are then shown how to shoot and edit video footage in order to develop material which realizes or illustrates the theme, and the final event is a web cast. There's also a workshop component so the participants learn how a web cast is put together; they learn what kind of technologies and production organization you need, and also how to illustrate and how to use the medium appropriately as opposed to just putting video on-line. The structure came about with these four, if you like, production competencies; the Power Plant brings conceptual and aesthetic development, Trinity Square Video has taken care of video shooting, camera workshops, and co-coordinating video shoots. Charles Street Video has taken care of video editing and editing sessions, and InterAccess has taken care of web casting. These four partners have become the most stable and long-term contributing partners to this project.

Leah: How much has Charles Street been able to benefit the project?

LK: It's a good space for it and Charles Street brings a long history of work and video editing and also teaching workshops to people. Charles Street is one of the organizations that approached InterAccess about doing a shared production program around a live web cast event. InterAccess was already thinking about and pursuing actually with Trinity Square Video because Trinity already came to develop seminars on video for the Internet. Working with our technology partner, Trick Media, we wanted to expand these seminars into hands-on streaming production workshops and right around that time Charles Street came to us with an idea of web casting an event at TransTech a couple of years ago - The Women with Kitchen Appliances performance. So we developed this entire workshop around them and everything came together really organically and every partner, including Charles Street, brought something very important to the table.

Leah: What is the conceptualization process that you need to go through to determine the content of the project?

LK: Two people will come together to discuss/hash out some ideas, then we distribute these ideas via email and figure out what works. The real discussion takes place over how we approach the web cast event. Part of teaching people about web casting is teaching them appropriate uses of the medium. Because again - you could just put video up on-line and that would be fine, but there's nothing innovative about - there's no reason that it has to be live. So there has to be something spontaneous about it, there has to be something unique about what's taking place. There has to be something live about it, right? We try to integrate that... demand, if you like, with some of the conceptual themes that are brought to the table.

Leah: I'm going to go back to the participants; where are you finding them? How much experience do they have?

LK: The most successful one we can point to was Field + Streaming 2; Some came to us from CyberArts programs, the Toronto School Board, Ryerson New Media in Image Arts, from community colleges, from people who were already pre-plugged in the art scene in the city. People who sort have seriously considered themselves as emerging artists. It was a really really nice mix of participants within this age group of 16-25. There's a lot of room for mentoring within the group because, y'know, you take someone who's graduated New Media at Ryerson, who may have produced a video but doesn't know much about web casting. They can then help a high school kid who is a lot more computer/web savvy, but doesn't know anything really about using a video camera. So you get these interesting dynamics that can make for a really cohesive group.

Leah: How independent is their creative control?

LK: When you're doing a workshop it's best to have a curriculum set. Our role in a sense is to develop a set of guiding principles because we only usually have about six to eight sessions together. The idea for the upcoming one [is] based on the art and practice of the Royal Art Lodge in Winnipeg. It's going to be having a show at the Power Plant [from] March - May and the Royal Art Lodge will do collaborations on "lo-fi drawings", if you like - one person will do one part, then they'll hand it off and one person will do another part. So we're basing this workshop on collaborative production. We're deciding that ahead of time. We'll probably look at a number of themes and then break the workshop into smaller groups which will each work on elements, right? One day some people will work on one video shoot and then the next day they'll work on the tapes from somebody else's video shoot. We're setting up that kind of model. What they end up shooting, how they'll end up realizing the themes visually and aesthetically is up to the participants. This workshop isn't just about technical skills, it's about fostering their creativity, giving them new perspectives, new ways of thinking about the aesthetics and the practices in making the work. We feel very strongly about this being a chance for the participants to exercise their own aesthetic judgment.

Leah: You talked a lot earlier about using the Internet as a medium and the value of doing more than just streaming a pre-recorded, finalized show.

LK: This idea of collaborative practice and shared output lends itself as a process, it lends itself to the idea of live collage, live video mixing, combining different tableaus with [still images]. Again, you could always videotape that and then just web cast it and nobody else in the world would be more the wiser. If we had time and if it's possible we may try to work in a live interactive interface so that people on-line can suggest changes or we can work with different collaborators for instance to take the live video stream, have them mix with it, process it, play with it, and then send it back to us and then we re-incorporate that into the stream. You see, by taking advantage of that kind of real-time collaboration both within the space that you're doing the production and perhaps using another Internet channel medium. It's not just television, right? Television is just a single, one-way transmission medium. This is way more dynamic than that. Something that's really new and in and of itself and has itÕs own possibilities and gives rise to its own social dynamics.

Leah: About you: I've heard you have a lot of experience with Access centres.

LK: Not a lot, I guess. I've worked pretty much from September 1999 to December 2001...Is that it?...I worked at InterAccess for that whole period so I guess that's over three years...That's all the experience I have with production access centres. But I've had previous experience with community radio that offers a really similar production environment and community ethic that artist-run production centres have; They have a certain voting membership, a certain constituency that they draw their membership out of, certain democratic decision-making structures, a community board, and live on very tenuous funding (laughs). I never thought I'd end up working in the arts sector anyways.

Leah: Oh really?

LK: I had no freaking clue.

Leah: What brought you to it?

LK: There was an ad in NOW magazine. I'd been doing graduate work in communication studies and policy, cultural and technology policy, technology analysis. So I was familiar with a lot of the broader sociological debates that have surrounded [access centers]. But with respect to specific experience with artistic practice, the theory of artistic practice, I never really had a lot. I'd always been doing electronic music production so if everybody's practice revolves around using a computer (laughs) you can pretty much adapt from one environment to another. There's that sort of little personal convergence that takes place so it's not, like, totally out of... I never though IÕd be here but I'm not surprised that I am.

The organizers of Field + Streaming are always looking for prospective participants and interested organizations to work with. If you or your organization would like ore information, please contact Workshop Coordinator Lewis Kaye at or (416) 835-1778.

CSV 23 September 2003

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