TOWARDS EXHIBITION EQUALITY:
Rafaël Rozendaal on BYOB (Bring Your Own Beamer)
– Who are you and what do you do?
Hello, my name is Rafaël Rozendaal. I am an artist and I work mostly with the computer and the internet. My main focus is researching the effects of computation and interactivity on composition.
– For the person who has never viewed or participated in the event, what is BYOB (Bring Your Own Beamer)?
BYOB is a one night projection event. Artists are invited to come together in a room and bring some kind of projection device. It’s a chaotic exhibition of moving images. It’s an open platform. Anyone can start a BYOB anywhere. I organized the first one in 2010, since then there have been more than 250 BYOB nights around the world. It’s about individual responsibility, grassroots, DIY, and fun.
– Describe the inspiration for BYOB. Did it have roots in other exhibitions that you had witnessed?
I noticed that it is really hard to organize an exhibition of new media work. There’s so much equipment involved if you want to curate a group show of moving images that is in a gallery for a month. So I thought, if the exhibition is only one night, and all the artists bring their own gear, it should be a lot easier. When things are easier, the energy is different. I was interested in a more spontaneous form of exhibiting.
– Is there such a thing as “exhibition equality”? Is technology responsible for developing an environment where everyone has the option of exhibition or should we preserve the traditional system of centralized media distribution?
I think both exist and are not mutually exclusive. The internet is a great place for finding very particular niche interests, but also for keeping up to date on celebrity gossip. I am more interested in finding obscure content, but clearly the internet is a vehicle for mainstream culture as well. Museums will always exist in some form, people need some guidance by tastemakers. But artists should not wait around until they are invited into a museum, they can organize shows themselves and reach out to an audience directly.
– Based on the current technology, what does it mean to be a producer versus a consumer of media content?
I’m a lot happier when I produce content than when I only consume content. It doesn’t really make sense to create anything as there is so much greatness out there already, but it just feels good.
– Explain the justification for BYOB as a free event. Did you ever consider charging for the rights to host the event?
No, I didn’t think it would really make money. You’d just create a lot of hassle and make $200 which you’d have to divide over 20 artists. BYOB is DIY and chaos, and adding money into it would make it less spontaneous. I love money, but BYOB is the not the right place to think about that.
– In the events where you have been present, what is the reaction by other artists/projectionists? What types of comments or feedback do they provide about the event? Is there a specific story or person that stands out?
People always seemed really happy. The energy is very fun. Which is unusual for an exhibition. Exhibitions are usually very serious.
– Anything else? Would you like to add a point of view that wasn’t expressed in the previous questions?
I think that’s it 🙂
Interview conducted via email by Paul Echeverria on July 13th, 2016. Special thanks to Rafaël for participating in the interview. For more information about BYOB please visit www.byobworldwide.com or www.newrafael.com