OMM Friendathon

Written By George Fishman
November 26, 2018 at 2:59 PM

Obsolete Media Miami’s November 15 “FRIENDATHON” offered a wealth of entertainment – to a live audience, on screen and behind the scenes. And scored some cash.

“No, it won’t be like an NPR pledge week, insisted Keven Arrow, co-founder/director – with Barron Sherer – of Obsolete Media Miami. “More like the opposite.” No disrespect for a fellow – and just slightly better known – media institution, but O.M.M. embraces, rather than abhors ragged edges, irregularities and off-color tonalities. This holds true in its vast audio-visual archive and in its recent eight-hour, live broadcast “Friendathon,” hosted at Barry University’s Miami Shores radio and television studios.

O.M.M.’s founding in 2015 began with the merger of collections (Arrow’s hoard of 35mm slides and projectors, Sherer’s multi-format films), accompanied by legacy cameras and projectors). Alongside their distinguished individual experimental studio practices, the media artists share a commitment to making their skills and resources available to fellow artists, scholars, archivists, students and even casual visitors to their Design District studio.  Workshops and private consultation provide artists with a collaborative laboratory to realize projects ranging from film animations to slide shows, zines and hybrid presentation formats – all that capitalizing on O.M.M.’S gargantuan library of sounds and imagery. O.M.M.’s work has been recognized and supported through Wavemaker and Knight Foundation grants and private benefactors. Museums and media institutions contract their specialized services in curating exhibitions and providing the legacy projectors and other devices to present them.

All this costs money, and this year O.M.M.’s directors chose to register and coordinate their fundraising efforts with Miami Foundation’s well-oiled annual citywide Give Miami Day event. Why not call on their broad talent network and throw a marathon party? A telethon, but quirkier than most.

Hosted by charismatic, well-matched artists Keaton Fox and Carlos Rigau, the Friendathon became an eight-hour continuous live broadcast, produced in collaboration with the enthusiastic and resourceful Barry University staff and students.  Department of Communications Media Center Manager John Musulin and Studio Lab Supervisor Vladimir Lescouflairat recognized the opportunity to challenge their tv and radio production students with coordinating a complex live event and agreed to partner. On November 15th, O.M.M. and volunteers staged a sometimes raucous extraordinarily wide-ranging and high level program of music, poetry, interviews, video and banter that aired over Barry’s community access television and radio stations and O.M.M. social media accounts.

Fox and Rigau – she more chirpily, he more ironically – “begged” for money, kibitzed with the performers, interviewed various culture producers about their respective practices, introduced video clips showcasing O.M.M.’s accomplishments and stretched the ever-game Barry students to the limit. A loosely scripted, but ever-shifting string of “acts” on the sound stage and radio studio required frequent improvisation. Instructors Musluin and Lescouflairat were ever-present, but didn’t “mother” their charges. The Friendathon far exceeded both the number of moving parts and duration of the students’ prior experiences, but Musulin emphasized that such “real world” trials grow muscles in ways that classrooms lessons cannot. Cries of “Oh no!” were occasionally heard in the control room, as cameras needed rapid and repeated repositioning and time gaps were filled with extended B-roll or conversation was stretched when a guest was late or setup ran long.

The day’s wrap consisted of giddy shouts and exhausted body flops on the stage floor.

The full talent roster of performers, staff, students and volunteers exceeds this space, however the entire program can be viewed online.

Give Miami Day is over, but O.M.M.’s acceptance of community generosity is unbounded by the calendar.

O.O.M. will participate in this year’s Official Art Basel and Miami Design District Studio Tours Thursday, December 6, 2018 from 9-12 pm. The Madonna Building, 5 NW 39 Street, Loft 2

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