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From the 2003 Video Festival

The Dallas Video Festival continues this weekend at the Dallas Museum of Art. We went Friday, and though the audience started smallish, it grew. Apparently a lot of people would rather be amazed by video art than The War On Iraq.

We viewed something in each of three of the four museum venues, and JR decided you might ought to bring a few items to enhance your vid viewing experience.

1. Ear plugs — The volume in the very uncomfortable anyway Video Lounge was ear splitting. That's the small DMA viewing room designed to be just comfy enough for short orientation flicks, but not so comfy you'd want to lounge in there for very long, that the festival is using for ongoing screenings.

2. A cushion or Portable seat-back — Other than the sound, our only other issue with the Lounge was the carpeted but uncushioned wood box seating with almost no back support.

Otherwise, like the much bigger Horchow Auditorium, it was pretty wonderful, but more intimate. The screen was in focus, with proper brightness and contrast, great viewing distance, and the rows of benches are tiered, so there's usually nothing between you and the video.

3. Dark dark glasses The projector in the cramped classroom converted to be the Video Box is blazing overbright. By about two f/stops. One or two pair of shades might get that brightness down to tonal reality. At least the chairs there have a bit of cush and backs.

I could see sharp screen dots on the program the woman sitting in front of me was perusing. But by the distance the image got to the screen, it wasn't even close to focus.
It shocked and awed us that professional videophiles who probably spend big bucks on their home entertainment centers, didn't even seem to mind the sometimes dismal viewing conditions.


4. Propeller beanie or hairtop projections — So your inevitable shadow on the bottom of the screen in the Video Box — assuming you're sitting close enough to see the subtitles and credits and not just the backs of a bunch of heads — will be distinctive.

It is so bright in there, you won't need a flashlight to read the tiny print schedule. Our shadows were present, even during the supposed black behind movie end credits.

5. A cell phone — So right after festival director Bart Weiss introduces you and your friends, who are all in your video that's just starting, you can call your other friend and tell him all about it.

6. An instant traslator — I wish there was a portable hand-held device that would translate the program's vidspeak to human values. Something that could explain that "probably the best film ever made" really means tediously repetitive, misogynistic and about 52 minutes too long.

7. An adventuresome spirit — This spirit will guide you to the video gold that's all over the festival every day and night, hiding in plain sight.

With your sense of adventure, you'll be able to track down or be open to blindly stumbling into wonderfully visual, often meaningful, thought provoking visions that will stay with you for hours or weeks or years — many of which you'll never get to see again.

Check out the festival's website, which may actually help you decide what to see, at

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