Sunday, March 27, 2011

History: Impetus for the show

Schedule for the first 13-week series 
 Jan-Apr 1980:

Why did we start the show? 

One reason was that "the TV media was not covering communications issues and we felt that it had to be done. It was important that we, as artists, investigate the issues presented by the facts as we perceive them and not from the vantage of the multinational conglomerates; in so doing we made the information our own by working with it."

Source: "Great Expectations: Artists' TV Guide, Robin White, Artforum International Summer 1982. Quote by Liza Béar


"The initial thrust of Communications Update,
a weekly 28-minute public access tv show on
Manhattan Cable, was an interest in the
politics of communications (primarily cable
and satellite). Frequency and consistency of
output being essential components of cultural
impact, we used the public channels because they were the only consistent media outlet that we had—a regular weekly outlet as opposed to sporadic exhibition of videos in alternative spaces. The aim was to provide artists an active role in the making of information, as opposed to being passive receivers of it, and an opportunity to share their on-going investigations with a wider audience.
     Most of the initial programs were produced through our own video cooperative, [and] were political in orientation. The focus on telecommunications policies and technologies didn’t come out of the blue. A response to the emerging electronics revolution of the late seventies, it was an outgrowth of interactive satellite tapes I made with sculptor Keith Sonnier [Send/Receive: Phase I and Phase II) in 1977-78, and an attempt to localize it. The impetus was not only to provide a body of information which was not available from mass media sources, but also to be concerned with the kind of coverage given—how that information was presented. I wanted to distinguish the program from the authoritative postures assumed by network broadcasting.
     “To artists concerned with changing the tone and content of television, with what is shown and said and how, nuance and integrity of presentation are paramount.
    “Artists make books, magazines, films, installations, transmissions and window displays, as well as lucrative artifacts and trouble for the clean boundaries of a category, so no one should feel queasy that we make television. Like other forms and formats for work, we use cable to symbolize, to amuse, to inform, to perform, to debunk, to demystify, to comment, to formally experiment, to shift gears, to analyse, to reveal, to investigate, to instigate an interaction ...”
Liza Bear, “All Aboard”, The Independent, March 1983
Go to LINKS for complete article, for Keith Sonnier's website and the Send/Receive blog (in beta mode).