Meet the Makers

Meet the Makers is a program of artists talks and performative lectures based on a series that originated at The New York Public Library, which will take place select Thursdays at 7PM. Meet the Makers brings together today’s media makers, theorists, scholars, and artists to promote visual arts literacy and explore the ways we engage with emergent media and new technologies.

Originally presented at the Donnell Library Center on 53rd Street, the series invited contemporary artists, media activists, and film organizers, including Video Data Bank, Tony Oursler, Antoni Muntadas, XCHANGE TV, Paper Tiger Television, Carolee Schneemann, Shigeko Kubota, Dara Birnbaum, and Gretchen Bender to screen and discuss their work. Coinciding with her Meet the Makers talk in 1990, Bender became the first artist commissioned to present her work, TV Text and Image, in the street-facing windows of the Donnell Library Center.

On the occasion of Gretchen Bender: So Much Deathless, Red Bull Arts New York is thrilled to be working with NYPL to reprise this groundbreaking platform, celebrating the Reserve Film and Video Collection’s  rich history of media arts education and connecting Bender with our current community of media makers. Retaining the integrity of the original series, Meet the Makers provides a nourishing platform of exchange for the community of progressive, emergent image makers based in New York and abroad. Among the eclectic participants are cyberpunk artist Shu Lea Cheang, outsider librarian Rick Prelinger, and the enfant terribles of Net Art, Eva and Franco Mattes.

“If we are going to encourage a more literate, critical thinking, civic-minded society, then we need provocateurs.  We need materials that radically diverge from convention and conformity. Gretchen Bender and the Red Bull Arts network of artists do just that, says Elena Rossi-Snook, Collection Manager of the Reserve Film and Video Collection.  Revitalizing the Meet the Makers series is a way to mutually meet the goals of the public library using the best cultural tools available.”

Programming is free and open to the public. Seating for all events is limited. RSVP is required or please email indicating the program title in your subject line.

Meet the Makers is a collaboration with the Reserve Film and Video Collection of The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts. Visitors will be able to register for NYPL library cards during select events. Talks and presentations will be followed by communal discussion.


Eva & Franco Mattes
As long as no insides are showing
Thursday, March 7

Their latest body of work, Dark Content, sheds light on the largely anonymous labour force of content moderators that has emerged with the rise of social media. In their artist talk, “As long as no insides are showing”, they will explore how what is concealed is often what matters most.

Eva and Franco Mattes (1976) are an artist duo originally from Italy, living in New York. They have continually made work that responds to and dissects the contemporary networked condition, always approaching the ethics and politics of life online with a darkly humorous edge.

This talk contains graphic content, viewer discretion is advised. Visitors under the age of 18 must be accompanied by a parent or guardian.

Dr. Pamela M. Lee
The Glen Park Library: A Fairytale of Disruption
Thursday, March 28

Art historian Dr. Pamela Lee will provide original readings of five women artists—Gretchen Bender, Cecile B. Evans, Josephine Pryde, Carissa Rodriguez, and Martine Syms— who weigh in, either explicitly or inadvertently, on the nature of contemporary media and technology. The evening builds upon Lee’s work of experimental art criticism, The Glen Park Library: A Fairytale of Disruption, which explores “how Silicon Valley, the dark net, and digital culture have affected our relationship to knowledge, history, language, aesthetics, reading, and truth.”  

Pamela M. Lee teaches the history, theory and criticism of late modernism and contemporary art with research interests in the relationship between aesthetics, politics, time and system. Her courses include lectures and seminars on Abstract Expressionism; the art of the 1960s; contemporary art and globalization; intergenerational and intersectional feminism; methods and historiography; art and technology; modernism and war; and media cultures of the Cold War.

Solveig Nelson
Gretchen Bender’s “Total Recall”, 1987, and the Feminist Return to Television Art
Thursday, April 11

A 2017 Creative Capital Warhol Foundation Arts Writers Grant recipient for her forthcoming paper Gretchen Bender’s “Total Recall”, 1987, and the Feminist Return to Television Art, art historian and curator Solveig Nelson will present in conversation with Associate Curator Kenta Murakami on the art history of Bender’s work, including the various iterations of Total Recall shown during Bender’s lifetime. In the 1980s, artists’ relationships to history were changing through both appropriation and new technologies. Bender amplified these changes, continually situating her work within specific historical moments of the almost-past in series such as The Pleasure is Back, People in Pain, and TV Text and Image. The conversation will explore the implications of staging a posthumous retrospective of an artist such as Bender who was obsessed with her own work’s obsolescence. Ultimately asking how Bender’s prescient work operates in the present, the audience will be encouraged to participate in this open-ended discussion.

