Undervolt & Co. — a label for experimental video artists

Thursday, 19 December 2013

—A video label? What is that? Why? 

Why not?! Anything goes. Sometimes it’s hard for experimental videos artists to find institutions that can maintain long term representation. Very few art galleries want to sell, maintain, and deal video art. Even if some of the artist working with Undervolt & Co. are hired to make music videos sometimes, it is always the musicians that come first in that relationship. As a result, none of the traditional distribution systems seem to be a perfect fit for people like us. So we figured it would be a good idea to do it ourselves and make a hybrid child of the good parts of old distribution paradigms. 

—Are the videos available outside of your store?

No. We offer exclusive content created by the artists specifically for our label. 

—What’s your future goal? 

We are starting out as a small video label/publisher, but we are aiming to grow into a significant video archival institution for the future. There’s a whole new generation of video artists who grew up in the age of digital revolution. Currently, we don’t see any institutions that actively reflect this generation of experimental video art. We want to to fill the void. In short, Undervolt will help people to find good curated experimental video art for our generation. 

—Why mp4 downloads, no streaming service? 

We realize that everything is heading toward streaming/cloud direction, but we want to still borrow from older distro-platforms by using download and some DVDs in the meantime. It may look like we are going one step backward, but we are ok with that for now because we believe that streaming does not equate the kind of distribution we want to bring to this work. We want more control, and fear that services like Youtube and Vimeo don’t give makers the opportunity to control the ways that they want to show their work. So, we will stick with digital download to provide higher quality videos for now. That being said, we will keep looking out for some new videos streaming options in the future. 

— Why are you videos priced the way they are?

This pricing system is experimental. Many of our artists, and artists working in similar ways, have been torn between two extremes: releasing work for free on YouTube, Vimeo, etc… and selling limited edition works for hundreds of dollars through galleries. We are experimenting with finding another way. If this were ten years ago, we would be releasing DVDs. If this were twenty years ago, we would be releasing VHS tapes. Above all, we seek to find a new paradigm for mass distribution in our digital age. Our ultimate goal is to help our artists find an audience and some small financial means to continue encouraging their work. Our belief is that it's better to sell a lower priced video to 100 people than a higher priced video to 1 person. Reaching a wider audience means creating more opportunities for our artists, and the more opportunities they have, the more they can support their practice. 

—Can I screen your videos for events? 

We encourage people to screen our videos at events for both educational and non-profit entertainment events. But please drop us a note when you do so. That would just make us happy. If you are interested in screening our videos for commercial events, drop us a line. We are trying to operate under an ethos similar to a Creative Commons Non-Commercial Share-Alike license, but want to stay open and encouraging. Above all, we enjoy sharing and communication, so please be in touch!

—Are you just giving away your source videos by letting people download for that cheap? Crazy? Don’t you worry about getting your videos stolen to be sampled? 

Well, if we had our videos on Youtube or Vimeo, you can always find a way to download those to your computer. So, what’s the difference? We’d rather make sure that we can give people the best quality for a fair price early on, rather than worrying about compression and bootlegging. As for the sampling, sample and remix all you want if you are inspired to do so. We also sample from a lot of sources, and we don’t want to be hypocrites! But remember to do something very creative and interesting with it. There is a big difference between creative sampling and direct copying. Direct copying is lame.

—Why don’t you sell your videos for higher prices at some fancy art galleries or auctions for more money? 

Ehh we don’t know. Should we? We wanted to try this out and see what we could do for ourselves to better the conversation and distribution of work that we admire and want to support. But, maybe we’re doing it wrong? Let us know. 

—Can I commission one of you guys to make some new videos for our project? 

Of course! Talk to us or contact the artist directly. We would be totally interested to hear about it.

via: http://www.undervolt.co/