Thanksgiving Dinner in 5 seconds is an apparatus for cooking a Thanksgiving meal using rocket-triggered lightning. Critical of the American fascination with cutting corners to save time, the notion of a ‘lightning-fast’ dinner to the tradition of erecting a plastic Christmas tree: both present a quick fix to fulfill a social obligation. Thanksgiving Dinner in 5 seconds employs a do-it-yourself amateur aesthetic to recall fragments from American history: Native American totem poles as monuments to kinship, Thanksgiving as an event marking the first meal between indigenous people and European settlers, the wild turkey as a symbol of an American frontier, Ben Franklin’s experiments to harness lightning for ordinary household use, and the controversy over Franklin’s attempts to redirect lightning.
Based on a passionate fascination with scientific theories and physical principles such as electrostatics, gravitation and wind power, Micol Assaёl amplifies natural or physical phenomena in many of her installations. Her minimal arrangements play with the spectrum of sensory perceptions and allow unusual experiences, that in some cases involve unpleasant and disconcerting aspects.
The industrial fans confront visitors in a cyclical rhythm with a powerful current of air and motor noise, while the centrally positioned work ФОМУШКА charges nearby human bodies with static electricity. The form and function of the machine, developed by Assaёl in close cooperation with Moscow's Elektroenergeticevsky Institute, go back to a Russian test facility for simulating lightning discharges. One of the tangible effects of ФОМУШКА is that it literally causes your hair to stand on end and that you get small electric shocks when you touch other people or objects.
Her installation provokes the psychological tension of an unspecified threat, created by the interplay of invisible elementary forces and effects acting directly on the body. In this way Assaёl refers to the potential horrors of technologies; at the same time she forges an aesthetic link to industrial apparatuses and the mysterious power of immaterial energy.
Today, I will be posting videos from various art-related public access TV shows in the United States from the past 30 years or so. The shows profiled in these posts were selected because they share a similar fun, lively and subversive spirit. Public access television has been an important forum for artistic experimentation, allowing artists to respond to television's conventions within the medium itself. The videos shown here comprise part of that story.
This grouping is not an exhaustive survey, so readers, if there are shows that you would like to share, please post links or videos in the comments section.
TV Party, hosted by Glenn O'Brien, ran from 1978 to 1982 on public access cable TV in New York City. A documentary about the show came out a few years ago, which renewed interest in the show and cemented its legacy. Below is an excerpt from the larger essay "THE TV PARTY STORY", where O'Brien reflects on the concept behind TV Party.
TV Party wasn't based on the Johnny Carson type talk show as much as it was based on Hugh Hefner's shows. Hef's Playboy's Penthouse premiered in 1960 and Playboy After Dark appeared in 1969. The format of both shows was a sophisticated cocktail party, not a desk and sofa set up. It was a fantasy of being at a super-hip, super exclusive jet set party. Hef wore a tux and there were always vixens aplenty on set as well as groovy guests like Sara Vaughan, Ella Fitzgerald and Lenny Bruce.
I loved the concept, compared to the stiff format of the Tonight Show. TV Party was Playboy Penthouse twenty years later and with no money. But TV Party was meant to be much more than a regular old talk show. It was meant to be art and it was also meant to be a political party. That's why you see all of those pictures of Lenin and Engels and Marx and Stalin and Mao hanging on the walls. We were doing "socialist realist TV."
"TV Party is the show that's a cocktail party but which could also be a political party." That was the slogan. My idea was that socialism meant going out every night, and that social action started with socializing. I think we were trying to inject a sort of tribal element into things. That's what happens ...
Produced by the Artists' Television Network, the Live! Show ran in 1979 and from 1982-1983 on Manhattan’s Cable channel J. A weekly program overseen by Jaime Davidovich, the Live! Show was a variety show, featuring performances and videos by a host of New York downtown artists. Below you will find the second episode, which aired on December 28, 1979, with appearances by Jaime Davidovich, Carole Ann Klonarides, John Sanborn, Kit Fitzgerald, Lucio Pozzi, Tomiyo Sasaki, Stuart Sherman, The Social Climbers, and Youth in Asia. A playlist of other episodes may be found here.
The American Music Show began in 1981 and ran until 2005 on People TV, the public access station in Atlanta, Georgia. It was produced by Potsy Duncan, Bud Lowry, James Bond, and Dick Richards. Campy and over-the-top, the show parodied American popular culture with John Waters-esque absurdism. I discovered the show through misterrichardson's page on YouTube, of The Funtone USA Network.
Everything In Heaven Is TV is a Totally Wreck Production Institute Production in association with Channel Austin Public Access. Season One was released and aired during the fall season of 2008. Produced by Amanda Joy, Juan Cisneros, Eli Welbourne, Ben Aqua and Chad Allen, with the ongoing help and support of many like minded artists, salesmen, psychics, cats, psychic cats, and the love of many many confused viewers.
Circular File Channel is the TV Network as TV Show. The project combines content produced by Circular File (principal members - Josh Kline, Anicka Yi, Jon Santos, Thomas Torres Cordova, Tatiana Hamilton) with contributions from invited artists (including Uri Aran, Alisa Baremboym, Luke Calzonetti, Anne Eastman, Greg Edwards, Debo Eilers, Shana Moulton, Takeshi Murata, Patrick Price, Fatima Al Qadiri, Ken Okiishi, Georgia Sagri, Trevor Shimizu, Brina Thurston, Allyson Vieira, Xeno & Oaklander, and others). The content was edited together into three 28 minute long episodes broadcast in November 2009 on Manhattan Cable Access, and streamed on Vimeo, YouTube, and PerformaTV. Content was produced around the following themes: computer-aided new century modernist art and architecture, the creative industries, The Bush Economic Bubble (ie 2005, 2006, 2007), human capital/exploitation, posthumanism, comedy, tragedy, and tragicomedy.
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The stage at St. Petersburg's Sergey Kuryokhin Modern Art Center was set for a blast of live electronic music, with seating for ten performers, each station equipped with samplers, laptops, and electric guitars. As the audience arrived the musicians tinkered with the controls; one stood near a huge glass jug, adjusting wires submerged in its murky liquid. But when the appointed time for the concert's start arrived, the performers retreated to the wings, and recorded music came up and continued for the next twenty minutes. It seemed almost like a wry comment on the detachment of the physical presence of the performer from the source of sound in electronic music. But in fact it was an unannounced presentation of past issues of Tellus, the 1980s journal of experimental sound produced by Harvestworks, selected by director Carol Parkinson. As it faded, the musicians took their places, at last, to perform Third Eye Orchestra, a piece written and conducted by Hans Tammen. It was a controlled improvisation, where Tammen lifted numbered cards indicating which of the score's instructions should be read at that moment. The musicians, all local recruits, visibly relished both the spontaneity and the monstrously loud sound that only an ensemble of many amplified electronic instruments can produce.
The Harvestworks evening was part of the program of the third edition of Cyberfest, an annual festival conceived and organized by Anna Frants, a New York-based artist and gallerist, Marina Koldobskaya, director of the St. Petersburg branch of Russia's National Center for Contemporary Art.