This online museum is dedicated to the archives of the Los Angeles-based alternative art spaces, which operated under the names EZTV, EZTV Video Gallery, EZTV Video Center, EZTV Arts Foundation, EZTV Media and/or CyberSpace Gallery, from 1983 to 2013.
EZTV’s roots began in 1979, when founder John Dorr began experimenting with home video equipment.
Dorr made three feature-length films with his home equipment and was working on a fourth, when he organized a group of several other video makers, including Ken Camp and Richard Moyer. They held several evenings of screening of their work at West Hollywood’s Community Center. Playwright Terry Mack Murphy and actors Michael Kearns and Strawn Bovee became key collaborators.
This began, at least locally, the concept of a legitimate theatrical-style’video theater’, better known today as microcinema.
In 1983, Dorr, and a group of over two dozen co-founding members most notably Michael J., Masucci, James Williams, Mark Shepard, Patricia Miller, Sondra Lowell, Robert Hernandez, Nicholas Frangakis, T. Jankowski, Pat Evans, Earl Miller, Jaime Walters, James Dillinger, Phoebe Wray, and B.A. Falvo created a permanent space.
The space was called “EZTV Video Gallery”. It was a small space with housed a 40-seat screening area, and two editing systems. Two 25″ video monitors displyed the videos being publicaly presented. The screening combined work produced by the in-house core group of artists, as well as a diverse selection of international work.
According to a publication from the American Film Institute, EZTV Video Gallery was nothing less than “the first independent gallery to dedicate all of its space, all of the time, to ‘the box’."
At that time, video was, usually, either exhibited in art galleries as ‘video art’ or else, when done theatrical-style, it was only seen in the adult XXX theaters that had switched from film to low cost video projection. It was also being presented, to more insolated audiences, at universities, in festivals or at professional conferences. EZTV sought to bring to a more public arena, the burgeoning diversity that was independent video.
EZTV was an early advocate of work under-represented by either mainstream Hollywood, or the mainstream of the contemporary art/museum culture. Such under-represented communities included LGBTQ, computer art, physically-challenged artists, feminist, multimedia and performance art.
Originally, the gallery ran four screenings a day, seven days a week, but within the first few months that was scaled back to one or sometime two screenings, Thursday through Sunday.
EZTV Gallery also served as a space for the exhibition of wall art. James Williams was its first wall gallery curator. Soon, live performances, such as spoken word, music or performance art began to weave into the programming as well. And the additional promise of the digital revolution also emerged.
Within the first year, EZTV began working with LA ACM SIGGRAPH, most notably Joan Collins, collaborating in 1984 to present a then pioneering example of the multi-city interactive possibilities of the internet, for creative uses. This was to be the first of a number such occasional collaboration which have continued to this day.
In 1985, following the unexpected, unprecedented and overwhelming success of a documentary about beat poet Jack Kerouac (“What Happened to Kerouac”) by Richard Lerner and Lewis Macadams, which screened for over four months at EZTV, the space was suddenly transformed. Three other “EZTV Affiliate Theaters” around Los Angeles simultaneously screened what the LA Times called the ‘first video theater hit”.
Now an ‘overnight success’, EZTV moved into a three-floor facility, with six editing rooms, music lab, darkroom, production studio, various offices and a screening room/gallery with a 99 seat capacity. It became known as “EZTV Video Center”. That became the version of the space with which the public best identified.
In 1986, Michael J. Masucci created the West Hollywood Sign, and as a result was named C0-Artistic Director. He greatly expanded the programming to include more and more live performance art, and interactive project. He reached out to the greater arts community and served as an member of the Board of Directors for a number of non-profit organziations, including the Fringe Festival/Los Angeles, Avaz International Dance Theater, and on the Arts Advisory Board for the Los Angeles Free Clinic.
In 1988 John Dorr began a three-year collaboration with Lewis Macadams, producing the 26 part documentary series of leading writers “The Lannon Literary Series”. These were included in library collections across the U.S. and was screened on various TV outlets as well.
Participation from many of the core group diversified the exhibitions, so no one curatorial voice overpowered the programming. James Williams introduced controversial wall art. Michael J. Masucci expanded the focus of EZTV and encouraged the exhibition of computer based arts, and with artists such as Victor Acevedo, and ia Kamandalu, hosted many showings of digital art, something rare at that time.
In 1992, within EZTV, Michael J. Masucci and Patric Prince, founded CyberSpace Gallery, with the help of artists Acevedo, Kamandalu, Michael Wright, intern Lisa Tripp and others. CyberSpace Gallery was among the world’s first galleries dedicated to digital art, and in 1995 launched one of the very first websites exhibiting digital art.
Founder Dorr died of AIDS complications in 1993. Masucci became director, named ia Kamandalu as Vice-President, and over time, and in partnership with Kate Johnson, transitioned the space, allowing for its survival, and the preservation of its early history. EZTV left West Hollywood, and since that time, has operated out of three subsequent spaces (currently the 18th Street Arts Center in Santa Monica), as well as participating in several joint locations with other groups.
Now EZTV has existed longer without founder Dorr, then under his leadership. It has been located at 18th Street Arts Center far longer than at any of its previous locations.
Since its inception, hundreds of screenings, art events performances, workshops and lectures have taken place, Some were well attended, other, still other worthy events were not. Today, it continues to produce and curate work, and collaborate with other artists and particpate in other multi-organizational efforts.
This online museum attempts to chronicle and preserve many of the most interesting projects from throughout EZTV’/CyberSpace Gallery’s diverse heritage. From cinema style narratives, to documentaries, and experimental work, from safe to challenging.
For more of EZTV’s history see:
EZTV and the AIDS pandemic
EZTV Archives and collections