Chapter 3

The TV in Art

The television began to appear in modern art perhaps first with Richard Hamilton’s 1956 “pop art” collage, Just what is it that makes today’s homes so different, so appealing? with a photograph of a TV set collaged into the background in a living room that also portrayed other examples of the wonders of modern domestic technology and culture [1]. A little later the American painter, Tom Wesselman, fitted a TV set into the canvas in his The Great American Nude #39 [2] and the French sculptor César replaced the case of a functioning TV set with a transparent one and set it atop a plinth of compressed recycled metal objects.[3] These works act as reflections on the role and ubiquity of the TV in the “modern” world of the 1960s, but they can hardly be thought of as video art since there is no attempt to use the TV as a means for producing fresh images, in fact they echo more, and no doubt deliberately, the tiredness of broadcast television’s fantasy world.

Origins of Video Art

It’s arguable, but video art probably began with Nam June Paik. Paik was born in Korea and had trained as a composer in Tokyo, Japan. On moving to Europe he embraced the Fluxus approach to art. His music involved prepared pianos, performances in which musical instruments were used in unpredictable and disarming ways, and participatory sound installations. He began experimenting with manipulating the circuitry of the TV in 1962 while preparing for an exhibition he was to have in 1963 at the Galerie Parnass, in Wuppertal, Germany. This March 1963 exhibition, Exposition of Music. Electronic Television, occupied the whole of the Galerie Parnass building owned by the architect and curator Rolf Jährling. [4] In a first floor room Paik installed 12 television sets in which the picture was affected by his manipulation of their internal circuitry so that “the viewer was confronted with surrealistic black-and-white abstractions rather than representational images”.[5] The warped TV images were electronically distorted versions of the broadcast television signal. They were modulated with sine waves, desynchronised so that they slewed across the screen in both horizontal and vertical dimensions, reduced to a spot the diameter of which was controlled by the volume of a radio, or an amplified microphone in the room connected (with a foot-switch) to a TV which “created fire-works … of light on the screen”.[6] “The primary, luminous quality of the image was emphasized, but its televisual appearance of an absolutely veracious and therefore unique image was literally thwarted”.[7]

So, as Edith Decker-Phillips notes in her detailed history of his works, “Paik was exploring the technical possibilities of the medium with the goal of cancelling out its uni-directional character and creating further possibilities of intervention.” [8] According to Decker-Phillips: in an information sheet for the exhibition, Paik introduced a crucially important claim, that “electronic TV is not just an application and visual expansion of electronic music”.[9] As Paik had already made clear, his art, and by extension the art of all artists from Fluxus to the multitude of types of contemporary post-object (experimental) artists of the present day explores:

“ the boundary regions between various fields, and complex problems of interfacing these different media and elements, such as music and visual art, hardware and software, electronics and humanities in the classical sense.” [10]

As Paik comments in an “afterlude” to his Exposition of Music : Electronic Television

In usual compositions, we have first the approx-
imate vision of the completed work, (the pre-imaged
ideal. or “IDEA” in the sense of Plato). Then, the
working process means the torturing endeavour to ap-
proach to this ideal “IDEA”. But in the experimental
TV, the thing is completely revised.. Usually I don't,
or cannot have any pre-imaged VISION before working.
First I seek the “ WAY ” , of which I cannot for-
see where it leads to. The “WAY” ,,,,,,that means,
to study the circuit, to try various “FEEDBACKS”,
to cut some places and feed the different waves there,
to change the phase of waves etc......

UNDERDEVELOPED parameter in the optical art,
although this has been the central problem in music

The other contender for the crown of first video artist is Wolf Vostell, who had been working in Cologne, Germany, but went to New York and had his first solo show at Smolin Gallery, New York, in May 1963. He had seen Paik’s show in Wuppertal and, according to Decker Phillips, some of the works in his TV-Decollage exhibition “visibly reflected”[12] works that were in Paik’s show. Again, an assembly of TV sets whose pictures were distorted by technical manipulations were distributed about the room, although now with additions such as physical damage [13] that were more typical of Vostell’s earlier approach of attacking and smearing the magazine page. Vostell makes claims to have begun the TV-Decollage series in 1958-9 but, as Decker-Phillips points out, there is no documentation from the time that would confirm this. More importantly in a forensic investigation of the question she shows that, among other anomalies, the TV’s that are represented in the only document that is purported to have been from the earlier period could not have been made at that time.[14] However, the basic principle of the distortion of the televisual image is well established with both Paik's and Vostell's exhibitions.

Paik continued to produce television installation works, some of which furthered his interest in audience participation. For example in the German versions of his Magnet TV (1965) [15] the magnet could be placed as the audience wished, i.e., they could move the magnets and thus change the distortions but the source image was whatever was being broadcast at the time, given that cheap and accessible video recorders were not yet available.

Both Paik and Vostell were associated with the Fluxus “network” and these works reflect the Fluxus aesthetic of deconstructing the normal standards of art and turning it into performance, often absurdist, that rejected the aestheticised, fetishised image as sacred “object”, turning it on its head. The criticism of bourgeois society implicit in the Fluxus movement in Europe and conceptual art in the US [16] continued throughout the early video art period, with much of the video art produced after the arrival of the portable video recorder (the “portapak”) being recordings of Fluxus style performance art, the recordings of performances by Vito Acconci 17] offering a prime example.

At the same time the possibilities for combining video sources that were becoming available with the vision-mixing desks then being installed in broadcast TV production studios led some adventurous producers, e.g., Fred Barzyk at public television station WGBH in Boston [18] (with the program Jazz Images (1964-66), later followed by What’s Happening, Mr Silver? (1967)) to allow the camera operators and other studio crew to experiment and find new ways of making TV images. In 1967, at KQED San Francisco, producer Brice Howard [19> began an artists-in-residence program. In 1969 his program became the National Centre for Experiments in Television making video pieces that, as Kathy Rae Huffman has put it,

“emphasized abstract, synthesized, mystical-looking images that demonstrated state-of-the-art analog technology and bewildered many viewers”[20]

The notions of “mixing” also began to appear in experimental television productions produced in Europe with what, it has been suggested, was the first artist’s production on TV: Otto Piene and Aldo Tambellini’s Black Gate Cologne, broadcast on the German TV network, WDR Cologne, in January 1969.[21] But it is Barzyk’s WGBH production The Medium is the Medium (1969) with works by Allan Kaprow, Otto Piene, Aldo Tambellini, James Seawright, Thomas Tadlock and Nam June Paik,[22] and subsequent work by Paik, particularly Global Groove (1974),[23] - broadcast on the New York public broadcasting station WNET - that stand out as the most important early broadcasts of video art.

It was the implications of television’s rapid montage in news and advertising broadcast, and McLuhan’s reflection on it in his Understanding Media, [24] and The Medium is the Massage,[25] that provided the analytical basis for much of the video art of the late 1960s and early 1970s. This is obvious from the names, and even more so from the production style, of Barzyk’s The Medium is the Medium and Paik’s Global Groove. In Understanding Media McLuhan spelt out the “cool” nature of television versus the “hot” medium of the cinema,[26] a difference that he described as being its level of “definition”. The cinema is high definition; television (even the so-called high-definition digital television of the eraly 21st century) is a low definition form.[27] The film image as presented is complete, each frame gives the viewer everything they need as one single product, whereas the TV image scanned onto the viewer requires one’s involvement in depth and the accumulation of information over time, i.e., as process, for its completion.

The Medium is the Massage [28] was McLuhan’s follow-up and demonstration of his argument. It is a very “cool” book demonstrating the cool nature of television in the “hot” form of the book. The notion of the hot and the cool is effectively a matter of information content in the sense of Shannon information, or bits-per-unit (of time or space), which is independent of meaning.[29] Information as meaning flows from Shannon’s definition but requires a stronger footing as developed by Donald MacKay when he described it as being a function of selective activity (a là Shannon) that had some sort of function or use (i.e., meaning) for the selector.[30]

Paik set the stage for video-tape as an artist’s medium when, in October 1965 and now living in New York, he recorded Pope Paul VI's motorcade through New York using a newly acquired Sony portable video recorder. This could only have been the semi-portable CV-2000 [31] that came with a TV receiver in a combined case (the TCV-2010, which had two handles on the case so that it cold be carried by one or two people, but not over the shoulder) and a camera in a separate package. As this was a 110volt AC (mains) recorder it could only have been used to shoot from, say, a window overlooking the street along which the Pope's motorcade was travelling. The mythology that it was a “portapak” that Paik used is clearly incorrect since Sony's first portapak, the Video Rover (DV-2400), was only released in Japan and the U.S in 1967.[32] The work, called Electronic Television and Video Tape Recorder, was Paik's first personal use of videotape and after that recording (later that evening), he would then have had to transport the “portable” recorder by taxi (thus the mythical idea that it was recorded from a taxi) to the Cafe au GoGo in Bleecker St, Greenwich Village, where he could plug it in to the mains to play back the video that evening, the 4th October, 1965.[33]

He subsequently wrote a short manifesto, Electronic Video Recorder, in which he predicted much of what was to come both in videotape use and in manipulation of the video signal, thus “set[ting] up video as the art medium of the near future” and “predict[ing] the onset of an era dominated by electronic art” [34]

In Electronic Video Recorder Paik says

“ …......In my
video-taped electro vision, not only you see your picture instantaneously and find out
what kind of bad habits you have, but you see yourself deformed in 12 ways, which only
electronic ways can do.

