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TOWARD A NONCOMMERCIAL TECHNOLOGY: THE DEVELOPMENT OF
IMAGE-PROCESSED VIDEO IN THE 1960S AND 1970S
JEREMY NEAL CULLER
A THESIS PRESENTED TO THE GRADUATE SCHOOL
OF THE UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT
OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF
MASTER OF ARTS
UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA
Jeremy Neal Culler
To Carol, Joseph, and Brian Culler.
First, I wish to thank my thesis advisor (Alexander Alberro) for all the insightful
comments that he has provided on several drafts of this paper. I am grateful for his
intellectual guidance, positive encouragement, and critical responses, all of which helped
me tremendously. Later drafts benefited greatly from the suggestion made by my thesis
committee members Gregory Ulmer and John Ward. Both have helped me immensely in
their perspicacious commentary.
I thank the Art History faculty for their support, direction, and stimulating graduate
seminars. I am especially thankful for Robin Poynor's nurturing counsel. Thanks are
also due to the Department of Art and Art History-specifically the office staff. I would
also like to thank my fellow Art History Graduates for their wonderful friendship and
moral support during my studies at the University of Florida
Above all, I wish to thank my family (especially Carol, Brian, and Joseph Culler)
for their love, understanding, and encouragement during my studies at the University of
TABLE OF CONTENTS
A C K N O W L E D G M E N T S ................................................................................................. iv
L IST O F F IG U R E S .... ...... ................................................ .. .. ..... .............. vii
ABSTRACT .............. .......................................... ix
1 INTRODUCTION ............... ................. ........... ................. ... .... 1
2 THE EMERGENCE OF VIDEO ART..................................... ....................... 6
Subverting Commercial Television, Video, and the Institution .................................6
A alternative Television: Public TV .................................... ................... ... .... ........ .11
A n Institutional D ichotom y .................................................................................. 12
The Technological Dimension of Video.................. .............................................. 13
Theoretical C consequences ................................................. ............................. 15
3 VIDEO AS AN ARTISTIC MEDIUM ...................................................................18
F lu x u s ....................................... ..... ............ .................. .................. 1 8
TV as an Artistic Apparatus: The Cathode-Ray Canvas ........................................21
4 THE IMAGE PROCESSING MOVEMENT .......................................................28
Eric Siegel: A rtist as Engineer...................................................... ...................30
S k ip S w een ey ......................................................................................3 2
Step h en B eck ...............................................................34
N am June Paik: The V ideo M ontage................................... .................................... 35
Woody and Steina Vasulka: Video Dynamism ................................................... 38
Dan Sandin and Phil Morton: Image Processing in Chicago Video Art ..................42
E rnie G u sell ................................................................... 44
Barbara Buckner ............... .. .................. ............... .. ... ......45
5 THE PORTAPAK .......................................... ............. .... .......48
A dressing the Portapak............................ ...... ........ .. .................................... 49
Early Experimental Video and the Modernist Legacy ............................................50
T he P ortapak and Its L egacy ........................................................... .....................52
6 SUM M ARY AN D CON CLU SION S .........................................................................55
A P P E N D IX F IG U R E S .......................................................................... ....................57
L IST O F R E FE R E N C E S ............................................................................. .............. 74
B IO G R A PH IC A L SK E TCH ...................................................................... ..................79
LIST OF FIGURES
1. Nam June Paik, Demagnetizer (Life Ring), 1965, handheld magnet applied to
television set, approximately 18 inches in diameter, collection of artist .................57
2. Nam June Paik, Prepared Television Sets, 1963, manipulated television sets,
Installation view at Exposition of Music-Electronic Television, Galarie Parnass,
W uppertal, Germany, M arch 11-20, 1963 .................................... ............... 58
3. Nam June Paik, Zenfor TV, 1963 (left), manipulated television set (only exists as a
1975 replica, right), Exposition of Music-Electronic Television, Galarie Pamass,
W uppertal, Germany, M arch 11-20, 1963 .................................... ............... 59
4. Nam June Paik, Manipulated TV, 1963, manipulated television set, collection of
Dieter Rosenkranz, Wuppertal, installation view at Exposition of Music-Electronic
Television, Galarie Parnass, Wuppertal, Germany, March 11-20, 1963 ..................60
5. Nam June Paik, Manipulated TV, 1963, manipulated television set, video frames,
collection of Dieter Rosenkranz, Wuppertal, Exposition of Music-Electronic
Television, Galarie Parnass, Wuppertal, Germany, March 11-20, 1963 ..................61
6. Nam June Paik, Magnet TV, 1965, manipulated television with magnet, Whitney
Museum of American Art, New York................ .................. ............... 62
7. Nam June Paik, Participation TV, 1963 (1998 version), manipulated television with
signal amplifiers and microphone (black and white, silent), Whitney Museum of
A m erican A rt, N ew Y ork ........................... ................................... ............... 63
8. Mimmo Rotella, Untitled, 1963, decollage poster, Galerie J, Paris......................64
9. Wolf Vostell, TV-De-collage, 1963, manipulated television set, at An Afternoon of
Happenings, Dance, andMusic, Yam Festival, South Brunswick, New Jersey, May
1-3 1, 19 6 3 ...................................... .............................................. 6 5
10. Eric Siegel, Einstein, 1968, video frames, Video Databank ..................................66
11. Eric Siegel, EVS Videotape, 1970, video frame, made at the Howard Wise Gallery,
N ew Y ork ........... ........... ............................... ............................66
12. Skip Sweeney, Illuminating Sweeney, 1975, video frames, Video Databank..........67
13. Stephen Beck, Video Weavings, 1976, video frames, Video Databank ................. 67
14. Stephen Beck, Video Weavings, 1976, video frame, Video Databank.....................68
15. Nam June Paik, Merce by Merce by Paik, 1978, video frames, Video Databank....68
16. Woody and Stiena Vasulka, Calligrams, 1970, video frame, Video Databank.......69
17. Woody Vasulka, C-Trend, 1974, video frames, Video Databank..........................69
18. Dan Sandin, 5 minute Romp Through the IP, 1973, video frames, Video
D atab a n k ...................................... ............. ................... ................ 7 0
19. Phil Morton, General Motors, 1976, video frame, Video Databank .......................71
20. Ernest Gusella, Video-Taping, 1974, video frames, Video Databank....................71
21. Ernest Gusella, Exquisite Corpse, 1978, video frames, Video Databank ...............72
22. Man Ray, Yves Tanguy, Joan Miro and Max Morise, Cadavre Exquis, 1928, paper
an d in k ..........................................................................................7 2
23. Barbara Buckner, Pictures of the Lost, 1978, video frame, Video Databank ..........73
24. Richard Serra, Television Delivers People, 1973, video frame.............................73
Abstract of Thesis Presented to the Graduate School
of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the
Requirements for the Degree of Master of Arts
TOWARD A NONCOMMERCIAL TECHNOLOGY: THE DEVELOPMENT OF
IMAGE-PROCESSED VIDEO IN THE 1960S AND 1970s
Jeremy Neal Culler
Chair: Alexander Alberro
Major Department: Art and Art History
In the 1960s and 1970s, artists and social activists in the United States and Western
Europe began to examine the television medium as a technological and cultural form.
Their curiosity, fueled in part by its indomitable power over the iconic image, was
heightened by the appeal that the communicative apparatus possessed in redefining the
relationships among art, technology, and life. Since television had the power to challenge
bourgeois televisual sensibilities, it was seen as an attractive medium: one capable of
dismantling the traditional modes of production and rehabilitating the criticality and
aesthetic charge of post-medium-specific practices.
Dissatisfied with the medium-specific legacy enforced by the modernists, Neo-
Dadaists including Nam June Paik and Wolf Vostell started to deconstruct and recompose
television sets into art-oriented objects. Critically receptive to Fluxus methodology, their
program sought to transcend the craft quality of the technological medium; they did this
by processing the standard televisual signal through imaging tools and techniques. (I use
the term "craft quality" to mean the televisual image as a purely technical construct-one
intended for commercial TV.) As a result, a dichotomy materialized. On the one end,
there was the television medium, emerging from a nexus of social, economic, and
technological factors-influenced by the exigencies of industrial capitalism. On the
other, there was an attempt to subvert broadcast television-that is, to open it up to a
completely new realm of possibilities. For first-generation video artists, expounding on
the work of Paik and Vostell while using image processing to augment the standardized
signal helped to develop a noncommercial technology.
In this thesis, I examined three aspects of first-generation video art during the
1960s and 1970s. First, I describe the various dimensions of the early video practice and
the issues involved in establishing its genealogy. Second, I explore the initial conception
of video art in conjunction with Fluxus experiments on commercially oriented objects.
Lastly, I look at first-generation video art and artists working with image-processed
video. At that point, I address the significance of the Sony Portapak camera unit; and
look at the historical context of video art in relation to the modernist legacy of the 1950s.
It appeared for the first time that video technology would be a powerful weapon
to assist language, photography, and film in the gradual dismantling of the
traditional modes of cultural production, breaking down their hegemony and false
claim for an organic and auratic aesthetic quality, dismantling the dominance of
the fetishizing practices of painting and sculpture.
-Benjamin H. D. Buchloh1
Alternative television also meant creating images that looked different from the
standard T.V. Thus, "image processing" as we know it grew out of an intensive
period of experimentation that for some, in a vague way, was seen visually to
subvert the system that brought the Vietnam War home every night.
In the late 1950s and early 1960s, artists and social activists in the United States
and Western Europe began examining the television medium (as both a technological and
cultural form). Their curiosity, fueled in part by its indomitable power over the iconic
image, was heightened by the appeal that the communicative apparatus possessed in
redefining the relationship between art, technology, and life. Since television had the
power to challenge bourgeois televisual sensibilities, it was seen as an attractive medium:
one capable of rehabilitating the criticality and aesthetic charge of post-medium-specific
practices. In addition, the untapped potentiality of the commercially oriented device and
its ability to usurp the authority of the real also helped to promote a socio-historical
hiatus from the stronghold of modernism. As the propensity of postmodernism set in
1 Benjamin H. D. Buchloh, "From Gadget Video to Agit Video: Some Notes on Four
Recent Video Works," Art Journal, 45.3 (1985): p. 217.
2 Lucinda Furlong, "Notes toward a History of Image-processed Video: Eric Siegel,
Stephen Beck, Dan Sandin, Steve Rutt, Bill and Louise Etra," Afterimage, 11.1-2 (1983):
motion a "gradual dismantling of the traditional [modernist] modes of cultural
production,"3 efforts to invent new methods of artistic expression followed. What
resulted was the materialization of experimental media.
Alongside the concurrent social, cultural, and political crises of the 1960s emerged
an information-based society-one stemming from the evolving (industrial capitalist)
consumer culture responsible for the invention of radio, television, and other forms of
institutional value. Central to the identity formation of this postmodern phenomenon
were advancements in technologies, such as those involving video, that provided faster
means of disseminating information.4 That novel modes of expression were sought out
simultaneously is no coincidence, since there was a belief that the modernist formula had
reached a point of political and aesthetic exhaustion. At the same time, experimental
media appeared to be a revitalizing source for a new generation of artists. The use of
innovative commercial technologies helped to dismantle the hegemonic institution
espoused by the modernist paradigm of Clement Greenberg and his followers. Yet, it
also problematized the distinction between artistic and non-artistic practices.
3 Buchloh, "From Gadget Video to Agit Video," p. 217. Another feature of this shift
included critiques of the institutional frame (the white paradigmatic cube) seen in the
early works of Hans Haacke, Daniel Buren, and Richard Serra (to name a few). Their
inquisitive approach helped to forge a particular postmodern flavor (in reaction to the
growing commodification of art). This reaction against the commercialization of art also
intersected with conceptual, performance, land-based, and public artistic practices.
Together these movements helped in forming the social, political, and historical
framework of the 1960s, which inherently contributed to the exploration of new forms of
media, including music and video synthesizing.
4 The phenomenon refers to the artistic shift that occurred in the 1960s that appropriated
existing cultural and aesthetic practices-not to the development of radio and television.
I use the term "video" to mean the overall phenomenon. Unless implied, it does not
exclusively mean videotape.
