JOHN SANBORN | Projects, Shows and Media works



ZKM exhibition

Survey show of Sanborn career from 1976 to 2022; July 8, 2022 to October 23, 2022 at ZKM.


The 50th Anniversary Show

Live video-musical-theater work in collaboration with The Residents, commissioned by the San Francisco Symphony and featuring the San Francisco Girls Chorus.


All Roads Lead@836M

Gallery exhibition with French media artist Agnès Guillaume, at 836m, San Francisco January 21 to May 28


The Friend

Premiere of a 17-channel video and sound installation at Videoformes 21, Clermont-Ferrand, France; featuring John Cameron Mitchell in the title role.


Multi-media public art commission from the City of Berkeley, CA , installed in a vacant storefront in downtown Berkeley - October 1 to November 30, 2021.


God in 3 Persons

Live video/theater work created in collaboration with the anonymous music group The Residents, based on their legendary 1988 album. Sanborn wrote the adaptation for the stage, and the creation of digital projections.

Premiered at the Museum of Modern Art, New York in January 2020.


Prince and The Shock of Gary Fisher

Collaborative works with the queer thrash band COMMANDO, with texts and performances by Lynn Breedlove and Juba Kalamka


Bury My Bone

2:11 | music/video created with The Residents; from their album “Metal, Meat & Bone”; over 55K views on YouTube (as of 07.2020)

Come Stream with Me

Online screening of 9 works with live, interactive Q&A, organized by the California Film Institute, curated and moderated by Zoë Elton, director of programming of the Mill Valley Film Festival


Just Us Too

Exhibition of two works in conjunction with Belgian artist Agnés Guillaume, 836m Gallery, San Francisco (date TBD)



Permanent installation commissioned by the National Musuem of Qatar

occupies Gallery 10 using 30 channels of video and 24 channels of sound

opened March 27, 2019.

Festival Videoformes

March 14 - 30 2019

installation of "Sorry" 


June 17 - Novmeber 22 2019

Digital interactive artwork, commissioned by the Jeu de Paume, Paris. Premiered June 17 2019; has drawn over 85,000 views (as of 07.2020) with an average play time of 20 minutes.

Post-Cards from Post-America

September 5 -22 2019

solo gallery show of five media installations

Galerie Tokonoma 

47 rue Chapon 75008 Paris 

En Dehors de Nous

Live presentation of NONSELF and performance with curator Stephen Sarrazin; singers Sarah El Hadid and Rim Laredj, dancer Louise Soulié, and Marcus Kreiss.

September 17 2019 | Jeu de Paume

Place de la Concorde 75008 Paris

CitySonic Festival

installation of "Sorry" in this touring festival of sound art;  November 2019 - January 2020; Brussels, Belgium


solo gallery show of five media installations | November 2 -December 14 2019


323 10th Street, San Francisco, CA, USA



Un Tunnel à travers l'Olympe

Solo exhibition of media works (“Mythic Status”, “Give me a Second”, “untranslatable”, “EAGE”, “Sorry”) at the Galerie Odile Ouizeman, Paris


Sanborn’s Temptations

Screening of music related works at the legendary Babylon Cinema, Berlin, Germany.


Knock Once

Workshop and screening, ZKM, Karlsruhe, Germany


Festival du Film Court d“Angoulême

Showied “Glucose High” from “The Rest !s Sh!t” in the LGBT strand, Angouleme Festival of Short Cinema, Angouleme, France.


Entre Nous

Solo exhibition of media works (“Mythic Status”, “Entre Nous”, “Serene Duet”) at The Ken Nakahashi Gallery in Shinjuku, central Tokyo, Japan. 



Introspective Retrospective

Retrospective screening at the 40th annual Mill Valley Film Festival

October 12th 2017

The Outdoor Art Club - Mill Valley, CA

Ligne Droite et Cercle

Solo exhibition of four media installations.

Galerie de l'Angle

45 rue des Tournelles, 75003 Paris

March 9 to March 25 2017


Video et Apres

Retrospective screening and discussion with critic Stephen Sarrazin.

Centre Georges Pompidou

March 8 2017, 19H, Cinema 2



installation work for video projection and stained glass, music by Dorian Wallace.

Videoformes Festival March 15 to April 1 2017



Publication of monograph with contributions from Stephen Sarrazin, Jean-Paul Fargier, Florian Gaite, Pascal Lievre, Dara Birnbaum, Bill T. Jones and many others. Complete with retrospective DVD.