*It is historical necessity, if there is a historical necessity in history,
that a new decade of electronic television should follow to the past decade
of electronic music

**Variability & Indeterminism is underdeveloped in optical art as parameter.
Sex is underdeveloped in music.

***As collage technic replaced oil-paint, the cathode ray tube will replace
the canvass.

****Someday artists will work with capacitors, resistors & semi-conductors as
they work today with brushes, violins and junk [35]

The primary point to make about Paik’s work is that he set up the guidelines. In one sense or another Paik tried out just about everything that it was possible to do with video, though there remained plenty of room for many other experimenters in all the possible streams of video art to follow on. This is not to say that any subsequent work was merely derivative, it is simply that Paik provided a wonderfully diverse and unpredictable launching pad for his contemporaries and video artists of later generations.

Video art has always engaged two activities:

1. The deconstruction of the role of television in the setting of meanings and agendas in daily life. Video extracted itself from television and refused to make the material of television. It saw itself as the primary critical and subverting reflection on television, making programmes that covered ideas and events that TV wouldn’t cover, covering them in ways that TV couldn’t and generating new styles of image that the engineering attitudes of TV couldn’t possibly accept because they were too far outside the parameters of the rules of broadcasting.


2. The redevelopment of the visual image in areas where we had hardly been able to look before, i.e., the manipulated or synthetic image. The technology of the times, particularly the analogue computer and its descendent the audio synthesiser, could be applied to the televisual image and thus the magic (the capacity to carry meaning and the kinds of meanings carried) behind the image could be subverted. That is, the “illusion” could be broken.

And it has done this in two primary ways:

1. Through videotape production and its display on one or more TV monitors. The typology of the results of these video production processes is diverse, consisting in video that emulates broadcast television, either satirically or as documentary, and video that utilises non-standard forms, particularly those that might be thought of as synthetic. One of the longer term products of this latter approach is the video music clip, but other forms include video in dance and other forms of video that align themselves with electronic music. [It is the synthetic work that is of most interest to me here.]

2. Through installations in which the video system itself becomes an object of art and the audience may also become essential to its operation. I discuss this further Chapter 4.

Synthetic Video

Video Synthesis is the visual equivalent of electronic music and one of the first truly electronic of the electronic visual arts. A sort of abstract expressionism gone mobile and fluid, its patterns and colours shift over time; waves of colour slewing across the screen and shapes that refer to nothing in the world but geometry, echoes of shapes and objects, edges and details of things highlighted and coloured in ways previously unseen. All these are aspects of the synthesised image.

Paik’s initial manipulations (in his March 1963 exhibition, Exposition of Music. Electronic Television, at the Galerie Parnass, see above) involved both altering the TV raster by adding audio waveforms to the deflection circuits thus distorting the size and shape of broadcast images, or microphone signals creating “fireworks of points of light on the TV screen”,[37] and altering the signal pathway in the video display electronics to mess with the synchronisation or contrast and brightness elements of the TV picture.[38] He subsequently began using degaussing coils [39] and then permanent magnets (Magnet TV, 1965)[40] and later using signals imposed on the deflection coils augmented with the addition of a third deflection coil to add an extra complexity to the image (>Dancing Patterns, 1966), and extended the possible interactions with later versions of Participation TV (1963-66).[41] Paik hinted at synthetic video in 1963 and manifested it with the Paik-Abe video synthesiser built between 1969 and 1971.

In late 1963 Paik had visited Japan. There he met the engineer Shuya Abe in the Akihabara electronics district of Tokyo and they began a long and productive collaboration.[42] Their first project together was the robot K456 [43] but more importantly they also began the deeper exploration of what electronic manipulations could be made to the video signal to effect the pictures.[44] Paik said in 1965 that he envisaged:

“the development of an adapter with dozens of possibilities which anyone could use in his own home, using his increased leisure to transform his TV set from a passive pastime to active creation.”[45]

As Paik began to show, it is possible to manipulate the actual video signal, filtering it and changing its colour, and thereby producing entirely different results compared to deflection circuit manipulation. Here begins the story of the video synthesiser.

Eric Siegel is credited with the first video image colouriser, his Processing Chrominance Synthesizer (PCS) of 1968.[46] He followed up the colouriser with his Electronic Video Synthesizer (EVS) in 1970, of which he says

“On the EVS you just have to put in sync, and everything is composed for you right inside the synthesizer. But you can put in live cameras too, and do things that involve pictures and synthesizer images.”[47]

The Siegel devices were rapidly followed by Stephen Beck with his “Direct Video Synthesiser” and his “Video Weaver”[48] and numerous other electronic manipulations of the video image were developed and refined over the decade from 1969 with the further development of video synthesisers.

In 1969 Paik invited Abe to Boston to build a video synthesiser. The first version was completed in 1970 and used at WGBH-TV for a four hour live production, Video Commune. [49] The Paik-Abe synthesiser was a combination of video-camera mixer – in which the cameras were set up to supply an image in one of each of the seven colours of the rainbow – and scan-manipulation device which produced colour video images that “range from realistic images to pure abstract patterns and every shade in between”.[50]

[What about the Michael Cox coloriser from Britain???]

In Britain the notion of the synthetic sound or image was first given a platform in Jasia Reichardt's Cybernetic Serendipity at the Institute of Contemporary Art (ICA) in London 1968. There was a considerable amount of music composed and played by computers, computer choreography for dance, electronic visuals of various kinds and several large installation structures using audience feedback (interaction) to modulate the process of various analogue and digital machines. A significant one was Gordon Pask's large scale installation Colloquy of Mobiles, a very early example of machine learning. In an extract from his description of the work, it is

“a group of objects, the individual mobiles, that engage in discourse, that compete, co-operate and learn about one another. Their discourse evolves at several levels in a hierarchy of control and a hierarchy of abstraction. … if you find them interesting then you can join in the discourse as well and bring your influence to bear by participating in what goes on. … Each individual mobile has a set of programmes that determine its motions and its visible state. Each individual learns how to deploy its programmes in order to achieve a goal.”[51]

Visual display works included one of many variations of Nam June Paik's Dancing Patterns series of magnetically manipulable TV sets. These were described as “responsive environments [in which] the observer can actually touch things and make it the way he [sic] likes it.”[52] Tango Electronique, the version shown at Cybernetic Serendipity, sits passively showing “shimmering coloured lines. You turn a knob, and the screen explodes into patterns”,[53] thus to make it into an artwork the viewer actually has to physically engage with the work. As Norman Bauman, who wrote the catalogue entry for Paik's works in the exhibition, comments:

“ Passive art is a real threat to our culture. If the viewer does not enter art, he [sic] cannot possibly hope to understand it. A major part of the thrill of Mr. Paik's exhibit is pushing the button yourself, and knowing that you made that little blip there.”[54]

And, as Paik, quoted in the same entry, asks:

“... why not paint with magnetic fields, the working stuff of our technology to get a completely new and completely different feel? The beautiful patterns of

'loga Cage – 3.5McLuhan = ± sorry'

Norbert Wiener

the black and white pattern which is generated from a single vertical line,...”[55]

The equation more or less sums up Paik's influences after he arrived in the US.

Paik also showed Robot K-456 described as “a female robot known for her disturbing and idiosyncratic behaviour.” [56

Other television works at Cybernetic Serendipity included Roger Dainton's piece called Simulated Synasthesia [sic], of which he noted:

“I wanted to explore effects as a means of transforming from medium to another, from sounds in time to light in space and time.

From the frequencies of the music, all the colours of the spectrum are reproduced. Some patterns appear to be stationary, or float very slowly. This is because the music at this moment has a close relationship in frequency to the display, thus the structure and texture of the coloured patterns is formed.”[57]

From the look of the object in the picture in the Cybernetic Serendipity catalogue it was a TV set with an added package of of electronics below it. What those electronics did I have not been able to discover, nor have I been able to find any images of the actual visualisation produced, i.e. whether it was manipulated raster (producing Lissajous figures) or waveform generator (oscillator) circuits fed into the RGB driver transistors of the TV (producing colour fields) that created the images. Though I do suspect the latter.

There were also computer generated films from two American computer artists: John Whitney's Permutations (1966) and Ken Knowlton's film on computer animation using a mosaic technique, A Computer Technique for the Production of Animated Movies, (n.d., probably 1966 or 67).

