Tuesday, April 28, 2015 at 7:30pm
Quality Television

155 Freeman Street, Brooklyn

A screening and lecture by Martine Syms

Nicole Miller, The Alphabet, 2009, 6 min
Dara Birnbaum, Remy/Grand Central: Trains and Boats and Planes, 1980, 4 min
Lex Brown, Soft Strategies, 2014, 4 min
Stan Douglas, Television Spots, 1987/88 and Monodramas, 1991, 8 min
Ximena Cuevas, La Tombola, 2001, 8 min
Michael Smith, Mike, 1987, 3 min
Sondra Perry, My Twilight Zone, 2014, 1 min
Joan Logue, 30 Second Spots: New York, 1982, 15 min
Martine Syms, A Pilot for a Show about Nowhere, 2015, 25 min


I told her I once heard a comedian say that if you put an apple on television everyday for six months, and then placed that apple in a glass case and put that on display at the mall, people would go up to it and say, Oooh, look, there’s that apple that’s on television. America’s a lot like that apple.

- Paul Beatty, Slumberland

Right now I’m watching two shows in earnest.

Nashville is a primetime musical soap about Rayna James, an aging star in the cutthroat country music biz. The show was created by Callie Khouri, best known for the womanist film Thelma and Louise. Past episodes have tackled paternity rights, alcoholism, sexual harassment, mental illness, homophobia, and infidelity, among other themes. This season has a domestic violence storyline.

Scandal is a political melodrama about a D.C. “fixer” named Olivia Pope. Pope is the sidepiece of POTUS, a petulant Man-Child with perpetually sullen eyes. Scandal is heavy on monologuing, walking-and-talking, sappy synths, and camera shutter sound effects. The series hails from Shondaland. The company traffics in emotional devastation.

In 1971, Paul Klein, then-VP Audience Measurement at NBC, wrote an article for TV Guide titled “Why You Watch What You Watch When You Watch.” The piece focused on his theory of the “Least Objectionable Program.”

Klein believed that viewers consumed the medium itself rather than the content. He argued that viewers didn’t turn on the TV searching for their favorite shows, instead they were happy with whatever didn’t suck, what he called the L.O.P.. Klein was wrong. Television viewing has always been highly-personalized and highly-politicized.

“Quality Television” is a selection of film and video works that explore television as a resource for aesthetics, values, metaphors and community.

- Martine Syms

Martine Syms is an artist and conceptual entrepreneur based in Los Angeles. From 2007–11, she directed Golden Age, a project space focused on exhibitions, performances, and printed matter that she founded. At Golden Age, she organized over fifty innovative cultural projects ranging from film screenings to interactive online exhibitions. She also initiated a publishing program, which included a catalogue of ten titles by international, emerging artists. She has lectured at SXSW, Project Row Houses, the Houston Museum of African American Art, California Institute of the Arts, University of Chicago, the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, Johns Hopkins University, Maryland Institute College of Art, and MoMA P.S.1, among other venues. Her artwork has been exhibited and screened extensively, including presentations at the New Museum, MCA Chicago, Green Gallery (Milwaukee), Gene Siskel Film Center (Chicago), Capricious Space (Brooklyn), Wassaic Project (NY), and White Flag Projects (St. Louis). Her work is currently on view, through May 24, at the New Museum’s 2015 Triennial: Surround Audience.

Tickets - $7, available at door.

Please note: seating is limited. First-come, first-served. Box office opens at 7pm.

Above image: Still from A Pilot for a Show about Nowhere.