In an attempt to subvert the residual commercialistic associations of television,
artists and engineers began altering monitors into re-conceptualized, art-oriented objects
as early as 1959.5 The underlying reasons for their manipulation of this technology are
central to any understanding of the initial conception of video art. Appropriating the
television set for noncommercial purposes forced artists and engineers to seek out ways
to justify the artistic legitimacy of this technological apparatus. In the process, an
institutional dichotomy emerged out of the extant commercial technology to form a
counter-genre that came to be known as Image-Processed video. By transcending the
medium's craft quality through altering the standard television signal, artists diverted it in
the direction of a noncommercial technology-an explorative dimension full of new
Image-Processed video. The term "Image-Processed video" has been used to
describe a type of experimental art produced since the early 1960s. It refers to a
specialized genre marked by the application of various devices and techniques. These
imaging tools were used to distort (the cultural residue and the linguistic codifications of)
the television signal. As a technique, image processing uses light as a plastic
compositional medium to define and display (visually and aurally) the various parameters
of the electronic signal-frequency, phase, and amplitude.6 Artists working with these
5 The significance of this date will be addressed in the following chapter and concerns the
impact of Fluxus and Neo-Dadaism on video art.
6 Sherry Miller, "Electronic Video Image Processing: Notes toward a Definition,"
Exposure, 21.1 (1983): p. 22. Miller defines electronic image processing as using "those
properties inherent in the medium of video" to generate art-making material. She
continues by explaining that "artists work at a fundamental level with various parameters
of the electronic signal, for example, frequency, amplitude, or phase, which actually
define the resulting image and sound."
coded structures were able to manipulate the electronic configuration of the signal by
feeding it through raster manipulation devices, colorizers and mixers, or synthesizers.
Yet this time-based medium would soon prove problematic.
The term "image processing" has recently been questioned because it encompasses
and conflates all works containing synthesized or manipulated imagery.7 Since the
conflation includes video as both a technical craft and an artistic medium, artists and
engineers face a predicament that is conjured up by an objectionable categorization; those
who use image processing while seeking to transcend the craft quality of the
technological medium are considered no different from technicians who use similar
methods to obtain processed imagery. In other words, the classification denies a
distinction between the experimental video of the artist and the technically oriented video
of the technician. Including both types of video fabrication within a universal genre
referred to as electronic Image Processing might therefore indicate that there are no real
differences between the two modes of production (i.e., craft and art). If no distinction is
made, then video artists are seen merely as skilled artisans-the very notion that many
Despite the rejection of the term, the categorization has proven useful for scholars
in describing videotapes that share similar objectives in treating the television signal as a
plastic medium.8 On the one hand, the term's inclusion of video as both a technical and
7 Furlong, "Notes toward a History of Image-processed Video: Siegel, Stephen Beck,
Dan Sandin, Steve Rutt, Bill and Louise Etra," p. 35. Furlong writes that many video
artists, such as Barbara Buckner, eschew the label "image-processed video" because it
conjures up specific stereotypes.
8 Furlong presents the term "image processing" as inappropriate and misleading. To
reduce any confusion and to remain consistent with the terminology used in the literature,
artistic medium implies that there are commonalities between the two uses: both involve
image processing tools and techniques. On the other hand, there are differences between
the two video practices, which include the intent, function, purpose, and overall
presentation of each. My discussion of this topic will show that the quintessential
distinction between the two types of production lies in the very act of subverting the
commercially oriented craft. By synthesizing television and video signals, this process of
subversion helped to form a new movement that sought to blend art and technology. This
movement came to be known as video art.
The present study investigates first-generation video art and artists of the 1960s and
1970s. Chapters One and Two address the underlying arguments made to legitimize the
artistic validity of the medium and the various dimensions involved in shaping the early
genealogy of video. Chapter Three explores the initial formation of video art in
conjunction with Fluxus experiments on commercially oriented objects such as the
television monitor. Chapter Four focuses on first-generation video artists working in the
genre of Image Processing and the consequent exploration of subsequent genres. Lastly,
chapter Five examines how Image-Processed video liberated the medium socially. At
that point, I address the significance of the Portapak videotape camera; and look at the
historical context of video art in relation to the modernist legacy of the 1950s.
I will continue to use the term, but in a re-defined fashion. Furlong seems to take the
same attitude. See Furlong, "Notes toward a History of Image-processed Video: Steina
and Woody Vasulka," Afterimage, 11.5 (1983): p. 12, especially footnote 4, for a more
encompassing definition that I incorporate into my own working definition.
Image-processed video art shares similar objectives with its counterpart in that it
features a technical flavor-one that defines it as image processed. But, it breaks from
exhibiting purely technical traits. Videotapes that embrace the artistic are different in
their function, purpose, and presentation.
THE EMERGENCE OF VIDEO ART
As a noncommercial endeavor, the emerging video art movement involved a
number of contributing factors. The institutional framework for its development included
technological advancements in video equipment, a new interest in the experimentation of
the medium's inherent properties,1 and a multitude of theoretical consequences that
anticipated subsequent developments in electronic media. Together, these elements
helped to authenticate video art; and its unfolding can be traced through the economic,
technological, and theoretical dimensions of the medium.
Subverting Commercial Television, Video, and the Institution
Conceived and nurtured in the public sphere, video would not survive without
public patronage, public TV, or other public institutions.
The explosion of communication technologies during the rise of industrial
capitalism accelerated mobile privatization-a concept used to refer to the tendencies of
modern urban living.3 Socially, this phenomenon conflated two spaces of industrial
1 The properties include the various parameters of the electronic signal such as frequency,
amplitude, or phase that define the resulting image and sound.
2 Martha Gever, "Pressure Points: Video in the Public Sphere," Art Journal, 45.3 (1985):
3 See John Alan Farmer, "Art into Television, 1960-65" (Ph. D. dissertation, Columbia
University, New York, 1998), pp. 35-36, and Raymond Williams, Television: Technology
and Cultural Form (New York: Schocken Books, 1974), p. 26. Farmer cites Williams's
Television as the basis for one of his theoretical approaches to the cultural dynamics of
television. Farmer writes that television is a "particular incarnation of capitalist
modernity," which for Williams produces a condition known as "mobile privatization."
society: the public arena of large urban centers and the privatized social realm of the
nuclear family.4 For the media theorist Raymond Williams, broadcasting (radio and
television) was a social product of this "mobile and home-centered way of living."5 He
claimed that although the home appeared to be private and self-sufficient, it still needed
to be maintained by a regular supply of external sources (e.g. television sets and
advertising billboards).6 This is because these efficient spaces of exchange shared the
function of perpetuating mythological scenarios that help in our identity formation-that
is to say, socially we learn to behave in part through (televisual) interaction.7 Thus, by
way of electronic media and the transmission and reception of behavior, one is delivered
a type of material reality that is influenced by the social exigencies of capitalism.
By the 1960s, television had become the dominant mass medium, replacing radio's
position as the centerpiece in most North American homes. As the primary mediator
between consumer and entertainer, it possessed the capacity to alter our basic perceptions
of reality. Williams argued, "its character and uses [referring to the televised image]
exploited and emphasized elements of passivity, a cultural and psychological inadequacy,
which had always been latent in people, but which television now organized and came to
For Farmer, this condition rose out of "certain technologies of transportation and
communication beginning in the nineteenth century [that were] conditioned by social
exigencies of industrial capitalism." It is this socioeconomic order that I am referring to
that motivated the social importance of the medium.
4 Williams, Television, p. 26.
7 It is in this regard that communicative devices played a prominent role in social
represent."8 Structured as a cultural and technological form, the medium greatly
increased the mobility of information and facilitated the transformation of culture from a
mechanical to an electronic one. The media theorist Marshall McLuhan wrote in
Understanding Media that this change was accelerated by the emergence of an electronic
culture whose vehicle for moving information was commercial television.9
Video art evolved out of this institution as an extension of human consciousness.
At first, though, the gradual redirecting of television's familiar function (as a conduit
through which social reality flowed) presented the biggest challenge for artists working in
the formative stage of the new medium. This is because technological advancements
were at the mercy of the broadcasting industry and the viable market to which it
targeted.10 According to Williams these new technologies were discovered "by an
essentially internal process of research and development, which then [set] the conditions
for social change and progress.""1 Essentially, this made it difficult for counter-
commercial operatives to adopt video because the design was geared toward
broadcasting. Yet, video artists were able to construct methodological systems capable of
circumventing a type of commercially determined technology.
8 Williams, Television, pp. 11-12.
9 Marshall McLuhan, Understanding Media: The Extensions ofMan (New York:
McGraw-Hill, 1964), pp. 19-21. McLuhan reflects on the cultural significance of
television in "Television: The Timid Giant" pp. 268-294.
10 Lucinda Furlong, "Notes toward a History of Image-processed Video: Steina and
Woody Vasulka," Afterimage, 11.5 (1983): p. 14. Other reasons for the difficulty in
conceiving of television as a possible artistic object included the fact that major efforts
toward deconstructing the commercial apparatus did not occur until the early 1960s.
11 For Williams, this condition is referred to as "technological determinism." See
Williams, Television, p. 13.
One of the key solutions to re-conceptualizing consumer technologies occurred
through the examination and subsequent manipulation of the (linguistic, electronic,
commercial, and cultural) signals produced by objects. For video artists, the exploitation
of these signals meant re-defining the original parameters of the electronic codes emitted
by the television set. By deconstructing the object's indexical claim to advertising, these
signal readjustments challenged the broadcasting industry, and thus created an alternative
to a rather restrictive, one-way commercial product controlled by multimedia companies
of the late 1960s.12
The restrictive nature of the medium before the introduction of the portable
videotape camera denied individuals access to equipment that would otherwise enable
more possibilities in video production.13 Video equipment during this period was
cumbersome, expensive, and relatively unattainable. However, these obstacles did not
hinder the advancement of the medium. This is because imaging devices were made
available to individuals, thanks to the support of institutions interested in experimental
12 Lucinda Furlong, "Tracking Video Art: 'Image Processing' as a Genre," Art Journal,
45.3 (1985), p.233-234. For more information concerning the liberation of the restrictive,
one-way nature of radio see Bertolt Brecht, "The Radio as an Apparatus of
Communication," Video Culture: a Critical Investigation, John G. Hanhardt, editor (New
York: Visual Studies Workshop, 1986), pp. 53-55.
13 In the literature, there are conflicting dates for the precise appearance of the portapak in
the United States. Jon Burris points out that some put it in 1965, while others in '67 or
'68. See Jon Burris, "Did the Portapak cause Video Art: Notes on the Formation of a
New Medium," Millennium Film Journal, no. 29 (1996): p. 4. Burris cites Paul Ryan and
sticks by his 1968 date-see Paul Ryan in Video Mind, Earth Mind: Art Communications
and Ecology, New York: Peter Lang, 1992, p. 314. However, I will use the 1965 date,
because the camera was accessible in the United States as early as October 4, 1965, when
Nam June Paik featured his first videotape showing at the Cafe Au Go Go in New York.
The show was a viewing of Pope Paul VI's visit to New York, shot with a portable
videotape camera he purchased that day.
video and alternatives to commercial television.14 In essence, the functions of these
institutions were two-fold. First, they played a crucial part in encouraging the
development of electronic image processing technology. Secondly, they provided the
financial support that aided in the establishment of communities interested in fostering
experimental video projects.15 Yet these centers were only part of the equation when it
came to expanding the boundaries set by prior limitations. While it is true that they
enabled access to expensive, cutting-edge video and editing machines, it was the
collaborative relationship between artists and engineers that really helped to advance the
refinement of electronic imaging.
In response to the early constrictive nature of the medium, artists employed
engineers to construct imaging tools capable of producing specific designs. These
collaborations were significant because they enabled individuals to combine their
resources. In addition to encouraging joint projects, artists also promoted the
dissemination of equipment plans for educational, experimental, and noncommercial
purposes. In one specific instance, the Chicago-based video artist Dan Sandin generously
donated the blueprints to his Image Processor (developed in 1972). By offering his plans
free of charge to anyone interested in building the synthesizer for noncommercial
14 These institutions include governmental agencies and university programs. See Sara
Hornbacher, "Editor's Statement: Video: The Reflexive Medium," Art Journal, 45.3
(1985): p. 191.
15 Places such as WGBH-TV in Boston, KQED-TV in San Francisco, and the New York
Experimental Center promoted a program that supported the development of imaging
tools and their use in experimental projects. See Christine Tamblyn, "Image Processing
in Chicago Video Art, 1970-1980," Leonardo, 24.3 (1991): p. 304. For the primary aims
of the New York Experimental Center, see Ralph Hocking, Experimental Television
Center, (2002). Available [Online]:
2002]. The following was taken from the mission statement available online at the
Experimental Television Center's official site.
purposes, he was permitting them to explore its capabilities. Moreover, he allowed those
who did not possess the necessary electrical expertise to use his device. The impact of
Sandin's Image Processor proved important not only for the Chicago video art scene, but
also for developments elsewhere.