A Tale of Two Cities

Eight installations in two locations in Bourges, France, curated by Stephen Sarrazin and sponsored by Bandits Mages.


Folle de Toi

Video installation in tribute to Nam June Paik as part of the Trace(s) Festival in Pont Saint Esprit, France.


Shifting Horizons

Solo exhibition of 8 media art works at the Bangkok Art and Culture Center.

The show includes works “resound” 1982, V+M 2015, Mythic Status 2015 and the premiere of Alterszorn, a 5 channel work about aging.



Dowsing for Divinity

Solo gallery exhibition at Cartel Collective in Berlin, curated by Stephen Sarrazin. Works on the subject of personal mythologies, memory and the detritus of ingenuity.


The White Album

“The White Album” is a family of three art objects mixing LCD screens and painted cardboard, addressing the opaque and duplicitous nature of memory and the frustration of representation.


Mythic Status (Apollo, Atalanta)

Video portraits of new gods for a new age. Displayed on monitors in portrait orientation.

If consciousness is identification and existence is identity; then the trans hero displays god-like powers - as perception and objectivism represent a fresh reality.


The Detritus of Ingenuity

Into every life a little sh*t must fall.



LCD screen in chicken wire wrapper.

Your worst nightmare, here to remind you to just how wrong you are and will always be. Listen at your own peril.


Dismal (Seven Bad Ideas)

LCD screen in paper bag, with trash.

Throw them away or keep them close? Nothing smells as sweet as hindsight.


Rock | Paper | Scissors

Three channel video projection with stereo sound. 15 minute loop

The search for a rhythm to life – away from context or normal content - is a mythic quest. There is a pulse that drives our methods of communication and ability to express ourselves - and we look for it everywhere.


Indefinitely (or… age speaks to youth about love)

Music by Adria Otte

5:31 | video created for the traveling exhibition “Time is Love”

Love is a remix of time, hope and fear. Ride the wave of emotions to the very end.


Rhyme or Reason

3 Channel video and sound installation, music by Theresa Wong, 15 minute loop | premiered at Trace(s) Festival at the Chartreuse de la Valbonne, France


Rhyme or Reason expresses how humanity is positioned somewhere between inarticulate intimacy and a vast social machine. The work is commentary on our inability (but continual struggle) to define ourselves - powerless against the forces of nature and the initiatives of civilization.


I Don’t Care

Created by John Sanborn, song written by David Meyer and John Sanborn 2015 4:21


“I Don’t Care” is an ironic assessment of the current global crisis of inequity and imbalance – be it fiscal or social or just plain dumb stuff. Packaged in the form of a popular song, this work speaks a lie of indifference while aiming at the “socially responsible” bandwagon. In the age of social media we are quick to sing the slogans of revolution – but supremely slow to enact actual change.



9 Channel video and sound installation, music by Theresa Wong, 35 minute loop | co-produced by and premiered at Videoformes in Clermont-Ferrand, France; shown at SF Camerawork in November 2015.


The union of Venus and Mars fascinated poets and philosophers as the allegorical example of balance between opposing energies – beauty and brutality, order and magic, and grace and strength. V+M goes beyond the heteronormative code in order to get to the source material for the balance of power in relationships, the nature of myth making and the origins of desire.




ALLoT (A Long List of Things)

A video memoir created by John Sanborn, music by David Meyer, 90 min.


Inspired by the 40th reunion of the Walt Whitman High School Class of 1972. We’re all given the same three act script (it doesn’t end well) – after that it’s all about the performance of our lives.



Created by John Sanborn 5:00 min. choreographer Laura Bernasconi, music by Theresa Wong


An erotic fantasia on the obstacles developed by the mind and the impenetrable surface of the screen – measuring the distance between desire and reality. The fluidly changing imagery creates a state of video euphoria, infecting the portion of our minds we reserve for that which we can never attain. Do we know what we want? Yes. We want what we cannot have.



Created by John Sanborn choreographer Laura Bernasconi, music by Theresa Wong 1:11


Video contribution to the ensemble “Exquisite Corpse Video Project” on the subject of “porn and politics”, organized by Kika Nicolela.





Created by John Sanborn, 76 min. Music by Theresa Wong, Luciano Chessa, Negativland, Sarah Cahill and John Cage.

