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Electric Yogurt


1970 00:32:27 United StatesEnglishB&WMono4:31/2" open reel video


Electric Yogurt documents different modes of childlike play, beginning with footage of a group of people dancing together with arms outstretched against a background of growling, cooing, and coughing. As the dancing continues, the participants get increasingly tangled up in one another and repeatedly chant the word “culture,” eventually transitioning into a trust fall. The enactment of these activities is simultaneously playful and somewhat disturbing, particularly as they parallel symbolic enactments of American nationalism. One nervous participant cannot decide whether or not she should jump into the group’s arms, disclosing: “I ate too much yogurt.”

The video later begins to play with visual imagery and cinematography techniques as hazy camera footage of a number of unidentifiable dancing bodies is juxtaposed against a new musical background of psychedelic rock. The clip echoes the chaos of the music as the camera cuts between dancing subjects and shots of intense theatre lights, creating dramatic shifts in the footage quality and lighting.

Electric Yogurt utilizes playful documented encounters to consider the bounds of visual imagery and editing techniques while also engaging with political and cultural commentary, specifically as it relates to public media interests. The inclusion and reimagination of objects of childhood fixation such as bags, cloth, and kitchen utensils designate the video as a space for reinterpretations of social and political norms that is pleasurable as well as subversive.

— Charlotte Strange

VDB Videofreex

Videofreex, one of the first video collectives, was founded in 1969 by David Cort, Mary Curtis Ratcliff and Parry Teasdale, after David and Parry met each other, video cameras in hand, at the Woodstock Music Festival. Working out of a loft in lower Manhattan, the group's first major project was producing a live and tape TV presentation for the CBS network, The Now Show, for which they traveled the country, interviewing countercultural figures such as Abbie Hoffman and Black Panther leader Fred Hampton.

The group soon grew to ten full-time members--including Chuck Kennedy, Nancy Cain, Skip Blumberg, Davidson Gigliotti, Carol Vontobel, Bart Friedman and Ann Woodward--and produced tapes, installations and multimedia events. The Videofreex trained hundreds of makers in this brand new medium though the group's Media Bus project.

In 1971 the Freex moved to a 27-room, former boarding house called Maple Tree Farm in Lanesville, NY, operating one of the earliest media centers. Their innovative programming ranged from artists' tapes and performances to behind-the-scenes coverage of national politics and alternate culture. They also covered their Catskill Mountain hamlet, and in early 1972 they launched the first pirate TV station, Lanesville TV. An exuberant experiment with two-way, interactive broadcasting, it used live phone-ins and stretched cameras to the highway, transmitting whatever the active minds of the Freex coupled with their early video gear could share with their rural viewers.

During the decade that the Freex were together, this pioneer video group amassed an archive of 1,500+ raw tapes and edits.

In 2001, the Video Data Bank began assembling this unique archive of original 1/2-inch open-reel videos, collecting them from basements and attics where the tapes were stored. A restoration plan was hammered out in 2007 and a distribution contract was signed between VDB and the newly formalized Videofreex Partnership (administered by Skip Blumberg).

The Videofreex Archive, now housed at VDB, chronicles the countercultural movement of the 1960s and 1970s. The  titles listed here are the first wave of an ongoing project to preserve and digitize important examples of this early video.

More About the Videofreex Archive Preservation

Also see:

Parry Teasdale: An Interview

Videofreex Official Website