Alternative Television: Public TV
Another constituent that played an important role in promoting experimental video
was the alternative television movement, which was responsible for the formation of
public television stations in the United States. In principle, Public TV was conceived as
an outlet for video artists and engineers to feature their videotapes. Those involved in its
creation saw potential in broadcastable works such as The Medium is the Medium.16
Televised on March 23, 1969 (by the Boston public television station WGBH-TV), the
thirty-minute video included works by Nam June Paik, Allan Kaprow, Otto Piene, James
Seawright, Thomas Tadlock, Stan Vanderbeek, and Aldo Tambellini.17 The significance
of the collaborative program was important for those interested in alternative video. This
is because it was the first presentation by independent video artists that aired on a public
television station.18 In addition, the extensive use of image processing in this piece
contributed to opening up an entirely new avenue for artists and engineers who began to
16 Paul Ryan, "A Genealogy of Video," Leonardo, 21.1 (1988): p. 40. The program, with
the exception of Kaprow's Hello, included the random switching of signals from a
network of cameras and monitors set up around Boston. Ryan notes that only Aldo
Tambellini dealt with explicit social issues (about African American life in the United
States). The video was produced at the New Television workshop (WGBH-TV) in
17 Douglas Davis, Art and the Future: A History/Prophecy of the Collaboration between
Science, Technology, and the Arts (New York: Praeger Publishers, 1973), p. 90.
18 Johanna Branson Gill, "Video: State of the Art: The Rockefeller Foundation, 1976,"
Eigenwelt der Apparatewelt: Pioniere der Electronischen Kunst, David Dunn, editor
(New Mexico: The Vasulkas Inc., 1992), p. 67.
employ the recently introduced Sony Portapak as a weapon against commercially
produced photoemissions.19 Eventually, this attitude attracted organizations, such as
Guerilla Television, who were interested in alternative television programming. These
groups emerged with the intent of usurping the commercial medium. By writing
manifestos and publishing journals such as Radical Software (1970-76), Spaghetti City
Video Manual (1973), and Independent Video (1974), they challenged the dominant
cultural perspective by demystifying video technology and encouraging alternatives to
broadcast television.20 What resulted was an institutional schism.
An Institutional Dichotomy
An institutional dichotomy divides the video medium into two categories. These
include works produced for commercial and noncommercial purposes. Within the latter,
another division is possible, which consists of two movements: video art and alternative
television. While the previously stated distinctions are necessary for many video artists,
divisions in the types of image processing are essential. This is partially because image-
processed video encompasses any production created by manipulating or synthesizing the
standardized television signal. Since the term conflates all works that contain
manipulated imagery, artists see it as misleading. Some have rejected the term because it
19 Davis, Art and the Future, p. 90.
20 Chris Hill, "Attention! Production! Audience!: Performing Video in its First Decade,
1968-1980," Surveying the First Decade: Video Art and Alternative Media in the U.S,
Editors, Doug Hall and Sally Jo Fifer Horsfield (Chicago: Video Data Bank, 1995), p. 11.
Hill recalls that these publications, "were critical in promoting a vision of radicalized
personal communications, providing an education for the unsophisticated and curious,
and identifying a network of fellow enthusiasts. Their pragmatic approach to the present
and sometimes utopian vision for the future were shared by others who examined and
challenged the delivery of basic institutional systems-education, communications,
government, health-and envisioned new grassroots configurations which often centered
on new or reconfigured technologies." The last two are hands-on technical guides.
connotes stereotypes, values, judgments, and myths associated with mindless, impersonal
technology.21 On the one hand, early video art was founded on experimental tendencies,
thus requiring the so-called "mindless" and "impersonal" technology that so many artists
now look at negatively. On the other hand, it is still necessary to distinguish the image
processing genre of video art from others that are non-artistic in nature, but apply similar
procedures in generating imagery. So how does one assign a proper name to this
phenomenon without perpetuating derogatory inferences? If the differences in intent,
purpose, and function are enough to warrant an institutional dichotomy between video as
a technical craft and video as an artistic medium, then the name of the genre does not
matter. Instead, what matters is that the orientation of the presentation attempts to
subvert the craft quality of the technological medium. To this extent, the attributed
classification is not the only factor in determining the substructure of the genre. Thus,
video art that explores its formal properties by manipulating the standard television signal
will be referred to as image-processed video art for lack of a more suitable term.
The Technological Dimension of Video
Video, inextricably bound to technological changes, carries with it the priority of
advancement, represented in search for better equipment, better image resolution,
and ever more efficient compositional control.
Initially, advancements in equipment, as extensions to an already established array
of consumer products, provided broadcast corporations with an influence over the
development of video technology. Before the mid-1960s, video was nothing more than a
recording substance that allowed a greater flexibility in transmitting programs into home
21 Furlong, "Tracking Video Art," p. 233.
22 Hornbacher, "Editor's Statement: Video," p. 191.
television sets (via the standardized signal).23 However, successive advances in imaging
technology would help to make the medium more efficient, inexpensive, accessible, and
less cumbersome-especially in electronic recording. What resulted out of this
progression was a new suppleness that enabled video to become a shared medium. In
other words, a standard piece of American living room furniture became a device capable
of processing images, possessing documentative capabilities, and providing surveillance
for a whole host of sites.24 Yet, the liberation or "sharing of the medium" also
contributed to the identity crisis that many artists experienced in trying to disassociate
their work from commercial TV. Given that the origins of the medium are tied to a
consumer-driven tradition, and that both commercial and noncommercial factions use
similar equipment, it seems only natural that artists and engineers would seek ways to
establish a unique and separate identity.
The conception of video art relied on two technological forms: commercially
produced equipment, such as the television monitor and the videotape camera, and
noncommercial video synthesizers and processing techniques. If one is to divide the
medium up using advancements in technologies as the factor with which a chronological
scenario is established, then there are two phases within the first-generation video art
movement-a pre and post 1965 period (determined by the introduction of the portable
videotape camera). In the former stage, video artists based their program on
manipulating the television medium by using external/internal imaging tools. In contrast
23 Roy Armes, On Video (New York: Routledge, 1988), p. 128.
24 Gill, "Video," p. 63.
to the conventional function of the television monitor, artists during this period were
using the medium as an interactive device-one that could be watched and played.
In Demagnetizer (Life Ring) (1965) (Fig. 1), Nam June Paik applied this
methodological practice to several television sets. By utilizing a magnetized ring, he
interfered with the internal electronic circuitry of the device, and in turn, generated
unique swirling vortexes. Without Paik's use of a magnet, however, he would have been
restricted to the limits posed by the television set. Thus, by implementing imaging tools
Paik was able to escape the basic visual controls of the device-something that the video
artist Eric Siegel complained about, saying that they only allowed for rudimentary
adjustments in brightness, contrast, and horizontal and vertical hold.25 Nevertheless, this
practice gravitated toward a natural inclination of image-processed video-a progression
that would come with a variety of theoretical ramifications.
Electronically generated iconic imagery not only would replace the inherently
retrograde aesthetics of a craft-skill-oriented production with its implied
exclusivity and elitist domination of the field of culture but would also-by the
mere fact of its technology-establish a relationship with the dominant and
dominating practice of mass culture, television, and thus reached new audiences.
-Benjamin H. D. Buchloh26
The theoretical implications of the video art movement that featured the use of
image processors provoked both positive and negative reactions. Terms such as "gadget
art," "video wallpaper," "high-tech video," "special effects," and "image processing,"
which had been used to classify the newly emerging video art of the 1960s and 1970s,
25 Michael Shamberg, "Electronically Distort the Video Image," Guerrilla Television
(New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1971), p.44.
26 Benjamin H. D. Buchloh, "From Gadget Video to Agit Video: Some Notes on Four
Recent Video Works," Art Journal, 45.3 (1985): p. 217.
were seen by many practicing artists as derogatory.27 Essentially, these terms imply that
video art came from a "craft-skill-oriented production" rather than a high artistic
Artists altering the "craft-skill-oriented production" also sought to establish a
relationship with the dominating cultural modes and the televisual sensibilities of
mainstream culture. Video art was initially seen as a radical medium that possessed the
means to revolutionize society-one networked by electronics. Like in the preceding
avant-garde practices, alternative television was believed to have the ability to enact
social change (or at least reveal societal problems). This notion stems from ideas
formulated by Neo-Dada practices and from the Fluxus deconstruction of commercially
oriented objects. According to Jon Hendricks, these two movements "sought to unnerve
a complacent, militaristic, decadent society by bringing art into direct confrontation with
triviality and aesthetics, and to controvert the idea that art is incapable of affecting social
or political change."28 To this extent, art was seen as still possessing an avant-garde
dimension. But was this really the case for video art? For one thing, the untapped
potential of the medium did not result in the anticipated mainstream cultural
transformation. For another, the artistic institution of video was highly innovative, and
helped to formulate new types of video, analogue, and digital media.
Nevertheless, the genealogy of early video art began with the appropriation of the
television monitor as an artistic apparatus (originally a commercially oriented device
27 Furlong, "Notes toward a History of Image-processed Video: Eric Siegel, Stephen
Beck, Dan Sandin, Steve Rutt, Bill and Louise Etra," p. 35.
28 Jon Hendricks, "Forward," Fluxus Codex (New York: Gilbert and Lila Silverman
Fluxus Collection in Association with Harry N. Abrams, 1988), p. 21.
used to disseminate one-way emissions as a form of entertainment). In retrospect, an
irony becomes apparent when examining the development of video art and its use of the
television medium. As it appears, the technological evolution began as a commercial
demand for more effective means in disseminating broadcastable media. Yet the
introduction of new technology such as the Sony Portapak, and the collaborative efforts
of artists and engineers in providing image processing devices, enabled the emergence of
a noncommercial video tradition. The next stage involved the establishment of an art
genre-Image-Processed Video-that used these devices. Ironically, corporations that
began the technological revolution subsequently appropriated the achievements made by
their anti-commercial counterpart. Before MTV, the established institutional divide
enabled artists-engineers to justify their work as having a legitimate artistic value. But
with the appropriation of their technological advancements, the commercial institution
blurred the fine line between the craft quality of the medium and Image-Processed Video
art. However, a distinctive difference, based on intent, purpose, function, and overall
presentation, would remain clear. This will be the focus of the next chapter.
VIDEO AS AN ARTISTIC MEDIUM
The investigative exploration of video technology began in the context of numerous
political, social, and artistic movements in the 1960s and 1970s that examined and
reevaluated object orientation, purpose, and function in society. During this period,
artists working in these various movements (including Performance art, Modern dance,
early Minimalism, Fluxus, Nouveaux Raalisme, Pop art, and Happenings) were
experimenting with direct experience, the physicality of materials, and by extension, the
social and cultural levels of reality.' For some, these investigations were ironic gestures
that criticized consumer/popular cultural forms. For others (such as the Neo-Dadaists),
these interconnecting practices helped to conceptualize the theoretical framework that
paved the way for electronic image processing.
Fluxus in particular played a fundamental role in the conception of video art. This
movement's contribution to laying down the underlying principles for first-generation
video artists included two important objectives: rejecting the constrictive,
commercialistic connection of object-oriented art (a form of debunking existing
commercial and artistic institutions) and stripping objects of their original meaning for
1 John G. Hanhardt, "De-collage/Collage: Notes toward a Reexamination of the Origins
of Video Art," Illuminating Video: An Essential Guide to Video Art, Doug Hall and Sally
Jo Fifer, editors (New York: Aperture in Association with the Bay Area Video Coalition,
1990), p. 72.
newly formed alternatives.2 Critically receptive to these strategies, Neo-Dada artists
(such as Wolf Vostell, Nam June Paik) were able to base their methodological approach
on a system capable of deconstructing and restructuring meaning-a procedure they
applied to television.3 Prior to examining their engagement with the television medium, I
would like to point out a few details about the program of Fluxus that would prove to be
highly influential for video artists.
Although emerging slightly before the early experiments conducted on the
television set, in retrospect Fluxus was contemporary with video art.4 The chronological
proximity of these movements is by no means coincidental. This is because Neo-
Dadaists who worked with the medium of television also associated themselves with
Fluxus activities, and in so doing, shared ideas about the act of making artistically viable
works that "erased or transformed the message contained within the surface codes of
dominant cultural and ideological transmission."5 In this regard, both video and Fluxus
artists derived their content by deconstructing objects and redefining their "surface
2 Taken from a letter, George Maciunas states to Tomas Schmit, "Fluxus is strictly
against the art object as a dysfunctional commodity whose only purpose is to be sold and
to support the artist." See Jon Hendricks, Fluxus Codex (New York: Gilbert and Lila
Silverman Fluxus Collection in Association with Harry N. Abrams, 1988), p. 37.
3 Fluxus artists such as Nam June Paik and Wolf Vostell were among the first to
experiment with the television medium. Their prepared television monitors set the
precedence for video artistic practices to come.