A tribute to John Cage, Marcel Duchamp and Nam June Paik told through realizations of their influence on the artist.


A Sweeter Music

A series of music inspired videos created with pianist Sarah Cahill, and based on the live performance series of the same name.


“Peace Dances” | Fredric Rzewski 14:27

“War is Just a Racket” | Kyle Gann 9:27

“Be Kind to One Another” | Terry Riley 12:58

“The Long Winter” | Phil Kline 13:12

“Toning” | Yoko Ono 6:52

“drum no fife” | The Residents 9:15

“There is a Field” | Jerome Kitzke 17:35

“Steppe Music (excerpts)” | Meredith Monk 8:09




PICO (Performance Indeterminate Cage Opera) (Live Performance)

New Music Bay Area and video artist John Sanborn presented a live interactive performance event celebrating the centennial of composer John Cage called PICO (Performance Indeterminate Cage Opera) on September 14th, 2012 at the Berkeley Art Museum.


PICO is inspired by Cage's approach to composition and uses "Fontana Mix" as an organizing structure for a live mix of 6 channels of prepared video, recorded sound, live musical performance, live dance, and 30 members of the audience participating.


The work originated from a desire to put in perspective the profound changes to our understanding and creation of art brought about by Cage, conceptualist Marcel Duchamp and video artist Nam June Paik: three seminal artists who were friends, colleagues, and collaborators.



Music by David Meyer, Video by John Sanborn

A meditation on age, fatherhood, and responsibilities and how one’s relationship to society changes once you’ve settled down.



The Planets

Directed by John Sanborn, music by Kyle Gann, 77 min.

The Planets is an epic, 77-minute video feature commissioned by the new music ensemble Relâche. The score took composer Kyle Gann 12 years to complete and became a multi-media immersion into the myths and mystery of the planets when Relâche commissioned video artist and director John Sanborn to take viewers on a journey out into space, and inside the play between reality and fantasia.

The piece is richly orchestrated abstract storytelling that blends particle animation, poetry, dance (Margaret Cromwell and Joseph Copley, master improvisers) and video artistry to address our fascination with the planets; the mysteries we ascribe to them and the magisterial influence of the ancient gods the represent.

The film premiered at the Mill Valley Film Festival in October 2011, before being shown at over a dozen film festivals, worldwide. The work is also the media element in a live performance of “The Planets” by Relache. The first live performance was in September 2012, at the Barnes Foundation.




The Residents: Randy's Ghost Stories





A Sweeter Music | (Live Performance)

Created with pianist Sarah Cahill, live evening-length performance with 3 channel video projection, premiered at Cal Performances, January 2009, Berkeley, CA

Sarah Cahill conceived of “A Sweeter Music” (borrowing a phrase from Dr. King’s Nobel Prize acceptance speech) as an artistic response to the Gulf War. In 2009, Cahill commissioned 18 composers to write on the subject of peace, and she received a diverse collection of reflections on violence, loss, history, pain and enlightenment; all meditations on the meaning of “peace”.

Composers included Yoko Ono, Terry Riley, Fredric Rzewski, The Residents, Kyle Gann, Phil Kline, and Jerome Kitzke.




365 (nascor nasci natus)

Created by John Sanborn, music by John Sanborn, 5 hours in 3 episodes


365 showcases the awkward dance of middle- age dreams in mortal combat with reality. It started with a dream goal- to make a single video a day for a year in order to describe the balance in the life of John Sanborn- and it ends with a unique look at an inimitable life. In this four part, almost five hour long feature, Sanborn annotates days filled with the roles he plays- father, husband, artist, provider, dreamer- and the odd cast of characters including his wife and his daughter, as well as Shaquille O’Neal, Alannis Morrisette, Rodney Dangerfield, Evanescence, and the Pussycat Dolls.


Each day brings an idea, some joy, some pain, but a lesson captured in video. From how to stop your basement from flooding to the melt down of a high-tech start up- it’s all in a day’s video, and it all happened in one year. Sanborn ended up making over 320 short videos tracking the ebb and flow and it’s clear that there is power in being able to edit your life.




365 degrees, the angle of incidents

Video Installation, 7 channel projection (each 1 hour loops) with stereo sound, and prop tree festooned with memory ribbons. The trials of daily life are projected on 7 screens – mental map of a week and of a year in the life of artist Sanborn. Rotated daily, the installation is never the same twice, anchored by over 250 dreams and wishes inscribed on pieces of cloth attached to a bare tree in the middle of the gallery space.