Later, in 1973, Richard Monkhouse was working for Peter Zinovieff's Electronic Music Studios (EMS) - who had already been manufacturing audio synthesisers such as the VCS 3 (the “Putney”, 1969) and the Synthi A (1971) and AKS (1972) in London [58]. He was developing audio monitoring tools for Zinovieff's studio and went on to develop the hybrid analogue and digital Spectron video synthesiser for EMS. In an interview with Chris Meigh Andrews, Monkhouse talked about how the project started:

“I was given the job of designing some video sync circuitry. So I got a colour video monitor and a sync circuit and I started to plug direct RGB video signals from the digital timing circuit into the colour monitor. I suddenly realised how amazing pure colour video imagery actually is. In fact I got so excited by the pure colours that I was getting that I damaged the Trinitron monitor feeding in stronger and stronger colours, I heated up and bent the masks!!
“ These images and colours intrigued and excited me and led me to design some circuits which did more than generate stripes and squares.
“I was interested to explore what it could do within its limitations, and to explore what I thought its powers were – given the limitations of what I had available to me. I wasn't in an art college, and I didn't have access to a lot of colour cameras. I only had the resources that I got from EMS. (When I left, I did, in fact replicate those facilities.)”[59]

Spectron needs to be described.

In 1975 Warren Burt, an American electronic music composer teaching at the Latrobe University Music Department (where Keith Humble was the head of deprtment) bought a Spectron for the department's electronic music studio. He and his students, particularly David Chesworth, proceeded to use it to great effect. See Burt and David Chesworth below.

Slightly before this Melbourne based technician/artist, John Hansen, was mucking around with Lissajous figure generators. He subsequently built a video synthesiser (in 1974) and later in the 70s developed an early computer graphics paint system.

I shall come to Hansen's, Burt's and Chesworth's work duly.

There are four classes of video manipulation operating in video synthesisers:

1. Raster (or scan) manipulation which changes the shape of the picture using magnets or signals superimposed on the deflection coils,
2. Image processing which variously colours and filters the image.
3. Direct synthesis of the image using pattern generators and waveform synthesis.
4. Video feedback, which produces very slightly delayed versions of a frame that are then fed back into the video image on the next frame causing an echo effect.

The equipment used to produce this “synthetic” video rarely predicted the image (or sound) that was going to come out of it. Unless you had a thorough understanding of the circuit and what such circuits could do you had little means of knowing (other than your own experience) of what the equipment might be capable. Unlike a paint brush or a cello which somehow entails its productions, electronics is just electronics, circuits and wiring, the use of which could be applied to video, sound, computers and so on, all having the same basic components. At the time that the technology of the video portapak was appearing, other kinds of electronic technologies which appeared (i.e., the first commercially available integrated circuits) also allowed for a major shift in electronic music through the use of analogue computer technology [60] and the first sound synthesisers, which, through the research of people like Robert Moog [61] in the US, and Peter Zinovief at EMS [62] in Britain, grew out of the audio equipment testing laboratory.[63] The people experimenting with the new video capability were often also working in electronic music, so it was natural that some of the designers of audio synthesisers also started building video synthesisers.[64] The video synthesiser was really the same piece of equipment but with its output stages set up to drive video monitors and oscilloscopes in various ways.

One of the primary ideas behind a lot of video experimentation was the production of “visual music”, a kind of pictorial equivalent to the experimental music of the day, having its antecedents in the synsthesia of German poet E.T.A. Hoffman [find a reference that mentions Hoffmann's synaesthesia] and the colour organ of Scriabin. [65] In its new technological form, this non-referential synsthesia is the dance of the electron across the screen as driven by the music, almost independently of any kind of known visual source or natural image. I argue that the artificial (electronically synthesised) image has as much legitimacy as the electronically generated sound and that the two go well together, being derived from the same source waveforms, even if handled through quite different means. It is as though the visual image could be played in much the way one played an analogue sound synthesiser, with the patching of connections and the twisting and turning of knobs, giving the feel of real-time control. The electronics becomes an instrument as much as any acoustical musical instrument and much the same could be experienced in live video synthesis.[66]

The synthesised image comes out of “thin air”, so to speak, and bears no necessary relation to the “real” world. There is nothing already known to hang it on, from which to extract meaning and thus dilemma starts, how do we inject meaning into this stuff? How do we use it? To what does it point, refer? What does it signify when there is nothing being pointed at, just the electronic image pointing... It is almost a “one hand clapping” problem, signifier without signified, pointing only to itself. Think about Paik's TV Buddha.

TV Buddha during installation
Fig.1: Nam June Paik's TV Buddha
during installation at the Art Gallery of NSW, March 1976.
[Installation and Photograph: Stephen Jones]

But then, given that the video mage is being inscribed onto the phosphor screen, the question arises, what actually is being written about and to what extent can it be understood? What are the semiotics of this clearly abstract form of writing? What were the authors of these inscriptions trying to say to their viewers/readers, regardless of whether the viewers knew how to read the texts? I shall have more to say about this when looking at some of Bush Video’s work (below) and the answer is extended through Doug Richardson’s description of what it was that motivated him with his computer art developments (for which see Chapter 4 ?)

So at this point we return to the Australian experience.

Now, regarding the synthetic image we should recognise here that by 1962, the immigrant Polish artist Stanislaus Ostoja-Kotkowski had begun his investigations into “electronic drawing”.

Electronic Drawing - Stanislaus Ostoja-Kotkowski

Ostoja-Kotkowski was born in Poland in 1922 and studied painting and drawing during WWII. In 1946 he won a scholarship to study in Germany at the Academy of Fine Arts in Dusseldorf, which continued the traditions of the Bauhaus. He studied there until he emigrated to Australia in late 1949, and furthered his studies at the National Gallery School in Melbourne, over 1950-52.[67] During the years 1954-55 he worked in Central Australia [68] which he has said, in a 1968 conversation with the art critic Laurie Thomas, had a profound effect on him:

“The terrific iridescence you can get behind the eyes in Central Australia forces you to think of the source of light – whether it’s beam, lantern or sun – and to think of it as the most impressive, most flexible and richest tool imaginable for an artist. The life giving source. ... Why couldn’t a painting change its shape, form and color? ... It seemed to me that you could achieve this by by using light as a tool and that the closest thing to the source of light we know and can handle confidently is electronics.” [69]

Subsequently, as Thomas records

“He began playing with one of those early television sets with plenty of knobs, creating contracting shapes, rolling them, twisting them, watching the dizzle-dazzle effects between the snow, the flashing patterns.” [70]

These experiments led to his interest in electronic images and to his first development of “a means of electronic painting” [71] by photographing the manipulated television image. He found he could introduce extra contrast and put the picture out of alignment and out of synchronisation but he wasn't modifying the electronics at this stage. He says he got some superb images, and thus his drawing with light began in drawing with electrons on the phosphor of the TV tube.[72 However, he was seeking some kind of “pure” image, the distorted broadcast image being unsatisfying, so he went looking for a way to “control his own orchestra of light and shape”.[73

In 1962 he persuaded Malcolm Kay, an engineer at the Philips Research Laboratories in Hendon, South Australia, to build for him a device that could alter the deflection waveforms and thereby the electromagnetic fields driving the electron beam in the TV picture tube so that the raster could be curled and shaped into planes and volumes, producing almost sculptural forms on the screen.74] These first images were shown at his Argus Gallery, Melbourne, exhibition in July 1964. Ostoja-Kotkowski's photographs from the TV screen show a heavily distorted raster, with what might have been elements of broadcast images but they were not particularly interpretable as such, being more slewed angular blobs or more-or-less random collections of lines across the image. They were quite different from Paik's television images in which the broadcast pictures were “live” and still recognisable, if distorted, with faces and scenes still clearly readable.75]

Later images from Ostoja-Kotkowski's raster manipulation “synthesiser” became more sophisticated and better controlled as the device was refined. They were far more pure, almost op art forms made up of carefully grouped arrays of (raster) lines, bent into graceful curves and sprays. In 1966 they graced the covers of Meanjin Quarterly.[76][Fig.2] But they were all abstract images formed from pulling the scan-lines of the TV magnetically towards a point or drawn together into a cascade yielding a loosely woven surface of bright lines sweeping and curling across the screen. He predicted that the artist would be able to control the form of the electronic images as much as with painting, even though this “may be restricted by temporary technical short-comings”.[77]

Ostoja-Kotkowski's electronic drawing
Fig. 2: Four Electronic Drawings by Stan Ostoja-Kotkowski.
Scanned from the covers of Meanjin, vol.25, nos.1-4.
[Courtesy the estate of Ostoja-Kotkowski]

As I have already suggested, this work is of some importance when we look at what else was going on worldwide, in what, at that stage, was often considered merely a form of engineering experiment or, when produced by already established artists, as installation-cum-happening a là Fluxus. Several animators, Mary Ellen Bute (US) [78], Norman McLaren in collaboration with Evelyn Lambert (Canada), particularly in their film Around is Around,[79] and Hy Hirsh (US) had been using oscilloscope imagery in their work as long ago as the early 1950s.[80] However the best known artist’s work using the oscilloscope was that of Ben Laposky (US) who constructed and photographed elaborate Lissajous figures that he called “Oscillons” or “Electronic Abstractions” made using waveforms from an analogue computer and displayed using an oscilloscope.[81]