4 The significance of these simultaneous developments also carries with it a socio-
historical context, involving both artistic developments within a particular social,
political, and economic climate, which helped to conjure up certain Fluxus theories
concerning the relationship between art and life.
5 John G. Hanhardt, "De-collage and Television: Wolf Vostell in New York, 1963-64,"
Visible Language, 26.1/2 (1992): p. 110. It is the act of manipulating the "dominant
cultural and ideological transmission" of the standard television signal that enabled video
artists to make artistically viable works.
codes." Reprocessed by imaging technologies, these converted codes were thought to
possess the capacity to liberate the social milieu of an electronic culture still connected to
the industrial capitalist tradition. John Hanhardt explains that "in appropriating the
materials of everyday life and traditional culture, [both] Fluxus artists [and Neo-Dadaists]
sought to turn...discourses inside out, in the process revealing the constrictive
conventions and rhetoric limiting liberated individual expression and desire."6 Following
this program Neo-Dadaists sought to re-conceptualize the processes of making art by
debunking dominant standards. Consequently, this attitude carried over to the early
experiments conducted on television monitors. Just as Fluxus performers experimented
with objects to release them from their restrictive nature, so did video artists, who
manipulated the television medium in order to free it from its constrictive character.
Operating within the parameters of communication, Fluxus in turn expounded the
possibilities of individual expression and desire. To this extent, liberating the object from
a restrictive identity was important during the development of first-generation video art.
This is because it was seen as a way to rejuvenate an avant-garde aesthetic. On the one
hand, existing institutions and their codifications maintained a hegemonic control over
the traditional modes of making art-such as painting and sculpture. Benjamin Buchloh
wrote that video as an uncharted and innovative medium appeared to be a power vehicle
in the "gradual dismantling of the traditional modes of cultural production, breaking
down" and "dismantling the dominance of the fetishizing practices of painting and
sculpture."7 On the other hand, a neo-avant-garde aesthetic promised a program capable
of enacting social change by sublating art into life and by expanding the possibilities of
Fluxus concentrated on changing the way people perceived themselves within a
cultural environment and observed how they recognized the world and objects around
them.8 In liberating the artistic institution from existing conventions, they were trying to
further possibilities in art by using "a playfulness and humor previously associated with
Dada and the seminal ideas of Marcel Duchamp."9 In doing so, Fluxus denied the
"cultural hegemony" and "consumer aesthetics" manifested in contemporaneous artistic
movements such as Pop art,10 while challenging the societal role of artists, the function of
their work, and preconceived notions concerning art and technology.11
TV as an Artistic Apparatus: The Cathode-Ray Canvas
Since painting, sculpture and music have used up their potential of innovation,
today we must find new forms of art.
As collage technic replaced oil-paint, the cathode ray tube will replace the canvas.
7 Benjamin H. D. Buchloh, "From Gadget Video to Agit Video: Some Notes on Four
Recent Video Works," Art Journal, 45.3 (1985): p. 217.
SOwen F. Smith, Fluxus: the History of an Attitude (San Diego: San Diego State
University Press, 1998), p. 3. The latter deals with the notions of art and anti-artistic
tendencies that Fluxus artists investigated.
9 Hanhardt, "De-collage/Collage," p. 73.
10 Thomas Kellein, Fluxus (New York: Thames and Hudson, 1995), p. 9.
11 Hendricks, "Forward," p. 21.
12 Fred Forest, "Sociological Video," Video '79: Video-the First Decade (Rome: Kane,
1979), p. 80.
-Nam June Paik13
Nam June Paik's engagement with image processing began as early as 1959 when
he started to build sculptures out of electrically modified TV sets inspired by John Cage's
prepared pianos.14 Frustrated with music's institutional avant-garde and determined to
renew the ontological form of aural (and visual) experience, the artist began exploring the
televised image as a critical examination of the everyday practice of watching TV.15 For
Paik, these investigations in electronic media were very significant. Not only did they
mark his conversion from a composer to a pioneering video artist, but they also enabled
him to transcend the discursive formal structure of music. Furthermore, by
experimenting with the inherent properties of the medium, he was able to reach his
audience in new possible ways.
In Exposition of Music-Electronic Television (March 11-20, 1963), presented at the
Gallerie Parnasse in Wuppertal, West Germany, Paik premiered twelve (or perhaps
13 Douglas Davis, Art and the Future: A History/Prophecy of the Collaboration between
Science, Technology, and the Arts (New York: Praeger Publishers, 1973), p. 148. The
quote was taken from a statement passed out at the opening of what is considered Nam
June Paik's first videotape showing on October 4, 1965, at the Cafe Au Go Go in New
York. The show was a viewing of Pope Paul VI's visit to New York, shot with a portable
videotape camera he bought that day.
14 Christine Tamblyn, "Image Processing in Chicago Video Art, 1970-1980," Leonardo,
24.3 (1991): p. 303. For more information on the connection between John Cage's
prepared pianos and Paik's altered television sets see Dieter Ronte, "Nam June Paik's
Early Works in Vienna," Nam June Paik (New York: Whitney Museum of American Art
and W. W. Norton, 1982), p. 74. John Alan Farmer wrote in "Art into Television, 1960-
65" that Paik's letter to Steinecke (on May 1959) contains the first documented instance
where Paik expressed an interest in incorporating prepared television sets in his work (see
p. 169). In that same year, Farmer noted that Paik was experimenting with second hand
television sets, from which he produced the works that he presented at the Gallerie
15 Nam June Paik, "New Ontology of Music," Videa 'n' Videology: Nam June Paik,
1959-1973, Judson Rosebush, editor (Syracuse: Everson Museum of Art, 1974), p.3.
thirteen) prepared television sets (Fig. 2).16 These works, including Zenfor TV (1963)
(Fig. 3) and Manipulated TV (1963) (Figs. 4 and 5), were interactive ready-mades based
on physically manipulated photoemissions and tongue-in-cheek performances-a
program that challenged the prevailing commercial form of television. Commenting on
this aspect of Paik's work, Chris Hill noted that his "1963 Fluxus modifications of
television sets with powerful magnets...were ironic gestures, exposing television's
electronic materiality and toying with audience expectations around the TV set as
everyday site for meditation and cultural reception."17 In "toying" with the audience Paik
was revealing the device's hidden potential. In addition, by disrupting the flow of
broadcast transmissions in works such as Magnet TV (1965) (Fig. 6), he was exposing the
participatory capabilities of the communicative apparatus. Ultimately, Paik's Fluxus
activities liberated television viewers from the restrictive, ideological coded programs
invested with a false authority of the real.
The image processing technique was influential in determining Paik's artistic
direction. As time progressed, he became increasingly devoted to the medium while
seeking new ways to manipulate the standardized signal electronically. In 1969, with the
help of Shuya Abe, Paik built the Paik-Abe video synthesizer-a device that colorized
16 John G. Hanhardt, The World ofNam June Paik (New York: Guggenheim Museum
Publications, 2000), pp. 108 and 111 and Johanna Branson Gill, "Video: State of the Art:
The Rockefeller Foundation, 1976," Eigenwelt der Apparatewelt: Pioniere der
Electronischen Kunst, David Dunn, editor (New Mexico: The Vasulkas Inc., 1992), p. 64.
For a detailed description of the exhibition see John Alan Farmer's The New Frontier:
Art and Television 1960-65 (Austin: Austin Museum of Art, 2000), pp. 44-49. None of
the works survive. Much of the information regarding the exhibition comes from photos
and writings of Paik and Maciunas.
17 Chris Hill, "Attention! Production! Audience!: Performing Video in its First Decade,
1968-1980," Surveying the First Decade: Video Art and Alternative Media in the U.S,
Editors, Doug Hall and Sally Jo Fifer Horsfield (Chicago: Video Data Bank, 1995), p. 22.
the imagery of a standard black and white television set.18 The collaboration was an
important one, not only because it helped Paik to develop the processor, but also because
it demonstrated his fundamental approach to making art. In addition, it reflected distaste
for the ego. In a letter to Tomas Schmit, George Maciunas explained the Fluxus attitude
regarding the ego by stating:
Fluxus is against art as a medium and as a vehicle for the artist's ego, since applied
arts should express objective problems that have to be solved, not the artist's
individuality or ego. Fluxus, therefore, should tend towards a collective spirit,
anonymity and anti-individualism.19
Here, Maciunas relays the essential component of the Fluxus machine: collaboration.
Within these terms, Paik's use of video technology enabled him to create art on a joint
level (including aid from engineers and video imaging tools).20 Moreover, Paik's
investigative approach with electronic media involved a type of participatory dimension.
In this regard, the viewer also became the spectator/performer in installations such as
Participation TV (1963) (Fig. 7), which required not only one's presence, but also one's
interaction.21 In this way, Paik was searching for a new aesthetic, one that involved a
unique phenomenological dimension.
For Wolf Vostell, another Neo-Dadaist working in a similar tradition, turning to the
television medium enabled him to deconstruct an ideologically driven program. Like
Paik, Vostell pursued the problem of re-defining commercially oriented objects by
19 Hendricks, Fluxus Codex, p. 37.
20 Davis, Art and the Future, p. 147.
21 This is because the prepared set did not function without stepping on a floor switch
(which activated the apparatus by causing flashes of light to splash on the screen). For
more information regarding the exhibition see John Alan Farmer, "Art into Television,
1960-65" (Ph. D. dissertation, Columbia University, New York, 1998), pp.141-42.
altering their original meaning. However, Vostell's strategical approach incorporated the
decollage technique.22 Although French affichistes such as Raymond Hains and Jacques
de la Villegle were already working in the medium of decollage as early as 1949, Vostell
claimed to have coined the term on September 6, 1954, after reading about a plane crash
in Le Figaro.23 In the first issue of Vostell's magazine, Decoll age, Bulletin Aktueller
Ideen, No. 1-which included contributions from Fluxus artists like Nam June Paik,
George Maciunas, and Benjamin Patterson-he defined the term decollage as if to
accentuate its importance to his Fluxus activities.
For the affichistes (dicollagistes), the technique enabled them to alter the original
"surface codes" constructed by a dominant commercial culture.24 John Hanhardt explains
that in manipulating the message "the visual and linguistic economy of slogans and
graphic announcements is torn apart by the artist to reveal an archeological layer of
hidden messages, deconstructed to expose their material and ideological base" (Fig. 8).25
Thus, in using a version of the decollage method the affichistes were able to de-layer both
the physical and conceptual surfaces of posters. By means of a similar strategy, Vostell,
22 Hanhardt, "De-collage and Television," p. 110.
23 Glenn O'Brien, "TV Guide: Wolf Vostell Reconsidered," Artforum International, 39.8
(2001): p. 116. In O'Brien's brief account he quotes Vostell, who explained the
reasoning behind the nomenclature. The account involved a plane crash, which provoked
him to search for the "strict meanings of the term" decollage (to 'detach' and 'to die').
The news for Vostell unleashed in him "a fascination for reality, for the complex age,"
and in this fascination, he felt an urgency to include directly in his art everything that he
perceived, heard, felt, and learned. He took as his "starting point the literal meaning of
the word de-coll/age [and applied the] concept to the frank, distorted forms of mobile
fragments of reality-that is to happenings."
24 Hanhardt, "De-collage and Television," p. 110.
who did not always employ video as the central element, used the decollage technique to
fragment and abstract the television set.
In 1963, the Smolin Gallery in New York exhibited a number of the artist's works
in Wolf Vostell & Television De-collage & De-collage Posters & Comestible De-
collage.26 The exhibition featured the affichistes' torn poster technique as well as
prepared TV sets tuned out of focus, out of alignment, and physically distorted with
paint, bullet holes, and dents (Fig.9).27 Concerning its impact on the development of
video art, the show was noteworthy because it presented one of the first documented
instances where the television set was used as a work of art in the United States.28 For
Vostell, these altered TV sets were significant steps toward interrupting television's flow
of entertainment-a crucial move in distorting the mobile fragments of reality.29 By
fracturing the televised image, he was able to subvert the (linguistic, commercial, and
cultural) codes of the dominant culture.30 In the process, Vostell dialectically forced the
viewer to question the function of objects and to find new usages for old products.
Hanhardt sums up the work of Vostell by stating:
these images of Vostell's performances, installations and writing reveal an "anti-
aesthetic" strategy which moved between media and materials as he sought to
destabilize the institutional codes and meanings of the dominant culture. This
effort by Vostell to erase and recompose imagery, through both viewer
participation and the disruption of television, reveals a politic which seeks to
26 Ibid, p. 123.
27 Davis, Art and the Future, p. 84.
28 Farmer, "Art into Television, 1960-65," p. 253.
29 John G. Hanhardt, "Film Image, Electronic Image: The Construction of Abstraction,
1960-1990," Visible Language, 29.2 (1995): pp. 147-48.