Directed by John Sanborn, music by Paul Dresher, 61:30.


"MMI" chronicles the adventures Sanborn had in New York City in 2001, and about death and the redemptive power of family. The work is in 7 parts – each a stage of discovery and distress.

​The work premiered at the Mill Valley Film Festival in October of 2002 and was reviewed by VARIETY who said "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."

The visual storytelling style is unique and very personal, a mix of text, random images, and footage of very personal journeys and events. Music is by Berkeley composer Paul Dresher. "MMI" has been selected to screen at over 20 festivals worldwide, including the Tribeca Film Festival, the London Film Festival and the Madrid Film Festival.



Directed and edited by John Sanborn, 10 half-hour episodes, developed for the National Lampoon Network; rock and roll cooking show featuring acts like The Pussycat Dolls, Tonic, and Evanescence.




Myst III

Live action director




Frank Leaves for the Orient

Created by Michael Kaplan and John Sanborn, Directed by John Sanborn, 10 half-hour episodes, Comedy Central


The series premiered on August 19th 1999, to outstanding reviews. TV GUIDE called "Frank"  "...hilarious..." and a Critics Choice. The New York Daily News said, "Frank is ...a real comedy trip...packed with laughs. It has its own energy, its own pace and style, and--best of all, a clear and clever continuing plot line that draws you in early and gets you hooked."  "And Tim Goodman in the San Francisco Examiner raved " nothing you've seen on TV before..."


Silk Stalkings

Written by Michael Kaplan and John Sanborn, 4 one hour episodes


Stargate SG-1

Written by Michael Kaplan and John Sanborn, 2 one hour episodes




Paul is Dead

Created by Michael Kaplan and John Sanborn, Written by Michael Kaplan, Directed by John Sanborn, 35 interactive episodes, MGM interactive, MSN Network


Tunnel of Love

Video Installation, 12 channels (5 minute loops each), stereo sound, built into a plaster tunnel with running water





Created by John Sanborn, music by various, 1995 120 minutes


All we have are words to create our identities, reclaim our memories and tell our stories. After that we have nothing. Most of life is a blank space, waiting to be filled. A collection of 20 friends and family confess as to how fragile life and love and longing are – and so exhibit the best of humanity. Premiered at the Dallas Video Festival.


The 39 Steps | Interactive Story Web

Created by John Sanborn


As an artist in residence at The Exploratorium in San Francisco, Sanborn created an interactive Story Web in a custom built living room inside the museum. Stories which resulted from interviews with 39 friends and family were linked by theme so that while watching one story you could jump to a relevant portion of another story – uniting 39 people by virtue of their humanity and the common threads of existence.


Bad Day on the Midway

Created by The Residents, Sanborn was voice talent as “Rat Boy”




Psychic Detective

Written by Michael Kaplan, Directed by John Sanborn, interactive movie with over 5 hours of live action video, published by Electronic Arts

Shown at the Mill Valley Film Festival, the Sundance Film Festival, Video Berlinale



Sixth Sense

Created by John Sanborn, music by Chris Watkins 1993 4:23

New technologies permit new ideas to take flight with less damage to the original thought. Through this process we find a sixth sense of discovery and sensation. An altered state of mind, a digital realm that was hidden, now revealed.



Created by John Sanborn, music by Chris Watkins 1993 3:53

Everything decays; even the most beautiful of performers must face their inevitable decline. But we can still dance, can’t we? Commissioned by Adobe Systems.




Quirky: Facts and Friction

Created by John Sanborn, 1982 35:00

Quirky is a snapshot self-portrait comprised of short metaphoric vignettes, each wilder than the previous, adding up to a portrait of an artist who won’t stand still. Broadcast on the PBS series “The Independents”, hosted by Buck Henry.


Sitting on Top of the World

Created by John Sanborn, starring and music by Rinde Eckert 1992 5:12

Impressionistic music video with performance artist Rinde Eckert surrounded by a world of words and hurt. He is searching for a release from his torment and this world. Created using Premiere 1.0 and QuickTime 1.2, commissioned by Apple.


House Poem

Created by John Sanborn 4 min


"House Poem" is an ode to the joys of home ownership. Created as the first installment of a video correspondence with French video artist Jean-Paul Fargier, this four minute tape is based on a poem by Sarah Cahill. Together they explore their tiny corner of the universe, its garden, hidden corners and beauty.



Created by John Sanborn, music by Sarah Cahill, 10 min


Persephone is a 'video poem' which uses the myth of Persephone as its point of departure. Based on a poem by Sarah Cahill, this abstract interpretation of the myth draws imagery from the recent Oakland hills firestorm, and from numerous 'metaphoric' set-pieces which use found footage, miniatures, and computer graphics to tell the erotic tale of a woman's capture and immersion into a world of fire and the unknown.


Michael Nesmith Live

Directed and Edited by John Sanborn, 90 min.

Concert film of the ex-Monkee at Red Rocks Theater




Infinite Escher

Directed by John Sanborn, music by Ruichi Sakamoto, 8 min


"Infinite Escher" integrates 3-D computer animation with High Definition video to tell the story of a boy who moves between reality and a fantasy world, where computer graphic replicas of the works of the Dutch artist M.C. Escher come to life.


Words On Fire

Directed by John Sanborn, Produced for “Alive From Off Center”, 24:30


In this series of short vignettes, six modern-day storytellers offer their interpretations of the word "fire." Tony award-winning playwright Christopher Durang creates a witty mini-sitcom on the woes of inactivity; actor/writer Fred Churchak is seen in a one-man Shakespearean performance; Rinde Eckert recites two four-hundred-year-old erotic poems; Southern poet Jo Carson relays intimate tales of Appalachian life; monologuist Todd Alcott offers a spontaneous diatribe on living in the "heat" of urban life, and actor Robert Joy reads a text by Jack Finney in which time stands still as a fire starts.

The Eyes Scream: A History of the Residents

Directed by John Sanborn, produced by Rebo Studios, 48:45


Hosted by magicians Penn and Teller, this irreverent pseudo-documentary about the band The Residents blends comedy with live clips, music videos, interviews and documentary footage. Spanning the years 1972 to 1990, and including clips from the recent album The King and Eye and fragments of the band's "media mercenary" work, the program romps through established notions of pop culture, the music industry and the nature of musical invention, replacing them with the iconoclastic vision of The Residents.


Artist & Model

Video Installation at Videoformes, 8 channel video and sound, in a hand drawn 12’ by 10’ frame – where the model talks back to the artist about her disgrace and exploitation.


Woman Window Square

Video projections by John Sanborn for a live performance for the Margaret Jenkins Dance Company. Based loosely on the spy movies of the 70’s, this project was a sympathetic satire on observation and paranoia.





Directed by John Sanborn for “Alive From Off Center” PBS, choreography by Bill T. Jones, 10 min

Untitled pays tribute to the life and work of the dancer and choreographer Arnie Zane, who died of AIDS in 1988. His long-time partner Bill T. Jones evokes memories of Zane through a stark, eloquent dance-lament and a parade of ghostly portraits and photographs.


NHK Media Art Museum, 1989 90 min, color, sound

Video produced by John Sanborn and Mary Perillo

Live performance event with John Zorn and his band Naked City on DBS satellite TV in Japan. In a world of fast change, the only way to keep up is to outrun your feelings. Mix of 6 pre-recorded video tracks and 6 live cameras, executed before a live audience of 500 in the Ginza Palace Hotel.


Memories of New Orleans

Created by John Sanborn with Mary Perillo,

HD program broadcast on NHK HD network. Commissioned by NHK and produced by Rebo Associates.


Middle of the Riddle

Music video for Tangerine Dream


Three Sisters In Ten Minutes

Created by John Sanborn with Mary Perillo, written by Tom Fontana, staring David Hyde Pierce. A short comedy about Russia and elevator repair.


The Adventures of Kitty Hoy | Episode One: Buzzword, Murder

Pilot for ABC Latenight, written by Michael Kaplan, Executive Producer Michael Nesmith.




Cause and Effect

Directed by John Sanborn, produced by Rebo Studios for NHK-TV, 1988 7:15


A vivid hybrid of dance, performance and special effects featuring performers David Van Teighem, Robert Ashley and Julia Heyward, "Cause and Effect" was produced with REBO High Definition Studios and exhibited as a 35-mm short at the New York Film Festival and the Venice Film Festival.



