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Join us to celebrate Rhode Island’s video art pioneers
Thursday, April 11 | 6:30 PM Imago Gallery

Join our free screening of pioneering video art from the late 1960s when technological advances made the equipment smaller, lighter, and accessible to the average person. Nurtured by the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) and inspired by a lively art scene, Rhode Island was home to some of the pioneers of video art such as Duff Schweninger, an independent video artist and currently an IFA exhibiting artist, and founding members of Providence-based group Electron Movers, who explored the medium’s potential including Laurie McDonald, Alan Powell, Bob and Dorothy Jungels and Dennis Hlynsky. Eddie Tannenbaum and Phil Palombo joined Electron Movers soon after both exhibited with the group. Larry Heyl and Randy Walters joined later. Bob Rizzo worked at the periphery of the group, but never exhibited with Electron Movers. Powell and Connie Coleman did work together before both moved to Philadelphia. Philip Palombo who taught at Rhode Island College died last year.

IFA’s screening celebrates the early works of Electron Movers and moves the viewer in time to current digital works of Schweninger and Hlynsky. Hlynsky, Powell and Schweninger, will be present to comment on their work and answer viewers’ questions.

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Laurie McDonald

Laurie McDonald attended the Rhode Island School of Design in the early 1970s to study photography with Harry Callahan and Aaron Siskind. When they neglected to show up for class with any regularity, Laurie’s focus was diverted to video, at that time an incipient art form, and recognized video as a means to combine her various creative interests which included film, photography, music, dance, and painting.

Two years later, she and three other classmates were awarded fellowships from the National Center for Experiments in Television, an affiliate of KQED-TV in San Francisco, and were in-residence at the NCET facility experimenting with the latest in video and audio processing tools. She was a founding member of Electron Movers, Research in the Electronic Arts, Inc., a Providence-based video collective in existence from 1974 through 1979 and active throughout New York and New England.


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CODE stills

Duff Schweninger

“I bought a Sony Portapack (portable video camera and reel-to-reel videotape recorder) in 1971 and started using it in a series of actions that included my body and objects from the environment around me. I have been involved with video and TV production ever since, doing my own creative work as well as commercial television.


“The piece for this evening’s presentation is CODE, made in 2004. It is a digital-born video animation with sound. Both the visual and audio elements were made in response to each other, as the work progressed. CODE is 11 minutes long and composed of 3 movements.”

Schweninger was born in Cincinnati, Ohio in 1945, and grew up there. He received a BFA in painting from the University of Illinois in 1967, and an MFA in painting from the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) in 1969 where he was a teaching fellow. After graduate school he lived and worked in Providence, Rhode Island.

In 1969, during his second year at RISD, Schweninger changed his course from painting to more conceptual, spatial and environmental concerns after he was exposed to the work of the Nouveau Realists, Arte Povera, Fluxus, and the ideas of Herbert Marcuse, Thielhard de Chardon and Buckminster Fuller. Since the early 1970s, Schweninger’s work has included performance, transmission art, sculpture, video art, graphics and installation.

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Duff Schweninger

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Electron Movers still

Alan Powell

Powell has been working as a visual artist for 50 years. From 1971 until the mid 1990s Alan worked almost exclusively with video and electronic imaging. He was a founding member of the Electron Movers, Providence, Rhode Island’s first Media Arts Center after completing a BFA degree from the RISD. His video work in collaboration with his partner, the late Connie Coleman, spans 30 years and has been exhibited at The Kitchen, Hallswalls, CEPA, Squeaky Wheel, The Alternative Museum, and The Museum of the Moving Image in New York; the Philadelphia Museum of Art and the Institute of Contemporary Art in Philadelphia; The Long Beach Museum in California and the Musee d’Arte Moderne in Paris. Together Coleman and Powell extended their practice in electronic imaging to videotape, sculptural installation, digital photography and traditional printmaking.

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Alan Powell

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Electron Movers still

Dennis Hlynsky

Hlynsky was an early adopter of electronic imaging. Beginning in 1972 with early forms of video signal processing, he has focused his artistic research on instances of group activity. These instances range from human celebration to animal gatherings. Dennis was a co-founder of Electron Movers and former head of the Film/Animation/Video Department at RISD (currently emeritus). Hlynsky resides in Providence, RI.

Sculpture and photography were his primary studies, but soon gave way to video in 1972. Influenced by the conceptualists of the 1960s he focused his work on the creation of artworks  

and media to shape the culture of local communities. He co-founded Electron Movers in 1974. The U.S. bicentennial began his study of celebration as long-form time art. He has engaged in the WaterFire Festival in Providence; May Day Festival in Tiverton, RI; PVD fest 2017; and the Providence Independence Day festivities. 

His early conceptualist/experimental analog video synthesis was eventually replaced with a decade of documentary. Between 1977 and 1987 Dennis advocated for children and families with life threatening illness by making films and narrowcasting these works in the medical community. This project gained national recognition through the attention of national news and health education networks.

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Dennis Hlynsky

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