30 Hanhardt, "De-collage and Television," p. 124.
rupture the seamless flow of information and entertainment by empowering the
Thus, the Fluxus utopian program sought to enact political and social change within
existing institutions. By disrupting the seamless flow of transmissions, artists such as
Paik and Vostell displaced a familiar sociological construct commonly identified with the
everyday. In effect, the television set that brought the Vietnam War into the private
domain-the external point of exchange-would take on a new function. By decoding
and re-forming imagery, these artists (working in the formative stage of video art) gave
way to a new kind of image processing. The development of this genre will be the focus
of the next chapter.
THE IMAGE PROCESSING MOVEMENT
The Neo-Dadaists sought to explore ways of reconnecting art and life by reverting
to preceding avant-garde movements of the twentieth century. Using mass-media
imaging technologies, they transformed former artistic approaches into aesthetic and
political actions. Through these strategies, the neo-avant-gardists critiqued,
deconstructed, and reformed the dominant social order using the emancipatory potential
of image processing.1 Seeing this methodology as essential for transfiguring social
reality Nam June Paik, Wolf Vostell, and others developed programs centered on the
electronic alteration of the standard television signal and/or the physical manipulation of
the TV set. For artists, these practices no longer required a consummate skill (in painting
or sculpture); rather, they demanded a technical expertise (in electronic media). By using
electronic devices as extensions of their hands artists helped to transform the traditional
methods of cultural production and, in doing so, emphasized the importance of
technological innovation. Commenting on the complex role that technology played in
developing first-generation video art, Buchloh explains:
the promise of video technology seemed to be a progressive transformation both of
the traditional fetishistic production and reception apparatus of the high art
institution and of the quasi-totalitarian conditions of the consciousness industry in
television, advertising, and movie production.2
1John Alan Farmer, The New Frontier: Art and Television 1960-65 (Austin: Austin
Museum of Art, 2000), p. 20.
2 Benjamin H. D. Buchloh, "From Gadget Video to Agit Video: Some Notes on Four
Recent Video Works," Art Journal, 45.3 (1985): p. 217.
Filtered through the words of Buchloh, the role of video technology was two-fold: first, it
provided imaging tools that could generate alternatives to the traditional media of the
high art institution; secondly, it facilitated the production of videotapes capable of
delivering the medium from the "quasi-totalitarian conditions" of the commercial
television industry. To this extent, the significant impact of inventive imaging
technologies helped artists in formulating a new genre of video experimentation. In this
chapter, I will present a number of individuals whose investigative engagement with
image processing helped to cultivate the medium's aesthetic formation.
First-generation video artist/engineers began exploiting imaging technologies out
of what they believed was a need for devices that could transform the standard television
signal. In actuality, however, these instruments only allowed for the alteration of
synchronized electrical impulses, first conveyed by electromagnetic waves (the
signal/source) and then reconverted into moving photoemissions. In this regard, the
signal itself remains the same. This is because the re-adjusted and standardized signals
are derived from a universal source (via electromagnetic waves or coaxial cables).
Instead of altering the standardized signal, artists were changing the orientation of the
impulses by converting them into patterns of electrical charges on the mosaic-a plate
inside the cathode ray tube that consists of minuscule photoelectric cells.3 In other
words, "processing" the signal through imaging tools enabled the adjustment of
electronic impulses on the back of the mosaic, thus giving artist/engineers control over
the moving image.
3 John Alan Farmer, "Art into Television, 1960-65" (Ph. D. dissertation, Columbia
University, New York, 1998), pp. 30-1.
Eric Siegel: Artist as Engineer
One of the most important of these artist-engineers was Eric Siegel, who started
experimenting with image processing in the late 1960s.4 Although his interest in
electronics is said to have begun when he successfully built his first television set at
fourteen years old, Siegel did not actually become fully involved in video art until he
participated in the celebrated exhibition TVas a Creative Medium.5 Siegel's contribution
to the show, held at the Wise Gallery in New York, was a video installment of
Psychedelevision in Color, which demonstrated his earliest experiments involving the
synchronistic relationship of sound and imagery. In addition, the piece featured Siegel's
use of the Processing Chrominance Synthesizer (PCS), which employed a phase
modulator-a device that measured the voltages of incoming black and white signals and
reassigned them with color frequencies according to their gray values.6 Yet, the artist's
first imaging tool was crude; it allowed little control over the image and provided no
4 Other engineers who were also interested in the aesthetic qualities of the medium were
Stephen Beck, Bill Hearn, Steve Rutt, Bill Etra, Shuya Abe, and Dan Sandin.
5 Lucinda Furlong, "Notes toward a History of Image-processed Video: Eric Siegel,
Stephen Beck, Dan Sandin, Steve Rutt, Bill and Louise Etra," Afterimage, 11.1-2 (1983):
p. 36. According to Furlong "Siegel recalls that it was through Thomas Tadlock that he
met Howard Wise," who after seeing a version of Einstein-an excerpt from
Psychedelevision in Color-gave Siegel the money to begin work on a device that would
add color to a black and white signal. Wise, on the other hand, does not recall that it was
Tadlock who introduced Siegel to him. Regardless of this uncertainty, evidence still
suggests that Siegel became closely involved in first generation video art as early as
1969-during his participation in TVas a Creative Medium. The exhibition ran from
May 17 to June 14, 1969 and was the first devoted entirely to video art in the United
Taken from an interview with Siegel, Furlong writes that the artist "was a student
at Samuel Grompers Vocational and Technical High School when he built a black and
white TV camera which he completed at the age of 15." One year prior, he claimed that
he built his first TV set. See Radical Software, No. 1 (1970), p. 20, and the exhibition
catalogue, TV as a Creative Medium (New York: Howard Wise Gallery, 1969).
recording capabilities. However, Siegel later documented the results of the PCS in
Einstein (Fig. 10) (1968), a videotape based on the earlier installation of Psychedelevision
in Color.8 As in the latter piece, he was able to produce abstracted, psychedelic
oscillations within an outline bust of Albert Einstein, while the soundtrack played
In 1970, Siegel developed the Electronic Video Synthesizer (EVS) (Fig. 11).10
Like other imaging devices, the EVS owed its debt to pre-existing audio synthesizers
developed in the early 1960s by Robert Moog and Don Buchla.11 This is because "both
7 Lori Zippay, Artists' Video: An International Guide (New York: Electronic Arts
Intermix, 1991), p. 224. During the time of the exhibition, Siegel was unable to record
Psychedelevision in Color because the recording process available was too expensive.
This is because the imagery could not be recorded directly and required an expensive
process of rescanning the imagery produced with a color camera.
s Einstein is a recorded version based on Siegel's earlier work Psychedelevision in Color.
It was the first of three seminal works by Siegel that demonstrated the early use of image
processing tools and techniques. The three pieces, Einstein, Symphony of the Planets,
and Tomorrow Never Knows, also revealed the important relationship between audio and
video signals in Siegel's investigation of the medium. For more information about these
pieces, see Zippay, Artists' Video, p. 224.
9 David Dunn, Eigenwelt der Apparatewelt: Pioniere der Electronischen Kunst (New
Mexico: The Vasulkas Inc., 1992), p. 116. For a detailed account concerning the
electronic inner workings of the Processing Chrominance Synthesizer and the Electronic
Video Synthesizer, see pages 116-121.
10 For Siegel, the Electronic Video Synthesizer enabled him to generate geometric forms
organized into compositional designs. See Dunn, Eigenwelt der Apparatewelt p. 116.
For a detailed look at Siegel's EVS system, including an elaborate listing of the
electronic components, see pp. 120-121.
11 Chris Hill, "Attention! Production! Audience!: Performing Video in its First Decade,
1968-1980," Surveying the First Decade: Video Art and Alternative Media in the U.S,
Editors, Doug Hall and Sally Jo Fifer Horsfield (Chicago: Video Data Bank, 1995), p. 22.
sound and image are determined by the same fundamental analog electronic processes,"12
and for this reason the design of video imaging tools (such as the EVS) could closely
follow the inner circuitry of audio synthesizers. Of course, this was provided that they
produced imagery independent of the external video signal (and generated by the input of
a video camera).13 Nevertheless, artist-engineers such as Siegel and Skip Sweeney were
able to do to photoemissions what audio synthesizers did to sound.
For Sweeney, his interest in the relationship of both sound and image provided him
with the possibility of experimenting with the combination of the two. As in Siegel's
Einstein, the use of video feedback was employed in Sweeney's 1975 videotape
Illuminatin' Sweeney (Fig. 12). However, Illuminatin' Sweeney featured the artist's use
of the feedback loop as a way to alter the standard television signal. By employing this
method, Sweeney was able to generate an independent dynamic flow of abstracted
imagery, created by pointing the camera at the television monitor.14 In addition, he
interfaced the outcome with the Moog Audio Synthesizer and the Vidium Colorizer.15 As
a result, the orientation of the camera to the monitor produced imagery simulating a
13 Michael Shamberg, "Tools: The Porta-pak," Guerrilla Television (New York: Holt,
Rinehart and Winston, 1971), p. 26.
14 For a complete analysis concerning the space-time dynamics in video feedback see
James P. Crutchfield's essay entitled "Space-Time Dynamics in Video Feedback:
Physica, 1984" Eigenwelt der Apparatewelt: Pioniere der Electronischen Kunst, David
Dunn, editor (New Mexico: The Vasulkas Inc., 1992), pp. 190-207.
15 Surveying the First Decade: Video Art and Alternative Media in the U.S., Kate
Horsfield, producer (Chicago: Video Data Bank, 1995), p. 61.
swirling vortex, originally recorded in black and white, and later colorized in red, blue,
white, and yellow using Bill Hearn's Vidium Colorizing Synthesizer.16
Much of Sweeney's early work relied on an interdependent relationship between
audio and video synthesizers. In the early 1970s, Sweeney began to generate
improvisational, image-processed videotapes using both the Moog audio synthesizer and
the Vidium Colorizer.17 Yet, his early experiments failed to produce the controlled
results found in Illuminatin' Sweeney. In an interview conducted by Woody Vasulka,
Sweeney explained that both patience and the use of a mirror enabled him to control the
difficult nature of video feedback.18 In addition, he claimed that trial and error also
played a large role in helping him gain control over electronic impulses of the television
set. This experimental approach is partially due to his involvement with groups
interested in similar issues. In 1969, Sweeney founded Electric Eye, a performance
group that focused on the experimental dimension of video.19 In 1970, Sweeney and
Arthur Ginsberg co-founded the media art center Video Free America in San Francisco.20
In addition to holding regular videotape screenings, the center encouraged the creation of
tapes that included the innovative synthesizing of video and live theater, elaborate
16 Ibid, p. 61.
17 Zippay, Artists' Video, p. 224.
18 Dunn, Eigenwelt der Apparatewelt, p. 148.
20 Zippay, Artists' Video, p. 224.
mounted gallery installations, and documentaries.21 The center also promoted an
experimental atmosphere, which was perfect for artists such as Stephen Beck, whose
interests aligned with the video counterculture of the 1960s.
Another pioneer in the genre of image processing was the artist-engineer Stephen
Beck, whose contribution to video technology began in 1968. In 1969, while
investigating ways with which he could control the behavior of light, Beck designed his
first imaging device, the Number 0 Video Synthesizer.22 Inspired by an interest in using
sound to manipulate graphic images on an oscilloscope, the instrument enabled the artist
to produce some of his earliest works, which he used in performances conducted by the
composer/sound synthesis Salvatore Martirano.23 In 1970, Beck began work on the
Direct Video Synthesizer No. 1. Developed in San Francisco at KQED-TV (and
completed in 1970 from a 1968 prototype), the device went beyond the oscilloscope
display. In fact, the synthesizer was unique because it generated its own abstract imagery
internally rather than from camera-recorded material.24 In addition to merging music and
21 Johanna Branson Gill, "Video: State of the Art: The Rockefeller Foundation, 1976,"
Eigenwelt der Apparatewelt: Pioniere der Electronischen Kunst, David Dunn, editor
(New Mexico: The Vasulkas Inc., 1992), p. 78.
22 Furlong, "Notes toward a History of Image-processed Video: Eric Siegel, Stephen
Beck, Dan Sandin, Steve Rutt, Bill and Louise Etra," p. 37.