Laposky was producing electronic images in the form of Lissajous figures which could be thought of as similar to what Ostoja-Kotkowski was producing, however it was through the simple injection of audio waveforms into the X and Y inputs of the oscilloscope. Ostoja-Kotkowski’s “electronic drawings”, as he called them, were generated with a device that directly manipulated the beam deflection in the TV set using audio waveforms as the manipulation signals, not unlike an oscilloscope, but they were more than simple Lissajous figures given that the raster, and sometimes the video image, were still more or less intact. From a description in an article titled “Electronic Images” in the magazine Camera World International, the author (signed only as K.L.A.) quotes Ostoja-Kotkowski:

“When making electronic images, the black and white intervals used come from broadcast television programs or from square wave and sine wave generators. The timing of the lines is adjusted by hand after disconnecting the normal synchronising circuitry. The shape of the picture can also be controlled by magnetic fields. A permanent magnet, or more conveniently, a D.C. electromagnet, can be used to bend parts of the picture, whilst an A.C. electromagnet supplied with current at picture repetition frequency (frame frequency), can be used to form swirls and folds, the nature of the shape depending on the phase angle between the magnetic field and the picture repetition frequency.”[82]

Paik is generally thought of as the first to manipulate the video display using both permanent magnets and electromagnets, the latter initially through the use of a degaussing coil, to twist and distort the raster whether it was blank or had some sort of television image with it, though this was not done until 1965 with the work Magnet TV.[83] He had previously manipulated the internal electronics of the TV in the 1963 Exposition of Music - Electronic Television exhibition in Wuppertal, but these were essentially static or permanent effects and could not be “played” in any sense, although one of the pieces was a work called Participation TV in which a microphone was used to drive the deflection coils creating an explosion of dancing lines in the centre of the screen. In 1966 Paik presented a series of what he called Dancing Patterns in which he added a third coil of wire around the neck of the CRT and used audio power amplifiers fed with sine-waves to form Lissajous figures that gave an extra degree of freedom by which the regularities of the usual sine-wave based Lissajous figure were further distorted by a signal being applied to this extra coil.[84]

It is also generally considered that Paik was the first to build a playable image manipulation device that could be used live in the making of a television program, however Eric Siegel's Processing Chrominance Synthesizer (PCS) preceded the Paik-Abe Synth, having been built in 1968, (see above). It wasn’t until 1969-1970 that Paik built (with Shuya Abe) his first video synthesiser, essentially a colouriser and usually accompanied by a raster manipulation device.[85] It was built for, and used live during, a television production called Video Commune produced in 1970 by WGBH Boston.[86] However the accolade of first to build an image synthesiser probably belongs to the Computer Image Corporation and their Scanimate device, which grew out of work begun in 1962.[87] Ostoja-Kotkowski’s machine for producing Electronic Drawings (also begun in 1962) fits in between the figure animation precursors of the Scanimate and Paik’s more active magnetic manipulations of the TV raster. The important thing about Ostoja-Kotkowski’s machine is that it could be controlled at a control panel, that is, it could be “played”. So in some way it is possible to make the claim that Ostoja-Kotkowski and his engineer, Malcolm Kay, actually built the first video synthesiser, given that it was built and producing images by 1964, at almost the very beginning of the history of video art, although not of electronic visual art.[88]

The question of precedence for Ostoja-Kotkowski has another dimension, however, and that resides in the fact that what he said about what he was doing was that he was making “drawings”, which had to be photographed off the screen, much as Laposky’s Electronic Abstractions. He was making stills not moving images, and he does not appear to have thought of them as video or as being time-based, but as electronic drawings (albeit quite a lot of the raster manipulation work was recorded to film,[89] and he was also making films with Ian Davidson). [90] Thus, while he was not making videotape-based work it is perfectly appropriate to claim that he was making “video art”, since the manipulated images were drawn from the blank television raster rather than an oscilloscope, a là Laposky, and they are more akin to Paik’s Magnet TV of 1965 than they are to Laposky’s work. Ostoja-Kotkowski's real interest was in making images with light and he saw the television tube more as a source of light rather than as some kind of device for the display of images. Nevertheless, it wasn’t long before he was recording his electronic drawings to film for use as backdrops for performances of ballets accompanied by electronic music, and to making TV segments based on his collaborations with choreographer Elizabeth Dalman and others for ABC and GTV in Adelaide.[91] The Ostoja-Kotkowski archive at the State Library of South Australia includes a reference to

“a Sound and Image production on GTV Channel 9. Ostoja-Kotkowski created the electronic images and used music by Henk Badings. Choreography Elizabeth Dalman, dancers Dianna Clayfield and Zane Danson, and director Brian Phillis 1964.”[92]

Other pieces were made as short segments for the ABC. One of these, Sound and Image, was kinescoped to film and exhibited in an Ubu Films Experimental Films and Underground Movies program in March 1967.[93]

Ostoja-Kotkowski’s next development was his series of “Polarchromatic” images, developed with the assistance of Dr. G. de V. Gipps also of the Philips Research Laboratory in Adelaide. The Polarchromatics are described as being of a

“continuously colour-changing design based on the principle [of] polarising the light [and consisted in] a T.V.-set-like-box [with] a fixed image of intertwined circular shapes [that] changes colour and form as sensitized material blocks off areas of light on a rotar system.”[94]

Elwyn Lynn, then art critic and curator of the Power Institute collection in the Department of Fine Arts at the University of Sydney, was clearly not enthusiastic about the lack of emotional feeling in Ostoja-Kotkowski’s work in general. He described them as

“fixed circles in boxes [that] change their hues as concealed lights glow through polarised filters, but one feels (if feeling comes into it) only retinally, not emotionally involved.”[95]

The comment demonstrates one of the more common attitudes expressed at the time, and for a considerable period thereafter, about art produced with new technologies; that it was unemotional, even inhuman. However others have not been disturbed by this “scientific” approach, describing Ostoja-Kotkowski’s work as being

“perfectly attuned to the space age ... a new synthesis of art and technology which is perfectly in tune with today – and tomorrow.”[96]

The development of work using new materials and new technologies is often seen as a challenge by artists who have been working with the materials that the new technology might be seen as replacing. The real issue though, is probably more honestly expressed by Sydney Daily Telegraph columnist, Ray Castles, who in referring to Ostoja-Kotkowski’s 1966 Gallery A exhibition in Sydney, notes that the artist:

“suggested that his sort of art eventually will make the conventional brush and palette as out of date as running boards [on cars].
He sees a time when artists stand in front of computers with helmets on their heads and “think” their pictures through a computer on to a glass screen beyond.
It is, he claims, already a possibility.
I don’t doubt it, but I don’t want it. Or perhaps it’s just that I’m unwilling to accept it; that I don’t want to live in a world in which art is a computer.”[97]

Television in Australia

Leading up to this period, TV arrived in Australia in 1956, precipitated by the Melbourne Olympics. The ABC acquired an Outside Broadcast van to televise them. Interestingly one of its first uses was in the closed circuit presentation of the commissioning of SILLIAC at the University of Sydney as a training exercise to ready the crew for the Melbourne Olympics. After the Olympics, TV allowed Australians to watch the cricket, enthuse over the antics of Graham Kennedy and other TV hosts, become bored stiff by soap operas or, for youngsters like me, fascinated by the afternoon serials such as Superman and Jet Jackson. For the kids whose families owned one they were an instrument of status, while for others it was a site of wonder and a gathering place for all the locals. However any sense that one might be able to manipulate the TV image or influence its content, let alone actually produce content for it, was beyond reach. Television was strictly one-way.

The notion that one might be able to challenge it or the model society it projected was, for most, inconceivable. However by the mid-60s with the first inklings of a counter-culture in Australia; the avant-garde in theatre, experimental film and abstract painting began to render it conceivable. McLuhan had published the Gutenberg Galaxy [98] in which he wrote of the impact of print on human consciousness and he generalised it to television in his Understanding Media.[99] These books had a huge impact on a young intelligentsia who were also interested in politics, civil liberties and not getting caught up in the deadly Vietnam War. LSD and the Beatles, psychedelic art and light shows became the basis for a new popular culture which extended into experimental film and pop art and to a lesser extent abstract painting and kinetic sculpture.

As noted above David Perry was in London from 1970 to early 1974. He came back to Australia in March 1974 [100] to the open and ldquo;friendly co-operativeness” that showed the “huge cultural shift” that the Whitlam government had helped realise in Australia.[101] He found he could access the photographic darkrooms of the Tin Sheds at Sydney Uni and the video equipment held by the (Paddington) Video Access Centre. The Video Access Centres and their extended network were a product of Whitlam government support for the concept (drawn from the Canadian Challenge for Change project, see above) of community development through making the media more accessible to the people so that they could, in their various ways and needs, communicate with each other and the bureaucracy. This access to video allowed him to do new video work and he produced Goodbye Richard Nixon (1974), a scathing comment on the Watergate affair based on a song by Johnny Earls which Perry had recorded on portapak while still in London.[102] Now back in Sydney he completed the piece with material taken from Nixon’s resignation speech.

