EZTV is a community-based, artist-run organization and a focal point of the independent video revolution.
Throughout the decades, EZTV has advocated for and have been early exemplars for a number of artistic communities and traditions, ranging from its early days in West Hollywood, through its transition years in Hollywood (including 5 years housed inside LACE), and finally as an organization-in-residence at the 18th Street Arts Center in Santa Monica since 2000. Always a champion for the under-represented and disenfranchised, EZTV has curated, produced, and offered low-cost services to those locked out of the traditional institutions of either the Fine Art world or Hollywood.
The application of critical thinking regarding the EZTV and CyberSpace Gallery histories can be seen as the development and operation of a number of separate art spaces, as well as seen through a number of various and simultaneous genres or bona fide art movements. The diverse group of EZTV’s core artists resulted in investigation into cultural pluralisms, ranging from conceptualism to agitprop.
Much of EZTV’s history must be contextualized in terms of social entrepreneurship and public practice. Its pro bono support for numerous socially progressive issues is reflected in its various events as well as productions such as the 2005 Cine Golden Eagle winning PSA for California Lawyers for the Arts.
But its curatorial as well as its own in-house production diversity is best described through a variety of genres, all being presented concurrently, such as: DANCE, COMMUNITY INVOLVEMENT, LGBTQ, DIGITAL VIDEO, WALL ART EXHIBITIONS, LARGE SCALE PROJECTIONS.
Projects for which EZTV’s current artists have been principal collaborators with have won a number of awards, including the Emmy and Cine Golden Eagle. We have premiered at the Cannes Film Festival, Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, and the Museum of Modern Art (MOMA). We have received tributes by the American Film Institute, SIGGRAPH, and UCLA. For our 35th anniversary, EZTV was honored with a 3-month long retrospective of screenings, panel discussions, and exhibitions at USC’s ONE Archives & Museum (which now houses much of its early work as part of their permanent collection).
Since 2019, our 40th Anniversary year, EZTV’s rich and diverse history has been the subject of a 4-part research series of seminars and screenings at the Kandinsky Library at the Centre Pompidou in Paris. In August 2020, three scholars/curators associated with the Pompidou events will spend an entire month in Los Angeles studying in much greater detail EZTV’s indispensably seminal, but often overlooked, contributions to LA’s media art history.
Since 1993, EZTV has been directed by two working media artists, Michael J. Masucci and Kate Johnson. The media artists work to advance the museums' strategic priorities - to commit to principles of accessibility and engagement, and to become a hub for discoveries and dialogue around critical issues of global significance and artist impact.
The Working Media Artists collaborate with the Santa Monica Arts Commission, the Kandinsky Library of Centre Pompidou, various government agencies, private entities and foundations, and with the local community to inspire wonder, discovery, and responsibility for our natural, artistic, and cultural worlds.
This online museum attempts to chronicle and preserve many of the most interesting projects from EZTV & CyberSpace Gallery’s diverse heritage. From cinema style narratives to documentaries & experimental work. From safe to challenging.
Featuring over 1,700 artworks by more than 625 artists, the EZTV Online Museum presents a database of selected artworks sourced from the EZTV archives at 18th Street Arts Center & ONE archives at USC. The selection reflects the scope, diversity, and tenor of EZTV’s extensive holdings from the 1970’s through the present day. The EZTV Online Museum is continually expanded to include a larger representation of the museum’s core holdings as well as recent historical acquisitions.
With roots dating back to 1979, EZTV was among the first independent art spaces dedicated to video and digital art, pioneering the use of video projection as a tool for legitimate exhibitions. The original artifacts; videos, posters, photos, etc…, from this Online Museum are curated from the archives of several collections, including additional materials sourced from the Patric Prince Archives at the V & A, London & Zina Bethune archives at UCLA.
EZTV’s roots began in 1979 when founder John Dorr, after years of attempting to work in the Hollywood film studio system, began experimenting with home video equipment. Dorr made three feature-length films with his home equipment and then began working on a fourth when he organized a group of several other video makers, including Ken Camp and Richard Moyer. They held several evening screenings of their work at West Hollywood’s Community Center. Playwright Terry Mack Murphy and actors Michael Kearns & Strawn Bovee became key collaborators.
This began the local concept of a legitimate theatrical-style 'video theater', better known today as microcinema.
In 1983, John Dorr and a group of over two dozen co-founding members pooled their resources and skills to create a permanent space for the screenings. These members include 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.
The small space was called “EZTV Video Gallery” and it housed a 40-seat screening area and two editing systems. Two 25″ video monitors displayed the videos being publicly presented. The screening combined work produced by the in-house core group of artists, as well as a diverse selection of international work. Originally, the gallery ran four screenings a day at seven days a week, but within the first few months, it was scaled back to 1-2 screenings, Thursday through Sunday.
According to a publication from the American Film Institute, EZTV Video Gallery was “the first independent gallery to dedicate all of its space, all of the time, to ‘the box’."
From the beginning, 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, feminists, multimedia and performance art. The 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.
However, during this time, video was typically exhibited in art galleries as ‘video art’ or, when done in theatrical-style, it was seen among the adult XXX theaters that switched from film to low-cost video projection. Video was also being presented to more isolated audiences at universities, festivals, or at professional conferences. EZTV sought to bring the burgeoning diversity of independent video to a more public arena.
Within the first year, 1984, EZTV began working with LA ACM SIGGRAPH, most notably Joan Collins, in collaborating to present a then pioneering example of the multi-city interactive possibilities of the internet for its creative uses. This was to be the first of a growing number of such occasional collaborations that have continued to this day.
In 1985, the EZTV space was suddenly transformed following the unexpected, unprecedented, and overwhelming success of a documentary about the beat poet Jack Kerouac, “What Happened to Kerouac?” by Richard Lerner and Lewis Macadams. The documentary screened for over four months at EZTV while 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, a music lab, darkroom, production studio, various offices, and a screening room/gallery with a 99-seat capacity. It became known as “EZTV Video Center”. This became the version of the space in which the public best identified.
In 1986, Michael J. Masucci created the West Hollywood Sign and as a result was named Co-Artistic Director. He greatly expanded the programming to include more and more live performance art and interactive projects. He reached out to the greater arts community and served as a member of the Board of Directors for a number of non-profit organizations, including the Fringe Festival in Los Angeles, AVAZ International Dance Theater, and served 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 called “The Lannon Literary Series”. These were included in library collections across the U.S. and were screened on various TV outlets.
Active participation from EZTV’s core group members 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. He, along with artists such as Victor Acevedo and ia Kamandalu, hosted many showings of digital art - something rare at the time.
In 1992, as a subspace of EZTV, Michael J. Masucci and Patric Prince founded CyberSpace Gallery with the help of artists Victor Acevedo, ia 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 John Dorr died of AIDS complications in 1993. Masucci then became Director and named ia Kamandalu as Vice-President. Over time, and in partnership with Kate Johnson, they transitioned the space, allowing for its survival and the preservation of its early history. EZTV left West Hollywood and operated out of three subsequent spaces whilst participating in several joint locations with other groups.
Now having existed longer without its founder John Dorr, EZTV relocated to the 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 under EZTV. Some were well attended while other still-worthy events were not. Today, it continues to produce and curate work, collaborating with other artists and participating in other multi-organizational efforts.