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On My Work
Jobs at AFA and EAI
Stephen Vitiello


When I look back on the work [1] I’ve done there’s really three phases: I grew up in New York City and when I was finishing college I was trying to figure out where to put my interests, which were literature, film and playing music and I played in kind of punk rock bands and rock bands from the late seventies on. One day a friend introduced me to Barbara London, the curator of video at the Museum of Modern Art, and suggested that I do an internship in video art. Through that I started to see work by artists such as Nam June Paik, Bill Viola, a Japanese Experimental Video Program, etc. When I left MoMA, I got a job at the American Federation of Arts (AFA), which distributed avantgarde films. As I had to sit there everyday and take care of these avant-garde films, I imagined music to the films, which I saw without hearing any sound. I had never been a particularly good musician (technically speaking), but I was really trying very hard—and I think that a lot of it is always trying in the wrong place …

As I started to imagine these soundtracks for Maya Deren films or Stan Brakhage films, a friend of mine loaned me a four-track tape recorder and I started to do some kind of imaginary or pretend soundtracks.


After about a year and a half I got another job at Electronic Arts Intermix (EAI), which is the leading distributor of video art, perhaps in the world. They represent many of the leading video artists. There I started to do research and I learned that a great deal of the artists that I was most interested in who were doing video art—which I thought of from the framework of visual art—had come out of music backgrounds. It was then that I really started to understand video art as an audiovisual medium.

Collaborations with Tony Oursler

I started to make friends with artists and Tony Oursler was the first who asked me to show him my work. I think he knew about it because nobody just works as a distributor, it’s this thing that most people in administration are doing something else too. And I gave Tony some four-track tapes, these short instrumental pieces. I didn’t hear from him for a long time; I started to curse his name and think, you know, that bastard, he doesn’t even want to tell me that it’s bad. When at some point I was staying at my friend’s house and I got a call about one in the morning. I picked up

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