Perry in workshop window
Fig. 3: David Perry looking in the window of the workshop in a frame from A TV Show.
[Courtesy: estate of David Perry]

In 1975 Perry accepted a position as artist-in-residence at Griffith University Film and Drama Centre (now Arts Workshop) in Brisbane. As the workshop was brand new, Perry was able to have the University purchase and install his own version of what was then ideally possible in low budget production facilities. Although the system he built was not perfect for editing, lacking the frame accuracy that film editing could provide, it provided a useful facility for Perry’s style of very personal video.

David Perry and Katina Comino editing in the workshop.
Fig.4: David Perry and Katina Comino editing in the workshop.
[Courtesy: estate of David Perry]

While there, he made three documentary works: A TV Show, in which he told the story of the establishment of the workshop [Figs.3 & 4], Down to Sydney and Back to Brisbane, which tells the story of visits to friends made on this journey, and Near Redland Bay, a study of the landscape near his home.[103] As a work of video art his most significant work from the Griffith University residency (1975) was Interior with Views. Representing a perfect moment in the afternoon – dappled sunlight and a cup of tea – it lasts the time it takes to boil the jug and make a cup of tea, and in that action sums up so much of what makes the Australian manner, encapsulating the quiet steadiness of his life as artist-in-residence in 1975. Somehow this simple work brings out the quiet pleasure of the Australian bush while being an elegant and spare reflection on just what video art can be. [Fig.5]

Frame from <i>Interior with Views</i>.
Fig.5: Still frame from Perry's Interior With Views. [Courtesy: estate of David Perry]

Meanwhile in 1970, for the Ubu adventurers, experimental film led to lightshows, the Sydney Film-makers Co-op [the Melbourne Film-makers Co-op was established slightly later c.1971 by Fred Harden and local film-makers such as Bert Deling and the Cantrills] and, in part, a revival of the Australian film industry. Subsequently over the early ‘70s, for Perry, Harden, Deling and others it led to further experiments with video, the attraction being that you could shoot long sequences of continuous material without having to change reels every few minutes and that you could see the results then and there, without having to wait for film processing. The downside was that, for low budget productions, it was black and white only, it was quite low resolution compared to 16mm film and editing it was next to impossible. The lack of colour was solved quite soon with the release of a colour capable Akai ¼” portapak (VT-150) in the early ‘70s, followed by the Sony U-matic (c.1974), but it took ages to solve the editing problem although makeshift solutions were developed pretty rapidly.[104] The resolution problem was solved more by judicious use than anything else and the fact that for many productions the information was far more important than beautiful pictures. So effectively video became the activist’s medium of choice, but for some it was possible to access the so-called “broadcast standard” colour television facilities available if one had the budget. The first to do this was Mick Glasheen.

Mick Glasheen

Glasheen was one of the young film enthusiasts of the early ‘60s. He was born in Sydney in 1942 and began studying architecture at the University of NSW in 1959. As his studies continued he saw experimental animation by Norman McLaren, (probably among the first that he saw), Peter Foldes,[105] whose painterly hand animation, Animated Genesis, he saw when Foldes visited Australia; Bruce Connor,[106] whose films were shown in Ubu Films showings; Harry Smith [107] and Jordan Belson [108] whose films he probably saw in the New American Cinema showings in July 1967.[109]

Glasheen thinks that Smith’s handmade animations were the first scratched films that he saw, commenting that the Len Lye films [110] were not available in Sydney at this period.[111] He saw Frank Eidlitz’ films (presumably in the Ubu films repeat showing of Experimental Films and Underground Movies at the Sydney University Union Theatre, 19 March 1967 [112]. He was also very interested in kinetic art and read some of Gyorgy Kepes' books, [113] which he got from the libraries at the University of NSW and at East Sydney Tech. His most important influences were Marshall McLuhan’s writings on the role of media in society [114] and Buckminster Fuller’s writings on architecture and the environment.[115]

Although Glasheen’s architecture studies tended to lose out, his interests in the various media of communication developed. In 1962 he began making a series of audio-visual and film works for the annual conferences of the Architecture Students Association. His first, on the environment, was a three-screen slide show with music. In 1963 he began doing artwork and layout for Oz magazine, edited by Martin Sharp, Richard Neville and Richard Walsh,[116] with its first issue in April that year. His interest in film led to the making of
Who + Lives = Home for the architecture student conference of 1964. It was

“based on ideas of this Dutch architect, Aldo van Eyck - the home is a large city and the city is a small home. So we were making a film on that theme, looking at parts of the city which looked like a small home and parts of the home that looked like a city.” [117]

This was followed by The Evolution of 1966 which was made for the 1966 architecture student conference. Glasheen describes it as being “inspired by hearing Bucky Fuller” who had visited, Glasheen thinks, in 1965. It presented

“ the history of the world up until that year. It begins with the number countdown and it goes through man’s evolution of numbers and then it goes through the evolution of different technologies, based on Marshall McLuhan’s idea about how technologies are extensions of our sense organs and our hands: a cup is an extension of the cupped hand. [It included] a bit of geometry”[118]

In the second term of 1966 Glasheen was appointed editor of the UNSW Foundation Day Tharunka on the basis of a proposal to construct an entirely visual layout based on McLuhan’s recently published and incredibly influential The Gutenberg Galaxy and Understanding Media.[119] The issue, Be Astounded [120] was a typographical extravaganza, a graphic, multi-layered, juxtaposed mosaic of images and print from the newspapers, comics and other advertising and consumer media of the day. [Fig.6]

Glasheen, as editor, stated on the final page of the issue:

“Our aim was to show the effect of the medium of print on society - not the “content” of what is printed, but the impact of the communicating medium; how this medium has changed our perception of the world. We are indebted to the writings of Marshall McLuhan, whose books The Gutenberg Galaxy and Understanding Media, were the direct inspiration for this hot iconic newspaper cool myth mosaic comic communication engineering information theory general system ad.”[121]

The page, illustrated in Fig.6, includes two computer images, which Glasheen thinks were (probably) both produced on the English Electric KDF-9 computer at the University of Sydney and which he collaged into a copy of a newspaper births and deaths column. The Yogi Bear printout is an example of the character-graphic printouts done for Open Days and such. The other, also a character-graphic printout, was the classic “naked lady” (as they were known) and most likely destined for the engineers’ office. He told me that he sent the Tharunka issue to McLuhan who responded:

“I was astounded”.[122]

The Pop Art view of the media presented in the Be Astounded issue of Tharunka appears to have grown out of the style of Oz magazine. Although it was not moving image, the McLuhanesque view of the media Glasheen demonstrated with it showed the same influences that were developing in his films and later in his video work.

Page from the <i>Be Asounded</i> issue of <i>Tharunka</i>
Fig.6: A page from the Be Astounded issue of Tharunka
[Courtesy: Mick Glasheen]

While the fine art world was arguing about the merits of abstraction versus figuration, the far more populist Pop Art was gathering adherents. One group of Australian artists, those assembled around Oz magazine, became its leading proponents here.[123 In Oz no.27 (Sydney, May 1966), Glasheen assembled a centre-spread collage of advertising signs and package labels headlined the “Oz Pop Shop Catalogue”. As he said:

Everyone is aware of American pop art but somehow, the Australian public has remained blind to the indigenous pop movement which has flourished here for so long beneath its nose.”[124]

This led, in the third term of this his annus mirabilis (1966), to Glasheen’s first art exhibition, at Clune Galleries in Macleay St, Kings Cross, (which later became the Yellow House). The exhibition, called the Oz Super Art Mart,[125] was intended to be a group exhibition of artists who worked on Oz Magazine, although several of the principle Oz artists turned out to be unavailable. Glasheen describes it;

“It was just going to be a Pop Art exhibition. And what it was, was an installation of found objects in supermarkets and it was mass produced consumer items really, but with some enhancement, with paint or something. We blew up newspaper front pages and painted them with acrylic paint, like there were six newspaper front pages mounted onto board, and acrylic paint on them. We assembled big … advertising Rinso packets, and we assembled them into big cruciform shapes. … And we had street signs, minimalist art - that diagonal slash of black and white that means you can drive at any speed - on a street sign.”[126] [Fig.7]

Oz Super Art market</i>
Fig.7: Installation photo of one wall of the Super At Market; Courtesy: Mick Glasheen]

As well as the Pop Art / advertising design / McLuhan crossover there was a decidedly pop kinetic art thing going on. One example is Jack Meyer’s contribution to the Oz Super Art Market:

“Jack surprised me by bringing something. I didn’t even know he was working on something, but he brought some incredible piece that was a kind of record player, using an old 78 turntable with a needle, ... this incredible Heath Robinson contraption that played music, and it was just in the corner playing a record.”[127] [Fig.8]

Jack Meyer's phonograph in the Oz Super Art market</i>
Fig.8: Phonogram at Glasheen's OZ Super Art Mart
Clune Galleries, September 1966.
[Photograph: Grant Mudford; Courtesy: Meyer]

All of his extra-curricular work led to Glasheen being asked to leave the architecture course, so 1966 was his last year of university. As well as being interested in McLuhan’s media theories, he was very interested in Fuller’s synergetic approach to architecture and was thus able to spend 1967 reading many of the books recommended in Fuller’s World Design Science Decade documents.[128] Having met Fuller at the 1966 Architecture Student conference, where he showed him The Evolution of 1966, he decided that he could best contribute to Fuller’s project by

“work[ing] on the communications side of what needs to be done, and I thought I could make a film called World which was about the relation between man, energy and culture.”[129]

World was a 45-minute, three-screen film [130] that Glasheen presented at the 1968 Architecture Student conference in the Cell Block Theatre in Darlinghurst, Sydney. The architect Ian Mackay, who shared an interest in the World Design Science Decade project, funded the film. A segment from it was shown on the ABC’s GTK program on 12 May 1971.

