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Art Basel: Obsolete Media - Tiny windows on the world


Walk into Kevin Arrow and Barron Sherer's Obsolete Media Miami loft in the Design District is like stepping into the past - or at least the mechanics for remembering it. There are shelves of slide projectors, reel to reel tape players, little box record players, old film projectors, boxes and boxes of slides, towers of big round metal film storage boxes.

Getting a grip on old-fashioned imagery has fascinated the two artists for well over 20 years. "A slide is like a tiny little window to another place, to the universe," says Arrow, who is art and collections manager at the Frost Science Museum. He used to create psychedelic slide and film projections for South Beach clubs, fills his life and Facebook feed with eclectic imagery. "You can put it in a projector and blast it to the size of a wall. It's a window to look into the past. And these are the machines that enable us to activate this stuff."

Last March they got a Wavemaker grant from Miami's Cannonball and the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Arts (enabling them to put in AC before the combination of heat and the smell of Harry's Pizza downstairs asphyxiated them and melted their slides), and Dacra has donated space in the Madonna Building. Now Arrow and Sherer are spreading the word - and the access - to their treasures with Obsolete Media Miami, letting artists and students borrow, create with, use and be inspired by their library. One New York artist came to them for slide projectors because she couldn't find any in New York. A group of DASH students, many of whom had never seen a slide, came in to make their own. Teens and twenty-somethings are fascinated by pictures and media that you don't operate with the swipe of a finger on a phone screen, says Sherer, who spent some 15 years as a curator and preservationist at the Lynn & Louis Wolfson II Florida Moving Image Archives.

"If it's organic and tactile it's attractive to millenials," says Scherer. "They're not used to holding things in their hands." 

- Jordan Levin