Process before Product

In those very early days of video experimentation, the process was all, and the product meant little or nothing to us. We would bathe in the electron beams, and simultaneously watch and record, then watch again. Of course, there was much fun with video feedback as well.

How did it start? Doug brought the gear home – was it from the University of Calgary? and showed it to us. We started playing with it – Roberta, Doug, Gary and I taped ourselves doing ordinary things, fooling around, recording, experimenting. It was the very early 70’s or late 60’s, and we were high, in our early 20’s, all very into media.
A year of so later, feminism was in force – a rather sweet idealistic early feminism in Calgary. We were out of touch with the harsher politics, and just believed the ideals. I connected the pleasures of the video revelations with my interest in feminism and personal awakening, and with Susan Maag, started the group Videowomen. We managed to get some funding from the Canadian government and bought portapak gear and tapes. Set up a group that gave workshops in video, in media image, in women and media, and in media and social change. We had a weekly cable interview show, with a radical all-woman crew. Members took the gear home, made tapes and shared them with each other. It became a bit more serious, more finished in some ways, and lost the heady enthusiasm of the early experiments that Roberta, Doug, Gary and I had shared. Tapes were produced, some as finished products. The only lasting and meaningful tape to come out of this was the Birth of Leda, Sandy Botting’s home birth tape.

I don’t know where the women from VideoWomen are now, and although we were resonant with groups like Women in Film, we were outsiders as well. Calgary was self-contained, unconnected, unhip. It didn’t seem as if anything we did mattered to the rest of the world. Certainly, our products weren’t too important. But the process, that was something different.


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