Now for Our Feature Presentation

This Monday and Tuesday Michael Branson Smith (MBS) will be spending two days embedded in UMW’s Console Living Room. He’ll be meeting with four different courses and giving two workshops on remix culture and animated GIFs for the UMW community while he’s here. But before the marathon begins, first thing Monday morning we’re going to get the TVs in the living room broadcasting some period appropriate network content. MBS linked to the above intro for the first time Star Wars broadcast on HBO in the winter of 1983. The aesthetic really captures a time and place between the marquee, fonts, music, and narrator’s voice. It reminds me how much network TV and cable are a huge hole in the time machine that is the Console Living Room. Luckily, MBS’s visit is going to help us rectify that.

After seeing the HBO intro, I was intrigued enough to do some digging. According to the Television Obscurity site, the premier of Star Wars on HBO was a bust:

HBO showed the film during the winter of 1983 and was disappointed at the lack of interest, due to the earlier pay-per-view showings and the film’s release on video cassette. Star Wars failed to rank amongst HBO’s top ten most popular films [14].

It’s interesting to see that by 1983 the VCR was making its presence known to cable companies—the idea of having control over what movie you wanted to see and recording what’s on air would have been two big advantages of the VCR. Also, does it strike anyone else as crazy that there was pay-per-view in over 500,000 homes as early as September of 1982? That’s when Star Wars was first broadcast into U.S. homes. I had no idea. I’m looking forward to to thinking through a bunch of this stuff and more with MBS while he’s here. I’m beginning to feel like what was a small, seemingly harmless idea for an exhibit has become and all encompassing monster akin to the Killer Tomatoes! Which just so happens to be one of the first movies I saw on cable back in the day.

Anyway, I am loving that the Console Living Room has become a lens through which the UMW community can explore the idea of media convergence—something increasingly at the core of our collective identity. Here’s the email Zach Whalen and I sent out to all faculty and staff on campus yesterday, I wonder what the hell they think about the living room 🙂

This Monday and Tuesday, April 13th and 14th, there will be two events in the Console Living Room, an anachronism on the 4th floor of the ITCC building that reproduces a living room from 1985. The first of the two events will be the official opening of the interactive exhibit on Monday, April 13th from 4 PM – 6 PM. You are invited to join us for some pizza, Atari 2600 games, an informal discussion of the particularities of media convergence in the 1980s. Everything in the living room is meant to be sat on, watched, played with, and/or read. We hope you join us in this time capsule back to the future of media convergence. What’s more, we would love it if you passed the news of the Console Living Room on to your students, co-workers and colleagues.

In between games of Space Invaders and Pitfall, we will also be running a workshop to capture and remix various elements of the exhibit. This will provide a hands-on exploration of the various artifacts, but also an introduction and examination of the emergence of read/write culture from the 1980s until now.

On Tuesday, April 14th, in ITCC 407 from 1-3 PM media artist Professor Michael Branson Smith will be hosting a workshop on the art of the Animated GIF. Please note this will be a hands-on workshop so bring your computer and prepare to make some art. If you are interested in learning how to make a GIF, be sure to bring your computer and download the free applications GIMP and MPEG Streamclip before arriving.

I am so looking forward to this!

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