Tuesday, March 22, 2022 at 7pm
The Greatest Hits of Scratch Video

155 Freeman Street, Brooklyn

The Greatest Hits of Scratch Video, Volume One, various artists, 1984, digital projection, 28 mins
The Greatest Hits of Scratch Video, Volume Two, various artists, 1985, digital projection, 28 mins

Compiled by artist George Barber in a series of two independently-distributed VHS releases, The Greatest Hits of Scratch Video remains the most durable record of the UK’s short-lived but influential scratch video movement—an explosive blend of post-punk music culture, anti-Thatcher sentiment, and experimental television, whipped up by a generation of art-school malcontents who sought to create new forms of electronic montage through pirated image sampling.

The moniker scratch video came from the similarities between the videos’ fondness for the rapid editing of recycled material and the constructive-destructive vinyl manipulations of hip hop DJs. It emerged out of nightclubs, notably the Fridge in Brixton, whose novel twenty-monitor Video Lounge offered a mess of old televisions as animated decor, configured to play videos in shocking simultaneity. As Barber later described the fertile moment: “At its best for about seven months, various makers would turn up with their latest work and sit around while a sizeable crowd—who’d probably never even heard of independent videos—watched their handiwork on banks of old DER monitors, some upside down, some even, artistically of course (what else?) on the blink.” The scene first reached public attention via a zappy cover story for London alt-weekly City Limits, heralding the videos as “image break-dancing” and “an inter-active response to the one-way arrogance of broadcast television.” The style was then briefly embraced by art venues like the ICA and began influencing the look of commercial TV's more adventurous elements.

The Greatest Hits of Scratch Video brings a non-stop barrage of the movement’s most celebrated practitioners, whose eccentric reassemblages collide TV adverts, Hollywood films, and war atrocity footage with synth-driven mixes of bootlegged music by Throbbing Gristle, Afrika Bambaataa, Giorgio Moroder, Joy Division, and numerous others. Rik Lander and Peter Boyd Mclean, who worked together as The Duvet Brothers, create agit-pop attacks on the Cold War military-industrial complex; the duo of Kim Flitcroft and Sandra Goldbacher spin agile, dancefloor-ready cut-ups of mainstream entertainment; collective outfit Gorilla Tapes train their sights on Reagan and apartheid; Barber himself contributes witty, angular abstractions that combine trippy analog techniques with early digital image processors; and filmmaker John Maybury provides an erotic New Romantic vibe. The total effect is one of joyous anarchy. “It was only a matter of time until television got the scratch treatment. We had to wait for the tools of TV and video to fall into the ‘wrong hands,’” City Limits had acutely observed. “If television is our shop window on the world, scratch has just chucked a brick through it, and is busy looting 30 years of goodies, with abandon.”

Tickets - Pay what you can ($8 suggested donation), available at door, cash and cards accepted.

Please note: seating is limited. First-come, first-served. Box office opens at 6:30pm.