Media and Self-Expression

I’ve always been interested in the use of media for self-expression, and this led me to the formation of the VideoWomen group, so long ago that I had just let those experiences fade from my mind. Now they are all in the foreground, so I’ll blog on them for a while. I’ll post more about VideoWomen later. I recently returned the very old Sony Portapak half-inch black and white equipment. Supposedly portable, this stuff was a big box, with a shoulder strap, and a heavy camera. The woman who now has that gear is planning a documentary on the life of Sandra Botting, a midwife and pioneer home-birth activist, who had been a dear friend in those early days. We taped her home birth, back in the days when there were few home births, and few documents of birth at all. Sandy edited the final tape herself.

I had other tapes in a dusty box, which I always wanted to convert to digital, and I’d love to see all that old footage, and do something with it. But the truth is the real stuff never was kept on tape. We recorded over and over the same tapes, reusing them while taping ourselves and others, watching it immediately, then recording again.

I just googled portapak, and found some great references to Radical Software, an inspiring magazine from the late 60’s and early ’70s, which is now archived on line. I remember when we discovered it, having been playing with the portapak for some time and finding our own ways of exploring. Others were doing the same thing! This in the pre-web time when information flowed so much more slowly, via underground media.


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