By now Glasheen had made a number of experimental films with a decidedly Pop Art aesthetic to them. Much of his work was based on the use of time-lapse filming of landscape and the weather and he was said to have a collection of 500 time-lapse sunsets and sunrises.[131] Jack Meyer built the time-lapse “intervalometers” that Glasheen used:

He built my two intervalometers that I had for the 16mm Bolex. Jack Meyer designed them and made them; built them out of electronic parts and windscreen wiper motors. They were beautiful bits of handmade technology. He was a whiz with cut perspex and lights.”[132]

Glasheen goes on to say of Meyer

“Jack Meyer was more the kind of... “Just get the video camera and get the hacksaw on to it,” you know “saw the camera in half to get into the electronics”, you know, to do things. It was real kind of hands on, and he was brilliant with the soldering iron and electronics. … He then started to branch out into making whole sculptures like that, like really the intervalometers did help to get him started. “Yes I can make this amazing new electro-optic, kinetic sculpture. There's a market here.” He had a couple of commissions, and the ones that are in the catalogue now were commissioned probably. There was this art collector who commissioned Jack to make some of those sculptures, and they're the ones that are still around. And Jack also brought in an amazing sculpture that was in the Oz Super Art Market art exhibition.”[133]

Teleologic Telecast from Spaceship Earth.

The video image can be produced entirely electronically: e.g., Ostoja-Kotkowski’s electronic drawing and Perry’s Mad Mesh, although both of these were recorded to film; or it can be thought of as being dependent on images generated with the aid of television or video cameras and augmented with actual electronic production processes.[134] Using this latter definition, it is possible to trace the use of electronic imaging in Australian video production back to what is arguably the first video art production made in Australia, Mick Glasheen’s Teleologic Telecast from Spaceship Earth - On Board with Buckminster Fuller, finished in 1970. This was a 28min video document based on a recording, made at the University of NSW, of a talk given by Buckminster Fuller to the Architecture Students Association in 1968.

Glasheen noted that Fuller had come to Australia for the Architecture Students Association conferences in 1965, '66 and was due in '68. And,

“by that time, the Australian Council for the Arts had just initiated the first experimental film grant idea. ... I knew Bucky was coming out in May and I thought what about we apply for some money to make a film or a video of Bucky when he comes, and that was in the first batch of film and television Experimental Film Fund grants. So I got some money to actually do something with Bucky.” [135]

When it was announced that Fuller was going to be giving a series of lectures, in Sydney in 1968 Glasheen wrote to him asking if he could record the talks. Fuller assented, and it was during the filming of his first lecture “at the Law School in Sydney” that Glasheen realised that video would be a far easier medium to use.

“I was lined up with 16mm cameras and separate Nagra tape-recorders to record his lecture. Half way through, changing reels and tape, I thought there’s got to be a better way of recording a lecture than changing film and Nagras. I’d heard that the uni had a video section where they had two-inch black and white video. So I arranged then to record his other lectures on video. It took an enormous amount of talking to Sydney Uni and NSW Uni video people to actually get them to do it. And they did do it in the end. It was, like, a combination of the two. Sydney Uni had a good outside broadcast van and NSW Uni had pretty good studio facilities.

“So between the two, we shot one of Bucky’s lectures with the outside broadcast van from Sydney Uni. But they had to flood the lecture theatre with light, to light the whole bloody stage just to get this one little figure. I didn’t understand why they had to light so much and Bucky was blinded by the light, and it ruined his lecture really, ruined his empathy with the audience, you know, it was huge, all these lights. But he championed on, powering through it, you know: “well they want to make a video of me and I agreed I’d do this” (and he did it).

“Anyway, so we recorded just about every lecture that he gave in that week and then we did some special lectures at the [University of] NSW television studio where he just lectured straight to the video camera. They were the one's that I used... It's just Bucky talking and I just put video effects to it.”[136]

Dymaxion globe and Bucky Fuller
Fig. 9: Bucky Fuller with his Dymaxioin Globe.
Still frame from Glasheen's Teleologic Telecast
[Courtesy Mick Glasheen]

It was from the uncut video stream of this last in the series of Fuller’s lectures, that Glasheen made Teleologic Telecast from Spaceship Earth: On board with Buckminster Fuller. In July 1970, he received $2000 from the very first round of grants from the Australian Council for the Arts’ Experimental Film and Television Fund [137] to edit and mix a half hour video from the talk. The post-production was done at the Video Tape Corporation (VTC) facility in Roseville in Sydney in 1970. VTC was the first colour television production facility in Australia. They showed him what could be done and he then went away and wrote a storyboard of what he wanted. Mick tells the story:

“A guy named Win Frecker, Mr. Frecker, was the managing director. And he was an ex-ABC producer. And it was through him that we got it done really, it was his “okay, yes we can do it” for $1000. The whole grant was like $2000, maybe it was two and a half at a push. The other thousand all went into the 16mm film hiring, etc, film stock. I did shoot a lot of 16mm colour film to mix in with Bucky. But the other $1000 was for the Video Tape Corporation, which I now remember was like 24 hours time. I had 24 hours... but it was in, like, off-time. They used to ring me when they had a couple of hours here or there, 'cause I was staying at my mother's at Lindfield which is just up the road, and Tom Barber used to come and help, he was my offsider, setting things up in the studio, putting props in, setting up the oranges, we built up that pyramid of oranges and all that sort of thing. Tom helped me do all that. And Tom [had] helped when we shot Bucky in the studio. But I can't remember who was the videotape operator at Video Tape Corporation [and] there was another guy who I ... was pushing to go through their whole set of tricks, whatever they had. There was whole sort of thing about showing me everything they had, you know, they didn't have that much. They had a video disk, where you could slo-mo, on which you could store thirty seconds of action, slo-mo or freeze frame or go backwards and forwards. I did a lot of video disk slo-mo backwards and forwards stuff. But all the other effects, basically... oh yeah, and that enabled us to do a bit of superimposition of things on top of themselves which you couldn't really do any other way because you only had two videotape machines, maybe there were three, it was mixing between machines, it was just mixing on the run.

“But Win Frecker was interested in doing it ... So when I finished the tape, there was a whole contingent from the [Australian Council for the Arts] who came to have a look at it. You know, the head of the Arts Council, Jean Battersby, and Barry Jones who was on the Arts Council and the [Experimental Film and Television Fund], he ... had to come and see it. And the head of ABC [Features], Humphrey Fisher, he was there, and Bruce Gyngel was there and Bob Raymond who was a friend of Bruce Gyngel's, who happened to be just with Bruce, to see what was happening with new documentary.

“So I had this, kind of, showing with [this] very high-powered audience to see it, and people from Film Australia, too, who were the [Experimental Film and Television Fund] assessors. Dick Mason who was a producer at Film Australia, and he'd never seen colour television before. Lot's of these people had never seen colour television before. So they were all kind of knocked out, saying “Christ, what is this!” Humphrey Fisher said, when it came up “Produced by Michael Glasheen” “There was no production, that was not a production. I don't call that a production”, you know. Barry Jones said, you know, “Buckminster Fuller said the sun is 92 million miles from the earth, it's 92 and a half million... He was wrong.” Bruce Gyngel though it was great, though he could never sell it to his advertisers, Bob Raymond thought it was good.

