Paul Kos, rEVOLUTION: Notes for the Invasion: mar mar march, 1972. Video, black and white, sound, 4 mins. Courtesy of University of California, Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive.

Screening Room


A look at twentieth century Bay Area video art that addresses power and language, organized by guest curator Steve Seid.

THESE ARE THE RULES considers how text, language, and voice can be both agents of control and resistance. Selected and arranged by film and video scholar and curator Steve Seid, the program features ten short video artworks made between the 1970s and 1990s by Bay Area artists that channel the technological, political, and cultural shifts of the period through an exploration of language and power.

Paul Kos begins the program with a strictly cadenced performance that ties rhythmic typewriter typing to military marching. Max Almy, Doug Hall, and Jeanne C. Finley wryly mimic authoritarian voices to deconstruct and mock their absolutism. Theresa Hak Kyung Cha, Tony Labat, and Valerie Soe probe language’s power to define and assign identity. Leslie Singer’s snarky take on the pop singer Madonna, Jordan Biren’s insistent and expulsive commands of a mysterious entity, and Rebeca Bollinger’s mechanically poetic voice synthesizer round out the program’s chorus.

THESE ARE THE RULES reveals an era of artistic creation that saw society’s transition from the centralized authoritarian voices of mass media and political machines to the rise (and dispersal) of disinformation and artificial intelligence in the digital age. The program screens daily in the McEvoy Arts Screening Room at the top of the hour.


Paul Kos, rEVOLUTION: Notes for the Invasion: mar mar march, 1972

Theresa Hak Kyung Cha, Mouth to Mouth, 1975

Doug Hall, These Are the Rules, 1983

Tony Labat, Room Service, 1980

Max Almy, Deadline, 1981


Leslie Singer, The Madonna Series, 1987

Jordan Biren, Text, 1992

Jeanne C. Finley, Involuntary Conversion, 1991

Rebeca Bollinger, Alphabetically Sorted, 1994


Steve Seid is a Berkeley-based film and video curator. For 25 years, he worked at the Pacific Film Archive (PFA), where he organized almost 1,000 programs of video art, film, and new media for the PFA’s public programs and oversaw an ongoing video preservation project. Beyond PFA, he has curated projects including the 2009 Stan Brakhage Symposium; Silence, a 2009 exhibition honoring John Cage’s 100th birthday; and others that have toured to locations such as New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, and Brazil. Seid’s notable publications include Radical Light: Alternative Film and Video in the San Francisco Bay Area, 1945–2000 (2010) and Media Burn: Ant Farm and the Making of An Image (2020). He has taught video aesthetics and history courses at University of California, Berkeley, San Francisco State University, California College of Arts, and the San Francisco Art Institute.

THESE ARE THE RULES was commissioned on the occasion of What are words worth? (June 16 – September 2, 2023) at McEvoy Arts. The program is guest curated by Steve Seid.