24 Christine Tamblyn, "Image Processing in Chicago Video Art, 1970-1980," Leonardo,
24.3 (1991): p. 304. Furlong writes that Beck felt that the device "would open up a
whole new territory for television as an expressive medium." See Furlong, "Notes
toward a History of Image-processed Video: Eric Siegel, Stephen Beck, Dan Sandin,
Steve Rutt, Bill and Louise Etra," p. 37.
imagery in a performative manner, the device also electronically fused dynamic color
imagery with recorded material in real time.25
In 1975, Beck finished the digital circuits to his Video Weaver (VW). Like the
Direct Video Synthesizer No. 1, the Weaver generated its own imagery. However, unlike
previous devices that dealt with real time material, it employed Random Access Memory
(RAM) to store and retrieve patterns. According to Beck, the VW programs patterns into
memory and then weaves them "onto the screen by a set of phase shifting counters that
slide and shift their count sequence in time to the video raster."26 Next, by controlling the
vertical and horizontal scans of an electron gun one is able to produce an electronic
loom.27 Beck documented the resulting imagery generated by the VW in Video Weavings
(Fig. 13). Taking its inspiration from nonrepresentational Islamic art,28 the Weaver
created rhythmic patterns that interlaced inward and outward in horizontal and vertical
directions. Essentially, vertical warp threads traversed by horizontal weft threads define
the video imagery. As a type of kinetic Op art, the patterns shift in multiple directions
and transcribe various transparent weavings onto one another (Fig. 14).
Nam June Paik: The Video Montage
Nam June Paik's involvement in the early development of image processing was
important not only because of the artist's role in the early conception of video art, but
25 Zippay, Artists' Video, p. 214. It also enabled Beck to fuse musical performances
conducted by Warner Jepson and Jordan Belson with his video imagery.
26 Stephen Beck, "Stephen Beck: Direct Video Synthesizer (Analog), 1970, Beck Video
Weaver (Digital), 1974," Eigenwelt der Apparatewelt: Pioniere der Electronischen
Kunst, David Dunn, editor (New Mexico: The Vasulkas Inc., 1992), pp. 122-25.
27 Surveying the First Decade, p. 61.
also because of his dedication to exploring the expressive medium. By 1965, Paik began
to devote a large part of his energy to experimenting with the electronic boundaries of
video image processing.29 His emphasis consisted of creating artworks that featured
elaborate sequences based on video feedback, magnetic scan modulation, non-linear
mixing, and colorizing. The result was a multi-processed video of a new kind.
Sony's 1965 introduction of the portable videotape recorder, the Portapak, also
played a significant role in Paik's early videotapes. After the camera was introduced in
the United States, Paik quickly added it to his video arsenal, making him one of the first
to use the device for aesthetic purposes. Commenting on its immediacy and profound
impact on the artist, John Hanhardt explains that the Sony Portapak "proved to be the
single most significant technological development to impact Paik's thoughts on media,
allowing him to move his creative interests forward in multiple directions."30 Yet, the
camera's immediacy in recording real time material was not the only one advantage. In
using the device, artists also expanded the potentiality of the medium by gaining control
over the image (and the signal they processed through their imaging machines).
As time progressed, Paik began to use the Portapak and other devices to produce
elaborately edited video montages that incorporated recorded material from broadcast
television.31 Simultaneously, Paik was also working on video imaging tools that would
allow him to further manipulate and rework electronic imagery. In 1964, while
29 I would argue that this aspect of Paik's videos would be taken to the extreme in his
30 John G. Hanhardt, The World ofNam June Paik (New York: Guggenheim Museum
Publications, 2000), pp. 109, 111.
31 Tamblyn, "Image Processing in Chicago Video Art, 1970-1980," p. 303.
collaborating with the Japanese engineer Shuya Abe, he began work on the Paik-Abe
Video Synthesizer and Scan Modulator-a processor that offered infinite electronic color
and line patterns.32 However, the synthesizer was not finished until 1970, after receiving
financial backing from Boston public television station WGBH-TV.33 Nevertheless, his
work with new imaging tools led to the completion of videotapes such as Merce by
Merce by Paik (Fig. 15) (1978), which demonstrated his elaborate use of multiple
In Merce by Merce by Paik, the artist transformed the video signal into a moving
collage of imagery by using colorizers, mixers, Chroma-Key, and the Rutt-Etra Scan
Processor.34 Developed by Bill Etra and Steve Rutt in 1973, the Rutt-Etra Scan Processor
enabled Paik to alter his video montage through raster manipulation. He did this by
transforming the original parameters of the signal, which allowed Paik to twist, stretch,
rotate, and compress the image projected on the television screen.35 Structured into a
two-part tribute to the choreographer Merce Cunningham and the artist Marcel Duchamp,
Merce by Merce by Paik also incorporated a technique known as Chroma-Key-also
referred to as blue box. 36 For Paik, the Chroma-Key method enabled him to transport
32 Hanhardt, The World ofNam June Paik, p. 117.
33 Tamblyn, "Image Processing in Chicago Video Art, 1970-1980," p. 304.
34 Surveying the First Decade, p. 64.
35 Tamblyn, "Image Processing in Chicago Video Art, 1970-1980," p. 304.
36 Surveying the First Decade, p. 64. The process took the original recorded image and
videotaped it against a blue set. The resulting imagery is then subtracted and replaced
electronically with another video signal.
Cunningham's studio performance into a series of irrational outdoor landscapes.37 In this
particular video, the artist allows us to see the blue set by occasionally fading it in and
out. As a result, the process invites the viewer to engage in Paik's video manipulation in
a new art form known as Video Dance.38
Woody and Steina Vasulka: Video Dynamism
Woody and Steina Vasulka's contribution to the development of the genre began as
early as 1969. Seeing film as an exhausted medium, Woody Vasulka began to explore
video as a way to understand the inner workings of electronic imaging.39 Inspired by
closed-circuit, multiple-monitor video displays used by his employer Harvey Lloyd, these
experiments exhibited a unique type of image processing.40
The Vasulkas' infatuation with video stems from visiting the exhibition TVas a
Creative Medium, held in the spring of 1969 at the Howard Wise Gallery.41 The
significance of the exposition for the Vasulkas (as much as for the development of video
art) cannot be overemphasized. On the one hand, TVas a Creative Medium presented the
38 Ibid. Merce Cunningham was the first known person to combine video with dance in
1965 at Lincoln center.
39 Lucinda Furlong, "Notes toward a History of Image-processed Video: Steina and
Woody Vasulka," Afterimage, 11.5 (1983): pp. 13-14. Woody Vasulka was originally
educated in film.
40 Ibid, p. 13. Furlong states that the use of closed-circuit, multiple-monitor video
displays became the model for Vauslka's early work.
41 Zippay, Artists' Video, p. 223. The exhibition presented works including Paik's
Participation TV, Paul Ryan's Everyman's Mobius Strip, Thomas Tadlock's Archetron,
Eric Siegel's Psychedelevision in Color, Charlotte Moorman's first performance of
Paik's TVBrafor Living Sculpture, and Schneider's collaboration with Frank Gillette
known as Wipe Cycle. It also featured the use of image-processed techniques such as
feedback loops and audio inputs to generate manipulated images within black and white
first show in the United States devoted entirely to video art.42 On the other hand, the
exhibition was influential enough to encourage them to shift their attention towards
producing videotapes.43 Continuing this new interest in 1971, the Vasulkas co-founded
the influential media arts center, the Kitchen, where they experimented with the medium
The Sony Portapak enabled the Vasulkas' to produce one of their earliest
experiments involving the electronic exploitation of the standard television signal in
Calligrams (1970) (Fig. 16).44 As in Paik's early Fluxus works (such as Manipulated
TV), Calligrams involved the manipulation of the television set. However, the Vasulkas
used the television control panel and a videotape camera to fragment the imagery. In
Calligrams, Steina Vasulka explains that in altering the analog video image they first
adjusted the horizontal band of the standard television signal and then rescanned the
abstracted image by recording it from a camera positioned at a ninety-degree angle from
the monitor.45 Although the technique does not employ a video synthesizer, the Vasulkas
still featured a type of image processing by manipulating the television set's horizontal
band and recording it at an angle. This type of signal augmentation demonstrated the
Vasulka's early approach toward generating innovative works-a program that did not
43 Furlong, "Notes toward a History of Image-processed Video: Steina and Woody
Vasulka," p. 13.
44 Steina Vasulka, Calligrams, Surveying the First Decade #5, Surveying the First
Decade: Video Art andAlternative Media in the U.S., Videocassette, Kate Horsfield,
producer (Chicago: Video Data Bank, 1995).
45 Steina Vasulka, Calligrams, Surveying the First Decade #5. The result created visual
rhythms of abstracted images that shifted back and forth within a split screen.
restrict their search for alternative imagery.46 What they wanted to achieve was an
understanding of electrical energy (organized as frequencies and voltages) and they did
this without turning knobs or changing the external inputs to adjust the voltage control.47
Later works by the Vasulkas involved the use of numerous video imaging tools and
techniques. A case in point is Woody Vasulka's 1974 videotape C-Trend(Fig. 17). The
latter incorporated two distinct electronic modifications. First, Vasulka skewed the shape
of the video frame-the raster.48 Then, by using the Rutt-Etra Scan Processor as a scan
deflection tool (to modify the electronic image), he translated each horizontal line
scanned by the electronic beam into "a live graphic display of voltage."49 Vasulka
explained that in this case, "emphasis has shifted towards a recognition of a time/energy
46 Furlong writes, "while a number of people in the late 1960s and early 1970s were
working with video colorizers, mixers, and synthesizers, the Vasulkas took a different
approach. 'Our idea right from the beginning was not to have a synthesizer. We always
wanted to have open ended boxes,' Steina explains." The Vasulkas wanted to take a
modular approach towards video imaging by using another electronic input rather than
turning the knobs of video imaging tools until achieving the desired imagery. In looking
closely at the methods and types of video imaging sought out by the Vasulkas, Furlong
notes that "most devices that incorporated colorizing, mixing, and synthesizing functions
could be controlled either through external inputs-known as voltage control-or by
control knobs. By opting for input-only control, the Vasulkas were imposing an
organizing structure that was derived not only from their own preconceived ideas about
what might make an interesting image, but from the system itself. This is not to elevate
their approach over one that Steina has called 'knob twisting,' but to illustrate that artists
had certain choices in how their tools could be used." See Furlong, "Notes toward a
History of Image-processed Video: Steina and Woody Vasulka," p. 14.
48 Surveying the First Decade, p. 66.
object and its programmable building elements-the wave form."50 As for the empty
spaces between the rolling imagery, they consist of "horizontal and vertical blanking
intervals between electronic frames."51 The fusion of these two processes resulted in a
three dimensional abstraction synchronous to the sounds of cars on a highway. This once
again brings to mind the explicit interrelationship of sound and image in video artistic
The Vasulka's interest in the inner workings of video electronics is evident in their
work that investigated the properties of audio and video signals. Experimenting with
these signals was the key to their productions, which most often visualized sound.
Furlong explains that two major interests taken on by the Vasulkas included the
exploration of the relationship between audio and video signals and the construction of
the video frame.52 These two aspects can be seen in numerous videotapes, including C-
Trend (1974) and Reminiscence (1974). In both pieces, framed topographical
environments are transformed into visual and audio abstractions. These videotapes,
along with films constructed from 1974 to 1977, exemplify Woody Vasulka's belief that
"video images were nothing more than electromagnetic energy constructed in time...,
organized as voltages and frequencies-a temporal event."53 The tapes also demonstrate
the relationship between time and waveform by using analog image processing, multiple
50 John Minkowsky and Bruce Jenkins, Beau Fleuve (Buffalo: Media Study/Buffalo,
51 Surveying the First Decade, p. 66.
52 Furlong, "Notes toward a History of Image-processed Video: Steina and Woody
Vasulka," p. 14.
