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Proto Media Primer

Paul Ryan

1970 00:14:42 United StatesEnglishB&WMono4:3Video


As one of the early media collectives, Raindance Corporation celebrated an eclectic use of the portapak by taping everything from man-in-the-street interviews to concerts and demonstrations. Intended to serve as a cultural data bank, their media primers provide an impressionistic smorgasbord of late '60s and early '70s American society. In this primer edited by Paul Ryan, Abbie Hoffman is interviewed shortly before the verdict of the Chicago 7 trial is delivered. Hoffman describes some of the politicized media theater that punctuated the trial for conspiracy to incite a riot of the demonstrators at the 1968 Democratic Presidential Nominating Convention. The tape concludes with a duel between Raindance's portapak and a surveillance camera in a Safeway supermarket.

This title is only available on Surveying the First Decade: Volume 2.

About Paul Ryan

Paul Ryan received a BA in English from New York University and he was Marshall McLuhan's research assistant at Fordham University in the late '60s. Responding to the rapidly shifting technological and political climate of the era, Ryan gave up his ambition to become a writer and instead used electronic technologies to work toward a society that could avoid Vietnams. Interested in the transformation of individual and global consciousness through video's distinctive features, Ryan likened video, with its potential for feedback, to a moebius strip: "The moebius strip provides a model for dealing with the power videotape gives us to take in our own outside." Influenced by McLuhan's theories and emerging discourses around cybernetics, ecology, and information, Ryan's early work evolved from free-form collaborations with members of Raindance to exercises in human behavior and relationships, and studies of urban and natural ecological systems. Raindance Corporation was a “countercultural thinktank” that embraced video as an alternative form of cultural communication. The collective produced tapes and writings and published the seminal video journal Radical Software (1970-74).  Working as a consultant to the New York State Council for the Arts in the early '70s, Ryan was an early advocate for the independent video movement.  He has also published Birth and Death and Cybernation: Cybernetics of the Sacred (1973), an anthology, and Video Mind, Earth Mind (1993).