Commentary Andy Porter

I’ve known Andy Porter since 1976, when I first met him at the West London Media Workshop that he had founded together with friends from the video group of the Community Action Centre in Notting Hill. There I did my first ethnographic field work to get to know the ins and outs of a community video collective. See Community Media (pdf, p 33ff.).

In the video portrait Andy Porter tells us how he dedicated most of his professional life to participatory video work with young people and how he always has managed to get inspiration for new projects from his experience as a video pioneer.

Andy Porter: ‘For many years I worked in East London, making videos with young people. This period in the East End enabled me to expand my video repertoire from the late 1970s, but with the new technology around, and some decent European money. We were fortunate that we landed in this incredibly dynamic music scene, Grime, which is like an underground hip-hop culture in this country. So much energy came out of it. And that energy burst out into everything we did with video’. (see Andy Porter, Video 26.49: Back to my region)

Only a few tapes from the West London Media Workshop have survived, among them are some rare documents like the Murchison Tenants tape: Local community activists interview tenants of Murchison Road, London, W10, about the negative impact of local building works on their lives. The video was presented to the Local Council. Murchison Road is in the same neighborhood where in July 2017 Grenfell Tower was devastated by fire, and many people died. All of a sudden the divide between rich and poor became visible again in the wealthiest borough of the UK.

Wishing you an interesting viewing session,

Heinz Nigg

In the 1970s and 1980s, young activists discovered video as a new medium and used moving images in their struggle for access to cultural expression for the many, not the few. They were researching and developing new forms of independent and participatory media work. This was an important step towards realizing the utopian promises of the digital age.