Solveig Nelson is an art critic and art historian who recently completed her dissertation, The Whole World is (Still) Watching: the Televisual, Early Video, Nonviolent Direct Action, 1930s–1970s, at the University of Chicago. She is currently the Andrew W. Mellon Postdoctoral Curatorial Fellow in Time-Based Media at the Art Institute of Chicago, where she is co-curating the Chicago presentation of the retrospective, Gregg Bordowitz: I Wanna Be Well. Nelson is recipient of a Creative Capital Warhol Foundation Arts Writers Grant for the in-progress essay, “Gretchen Bender’s Total Recall, 1987 and the Feminist Return of Television Art,” as well as fellowships from the Luce/ACLS and the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Meriem Bennani
Test Audience
Thursday, April 25

Commissioned to create a new video installation for this year’s 2019 Whitney Biennale, video artist Meriem Bennani will present work in progress footage for her project MISSION TEENS, which chronicles the daily routine of a group of Moroccan teenagers enrolled in French school.

The format of Bennani’s artist talk, referenced in the title of her program, is inspired by network TV’s practice of hiring a test audience as a way of rating new content. As an experiment, Bennani will at times, invite her audience to participate in the process of developing MISSION TEENS (2019).  

Meriem Bennani  (b. 1988 in Rabat, Morocco) lives and works in Brooklyn, New York. Juxtaposing and mixing the language of reality TV, documentaries, phone footage, animation, and high production aesthetics, she explores the potential of storytelling while amplifying reality through a strategy of magical realism and humour. She has been developing a shape-shifting practice of films, installations and immersive environments, composed with a subtle agility to question our contemporary society and its fractured identities, gender issues and ubiquitous dominance of digital technologies. Bennani’s work has been shown at MoMA PS1, Art Dubai, the Shanghai Biennale, The Jewish Museum and The Kitchen in New York.

Equilibrium: Production vs. Performance vs. Rest
Thursday, May 16

Electronic musician Jlin will present a multimedia artist talk entitled, Equilibrium: Production vs. Performance vs. Rest. The conversation provides the audience with an intimate experience to learn about Jlin’s unique contributions and approaches to music production with albums such as Dark Energy (2015) and Black Origami (2017), as well as her collaborative projects including the score for Autobiography by Company Wayne McGregor, remixes for Björk, fashion soundtracks for designer Rick Owens, and most recently, a new AI-generated track Godmother with acclaimed composer Holly Herndon. The talk will be accompanied by music videos and live demonstrations, featuring tracks from current works in progress.

Hailing from Gary, Indiana, Jlin is one of today’s most original voices in electronic music. Her trailblazing sound is filled with lush, weightless yet powerful drum patterns. Jlin’s albums Dark Energy and Black Origami, described by Pitchfork as “an epic treatise on where rhythm comes from and where it can go”, saw her blaze to the top EOY lists around the world in 2015 and 2017, leading to commissioned projects taking her into the worlds of contemporary dance, classical music and art. These include a score for Autobiography by Company Wayne McGregor, with which she also performs live, a composition for Kronos Quartet, and remixes for Björk, Max Richter and Ben Frost. She had toured worldwide, often accompanied by dancers, video and innovative light design.

Thumbs That Type and Swipe
Thursday, May 23

The future demands not just our expertly honed skills in watching, but also understanding.  From ancient puppets to prehistoric legends, education and entertainment have been intertwined. The material presented by DIS today is the result of a change in attitude towards the present and aims to meet the demands of contemporary social, political, and economic complexity at eye level.

DIS (est. 2010)  is a New York-based collective composed of Lauren Boyle, Solomon Chase, Marco Roso, and David Toro. In 2018 the collective transitioned platforms from an online magazine,, to a video streaming edutainment platform,, narrowing in on the future of education and entertainment.

