The Lab

The Lab is a nonprofit experimental art and performance space located in the Mission District of San Francisco.

Scott Arford: Beware of the Image

“This is an expansion and re-visioning of audio/video noise performances that I made between 1995-1999, many of which were presented at the Lab. The political/cultural context of current San Francisco feels hauntingly similar to the period when these were made. At that time, the Dot Com boom was in full swing, carrying with it in equal parts, a dystopian dread and a techno-utopian optimism. Google was just one of many competing search engines, a generation of tech workers were making their first fortunes, emerging technologies promised to empower us as individuals. At the same time, artist warehouses and art spaces were struggling to survive - many lost their leases to skyrocketing rents and venture capital funded startups. Long-standing communities suffered, and small businesses were forced out.  The emotions and struggles from this period are being replayed now in a frighteningly similar fashion, the sites of this struggle are the same. This work comes from that uncertain moment.

For me, the work is particularly important because it expands upon an experiment that was never truly completed. Flickering and strobing linear analog video, radio noise and TV static…. I don’t know what to call it, but it was raw and unfiltered.  Searing but beautiful, like staring at the sun.  With the technological revolution, video and audio became digital, non-linear. Resolutions expanded, screens flattened, effects became slicker, and the cathode ray tube disappeared. Everything became, well… focused.  And with that a particular type of expression vanished.  I want to bring this work to a new generation of San Franciscans, struggling with moral, ethical, financial, and practical decisions that affect our city, its future, and the technological narratives now being written.”

- Scott Arford