Public Domain: A Video Commissioning Project by SAW Video, Edited by Emily Falvey

Public Domain: A Video Commissioning Project by SAW Video, Edited by Emily Falvey

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Softcover book(126 pages) - $15.00 CDN

Edited by Emily Falvey

Published by SAW Video Media Art Centre


ISBN: 978-0-9877178-0-01


In June 2009, SAW Video commissioned seven media artists to create new video works from public domain materials in the film/video/audio collection at Library and Archives Canada. The result is Public Domain, a program of six new videos that premiered in Ottawa June 23rd, 2010 which will tour across North America and Europe in 2011-12. SAW Video is proud to present the new Public Domain book, the media art centres first ever full-length publication

The range of mid-career and established media artists selected for this project represent a broad cross-section of media artists working in Canada. Bringing critical perspectives to bear on their found materials, the artists mine the nature of the image for its visual, narrative, mnemonic and evocative potential. While some of the resulting videos highlight the fragility and disappearance of images, others focus on their renaissance through re-contextualization.

With new texts and photo-essays by Mireille Bourgeois, Sarah Cook, Gennaro de Pasquale, Sara Angelucci, Maureen Bradley, Ryan Stec & Vronique Couillard, Suzan Vachon and Steve Reinke. Also includes a foreword by SAW Video Director Penny McCann and an introduction by LAC archivist Caroline Forcier Holloway.

Gennaro de Pasquale (Montreal) - Vortex, 12:08

Sara Angelucci (Toronto) - The Beauty Pageant News, 8:47

Maureen Bradley (Victoria) - Beyond the Pale, 16:00

Ryan Stec & Vronique Couillard (Ottawa) - Library and Archives Canada Public Domain Reels Documenting Spots of Beauty and Interest in Ontario and Quebec Sometime Ago Remixed Today (VCRS): 19752010, 3:00

Suzan Vachon (Montreal) - chant [dans les muscules du chant], 23:32

Steve Reinke (Chicago/Toronto) - Not Torn (Asunder from the Very Start), 9:57

Library and Archives Canada holds thousands of film documents which have become free of copyright. These documents cover a wide range of historic events which played a role in the collective history of Canada, such as the First and Second World Wars and our industrial development. In addition to documents of these historic events, the large collection of materials also includes home movies of private events such as garden parties, sporting matches and scenes of camaraderie amongst friends, soldiers and workers. These audio-visual recordings are traces of the private history of individuals, and each provides a different perspective on the passing of time.

The high cost of royalties makes it difficult for many independent artistic projects to use archival documents. If royalties are not paid, the incorporation of archival material, while widespread, is often illegal, which immediately eliminates the possibility of public exhibition in galleries, at screenings, on television, etc. As a result, the use of archival documents and materials from Canadian history is often restricted to corporations and big-budget commercial productions.

While Library and Archives Canada offers artists an inexpensive and publicly accessible alternative to this dilemma, researching, finding, and obtaining rights to materials at LAC can be complex, daunting and time-consuming. In order to facilitate access to audiovisual works in the public domain and to eliminate many of the obstacles which could hinder artists' research, SAW Video provided research support throughout the duration of the Public Domain project. In screening the new videos and describing the process of the project year, Public Domain seeks to inspire artists to see the archives as a treasure trove for their own work. The project also raises broader questions about copyright/copyleft and specifically about the complex term public domain, a topic at the centre of an international critical discourse.

SAW Video is an artist-run centre committed to supporting the ground-breaking artistic production, presentation and programming of independent video and media art. SAW Video provides many services to its members including affordable technical facilities and a wide range of programs. Its services and programs are designed to create an atmosphere that inspires production through the exchange of ideas around form, content and style.


(Note: This is a bilingual publication. All chapters listed here are also duplicated in French.)

Penny McCann pg. 7

Caroline Forcier Holloway pg. 9

Essays & photo essays:

A Bank of Dream Material
Mireille Bourgeois pg. 13

Sarah Cook pg. 17

Beauty in the Archive
Sara Angelucci pg. 31

Beyond the Pale: On Revisiting Movies That Tell You How to be Normal
Maureen Bradley pg. 36

Gennaro De Pasquale pg. 40

Notes on Not Torn (Asunder from the Very Start)
Steve Reinke pg. 42

These Images Might Have Been Better Left Untouched
Ryan Stec & Vronique Couillard pg. 44

The Patient Solitude of the Archives [Hearing Voices]
Suzan Vachon pg. 46

Video descriptions and artists biographies:

The Beauty Pageant News
Sara Angelucci pg. 48

Beyond the Pale
Maureen Bradley pg. 50

Gennaro De Pasquale pg. 52

Not Torn (Asunder from the Very Start)
Steve Reinke pg. 54

Library and Archives Canada Public Domain Reels Documenting Spots of Beauty and Interest in Ontario and Quebec Sometime Ago Remixed Today (VCRS): 19752010
Ryan Stec & Vronique Couillard pg. 56

chant [dans les muscules du chant]
Suzan Vachon pg. 58

Published by SAW Video, 2011.

ISBN: 978-0-9877178-0-1