Aymar Jean Christian is a scholar, media producer, and social practice artist exploring the convergence of television, video art, and creative R&D (research and development). Currently an associate professor of communication at Northwestern University, Dr. Christian uses artistic development as a tool for community-building, cultural critique and experimentation. For 10 years he has explored how the internet transformed the art of television and expanded cultural representation in media.
His book Open TV: Innovation Beyond Hollywood and the Rise of Web Television (NYU Press, 2018) argues the web brought innovation to television by opening the development process to indie producers like Issa Rae, Abbi Jacobson, Ilana Glazer, Ingrid Jungermann and Desiree Akhavan, among over 100 artists interviewed. He documents the changing market for television across popular and academic publications: on his blog, Televisual; in academic journals, including International Journal of Communication, Continuum, and Transformative Works & Culture; and for trade publications Indiewire, Slate, and Tubefilter, among others.
Based on this research Dr. Christian started OTV | Open Television, a platform Chicago-based intersectional television. OTV produces and exhibits indie TV and video art both online and in Chicago. OTV advances organic, sustainable, local, digital, artist- and community-driven TV through research and development. Christian uses creative R&D to engage local community through workshops and screenings; the art world through museums and galleries; tech through auditing social media platforms; and Hollywood through series development. The project has received recognition from HBO, the Emmys, Tribeca Film Festival, Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, Streamy and Gotham Awards, among others. For his work on OTV Dr. Christian has been recognized by Filmmaker magazine and New City as a film leader and innovator.
Dr. Christian has served as a curator and judge of leading award shows and festivals, including the Peabody Awards, Gotham Awards, Project Greenlight Digital Studios, Tribeca Film Festival, Outfest, Streamy Awards, IAWTV Awards, and Satellite Awards. During his doctoral studies Christian worked as an education fellow for the Philadelphia Museum of Art, running the Film@Perelman short film series and lecturing on film as part of its education programming.
During his PhD studies, his blog Televisual‘s directories of black, LGBT, Latino and Asian American web series were among the few and most comprehensive available. His 2013 Indie TV Innovation series featured articles from Emmy-winning producers and rising indie creators developing programs for networks like the HBO, CW, and Comedy Central. Televisual has been linked to by The Atlantic, Gawker, and MSN, to name a few. Christian has offered media commentary on topics from web TV, film, race and sexuality for The New York Times, Reuters, Slate, The BIO Channel and NPR, among others.
Photo Credit: Alexus McLane, Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago