GBH Openvault

Alive From Off Center; World of Photography, The

Part of New Television Workshop.

License Clip

This program cannot be made available on Open Vault.

More material may be available from this program at the GBH Archives. If you would like research access to the collection at GBH, please email

Alive From Off Center
World of Photography, The
Series Description

"Alive From Off Center" was established in 1985 as a production of KTCA (St. Paul - Minneapolis) . The show featured independent works by artists in a variety of media. Its showcase format was similar to the Workshop's "New Television" series. At some point the series changed its name to "ALIVE TV." Many works created by or for the Workshop were also shown on "Alive From Off Center." Additionally, some Workshop produced pieces were coproduced and/or commissioned by KTCA specifically for the series. Susan Dowling served as Executive Producer for these programs. Series release date: 1985

Program Description

Screening copies of “The World of Photography,” 1986, a collaboration between performance artist Michael Smith and photographer and video artist William Wegman. The work is structured like an educational or instructional video, but ultimately spoofs that genre. The work begins with Mike (Michael Smith) expressing his desire to learn more about the art of photography. Mike arrives at the studio of William Wegman, who takes Mike under his wing and shows him some of the tricks of the trade. After giving Mike a photography aptitude test, Wegman brings him to the equipment cage and gets him outfitted for his first shoot. In the New York streets, Mike goes wild taking pictures, and brings his film back to Wegman, who is taking photos of his dog Faye. Lessons in lighting and darkroom techniques follow, but at some point Mike begins to feel he has lost the aptitude for photography and that he may not be able to find his niche in the art form. As a despondent Mike searches for shots on a ferry and beach, we hear his voice singing the rather forlorn song "World of Photography" in the background. Eventually, Mike decides to give up and communicates his decision to Wegman, who is in the middle of a studio shoot with a couple of clowns. While Mike is dressed like an average guy throughout the video, Wegman sports a beret, false facial hair, and somewhat stereotypical artist's garments. Throughout the work, preconceived notions about the art of photography provide comic fodder.

Asset Type

Broadcast program

Media Type


Educational/cultural works
Smith, Michael (Producer)
Wegman, William ()
Fischer, Mark (Director)
Susan Dowling (Executive Producer)
Harris, Montgomery ()
McMahon, Paul ()
Chicago: “Alive From Off Center; World of Photography, The,” GBH Archives, accessed April 20, 2024,
MLA: “Alive From Off Center; World of Photography, The.” GBH Archives. Web. April 20, 2024. <>.
APA: Alive From Off Center; World of Photography, The. Boston, MA: GBH Archives. Retrieved from
If you have more information about this item, we want to know! Please contact us, including the URL.