Directed by John Sanborn, Produced by “Alive From Off Center”, 1988 7:30


Endance is a witty takeoff of a public television documentary about a dancer faced with a ethical crisis. Choreographer Tim Buckley solemnly discusses his life, work, and decision to stop dancing, in a convincing narrative built on a false premise: the end of a dancer's career.


How Things Work


Optical Race

Music video for Tangerine Dream



Music video for Rick James


Do You Love Me

Music video from the movie Dirty Dancing





Created by John Sanborn and Mary Perillo, produced by Don Mischer, 13:00


"Duet", which David Gordon choreographed for PBS' Great Performances series, describes immigrants Mikhail Baryshnikov and Valda Setterfield's experiences of coming to America as they wander through an animated world of their memories.


Fractured Variations | Visual Shuffle

Directed by John Sanborn, Produced by Mary Perillo, choreographed by Charles Moulton, commissioned by “Alive From Off Center” PBS, 24:45


Composed of dance fragments that are choreographed in the editing process, "Fractured Variations" is a unique hybrid of dance and video in which the rapid intercutting and three-dimensionality of the post-production accents the powerful athleticism of the choreography. In "Visual Shuffle", Moulton's choreography becomes part of a fantastic landscape of floating pop icons and symbols.



Created by John Sanborn, with David Van Tieghem, 5:20

Galaxy is the first all-digitally edited music video. As David Van Tieghem performs, techniques such as slow motion, ultimatte and Paintbox animation allow him to sonically and rhythmically interact with a high-tech environment.


Geography | Metabolism

Created by John Sanborn and Mary Perillo, commissioned by “Alive From Off Center” PBS, 24:55

First Prize Winner (Video Art) from the AFI


"Geography" combines Molissa Fenley's high-velocity choreography with dynamic interplay of sound and image, as Fenley and dancers spin across the Painted Desert of Arizona. “Metabolism” puts Fenley’s rapid-fire choreography with a pre-planned set of camera moves and video editing cadences to create a hybrid of physical and electronic movement.


Hand and Knees

Music video for Sammy Hagar


It’s Love this Time

Music video for Nile Rodgers




Perfect Lives

Directed by John Sanborn, produced by Carlotta Schoolman and the Kitchen, commissioned by Great Britain’s Channel 4, 1986 7 episodes – each 26.30


Robert Ashley’s television opera “about” bank robbery, cocktail lounges, geriatric love, adolescent elopement, et al, in the American Midwest, is one of the definitive text-sound compositions of the late 20th century. iI has been called a comic opera about reincarnation and was realized for television with a combination of location photography, computer graphics, text on screen and the sublime voice of Robert Ashley.

Dance ex Machina





Created by John Sanborn and Dean Winkler, music by Daniel Lentz, 6:51


Luminare combines computer graphics with dance in a journey through the history of art. At turns comical and satiric, this work was shown at Siggraph 1985 where it won the “Innovators” prize. Commissioned by Expo '86 in Vancouver, British Columbia. Broadcast on “Alive From Off Center” on PBS



Created by John Sanborn with David Van Tiegham, 7:33 

A sequel to Ear to the Ground , Ear-Responsibility finds avant-garde percussionist David Van Tieghem roaming the streets of New York, discovering the inherent rhythms and music in ordinary objects, from sidewalks to subway cars.


Sister Suzie Cinema

Directed by John Sanborn, Produced by “Alive From Off Center”, 22:33

Winner of the New York City Award for Excellence in the Arts


A fusion of video and musical theater, "Sister Suzie Cinema" is a "doo-wop opera fantasy" about the allure of the movies. This collaboration with theater director/writer/actor Lee Breuer and musician Bob Telson features the voices of 14 Karat Soul. Heavily stylized, with elaborate sets and video effects, this production reinterprets the spectacle and artifice of the Hollywood musical using the rhythms and harmonies of soul music.


So Tranquilizin

Music video for Jamaledeen Tacuma





Created by John Sanborn and Dean Winkler, music by Jamaladeen Tacuma, 1984 5:38


Renaissance transforms the skyline of Boston Harbor into a cyber inspired landscape presenting a vision of the computerized city of the future. This “user-friendly” new world is a hybrid of science fiction and old fashioned fun. Commissioned by the Computer Museum in Boston.