53 Ibid, pp. 14-15.
camera set-ups, and keyers to articulate spatial, temporal, and sound/image
environments.54 Responsible for producing patterns within the cathode ray tube, these
elements aided in creating the Vasulkas' didactic oeuvre-one that contributed to the
Dan Sandin and Phil Morton: Image Processing in Chicago Video Art
The video-synthesis pioneer Dan Sandin, along with other frequent collaborators
such as Phil Morton, Thomas Defanti, and Robert Snyder, helped to define an image
processing format in Chicago. While producing color slides for a friend's light
production company and working with the Moog Audio Synthesizer, Sandin realized that
the same images could be made in video.5 In 1970, the artist/engineer decided to build
an imaging device modeled after the Moog audio synthesizer. The result was his Image
Processor (IP), defined as a patch-programmable analog computer optimized for the
manipulation of gray level signals.56 By using multiple video inputs, Sandin was able to
manipulate the raster by controlling the knobs of four different modules: the function
generator, the differentiator, the value scrambler, and the adder multiplier (Fig. 18).57
Since each component had a specific function and could be connected several ways to
obtain unpredictable results, the setup of the IP was more flexible than most commercial
54 Zippay, Artists' Video, p. 190.
55 Tamblyn, "Image Processing in Chicago Video Art, 1970-1980," p. 305.
56 Dan Sandin, 5 minute Romp Through the IP, Surveying the First Decade #5, Surveying
the First Decade: Video Art andAlternative Media in the U.S., Videocassette, Kate
Horsfield, producer (Chicago: Video Data Bank, 1995). In this work Sandin personally
delivers an explanation of his Image Processor by demonstrating its effects. The IP
emulates photographic techniques such as colorizing, superimposing, burning and
57 Dan Sandin, 5 minute Romp Through the IP, Surveying the First Decade #5.
switchers.58 This made it possible for other artists to develop and personalize their own
imagery using the processor while simultaneously exploring its potential. Consequently,
Sandin's curiosity in video technology helped to form a video art scene in Chicago. His
custom designs were beneficial for Chicago artists, who no longer had to depend on
commercial facilities for video equipment.
One of these artists was Phil Morton. In addition to working with Sandin in
promoting the IP, Morton created video montages that exhibited traces of various styles.
Although he had no interest in being affiliated with one genre in particular, a number of
his works show signs of image processing.59 This is evident in GeneralMotors (Fig. 19)
(1976), which examined the symbiotic relationship between man and machine. In it,
Morton used Sandin's Image Processor to create a visual letter to his auto dealership,
which he accused of inadequately servicing his van. In this video letter, the artist recants
his experience in a tirade juxtaposed with sounds recorded from the faulty U-joints of his
broken-down 1974 Chevy van. The imagery incorporated cannibalized excerpts from his
earlier works, used as re-edited segments and distorted into abstract green and purple
patterns.60 As with Paik's video montages, Morton's work synthesized reprocessed
imagery using multiple editing techniques. However, Morton focused on sociological
issues rather than the aesthetics of electronic imaging.
Morton's narration in General Motors presented the problem of technological
neglect through a comical comparison of his video equipment with his broken-down van.
58 Tamblyn, "Image Processing in Chicago Video Art, 1970-1980," p. 304.
59 Ibid, p. 305.
The former was fully functional and serviced correctly, while the latter was left in
disrepair. The work professes the artist's dedication to video experimentation through
technical efficiency. In essence, the message conveyed in General Motors stresses the
importance of video technology as a necessary constituent of video art that must be in
good working order.
For Ernie Gusella, image processing allowed the production of simple yet effective
visual documents intended to confuse or play with the viewer's perception of reality.
Two works that best demonstrate this are Video-Taping (Fig. 20) and Exquisite Corpse
(Fig. 21).61 In Video-Taping (1974), the artist split the television screen in half to create
two side-by-side self-portraits in which the right image was an electronic negative of the
left. Gusella used a suspended glass sheet from light poles, covered on the right hand
side with black (or white) tape, as a filter/screen to distort the camera image.62 As he
removed the tape from the right side of the glass, his positive self-portrait emerged on the
left side of the screen. Next, he placed the removed tape onto the left side of the glass to
reveal his negative self-portrait on the right side of the screen. The artist further
augmented these images by using the VideoLab (built by Bill Hearn)-a multi-channel
switcher, keyer, and colorizer combined into one controllable unit. This device enabled
Gusella to eliminate certain brightness levels of one video signal using the luminance
61 Gusella's visual pun "Video-Taping" was based on the term "videotape" and his use of
black and white tape. See Surveying the First Decade, p. 62. The artist pointed the
camera at the suspended glass sheet, thus separating him from the recording device. The
set up is an implicit reference to Lacan's concept of the screen. In both cases, the screen
fragments reality and leaves one with an image that can never really be seen.
62 In this case, the image was the artist behind the glass sheet. It is important to note that
the artist's right is the viewer's left.
keyer, and to replace it with a video signal produced by a second camera.63 The resulting
abstraction creates a level of confusion for the viewer, who does not completely see the
image in its entirety.
In 1978, while using the VideoLab, Gusella produced Exquisite Corpse (Fig. 21).
Obviously inspired by the Surrealist Cadavre Exquis (Fig. 22), the work presents a series
of abstracted composite forms. In Exquisite Corpse, Gusella tries to mirror the Surrealist
Cadavre Exquis by approximating images of his torso with close-ups of his face through
a series of "quick, voltage-controlled live switching between two cameras."64 The
resulting oscillations do not allow one to grasp the recorded frames of each switch.
Instead, it generates a disoriented effect of image convergence. So, as one tries to
visualize the first image another is superimposed over it, cutting the view off. In effect,
the sequence denies one the ability to perceive a complete representation of Gusella.
Here, the artist fragments reality playfully in real time, thus emphasizing the false
authority of the televisual/recorded image.
The extensive use of imaging techniques eventually gave way to new areas of
inquiry. The early work of video artists who employed image processing helped to set
the stage for the next generation who continued to see the potential of the medium. As a
result, video art began to evolve into numerous genres that employed documentation,
narration, installation, as well as a variety of other tactics. The work of Barbara Buckner
features the continued use of image processing in the late 1970s by combining
metaphorical subject matter with visual and symbolic imagery. Buckner's 1978 video
64 Ibid, p. 63.
series, Pictures of the Lost (Fig. 23), presented a mysterious synthesis of image-processed
imagery with visual metaphors.65 The syncretism creates a type of visual narration
represented by allegorical landscapes. Produced at the Experimental Television Center in
Binghamton, Pictures of the Lost is composed of twenty-two silent sub-works that take
the viewer through landscapes fluctuating between figuration and abstraction.66 During
the journey, the enigmatic work reflects a metaphorical composition of strong visual and
symbolic significance.67 The imagery is transformed into shifting complementary colors,
which distinguishes the contrasts from light to dark and replaces the original shades of
white, black and gray levels with red, green, blue and orange combinations. The result
generates rhythmic visions created by a tension between abstracted and recognizable
forms.68 In altering electronic signals, Buckner transforms these states of consciousness
into organic landscapes and visual fragmentations. Just as it was the case for the other
artists mentioned in this paper, image processing allowed one to comment on the cultural
form of television by fragmenting reality and presenting TV's false authority of the real.
The initial aim of first-generation video artists and engineers was thus to
manipulate the standard television signal. This procedure was deemed essential in order
to open up a new territory for artistic expression. Although many of these individuals
had their own methodological approaches, they all had one thing in common: each used
65 Other examples featuring Buckner's exploration of the medium's formal properties can
be found in Selected Works I and II. Selected Works I includes Hearts (1979), Heads
(1980), and Millennia (1981). Selected Works II includes The Golden Pictures (1980)
and Greece to Jupiter: It's a Matter of Energy (1982).
66 Surveying the First Decade, p. 65.
67 Zippay, Artists' Video, p. 215.
image processing to subvert the commercially oriented apparatus in one way or another.
In doing so, the consequential implications of their actions helped to formulate the early
nature of first-generation video art. What emerged from this period of experimentation
was the genre of Image-Processed Video art. In the next chapter, I will address the
significance of the Portapak videotape camera, and discuss the historical context of this
type of video art in relation to the modernist legacy of the 1950s.
The central question concerning the conception of video art revolves around why
artists and engineers began using the medium for aesthetic purposes. For social activists,
video (as a counter-commercial alternative) was seen to possess the ability to enact social
change. For artists interested in subverting the restrictive medium, liberating video
socially provided the possibility of opening it up for artistic inquiry. Regardless of the
agenda, a dialogical relationship between the artist and the viewer was established in all
cases. Mediated through the televisual display, this communicative dialogue becomes a
type of interactive engagement-one that activates a liaison between the work and the
viewer. It is within this triadic relationship that the overall meaning is established. The
viewer finalizes the processed manipulations and thus confirms a bond that inextricably
binds visually coded messages within a given social construct.1 Here the deconstructed
and recomposed imagery that involves a participatory dimension empowers the
individual by revealing a political rupture in the seamless flow of entertainment.2 In
essence, the alteration of the standard television signal generates a type of dialectic that
1 Video art is not self-referential, because it requires exterior factors to complete its
meaning; it requires a triadic interplay between the artist, the work, and the spectator/
viewer. Television is meant to be watched and depends upon the viewer for its vitality.
The same applies to image-processed video, for it too involves the TV set and requires a
2 John G. Hanhardt, "De-collage and Television: Wolf Vostell in New York, 1963-64,"
Visible Language, 26.1/2 (1992): p. 124. The viewer confirms the fragmentation of the
standardized signal and its altered context.
helped artists and engineers to liberate video from the stronghold of broadcast
television-an attempt at disassociating the medium from its commercial ties.
Addressing the Portapak
The early development of video art involved two major moves. These include the
initial deconstruction of the television monitor as an art-oriented object and the use of the
Sony Portapak videotape camera. These important developments established two phases
in first-generation video art and helped to form subsequent genres (e.g., narrative,
documentary, and sculptural). The first stage involved the distortion of the television
monitor using image processing tools and had the greatest significance in legitimizing
video as an art medium. The second juncture was initiated by the inception of the
Portapak, which liberated the medium by opening it up to encompass several new areas
of exploration. The standard historical account of video, as Jon Burris points out,
ascribes its materialization to the arrival of the Sony Portapak.3 But this characterization
begs the question: was the videotape camera responsible for the creation of video art?
When referring to video art in general the first thing that comes to mind is the word
"video." Yet, the inclusion of this term in a type of pre-videotape art initially seems
precarious. This is because it implies that works prior to the introduction of the camera
were not about video, but instead about television. Consequently, one must ask what the
term "video" means in both a pre- and post-1965 context. According to Roy Armes,
"video could only come into its own as a medium when provision of portable video
camera and recorder units freed it from subservience to broadcasting and the domestic
3 Jon Burris, "Did the Portapak cause Video Art: Notes on the Formation of a New
Medium," Millennium Film Journal, no. 29 (1996): pp. 5-6.
video cassette system."4 Here, Armes suggests that in a technological context video art
was inextricably bound to that which produces videos: the videotape camera. His
statement inconveniently places early productions that experimented with the standard
television signal-but did not use videotape-outside of what is now referred to as video
art.5 Conversely, Rosalind Krauss in her look at artistic practices in an age of the post-
medium condition argues that Richard Serra's Television Delivers People (1973) (Fig.
24) acknowledges that "video was in fact television," a broadcast medium which
"splinters spatial continuity into remote sites of transmission and reception."6 In this
regard, video is a means of transference, where electronic codes are disseminated into the
cathode ray tube as televised visualizations. Thus to make a distinction, "video" refers to
the signal, which is a means of transmission, while "video art" references works that alter
both the television/video medium aesthetically. In this way, video artistic practices do
not always require the use of videotape.
Early Experimental Video and the Modernist Legacy
Theoretically, early experimental video raised some concerns about the particular
nature of the imagery produced. This is because there are many similarities between the
4 Roy Armes, On Video (New York: Routledge, 1988), p. 128.
5 In the same tradition, Sherry Miller writes that the term video "reinforces the use of
video as a means of creation and expression." She makes a distinction "between the
medium of video and that of the television." The former refers to the medium with
which art is made and the latter is one mode of transmission. See Sherry Miller,
"Electronic Video Image Processing: Notes toward a Definition," Exposure, 21.1 (1983):
p. 22. My problem with this interpretation is that Miller implies that "the term 'video art'
places emphasis on the idea of video as a means of making art rather than on television as
a means of transmitting art." I would suggest that one could not have video art without
television-at least during the 1960s up to the late '80s.
6 Rosalind Krauss, "A Voyage on the North Sea: Art in the Age of the Post-Medium
Condition (New York: Thames & Hudson, 1999), p. 30.
preceding dominant form of painting (e.g., abstract expressionism) and the distortions
generated by image processing devices. Thus, the question that emerges is why
abstraction? Ultimately, abstraction was the means with which video artists of the late
1960s and early 1970s were able to separate their work from commercial imagery-a
methodology based on the experimental exploration of the medium's formal properties.