Rick Prelinger
Thursday, July 18

Beginning in 1986, Prelinger Archives began regular screenings at cinematheques, galleries, clubs, museums and homes in New York and elsewhere that were attended by many working media makers and artists. That year it also published two anthologies of sponsored and educational films (TO NEW HORIZONS and YOU CAN’T GET THERE FROM HERE) on laserdisc and VHS (later on CD-ROM) through pioneer new media publisher Voyager Company. The material in these collections found their way into countless ambient and club screenings, video artworks and public events.

This screening combines key films drawn from Rick Prelinger’s curated screenings from the late 1980s that first introduced audiences to the history of public persuasion embedded in sponsored and educational films. When first introduced, each was a small epiphany revealing corporate and elite efforts to influence and control public behavior. While this history is much better known today, the films are almost taken for granted. This screening aims to reconstruct the atmosphere of excitement and discovery that surrounded their exposure in 1980s New York.

ARE YOU POPULAR? (Coronet Instructional Films, 1947, 10 min)
A DATE WITH YOUR FAMILY (Simmel-Meservey, 1950, 10 min)
LIVE AND LEARN (Sid Davis Productions, 1951, 10 min)
LONG DISTANCE (Audio Productions for AT&T, 1941)
IN THE SUBURBS (On Film, Inc. for Redbook Magazine, 1958, 20 min)
HABIT PATTERNS (Knickerbocker Productions for McGraw-Hill, 1954, 14 min)
DESIGN FOR DREAMING (MPO Productions for General Motors, 1956, 9 min)

Rick Prelinger is an archivist, writer, filmmaker and educator. His collection of 60,000 ephemeral films was acquired by Library of Congress in 2002. Beginning in 2000, he partnered with Internet Archive to make a subset of the Prelinger Collection (now 7,000 films) available online for free viewing, downloading and reuse. His archival feature Panorama Ephemera (2004) played in venues around the world, and his feature project No More Road Trips? received a Creative Capital grant in 2012. His 25 Lost Landscapes participatory urban history projects have played to over thirty thousand of viewers in San Francisco, Detroit, Oakland, Los Angeles, New York and elsewhere. He is a board member of Internet Archive and frequently writes and speaks on the future and politics of archives and archival access. He is currently Professor of Film & Digital Media at University of California, Santa Cruz.

Meet the Makers: Shu Lea Cheang
Two or three things I know about SLC:
Genre Bending
 Gender Fxxxking

Shu Lea Cheang in conversation with
Jennifer Fong, Christian Haye, Barbara London, and Nelini
Thursday, July 25

Join us for our last program as part of the series Meet the Makers, organized in collaboration with The Reserve Film and Video Collection of The New York Public Library.

On view at this year’s Venice Biennale, Paul B. Preciado, curator of artist Shu Lea Cheang’s new commission “3x3x6”, writes in the exhibition catalogue that, “Cheang does with Internet technologies what Pasolini did with film, and Kathy Acker with literature: turn a medium against itself only to reconnect it with political history and social agency. In doing so, the post-Internet digital avant-garde, to which Cheang belongs, challenges the aesthetics of Internet global capitalism and the politics of identity construction fueled by social media and exploited by marketing and political control alike.” –Dissident Interfaces: Shu Lea Cheang’s 3x3x6 and Digital Avant Garde.

On July 25, Cheang presents the last program in the series Meet the Makers, organized on occasion of Gretchen Bender: So Much Deathless.In conversation with friends, partners, collaborators, and curators, Cheang invites her lunch dates to participate in a memory reboot to help patch her endeavors throughout the decades – from her formative years in New York City’s East Village (1997-1999), homestead cyberspace (1994 -), and post net-crash (2001- ), to Enter the BioNet (2009 – ).

Shu Lea Cheang is an artist and filmmaker working with various art mediums and film formats, including installation, performance, net art, public art, video installation, feature-length film and mobile web serial. As a net art pioneer, her project BRANDON (1998-1999) was the first web art commissioned and collected by the Guggenheim Museum in New York. She drafts sci-fi narratives in her film scenario and artwork imagination, crafting her own “science” fiction genre of new queer cinema, terming them eco-cybernoia (FRESH KILL, 1994), sci-fi cyberpunk (I.K.U., 2000), sci-fi cypherpunk (Fluidø, 2017). From homesteading cyberspace in the 90s to her current retreat to post net-crash BioNet zone, Cheang takes on viral love, bio hack in her current cycle of works. This year, she is representing Taiwan with a solo exhibition 3x3x6 at Venice Biennale 2019.

Meet the Makers Red Bull Arts New York