Visual Communications


'Throughout the nation and around the world, issues and concerns of social importance had given birth to a growing movement of Asian Americans during the late 1960s. Effected by the war in Southeast Asia, a constant stream of stereotypical media images, and locked in communities out of the mainstream of public attention, Asians in America began taking up the task of correcting the conditions around them, by themselves. Visual Communications began in the hearts and the minds of a handful of Asian Americans who wanted to put their developing media skills into work which was meaningful to themselves and their communities. It was in 1970, when a small group of Asians in Los Angeles came together informally to produce a photographic exhibit about the Japanese American internment during World War II. The America's Concentration Camp exhibit was the first project of by the group which began calling itself Visual Communications. Operating as a committee of the Japanese American Citizen's League, Visual Communications filled its early days by producing an assortment of posters, leaflets, and photographs for the JACL and other Asian American community organizations. With incorporation in 1971 as an independent non-proit organization, Visual Communications' staff began a ten year march into the realm of developing Asian Pacific media products. In its initial year as an independent media organization, 'learning kits' intended for educational use were produced and known as The Ethnic Understanding Series. And, in addition to the continuing work on posters and slide shows, historical images of Asian Pacifics in America were also being collected and have now evolved into the largest archive of Asian Pacific photographs in existence. This early period of development was a period of volunteer staffing, small working budgets and many hopes and dreams. It was a beginning. From 1972 through 1974, Visual Communications had taken its first steps into the area of independent film production That first period of film-making saw the production of I Told you So, City City, The Journey, Pieces of a Dream, and To Be Me: Tony Quon. These pioneering films help lay the foundation for the deeper involvement in motion picture production. Despite a growing list of productions, life at Visual Communications was never easy. An often over-worked staff faced heavy schedules and long hours with low or no pay at all. Yet, the organization struggled on and survived. In 1975, Visual Communications produced two filmstrips for classroom instruction, The Asian American ABC's and Mr. Tani. Then, in 1976, production began on a major photographic publication. In Movement was published in 1977 and became recognized nationally as a definitive visual statement on the history of Asian Pacific people in America. 1977 saw Visual Communications launch its exploration of the video tape medium. By 1979, a total of five video programs were produced: Samsara, Tracks, Omai Fa'atasi, Manong and Something's Rotten in Little Tokyo. In addition, the rapidly growing organization often used its new video capability to produce countless works for local Asian Pacific community service organizations.[Source: Hiro Hata catalog]

Screening Venues

1st: 3222 W. Jefferson Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90007

2nd: 1601 Griffith Park Boulevard

3rd: (1985-87) 244 South San Pedro Street, Suite 309, Los Angeles, CA 90012

4th: (1988-98) 263 So. Los Angeles, Street, Suite 307, Los Angeles, CA 90012

5th: (1999-present) 120 Judge John Aiso Street, Los Angeles, CA 90012


Exhibitions and Screening