So where does video art relate to medium-specificity? In Marcel Broodthaers's
presentation of a fictitious museum entitled the "Museum of Modem Art: Eagles
Department," Rosalind Krauss sees the disappearance of the individual arts as medium-
specific. It is in this termination and the consequential critique of individual media-
drawing, painting, and sculpture-as inherently distinct art forms that pioneering
alternatives such as video surfaced in the 1960s. What Krauss purports to be a type of
"differential specificity," which required looking beyond reductivist modernism for new
possibilities in art, was a consequence of a shift in artistic and social practices during the
1960s and 1970s-a climate referred to as "a post-medium condition."8 Products of
differential, or what might be called alternative specificity, can be seen in the innovative
experimental works of Fluxus artists and conceptual investigations of art. Video fits into
this historical context as a post-medium phenomenon, for it too challenged the subjugated
archetype set forth by the modernists. For artists working with the television medium,
video was to "shatter the notion of medium-specificity" and to subvert artistic trends
7 Ibid, p. 12.
8 Ibid, pp. 9, 30. Also see Krauss's "Sculpture in the Expanded Field," October, no. 8
(Spring 1979): pp.31-44. The modernist formula aimed at reducing a specific medium to
paralleling the tradition of modernism.9 Regarding this paradigm shift Krauss argues that
since the Portapak led to the advent of video art and the subsequent end to a progressive
artistic endeavor truest to the art practice itself, it seems as if video-as well as other
differential media-was essentially antithetical to the aims of purist art.10 She claims that
this novel medium was a product of postmodern tendencies that marked the end of art.
On the contrary, I would argue that video art was not the end of art but an innovative
solution to a restrictive, commercialistic, and elitist art institution, and its incorporation
came at a time when the emerging electronic culture yearned for new methods of
The Portapak and Its Legacy
Video art relied on technological advancements that served artists and engineers in
a multiplicity of ways. For instance, the introduction of the Portapak camera and its
subsequent modifications furthered the potential of the medium by making it more
accessible. In Deirdre Boyle's brief history of documentary video she explains that the
standardization of videotape equipment not only boosted competition among video
manufacturers to accelerate the development of enhanced portable cameras, but it also
allowed more people to explore what the medium had to offer.1 After the completion of
the AV format Portapak in 1970, tapes made for one type of camera could be played back
9 Ibid, pp. 24, 30.
10 Ibid, p. 24. I would argue that it was the television, as an artistic apparatus, that led to
the advent of video art, not the portapak.
11 Deirdre Boyle, "A Brief History of American Documentary Video," Illuminating
Video: An Essential Guide to Video Art, Doug Hall and Sally Jo Fifer, editors (New
York: Aperture in Association with the Bay Area Video Coalition, 1990), p. 56.
on competing manufacturers' equipment.12 Yet, the first version of the Sony Portapak
was nothing more than a half-inch reel-to-reel system capable of recording black-and-
white images and a single synchronous sound track.13 Unfortunately, the system had its
disadvantages; the images were difficult to edit and the sound was nearly impossible to
While it may be true that video editing was underdeveloped in the late 1960s, it did
not inhibit artists such as Paik from using the camera. Furthermore, advances in the
portable unit had a profound impact on the production of video art during the 1970s.15
For Dan Graham, the camera allowed him to feed back "indigenous data in the
immediate, present time environment" and to connect it with "parallel time/space
continue."16 This immediacy permitted those such as Graham to approach the medium as
a documentary device, capable of recording situations, events, or other visual
13 Armes, On Video, p. 128.
14 Ibid. Concerning the editing options of the late 1960s Chris Hill writes, "editing
videotape between 1968-1971 was primitive; aesthetic strategies and narrative
constructions that relied on precise editing emerged only after the development of
sophisticated editing equipment made editing feasible at media art centers, TV labs, and
public access centers." See Chris Hill, "Attention! Production! Audience!: Performing
Video in its First Decade, 1968-1980," Surveying the First Decade: Video Art and
Alternative Media in the U.S, Editors, Doug Hall and Sally Jo Fifer Horsfield (Chicago:
Video Data Bank, 1995), p. 20.
15 Woody Vasulka wrote that "by the mid-1970s video as an art was fully entrenched in
the galleries, with many developed genres, forms and concepts." For more information
on the Sony CV portapak see, Woody Vasulka, Eigenwelt der Apparatewelt: Pioniere der
Electronischen Kunst, David Dunn, editor (New Mexico: The Vasulkas Inc., 1992), p.
16 Dan Graham, "Film and Video: Video as Present Time," Video/Architecture/Television
(Halifax: Nova Scotia School of Art and Design Press, 1979), p. 62.
phenomena. It allowed the camera operator to capture an environment and to alter the
time-based medium. In this regard, the videotape camera was nothing more than a type
of imaging tool, and like the television set it provided a signal that could be processed.17
Nevertheless, what is unique about the Portapak is its ability to record. Its
introduction aided in expanding the medium during a time when video was confined to
closed circuit installations. The implication of this expansion was significant, since the
device opened up the medium to the public-however, it also problematized its use in the
gallery space.18 Before the portable camera, the medium's use was restricted to those
who understood the inner workings of electronics (or had the resources to acquire
imaging tools). With the advent of the videotape camera almost anyone could explore
the medium. This soon led to the creation of sub-genres within the movement, including
narrative, documentary, performance, installation, and video works based on the formal
and structural properties of electronic imagery and sound.
17 This was the case in Skip Sweeney's Illuminatin' Sweeney, where the camera was used
to derive video feedback.
18 It required rewinding and rethreading.
SUMMARY AND CONCLUSIONS
Artists and engineers developed video art in the late 1960s and early 1970s with the
belief that the innovative, experimental medium possessed the capacity to enact
ideological change in the evolving electronic culture of the twentieth century. Through a
magnifying lens of this postmodern shift, I have linked the Fluxus/Neo Dadaist program
with early video art practices (that altered the standardized signal) by focusing on the
element of deconstruction that is used in Image-Processed Video art. Motivated by the
potential of sublating art into life, Neo Dadaists such as Nam June Paik and Wolf Vostell
began to distort television monitors in Fluxus-like deconstructions that challenged
bourgeois televisual sensibilities. Theoretically, the confrontation was seen as a way not
only to subvert the commercial apparatus, but also to rejuvenate an avant-garde
aesthetic-one that could bring about societal change. For first-generation video artists,
this methodology provided the underlying framework that would help to legitimate
image-processed video as an artistic practice. This was accomplished through a two-part
sequential program: first, the artists rejected the restrictive, commercialistic connection of
object-oriented art by debunking existing industrial capitalist and artistic institutions;
secondly, they stripped these objects of their original iconic meaning using image
processing tools and techniques.
The conceptualization of subsequent genres in video art was aided by earlier
practices that exploited the emancipatory potential of imaging technologies.' While
works such as Wolf Vostell's TV-De-collage (1963) (Fig. 9) and Nam June Paik's
Demagnetizer (Life Ring) (1965) (Fig. 1) set the formative structure for this new medium,
technological advancements broadened the capacity for individuals to generate
innovative visualizations (Fig. 15). These advances, which gave way to the relatively
inexpensive, accessible, and portable Sony Portapak, expanded the boundaries of the
medium. For artists and engineers, the camera presented itself as a contraption capable of
widening the gap between the conception of video as a technical craft and that of video as
an artistic medium. Moreover, video was thought to be capable of producing social
change through the formation of an alternative television culture. But the liberation of
the medium only had implications in what it allowed artists and engineers, such as the
Vasulkas, Stephen Beck, and Dan Sandin to do with video, analogue, and digital media.
The revolutionary claims glorified what engineers generated from the commercial
medium that they appropriated.2 But, electronic image processing also helped to
establish a differential medium, which continued the evolving materialization of new
media. It is in this evolution of the initial conception and subsequent developments in
video art that we move towards a noncommercial technology-one that contributed
greatly to the polemics of the 1960s.
1 Even though the categories now drawn were virtually non-existent during the early
emergence of the medium in the 1960, it did not hinder the development of new video art
2 I am not downplaying the importance of their work. Instead, I hope to put the
ramifications of image processing in perspective. In this regard, claims stating radical or
revolutionary implications, which can be found throughout the literature of this topic,
overemphasize, and often overlook the real social significance of the genre.
Figure 1. Nam June Paik, Demagnetizer (Life Ring), 1965, handheld magnet applied to
television set, approximately 18 inches in diameter, collection of artist
(Farmer, The New Frontier, p. 48.).
Figure 2. Nam June Paik, Prepared Television Sets, 1963, manipulated television sets,
installation view at Exposition of Music-Electronic Television, Galarie
Parnass, Wuppertal, Germany, March 11-20, 1963 (Hanhardt, The Worlds of
Nam June Paik, pl. 47.).
Figure 3. Nam June Paik, Zenfor TV, 1963 (left), manipulated television set (only exists
as a 1975 replica, right), Exposition of Music-Electronic Television, Galarie
Parnass, Wuppertal, Germany, March 11-20, 1963 ((left) Bremen, Nam June
Paik: Fluxus/Video, p. 71, (right) Hanhardt, The Worlds ofNam June Paik, pl.
Figure 4. Nam June Paik, Manipulated TV, 1963, manipulated television set, collection
of Dieter Rosenkranz, Wuppertal, installation view at Exposition of Music
Electronic Television, Galarie Parnass, Wuppertal, Germany, March 11-20,
1963 (Hanhardt, The Worlds ofNam June Paik, pl. 45.).
Figure 5. Nam June Paik, Manipulated TV, 1963, manipulated television set, video
frames, collection of Dieter Rosenkranz, Wuppertal, Exposition of Music
Electronic Television, Galarie Parnass, Wuppertal, Germany, March 11-20,
1963 (Bremen, Nam June Paik, p. 73.).
Figure 6. Nam June Paik, Magnet TV, 1965, manipulated television with magnet,
Whitney Museum of American Art, New York (Hanhardt, The Worlds ofNam
June Paik, pl. 143.).
Figure 7. Nam June Paik, Participation TV, 1963 (1998 version), manipulated television
with signal amplifiers and microphone (Black and White, silent), Whitney
Museum of American Art, New York (Hanhardt, The Worlds ofNam June
Paik, pl. 145.).
Figure 8. Mimmo Rotella, Untitled, 1963, decollage poster, Galerie J, Paris (Arnason,
History of Modern Art, pl. 750.).
Figure 9. Wolf Vostell, TV-De-collage, 1963, manipulated television set, at An
Afternoon ofHappenings, Dance, and Music, Yam Festival, South Brunswick,
New Jersey, May 1-31, 1963 (Hanhardt, The Worlds ofNam June Paik, pl.
Figure 10. Eric Siegel, Einstein, 1968, video frames, Video Databank (Horsfield,
Surveying the First Decade.).
Figure 11. Eric Siegel, EVS Videotape, 1970, video frame, made at the Howard Wise
Gallery, New York (Dunn, Eigenwelt der Apparatewelt, p. 117.).
Figure 12. Skip Sweeney, Illuminating Sweeney, 1975, video frames, Video Databank
(Horsfield, Surveying the First Decade.).
Figure 13. Stephen Beck, Video Weavings, 1976, video frames, Video Databank
(Horsfield, Surveying the First Decade.).
Figure 14. Stephen Beck, Video Weavings, 1976, video frame, Video Databank
(Horsfield, Surveying the First Decade.).
Figure 15. Nam June Paik, Merce by Merce by Paik, 1978, video frames, Video
Databank (Horsfield, Surveying the First Decade.).
Figure 16. Woody and Stiena Vasulka, Calligrams, 1970, video frame, Video Databank
(Horsfield, Surveying the First Decade.).
Figure 17. Woody Vasulka, C-Trend, 1974, video frames, Video Databank (Horsfield,
Surveying the First Decade.).
Figure 18. Dan Sandin, 5 minute Romp Through the IP, 1973, video frames, Video
Databank (Horsfield, Surveying the First Decade.).
Figure 19. Phil Morton, General Motors, 1976, video frame, Video Databank (Horsfield,
Surveying the First Decade.).
Figure 20. Ernest Gusella, Video-Taping, 1974, video frames, Video Databank
(Horsfield, Surveying the First Decade.).
Figure 21. Ernest Gusella, Exquisite Corpse, 1978, video frames, Video Databank
(Horsfield, Surveying the First Decade.).
Figure 22. Man Ray, Yves Tanguy, Joan Miro and Max Morise, Cadavre Exquis, 1928,
paper and ink (Rubin, Dada & Surrealist Art).
Figure 23. Barbara Buckner, Pictures of the Lost, 1978, video frame, Video Databank
(Horsfield, Surveying the First Decade.).
You are th rdc
Figure 24. Richard Serra, Television Delivers People, 1973, video frame, (Krauss, "A
Voyage on the North Sea," pl. 27.).
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Jeremy Culler received his Masters of Arts from the University of Florida in the
spring of 2004 with an emphasis in Modern and Contemporary Art. He will begin a PhD
program in the fall, where he will continue his studies concerning post-war American and
European art, focusing on the transition from the modernist program-tracing figuration
to abstraction in painting and sculpture-to post-moder shifts in art practices. In
addition, he plans to continue researching the emergence of video art and the
establishment of new media as categories of art history.