The availability and affordability of 16 mm film and video technology spurred production of amateur, independent, and underground film and video during the 1960s and 1970s. While histories have focused on the efforts of individual artists, the growth of independent media production throughout the mid- to late-twentieth century was supported by a network of organizations, including museums, archives, artist collectives, and equipment access centers designated as Media Arts Centers. Scholars studying film and media history have overlooked the Media Arts Center Movement and its impact on non-commercial media production in the United States. Mapping the Independent Media Community aims to correct this problem by developing digital tools for visualizing data related to the Media Arts Center Movement and the production, distribution, exhibition, and collection of independent media in the United States and abroad.
The MIMC project was initiated in 2014 as a collaboration with Carnegie Museum of Art’s (CMOA) Time-Based Media Project. The first phase of CMOA’s project, completed in mid-2014, centered on assessing and cataloging the film, video, audio, and computer-based media artworks in the museum’s collection, while the second phase has focused on preserving these assets and ensuring their long-term sustainability. This second phase, concluded in 2017, involved the preservation of materials found in the archive of the Department of Film and Video, which was active at CMOA between 1970 and 2003 and responsible for acquiring many of the pieces in the museum’s time-based media collection. The finding aid for the Department of Film and Video Archive and digitized documents from the collection are now available through the CMOA Archives.
The archives of the Department of Film and Video include the Film and Video Makers Travel Sheet, a monthly publication that aimed to “encourage and facilitate wider use of exhibition and lecture tours by film and video makers.” The Travel Sheet served as a social networking tool connecting media artists and the organizations willing to support their work by listing of artist’s tour dates and locations, contact information for organizations, advertisements for new works in film and video, and announcements of interest (festivals, conferences, funding information, and employment opportunities). The MIMC project has transformed the Film and Video Makers Travel Sheet from a static resource into a relational database using the Heurist Academic Collaborative Database. The MIMC database currently contains the data from the Travel Sheet issues published between 1973-1977 and the 1975 Film and Video Makers Travel Sheet Supplement that included all of the individuals and organizations from the Travel Sheet mailing list. The database includes records for over 2400 individuals, 1500 organizations, and 1200 film and video works with additional records added each day.