John Sanborn | media artist
John Sanborn is an award-winning, world-renowned media artist whose body of work reaches from the technological stone age of the 1970’s to the digital high-tech bleeding edge of today. His media work has manifested as television, installations, games, Internet experiences and plain old video art.
His work has been shown at every major museum in the world; including the Whitney Museum; MOMA, New York; the Prado, Madrid; the Centre Pompidou, Paris; the Tate Gallery, London; and the Seibu Museum, Tokyo. Electronic Arts Intermix distributes his video art and has since his first project, “The Last Videotapes of Marcel Duchamp. Sanborn’s television programs have been broadcast worldwide, including works with Robert Ashley, Bill T. Jones, John Zorn, Nam June Paik, Philip Glass, Twyla Tharp, Mikhail Baryshnikov, David Gordon, and The Residents.
In the 1970s Sanborn was one of the artists-in-residence at The Television Laboratory at WNET/13, a groundbreaking environment started by the Rockefeller Foundation and Nam June Paik as a playpen for video artists to create works for broadcast. He also created works for the VISA series (started by Paik) and showed installations at the Whitney Museum, participating in 2 biennial exhibitions.
In the 1980s Sanborn was an artist-in-residence at the 1980 Winter Olympics as well as one of the first directors with work appearing on MTV (music video with King Crimson). He produced hours of performance-based video for the PBS series “Alive TV” and directed “Perfect Lives”, the seminal opera for television, by composer Robert Ashley.
The 1990s were spent in Hollywood and Silicon Valley, developing interactive movies and some of the first web-based interactive content – as well as a series for Comedy Central (“Frank Leaves for the Orient”) and pilots and scripts for Columbia Tri-Star, USA Network, MTV, and the National Lampoon.
In the new century Sanborn, while continuing to make art, became a corporate creative director for public companies. He built a digital division for the basic cable network Comedy Central, and developed in house creative agencies for eBay and Shutterfly, where he retired with the title of Vice President, Creative Services.
His feature length works “MMI”, “The Planets”, “PICO (remix)” and “ALLoT (A Long List of Things)” have played at over 150 international film festivals including the Mill Valley Film Festival, the Seattle, London, Victoria, Tribeca, and Sundance Film Festivals.
Sanborn’s newest works are media installations addressing questions of identity, cultural truth, memory and the lies we live with everyday. “V+M” a 9 channel retelling of the story of Venus and Mars, but with non-heteronormative couples. The work investigates the the balance of power in relationships, the nature of myth making and the origins of desire. The work will premiere at Videoformes in March, and show in San Francisco at SF Cameraworks in November.
“A Sweeter Music”, a collaboration with pianist Sarah Cahill , is a live performance work with Sarah playing new compositions on the subject of peace – inside a 3 channel video projection for each composition. The work premiered in January of 2009 at Cal Performances, and has played in New York at Merkin Hall, Rothko Chapel, Spoleto USA, Dickinson College and the Mill Valley Film Festival.
"MMI" is a short feature film about Sanborn’s adventures in New York in 2001, focused on death and the redemptive power of family. The work premiered at the Mill Valley Film Festival in 2002 and was reviewed by VARIETY "Avant-garde in form yet poignant, funny and accessible, normally acerbic experimental filmmaker John Sanborn's short feature "MMI" unites the political, the personal and the philosophical in one deft package. Reflection on his tumultuous first post-millennial year -- one that encompassed a cross-continental move, stressful new job, deaths and 9/11 -- is an inventive audio/visual collage that carries real emotional heft." MMI has been selected to screen at over 20 festivals worldwide, including the Tribeca Film Festival (founded by Robert DeNiro) in 2003.
Sanborn’s works have been shown at almost every major museum in the world, including the Whitney Museum; the Museum of Modern Art, New York; the Prado, Madrid; the Centre Pompidou, Paris; the Tate Gallery, London; and the Seibu Museum, Tokyo. His video works have been broadcast world-wide, including 16 half-hours for PBS featuring works with Bill T. Jones, Philip Glass, Twyla Tharp, The Residents, and David Gordon. A dance work created for "Great Performances" starring Mikhail Baryshnikov and directed by Sanborn won three Emmy Awards. Sanborn worked in High-Definition Television, creating works for SONY (“Infinite Escher”), and NHK-TV. Sanborn has also directed over 30 music/videos (including works with Nile Rodgers, Sammy Hagar, Philip Glass, Tangerine Dream, Peter Gordon, Grace Jones, King Crimson and Van Halen) and designed and directed dozens of commercials for clients including Nintendo, Hitachi, Pioneer; and The Disney Channel. His video self-portrait "Quirky" was purchased for broadcast on the PBS series "The Independents", hosted by Buck Henry.
John Sanborn was granted an honorary Masters of Cinema degree from ESEC, in Paris, and in 2015 was named a Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres by the Minister of Culture of the Republic of France. John Sanborn lives in Berkeley California.