“They were well satisfied that I'd spent the money well, they got good value, so they couldn't be criticised. And, it's then had no commercial showing, you know. So I'm still working on it. [I had a kine made] to be projected, and the two-inch never went anywhere. Like I took the two-inch to the ABC and to Channel 9, but they didn't think it was suitable. I probably still couldn't, you know?”[138]

The final program used an extensive range of the capabilities available in a state of the art TV post-production facility in 1970. Along with the video disk slow-motion, reverse-motion and freeze-frames,[139 the effects were mixed through the Richmond Hill vision mixer at VTC which had colour mattes, luminance keying and various kinds of video wipes, some of which are modulated by Fuller’s voice. It had five source rows: a key source select, an effects pair, a mix pair and a program buss. [Fig.12] It used a large set of switched delay lines to adjust the timings of the video signals to allow multiple re-entry of the video and have everything come out with correct timing, and was one of the earliest colour video mixers in Australia, made by the Canadian company Richmond Hill. VTC had recently bought this latest in television technology at a broadcast electronics trade exhibition in Sydney in 1969 and this was their chance to exercise it.[140]

Tetrahedron of oranges
Fig.10: Tom Barber's model of a tetrahedron using oranges.
Assembled for Teleologic Telecast. [Courtesy Mick Glasheen. RIP: Tom Baber]

The visual backdrop to Fuller’s lecture is made up from a collage of time-lapse and real-time film shot by Glasheen of landscapes and cloudscapes, and studio recorded segments such as a collapsing and reforming tetrahedron of oranges [Fig.10] - that arises from Glasheen ’sarchitectural fascination was with solid geometry. He regards the tetrahedron as the basic building block of the universe. Further images included flowers, aerial film of the Pitrtwater north of Sydney and Fuller’s “dymaxion” globe representation of the earth [upper left of Fig.9]. Most of the models used were assembled for Glasheen by his close friend Tom Barber. Fuller’s image was layered in and out of these backgrounds though modulated wipes and luminance keys, with him gesturing and talking in an intense stream of ideas about the nature of the universe, science and metaphysics. [Figs.9-11] There are even nicely effective small sections of video feedback in this multi-layered collage of image, voice and electronic sound.[141] The arrangement with VTC was that the work was done in periods of “off-time”. They would telephone Glasheen when there was time available and he and Tom Barber would come in to work on the next segment.

Bucky Fuller over Barrenjoey
Fig.11: Bucky Fuller speaking sumperimposed over an aerial shot of Barrenjoey.
From Teleologic Telecast. [Courtesy Mick Glasheen]

Richmond Hill vision mixer
Fig.12: The Richmond Hill vision mixer. [It was auctioned off by VTC about 1983 and I
purchased it for Heuristic Video where it was used in making a wide range of artist's video
and music videos over 1983-1992].

“The electronic sound track was produced by Jack Meyer using a theremin. According to Glasheen the idea was to make the music come in packages but not to have it mixed in the normal way. He analysed Fuller’s lecture into segments of different ideas and then organised his images to follow these. He also asked Meyer to arrange the music to fit them [142] and you can hear from the way the music is constructed that in fact this is actually what happens.

Meyer played the theremin in real-time as the videotape played and the sound was recorded to a separate channel on the VTR. It would then have been mixed down for the kine [143] that Glasheen had made for exhibition. At that time there was no readily available form of videotape playback for exhibition and, as nearly all theatrettes and similar places in art galleries and film societies were set up with 16mm projection, a kine was the only way to exhibit the work.

Teleologic Telecast is an extraordinary video work, full of radical ideas and radical production techniques that clearly expressed Fuller’s ideas of synergy and the ongoing stream of process of the world as a single integrated dynamic system. It also demonstrates the impact of the ideas on the media that McLuhan brought out while being very aware of the recent tradition of experimental film works that Glasheen and particularly Ubu Films had made in Australia. The response from the funders was that their money had been well spent, but the work was clearly not going to be a commercial success. He did take it to the ABC and Channel 9 but neither of them could accommodate it in their programming.[144] However a 10 minute segment from it was shown during the 3rd October 1972 episode of GTK.[145]

Glasheen was probably aware of Nam June Paik’s work and used to read Radical Software[146] whenever a copy turned up, but this was after he finished Teleologic Telecast. Also it is unknown to what extent he was aware of other experimental television productions that grew out of avant-garde film and an interest in (electronic) synaesthesia in the US and were represented in the broadcasts of the NET 147] stations. According to Gene Youngblood in his Expanded Cinema (1970), in 1967 Brice Howard organised an experimental television workshop, which became the National Centre for Experiments in Television, at KQED in San Francisco. The workshop produced a number of works by artists broadcast in 1969 under the sponsorship of James Newman of the Dilexi Gallery in San Francisco. Known as the Dilexi Series the project included works by composer Terry Riley, sculptor Philip Makanna and dancer Ann Halperin among others.[148] In the same year Fred Barzyk produced The Medium is the Medium [149] at WGBH in Boston which included contributions from Paik, Otto Piene, Allen Kaprow, James Seawright and others.[150]

It was not until 1975 that colour television was broadcast in Australia and so Teleologic Telecast was an amazing achievement and, in some ways, never repeated. However, in 1973 a group of artists, many of whom had been involved in the Nimbin Festival Communications Centre and were already associated with Glasheen, formed the artist/filmmaker/architect collective, Bush Video, to set up the facilities to continue the ideas that people like Glasheen, John Kirk and Joseph el Khouri had begun working with.

Meanwhile several Japanese electronics companies that had developed portable video recorders in the mid-to-late ‘60s began to distribute them in Australia. Two entirely incompatible models became available in Australia around 1969-70.[151] Sony brought out a ½” reel-to-reel portable video recorder with camera that recorded in black and white onto 30 minute tapes and Akai had brought out a portable videotape recorder also with camera that recorded colour video to ¼” tape that came in 20-minute reels. Getting the news about video out to filmmakers and other artists became a task adopted by people like Glasheen and Thoms in Sydney and Fred Harden, John Hughes, and Arthur and Corinne Cantrill with their Cantrills Filmnotes in Melbourne.[152]

The Cantrills were experimental film-makers based in Melbourne and their films were very much of the formalist, experimental order:synaesthetic, multi-screen, multi-layered, with sharp staccato editing.[153] They were also very supportive of the experimental community as a whole and, in what ultimately became a long term gesture of gift, produced their bi-monthly journal Cantrills Filmnotes [154] which covered much of what was going on in film both in Australia and overseas. Cantrills Filmnotes introduced many local film makers to such things as handmade film, experimental film from America and the structural film-making of the London Film-makers Co-op as well as giving extensive coverage to groups like Ubu and their successors, the Sydney Film-makers Co-op, which was followed rapidly by the Melbourne version. As with their approach to film their approach to video was similarly broad church, describing events, and discussing techniques.


1 Richard Morphet, Richard Hamilton, The Tate Gallery, London, 12 March – 19 April 1970. Colour photographs of the work are on p.6 of the Tate catalogue and at: Adrian Hamilton, “Richard Hamilton: The most influential artist of his generation?” Independent.

2 Decker-Phillips, Edith (1998) Paik Video, New York: Station Hill Arts, Barrytown Ltd, p.19.

3 ibid.

4 ibid, pp.19 & 41.

5 ibid, pp.32-38.

6 Davis, Douglas (1973) Art and the Future: A History/Prophecy of the Collaboration between Science, Technology and Art. London, Thames & Hudson, p.84.

7 Decker-Phillips, 1998, op cit, p.36 and 38.

8 Fagone, Vittorio. (1993) “Nam June Paik and the Fluxus Movement. Europe and America, the origins and development of Video Art.” in an appendix (pp.12-14) to Bußman, Klaus, and Matzner, F. (eds.) (1993) Nam June Paik: Eine Data Base. Edition Cantz, p.13. Catalogue of the German Pavilion at the Venice Biennale, 1993. A photograph from the exhibition is in Herzogenrath, Wulf (1983) Nam June Paik – Fluxus – Video, Munich, Germany: Silke Schreiber, p.49, and two photographs of the distorted TVs are on p.47..

9 Decker-Phillips, 1998, opcit, p.38.

10 Decker-Phillips, 1998, opcit, p.39.

11 Paik quoted in Decker-Phillips, 1998, opcit, p.32. The original comes from an essay “New Projects 1972/73” in the catalogue for the Everson Museum, Syracuse, New York, exhibition Paik, (n.p, but leaf 75).

12 Paik, Nam June, Afterlude to the EXPOSITION of EXPERIMENTAL TELEVISION 1963, March, Galerie Parnass. In Paik, Nam June (1974) Videa ‘n’ Videology, Syracuse, N.Y.: Everson Museum of Art. pp.0000101 (5) and 0000110 (6). Paik numbered the pages in binary, using empty circles for 0 and filled circles for 1.

13 ibid, p.50.

14 Davis, 1973, op cit, p.84.

15 Decker-Phillips, 1998, op cit, pp.41-53.

16 ibid, pp.62-64.

17 As it did in Australia, in a PopArt form through Oz magazine and more directly in a Fluxus manner through Thoms’ Theatre of Cruelty, 1965, which included works by George Brecht, Emmett Williams and LaMonte Young. See Thoms, Albie (1965) The Theatre of Cruelty, programme for performances at the Sydney University Union Theatre, July 2,3, 7-10, 1965, produced by Albie Thoms. Sydney: Sydney University Dramatic Society [SUDS].

18 Schneider, Ira and Korot, Beryl (eds) (1976) Video Art: An Anthology, New York: Harcourt Brace and Jovanovich, pp.8-9.

19 Huffman, Kathy Rae (1990) “Video Art: What’s TV Got To Do With It?” in Hall, Doug and Fifer, Sally Jo (eds) (1990), Illuminating Video: An Essential Guide to Video Art, New York: Aperture Foundation, for the Bay Area Video Coalition, p.82.

