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Video Violation: My Cooper Union Clip Deleted


Observant art-lings may be wondering why, late last night, my CultureGrrl post and YouTube video about Cooper Union mysteriously vanished.

I was sternly asked by the school to take them down, “immediately.”

I’m familiar with the parameters of print journalism, but I’m a YouTube rube. Or so I learned after my visit on Friday to what seemed to be a public space in the front part of the lobby of Cooper Union’s new academic building, between the front door and the guard’s desk, where anyone can gaze through an enormous window at the activity in the large room below.

With my usual nose for news, I happened to be there during portfolio day for high school applicants to the college’s fine arts program. I didn’t know exactly what I was looking at until someone later explained it, but I knew it seemed interesting.

In full view of the guard, I videoed the applicants and professors, and then interviewed on camera a Cooper Union student who was standing beside me. I first identified myself to that student, explained what I would use the video for, and received his permission (both during and again after the taping) to use his comments. After the interview, he also gave me permission to use his name and I gave him my card with CultureGrrl‘s URL, so he could see the video when it was posted on my blog.

Yesterday, Cooper Union informed me in an e-mail that I had “infringed upon the privacy of these students and professors at
this private event.” It wasn’t all that private: As I indicated in my original post, the Thom Mayne-designed building puts students and faculty in a fishbowl. Anyone standing just inside the lobby doors could have seen what I saw. And lots of people were, in fact, lined up along that window, peering down at the proceedings.

In any event, I was taping the portfolio-day participants without their knowledge, and I don’t want to cause any upset to the school, faculty, applicants and, least of all, the engaging young man whom I interviewed. So I have complied with the school’s request and taken down the video.

I need to familiarize myself with the guidelines for broadcast journalism, now that I’ve added a video camera to the other electronic gadgets in my reportorial arsenal—digital camera and digital recorder. I’d be interested to have some knowledgeable comments on the ethics (or lack thereof) of what I did at Cooper Union.

In any event, here’s that post again, minus the student’s name and that trangressive video:

During my jaunts in Manhattan last Friday afternoon, I was inspired by Ada Louise Huxtable‘s glowing appraisal, in the Wall Street Journal on Wednesday, to revisit Thom Mayne‘s new academic building for the Cooper Union.

As with most of the multi-view boxes in the in the New Museum’s terrific (and terrifically expensive) Urs Fischer exhibition, which I also viewed that day, the front view of the building is a lot more attractive than the back:


The place is also a bit of a fishbowl, with this classroom completely open to street gawkers:


Inside the main lobby, I had a lofty vantage point from which to observe the tense proceedings below—portfolio day for anxious high school students applying for admission to the fine arts program.

As I videoed the action, I overheard a student next to me talking to a companion about what we were observing. So I couldn’t resist asking [name deleted] (who authorized my using his comments and name) to give me his on-camera description of what we were seeing.

Engagingly modest, [name deleted] told me, when I mentioned that he had “made the cut,” that he prefers to say, “I got lucky.” “I’m still slogging away,” he says at the end of the video clip. “But I think it’s worth it.”

POSTSCRIPT: At least the admonished CultureGrrl still has a few fans. My warm thanks go to CultureGrrl Repeat Donor 93 from Valatie, NY, and to CultureGrrl Potential Donor (number pending), who informed me that he had attempted to contribute by credit card but experienced difficulty.

That process is slightly complicated: After you click the “Donate” button in my middle column, scroll down
and click the word “continue” in the lower left, where it says, “Don’t have a PayPal account? Use
your credit card.” That should lead you to
the PayPal page where you can fill in the credit card information (which I, of course, never see).

Please persevere, art-lings. It’s only two days till the start of Hanukkah!

an ArtsJournal blog