Complication Shakedown

Created by John Sanborn and Mary Perillo, music by Sano Motoharu Sano





Created by John Sanborn and Dean Winkler, music by Philip Glass, 6:30


Act III builds an imaginary world from rapidly multiplying three-dimensional forms that echo the repetitive strains and vital energy of Glass' music. Broadcast on “Alive From Off Center” on PBS, and Nam June Paik’s Good Morning Mr. Orwell worldwide via satellite.


I'm Down

Music video for Adrian Belew

Man Below


A Gentleman's Honor

Created by John Sanborn and Dean Winkler, music by Philip Glass, 6:30


Nipple to the Bottle

Music video for Grace Jones


re: Soundings

Created by John Sanborn and Kit Fitzgerald, Produced for SUNY/The Arts on Television, 65:00


Documentary about music that originates from sources other than traditional composition. Featuring: John Cage, Alvin Lucier, David Tudor, Liz Phillips, John Driscoll, Max Neuhaus, Doug Hollis, Meredith Monk, Vito Acconci, and Laurie Anderson. Inspired by the exhibition SOUNDINGS at The Neuberger Museum SUNY College at Purchase





A Tribute to Nam June Paik

Created by John Sanborn with Kit Fitzgerald, 27:58


With irreverent good humor, this affectionate homage to artist Nam June Paik uses Paik's own rapid-fire editing and dizzying collage techniques to evoke his wide-ranging influence in video and contemporary art. The work features excerpts from Paik's tapes and installations are intercut with appearances by Charlotte Moorman and John Cage to paint a portrait of a man who won’t sit still. Musician Peter Gordon reinterprets Paik's signature Devil with a Blue Dress.


Big Electric Cat

Music video for Adrian Belew


Music video for King Crimson

Wild Thing

Music video for Jimi Hendrix estate


Antarctica Series

Antarctica was a hybrid audio and video company created by John Sanborn, Peter Gordon and Kit Fitzgerald in order to publish records and videos as unified artistic projects.


Ear To The Ground

Music by David Van Tieghem, video by John Sanborn and Kit Fitzgerald 1982, 4:27

The man with the hat plays the streets of New York in order to bring order to chaos and fill the streets with a beat. Broadcast on “Alive From Off Center” on PBS


And Now This

Music by David Van Tieghem, video by John Sanborn and Kit Fitzgerald 1982, 5:19

A meditation on the landscape of escape.



Music by Peter Gordon, video by John Sanborn and Kit Fitzgerald 1982, 3:44

Voices call from a distant outpost, warning of a coming storm. The signal grows weak but the message is delivered.


Twyla Tharp Scrapbook

Produced by Twyla Tharp and BBC Productions, Directed by John Sanborn and Kit Fitzgerald. 59:00


Survey of the choreographer’s work with media and staging, starting with early B&W video work tapes and concluding with a new work, created specifically for “Scrapbook” called “Bad Smells”, music by Glenn Branca.




Music, Word, Fire, and I Would Do It Again (Coo-Coo) “The Lessons”

From Robert Ashley’s “Perfect Lives” 1981 28:30

Directed by John Sanborn, music produced by Peter Gordon


Buried inside the epic American opera for television, “Perfect Lives” are the boogie-woogie lessons being sold by Buddy to untalented people in the middle of America. This pilot for the series is an abstraction that plays on the meaning of life (which is unknowable) and how to make art (impossible to teach) featuring the sublime mysteries of the traveling musician.


Still Life

Created by John Sanborn with Kit Fitzgerald  1981 7:30

In Still Life, Fitzgerald and Sanborn experiment with nonlinear narrative in mini-dramas of male/female sexual politics, using innovative strategies to edit music, sound, image and text in a kinetic interplay of language, visuals and structure.



Static is a dynamic boy-meets-girl narrative that uses a stuttering sound overlay of spoken text. A confusion of the heart is given a sonic voice. With Eric Bogosian, Jo Bonnie.

Don't Ask

Don't Ask is a pithy anecdote of marital resentment, using highly manipulated editing. With Louis Grenier, Darcie Lee.



Layering text and sound, Episode is a narrative of a young couple's power struggle. Over time, every relationship must end – sometimes badly. With Eric Bogosian, Jo Bonnie

Black and White

Employing single-frame edits from broadcast television, the artists construct a rapid-fire media barrage of sound and image in Black & White.




