Gene Youngblood 1977: An Interview

1977 | 01:47:06 | United States | English | B&W | Mono | 4:3 | Video

Collection: On Art and Artists, Interviews

Tags: Art Criticism, Image Processing, Technology, Television, VDB Interviews

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1970 marked the publication of Gene Youngblood’s now-formative Expanded Cinema – a text that was instrumental in legitimizing video and new media as viable and serious artistic forms. Youngblood went on to a career in both practice and theory, making a life’s work of championing the uses of video towards both social and political ends. This interview, conducted at SAIC, comes seven years after the release of Expanded Cinema and details its author’s primarily philosophic concerns with the medium of video. However, the dialogue is not relegated to esoteric ruminations on video divorced from actual use – as the entirety of the interview itself, in real time, is processed through a dual channel, effects-synthesizer, overlaying a surreal, monochromatic psychedelia atop the discussion.

The use of live video-processing during the interview serves a fulcrum around which Youngblood structures the conversation – touching on topics such as mechanical versus biological theories of communication, the complexities of closed systems, and the way in which the video apparatus makes “plastic” metaphors concerning human perception. For Youngblood, as well as many other contemporary artists experimenting with video feedback, the ability to see oneself, presented simultaneously via monitor, had the ability to undermine typically passive modes of viewership – especially those promoted by broadcast TV networks. The dual-presence potential of feedback, states Youngblood, is crucial for the development of “de-centralized, user-controlled, communications networks.”

— Nicolas Holt, 2016

Taped November 1977

Interview and Camera by Phil Morton & Students