A history of video in the UK from the early 1970's until the present day
VIDA 000 TRIPLE VISION 000 IGNITION FILMS 000 THE PRESENT 000 A HISTORY OF MY PROJECTS
I formed Vida with Antony Cooper and Penny Deadman in early 1977 (that's me on the left) though we had already began making work together in 1976. We realized that we needed a 'face' for the world. I knew that vida meant 'life' in Spanish but also Video meant 'to see' in Latin - so Vida also became an imperative: 'look at this'. Over the next 4 years we made work and presented this at over 150 shows which we arranged and hosted. My favorite show was at the 1979 Birmingham 'Comicon', where we showed our documentary 'Inside Comics' featuring the story of Neil Adams suing DC Comics for the pensions of Siegel and Shuster who he found being doormen at DC (whilst he was drawing the angry phase of Superman). When we showed this it was on a 28 inch tv set to 400 wildly interested fans. BBC2's Arena, though feigning disinterest when I showed them the doc, then quickly flew to New York and made their own documentary on that subject. This episode taught me not only about ownership and intellectual copyrigh, but if people have a vested interest in a subject, then they'll go through a lot to realise that interest. Also, in 1978 I became involved with London Video Arts (now Lux) and organised shows with Dave Critchely and Chris Meigh-Andrews at the Air and Acme Galleries.
In terms of Vida as a project, we were working in both art and documentary forms, realising very early on, that a documentary is only a documentation of the attitude of the maker to their subject at the time of making. This was not rocket science but it took the independent sector many years to grasp this and now forms the basis of theoretical studies of media practice per see - except that, as Terry Eagleton has noted, the original project of theorising, that of revealing truth, is not the primary point today. I went on to co-organise the first National Independent Video Festival at the Film Co-op and the Second at the ICA (I think this was 1981 and 1982). South Hill Park later took this initiative on in its set of video festivals. Later, Vida metamorphised into Triple Vision when we were asked by Channel 4 to take over a failing project - 3x 1 hour programmes about UK Video Art which we re-titled ‘On Video’.