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Dimitri Devyatkin

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Dec 15, 2021

Dimitri Devyatkin (born July 31, 1949) is an American director, producer, screenwriter, video artist, and journalist. Devyatkin uses elements of humor, art and new technology in his work. He is known as one of the first video makers to combine abstract synthesized imagery with camera footage. His programs have been broadcast domestically and internationally on ABC, PBS, Channel 4, WDR, France 3, TF1 and Channel One Russia.[4] His works consist of digital media, computer art, broadcast news and feature filmmaking. His activities in the creation of new independent US filmmaking have been documented by Jonas Mekas in “Birth of a Nation” (1997).

American screenwriter and filmmaker

Dimitri Devyatkin

Dimitri Devyatkin in 2013
Born (1949-07-31) July 31, 1949 (age 72)

Manhattan, New York, United States
Nationality American
Education Bronx Science High School, St. John’s College, VGIK: Moscow Institute of Cinema, Moscow State University
Known for Video art, filmmaking
Notable work
Video from Russia: The People Speak (1984),[1]El Salvador: Names of War (1986),[2]It Rains Again on Brighton Beach (1992), The Sordid Affair (1973)[3]
Awards Emmy Nomination, Los Angeles (1984)

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Devyatkin grew up in Manhattan, New York. During his childhood, he was neighbors with young Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.[5] Devyatkin attended New York City public schools, including the Bronx High School of Science. He studied Classics at St. John’s College.

Devyatkin studied classical violin from the age of twelve at the Greenwich House Music School. While in high school, he played violin with youth orchestras in Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center. Devyatkin studied modern music composition with Grammy-winning composer Joan Tower. In California, aged 17, he spent a summer playing electric violin with the legendary jazz saxophonist Rahsaan Roland Kirk.[6]

Devyatkin is of Russian heritage.[7]

In 1971, he began experimenting with abstract video art, while living in Santa Barbara, California. That year, Devyatkin met Nam June Paik, who advised him to visit the newly organized theater The Kitchen in New York. Upon meeting the founders, Steina and Woody Vasulka, he became the video director between 1971 and 1973, organizing video and electronic art performances nearly every day for two years.[8] He organized video shows in the United States and Europe. These include a US Department of State sponsored tour of Amerika Haus centers in six German cities and shows at the American Cultural Centers in Paris and London.

In 1973, Devyatkin went to Moscow as an exchange student, studying Russian at Moscow State University and documentary film making under Russian director Roman Karmen at VGIK, the Gerasimov Institute of Cinematography.[9] He met and worked with many other famous Russian filmmakers and participated in several popular feature films. Devyatkin videotaped performances by the Taganka Theatre, including Hamlet starring Russian actor Vladimir Vysotsky, and the play Ten Days That Shook the World based on the book of the same name.(see)

Devyatkin organized an international Computer Arts Festival at The Kitchen, which was held successfully for four years. At the 1973 festival, Devyatkin introduced early examples of computer generated film, video, graphics and music from around the world. Devyatkin presented “a remarkably beautiful series of color alterations and shape distortions.”[10][11] Devyatkin’s video piece The Sordid Affair is an outstanding example of political video art, a full expression of free speech.(see)

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