Skip to content

FROM THE ARCHIVE | Tony Conrad

Studio of the Streets, 1990 – 1993/2012

April 2, 2020

Tony Conrad, Studio of the Streets, 1990-1993 graphic from public access television broadcast

Tony Conrad

Studio of the Streets, 1991–93/2012

Four-channel digital projection of footage from Studio of the Streets (1991–93, color, sound, running time: 1 hour, each channel) with installation of acrylic panel with vinyl lettering, orange traffic cones, orange-and-white plastic traffic barricades, wheelbarrow with dirt, caution tape, and other elements 

Acrylic panel: 144 x 26 inches (365.8 x 66 cm); overall dimensions variable

 

From 1990 to 1993, Tony Conrad and Cathleen Steffan produced the public access television program, Studio of the Streets. Launched to protest the city's suspension of local public access television, the program went on to broadcast over 250 hour-long episodes. Unscripted and hosted every Friday “at high noon” from the steps of Buffalo City Hall, Studio of the Streets featured interviews with community activists, media makers, and passersby—conversation topics spanned from the weather to local and national politics, to video production and beyond. Created to amplify the voice of the people, the program also sought to teach participants and viewers alternative modes of television production, distribution, and consumption. In 2012, Conrad assembled a video installation out of the footage, showing it at 80 Washington Square East, New York. Later presentations of this work include Introducing Tony Conrad: A Retrospective, organized by Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo (2018), and most recently at the Kölnischer Kunstverein, Cologne (2020).

 

Conrad describes the project via Electronic Arts Intermix

 

"Studio of the Streets is a weekly demonstration at Buffalo City Hall, in support of free speech expression through public access cable television. The demonstration lasts from 12:30 to 1:30 on Friday; the program is cablecast on the Buffalo public access channel every Tuesday at 7:30. Studio of the Streets is a direct response to Buffalo’s suspension of its public access operator last year, which left the city without a public access production facility. Our independently organized public access advocacy group, the First Amendment Network for Public Access Television, approved my initiative to set up our own outdoor public access studio and to do it right on the steps of Buffalo City Hall, where it has been open to anyone who appears there each Friday lunch hour—every Friday since May. Studio of the Streets, like most demonstrations (and artworks), is more important in its symbolic ramifications than it is as entertainment. There has been a lot of talk about multiculturalism, about empowering minorities, women, and those at society’s margins. However, if these persons are to be a part of the discourse, they must first get started by entering into it. Entering into participation in television production is a critical phase of the evolution of a multicultural society. So far, television’s entry level has been regulated effectively by corporations. Public access cable TV is the only noncorporate free speech expression on television. Studio of the Streets goes directly to people in the street, and tests (examines) their readiness to enter into television discourse. It is simply unique in its way of accomplishing the number one job of public access—which is to introduce new groups of people to doing television production. It is also comparatively very popular; it shows in at least one downtown bar, for instance, and runs in a full hour prime-time slot. Studio of the Streets runs without personnel credits, and as a collective expression, it contradicts the ego-centered conception of media art as an esoteric expression of the privileged self. Many artists have contributed during the production of thirty-two shows; the most consistent participation and leadership has come from Cathleen Steffan and myself, both of whom are seen in program XXVII. Studio of the Streets is such a departure from the ideas of quality and craft that prevail within the art world that it will probably not receive public support. Presently each show takes about 20 person-hours of time to make, and costs about $35, excluding the borrowed cameras. The particular show seen here begins with a young man who is eagerly awaiting the arrival of his bride at City Hall; he is getting married and joining the armed forces. Later we encounter still another such couple. Moreover, we hear a woman who works at City Hall describe this as a booming new phenomenon. And as always, everything we see and hear is fascinating—everything is peculiar and special—at the same time as it is all completely everyday." 

Tony Conrad, Studio of the Streets, 1990-93 (Still)

Tony Conrad, Studio of the Streets, 1990-93 (Still)

Tony Conrad, Studio of the Streets, 1990-93. (Still)

Tony Conrad, Studio of the Streets, 1990-93. (Still)

Tony Conrad, Studio of the Streets, 1990-93 (Still)

Tony Conrad, Studio of the Streets, 1990-93 (Still)

Tony Conrad, Studio of the Streets, 1990-93 (Still)

Tony Conrad, Studio of the Streets, 1990-93 (Still)

Tony Conrad, Studio of the Streets, 1990-93 (Still)

Tony Conrad, Studio of the Streets, 1990-93 (Still)

Tony Conrad, Installation view, Tony Conrad, Kölnischer Kunstverein, Cologne, 2020

Tony Conrad, Installation view, Tony Conrad, Kölnischer Kunstverein, Cologne, 2020

Tony Conrad, Installation view, Tony Conrad, Kölnischer Kunstverein, Cologne, 2020

Tony Conrad, Installation view, Tony Conrad, Kölnischer Kunstverein, Cologne, 2020

Tony Conrad, Installation view, Tony Conrad, Kölnischer Kunstverein, Cologne, 2020

Tony Conrad, Installation view, Tony Conrad, Kölnischer Kunstverein, Cologne, 2020

Tony Conrad, Installation view, Studio of the Streets, 80WSE Gallery, New York, 2012

Tony Conrad, Installation view, Studio of the Streets, 80WSE Gallery, New York, 2012

Tony Conrad, Installation view, Studio of the Streets, 80WSE Gallery, New York, 2012

Tony Conrad, Installation view, Studio of the Streets, 80WSE Gallery, New York, 2012

Tony Conrad, Installation view, Studio of the Streets, 80WSE Gallery, New York, 2012

Tony Conrad, Installation view, Studio of the Streets, 80WSE Gallery, New York, 2012

Tony Conrad, Installation view, Studio of the Streets, 80WSE Gallery, New York, 2012

Tony Conrad, Installation view, Studio of the Streets, 80WSE Gallery, New York, 2012

Tony Conrad, Installation view, Studio of the Streets, 80WSE Gallery, New York, 2012

Tony Conrad, Installation view, Studio of the Streets, 80WSE Gallery, New York, 2012

Tony Conrad, Installation view, Studio of the Streets, 80WSE Gallery, New York, 2012

Tony Conrad, Installation view, Studio of the Streets, 80WSE Gallery, New York, 2012

Tony Conrad, Installation view, Studio of the Streets, 80WSE Gallery, New York, 2012

Tony Conrad, Installation view, Studio of the Streets, 80WSE Gallery, New York, 2012

Site by exhibit-E®