Olympic Fragments

Created by John Sanborn and Kit Fitzgerald, Commissioned by the National Fine Arts Committee of the 1980 Olympic Winter Games 10:35


Commissioned for the 1980 Winter Olympic Games in Lake Placid, New York, Olympic Fragments is a taut, expressive reinterpretation of athletic movement, a tour-de-force of dynamic editing and post-production techniques. Through sophisticated visual and aural juxtapositions, Fitzgerald and Sanborn isolate the gestures and movements of athletes in a controlled, powerful display. Eschewing the "thrill of victory" tradition of broadcast television sports coverage, they allow a portrait of individual skill and grace under pressure to emerge from their manipulation of highly fragmented and choreographed imagery — what they term the "skill, beauty and sheer joy of kineticism."


Resolution of the Eye

Created by John Sanborn and Kit Fitzgerald, Produced by the TV Lab at WNET/Thirteen 40:15

This work explores perception, time and memory, based on the concept that "science has yet to determine the actual resolution of the eye." Using time-lapse, slow dissolves, and ghostly, ephemeral images, the artists manipulate linear time and dimensionality. Evoking subconscious memory, Remains Vivid recalls childhood experiences through use of the "after-image," while Over/Time subtly transposes physical and temporal distance as contrasting, equally resonant landscapes. POV explores the subjective eye versus the camera eye, and the nature of artistic creation. Using a split-screen technique, Similar Nature dissects the activities of four people in a study of time, motion, and simultaneity of gesture. Sax and Violins is a conflation of sound and fragmented image in which the musicians perform separately and are brought together only in the post-production process.





Created by John Sanborn and Kit Fitzgerald, produced by the TV Lab at WNET, 1978 28:00


Divided into ten abstracted "stories," this study of sound and image juxtaposition employs rapid cutting as its primary visual strategy. Although such strategies have become standard conventions of music videos and television advertising, the artists broke new ground at the time with fast edits, dissolves, real-time manipulation and altered synchronization of sound and image. In deftly orchestrated interpretations of gesture and movement, simple events are reassembled into compelling compositions — rhythmic, stream-of-consciousness flows of images and sounds that play with illusion and reality. In Entropy, the everyday ritual of eating breakfast is fragmented into rapid, staccato images and sounds. A new language of sounds and chants is generated through rapid-fire editing and repetition in Aphasia. Editing and dissolves are used to re-choreograph movement in Motive.


Paris a la Carte

Created by John Sanborn with Kit Fitzgerald and Don Foresta, Produced by the International Television Workshop and the TV Lab at WNET/Thirteen (VISA series), 28:00


Paris a la carte is an idiosyncratic "travelogue" of Paris that merges cultural myth, reality and media clichés. The fascination that the city exerts on the American imagination is countered with the indelible, often incongruous influence of American pop culture on the Parisian landscape. Employing their hallmark rapid editing and use of visual association, the artists cut through the conventional tourist's view of Paris landmarks to capture a peculiar hybrid of French high and American pop cultures.




Exchange in Three Parts

Created by John Sanborn with Kit Fitzgerald, Produced by the TV Lab at WNET, 28:00


These three-part "abstract allegories" challenge the viewer's perception of nature and the nature of perception. Superimposition and the interpenetration of imagic "generations" are used to question the relation of the actual and its image, and address how television has come to replace empirical perception. Introducing the device of a "naturalistic" image within the video image, they engage in an active perceptual manipulation, in which "real" action is completed in a video image — an exchange is made between the real and the imagic. Exploring how information is received and recalled, the artists transform perception through the visible alteration of texture, resolution and image.


Collected Monitor Works (with Kit Fitzgerald)


Artist’s Propaganda 2 (with Kit Fitzgerald and Jean Dupuy)




Artist’s Propaganda 1 (with Kit Fitzgerald and Jean Dupuy)


The Last Videotapes of Marcel Duchamp

Created by John Sanborn, 33:00


In 1976, The Kitchen in New York announced a program of rare videotapes by Marcel Duchamp. These crude, shaky documents of Duchamp's Greenwich Village neighborhood were actually an elaborate performance piece, conceived and executed by Sanborn. Participants and co-conspirators Hannah Wilke, Shigeko Kubota and Russell Connor, who had interviewed Duchamp for American television in 1964, commented on the artist's prophetic genius in heralding the new medium of video. Sanborn paid tribute to the influence that Duchamp's theory of "found" art and manipulation of chance had on the development of video as an art form.