Skip to main content

Television Delivers People

Richard Serra

1973 00:05:55 United StatesEnglishColorMono4:3Video


Television Delivers People is a seminal work in the now well-established critique of popular media as an instrument of social control that asserts itself subtly on the populace through “entertainments,” for the benefit of those in power—the corporations that mantain and profit from the status quo. While canned Muzak plays, a scrolling text denounces the corporate masquerade of commercial television to reveal the structure of profit that greases the wheels of the media industry. Television emerges as little more than a insidious sponsor for the corporate engines of the world. By appropriating the medium he is criticizing—using television, in effect, against itself—Serra employs a characteristic strategy of early, counter-corporate video collectives—a strategy that remains integral to video artists committed to a critical dismantling of the media’s political and ideological stranglehold.

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

About Richard Serra

Born in 1939, Richard Serra studied English literature at the University of California in Berkeley while working at a steel mill to earn a living. He went on to receive an MFA from Yale University where he studied with painter/theorist Joseph Albers. Living in New York, Paris, and Rome in the late '60s, Serra became acquainted with artists of the New York School: Philip Guston, Robert Rauschenberg, Ad Reinhart, and Frank Stella, as well as avant-garde composer Philip Glass.

Associated with the emergence of post-minimalism and process art, Serra's lead-splashing sculptures were included in The Warehouse Show at the Leo Castelli Gallery in 1968, and Anti-Illusion: Procedures Materials  at the Whitney Museum in 1968—both pivotal exhibitions that established a new discourse in the field of sculpture. Serra produced several films before making videotapes in the early '70s,  including Television Delivers People (1973), Prisoner's Dilemma (1974), and Boomerang (1974), that examine the medium as a structure for communication.

Also see:

The Trial of Tilted Arc