20 Howard wrote a book called Videospace about his ideas that was later published by the NCET.

21 Huffman, 1990, op cit, p.83.

22 Davis, 1973, op cit, p.84; Herzogenrath, Wulf (1976) “Video Art in West Germany” in Schneider and Korot, 1976, op cit, p.229; and Mignot, Dorine (ed) (1987) Revision, Amsterdam, Stedelijk Museum, p.43.\

23 Youngblood, Gene (1970), Expanded Cinema, New York: Dutton, pp.298-314.
Nadeau, James A., (2006) The Medium is the Medium: the Convergence of Video, Art and Television at WGBH (1969). Masters Thesis, MIT Department of Comparative Media Studies.

24 Decker-Phillips, 1998, op cit, pp.156-158.

25 McLuhan, Marshall, (1964) Understanding Media: the extensions of man. New York: McGraw-Hill. In which McLuhan spelt out the “cool” nature of television versus the “hot” medium of the cinema. It’s largely a matter of the data content of the form, which McLuhan describes as being its level of “definition”. The cinema is high definition, television (even the so-called high definition digital television of the new century) is a low definition form.

26 McLuhan, Marshall and Fiore, Quentin (1967), The Medium is the Massage, New York: Random House.

27 McLuhan, 1964, op cit, ch.2. Hot media, by providing massive amounts of sensory data, require less participation for their understanding than cool media. The cool requires one to bring more of oneself to the table, becoming more involved in the construction of any meaning in the information - “the eye must act as hand in filling in and completing the image” [McLuhan, 1964, op cit, p.38]. Its involving nature means that one is absorbed, hooked, and thus no longer able to step outside its frame, to be critical, since its process continually promises something more while requiring our passive unconscious completion of its message in order to achieve that promise.

28 McLuhan, 1964, op cit, p.334.

29 McLuhan, Marshall and Fiore, Quentin (1967) The Medium is the Massage, New York: Random House.

30 Shannon, C. (1948) “A Mathematical Theory of Communication.” The Bell System Technical Journal, vol.27, pp.379-423 (Parts I and II), and pp.623-56 (Parts III-V).
Shannon, C. and Weaver W. (1949) The Mathematical Theory of Communication. Urbana, Illinois: University of Illinois Press.

31 MacKay, Donald M. (1969) Information, Mechanism and Meaning, Cambridge, Mass.: The M.I.T. Press.

34 Bußmann and Matzner, Nam June Paik: eine DATA base, 1993, Edition Cantz,. See the translation pages at the back of the catalogue, p.21.

35 Davis, 1973, op cit, p.85.

36 Paik, Nam June (1965) “Electronic Video Recorder”, in Paik, Nam June (1974) Videa ‘n’ Videology, Syracuse, N.Y.: Everson Museum of Art, p.11.

37 Decker-Phillips, 1998, op cit, p.38.

38 See “Electronic TV & Color TV Experiment by Nam June Paik”, in Paik, 1974, op cit, p.8. The exhibition is described in Decker-Phillips, 1998, op cit, pp.36-40.

39 Paik, Nam June (1974) Videa ‘n’ Videology, Syracuse, N.Y.: Everson Museum of Art, p.14 [Paik has numbered the pages in binary using filled (1) and empty (0) circles.]

40 See discussion of Magnet TV in Decker-Phillips, 1998, op cit, p.63.

41 See discussion of Participation TV in Decker-Phillips, 1998, op cit, pp.66-8.

42 Bußmann and Matzner, op cit, 1993, p.146.

43 Pictures of which are in Herzogenrath, 1983, op cit, p.45; Decker-Phillips, 1998, op cit, p.75; and Stoos, Toni and Kellein, Thomas (eds) (1993) Nam June Paik: Video Time – Video Space, New York: Harry N. Abrams., pp.28 and 78.

44 Their manipulations are described in Paik, 1974, op cit, p.8.

45 Paik, 1974, op cit, p.11.

46 Dunn, David (ed.); Weibel, Peter; Vasulka, Woody and Vasulka, Steina (curators) (1992) Eigenwelt der Apparatenwelt, Pioneers of Electronic Art, Linz, Austria: Ars Electronica, pp.116-121. See p.120 for the electronic detail.
Shamberg, et al, 1971, p.44.

47 Dunn, et al, 1992, op cit, pp.116. See p.120-1 for the electronic detail.

48 Dunn, et al, 1992, op cit, pp.122-125.

49 Decker-Phillips, 1998, op cit, pp.152-155.

50 Connor, Russell (1971) electronic art III - Paik-Abe video synthesiser with Charlotte Moorman, catalogue for an exhibition at Galeria Bonino, New York, 1971. See also Dunn, et al, 1992, op cit, p.129.

51 Gordon Pask in Reichardt, Jasia, Cybernetic Serendipity: the computer and the arts, catalogue for the exhibition at the ICA, London, August 2 – October 20, 1968. Published as a special issue of Studio International, London, 1968, p.34-35.

52 Norman Bauman in Reichardt, 1968, op cit., p.42.

53 Ibid, p.42.

54 Ibid. p.42.

55 Ibid, p.43

56 Caption to a picture of Robot k-456. From ibid. Why the female is “ known for her disturbing and idiosyncratic behaviour” is beyond me.

57 Roger Dainton in Reichardt, 1968 op cit., p.43.

59 Richard Monkhouse in an interview with Chris Meigh-Andrews < >

60 As demonstrated by Max Matthews at Bell Labs in 1957. [Dunn, et al, 1992, op cit, p.45]

61 Pinch, Trevor and Trocco, Frank (2002) analog days – The invention of the Moog synthesizer. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press.

62 EMS produced the VCS3 and the Synthi A and Synthi AKS which were the main synthesisers used by people like Schiemer, Cullen and Ostoja-Kotkoski. See Pinch and Trocco, 2002, op cit, ch.14.

63 During the 1950s, composers in France and Germany were using the facilities of the radio studio maintenance workshop to make sounds for tape. Northwest German Radio in Köln (Cologne) set up an electronic music studio using oscillators and other test instruments specifically to make strictly electronic sounds. The original approach of the Cologne Radio studio was a form of additive synthesis. Karlheinz Stockhausen is the best known of the composers who used the studio, but the emphasis on the pure electronic sound was soon hybridised with recorded “concrete” sounds in his Gesang der Junglinge. Dunn, et al, 1992, op cit, p.32].
It is just a short step from assembling a collection of test oscillators on a bench to putting them in a box with filters and other modifiers and producing a sound synthesiser. Once you have an electronic sound studio in a room, it only takes a little redesign and miniaturisation to put it into a box and make it cheap and portable so that musicians could buy a “synthesiser” and take it home or to the concert hall. [Dunn, et al, 1992, op cit, p.38]

64 This development occurs, for example, with the production of the EMS Spectron, a device that was brought to Australia for the Electronic Music Studio at Latrobe University Music Department by Warren Burt in 1976.

65 See, for example, Cytowic, Richard E. (1995) “Synesthesia: Phenomenology And Neuropsychology: A Review of Current Knowledge” Psyche, vol.2, no.10, originally available at < >, now on Internet Archive
< >, or
Further commentary on this article is provided by van Campen, Crétien (1997) “Synesthesia and Artistic Experimentation” Psyche, vol.3, no.6, originally available at < >.
See also Ramachandran, Vilayanur S. and Hubbard, Edward M. (2003) “Hearing Colors, Tasting Shapes.” Scientific American, vol.288, no.5, May 2003, p.53.

66 My own work in the 1980s with the electronic music band Severed Heads was, for me, a strong demonstration of this involvement with the machine.

67 Benko, Nancy (1969), Art and Artists of South Australia, Adelaide: Published under the patronage of the Lidums family. pp.109-113.

68 In a demonstration of his use of laser in a son et lumiere for a Vivaldi concerto in Sydney, 7th June 1979, Ostoja-Kotkowski says to an interviewer that he “went out to Arnhem Land and the Birdsville Track” in search of “new color”. [Crisp, 1979]

69 Ostoja-Kotkowski, quoted in Thomas, Laurie (1968) “Creating Images - at the speed of light”, The Australian, Jan 9, 1968.

70 ibid.

71 Argus exhibition catalogue sheet, 1964.

72 Hazel de Berg, Conversation with Josef Stanislaus Ostoja-Kotkowski, 1969, NLA Oral TRC/1/448-449.


74 The date of 1962 comes from a review (Sydney Morning Herald, 22 September 1966) of Ostoja-Kotkowski’s exhibition at Gallery A in Sydney. I believe the engineer to have been Malcolm Kay, who was at Philips at the time and has indicated that he worked on the project [telephone conversation, 2005].

75 Neuberger, Suzanne, (2009) Nam June Paik, Exposition of Music Electronic Television Revisited, Köln, Deutschland, Walter König, pp.174-5

76 Meanjin Quarterly, vol.25, nos.1-4.

77 Argus exhibition catalogue sheet, 1964.

78 Moritz, William (1996) “Mary Ellen Bute: Seeing Sound” Animation World Network, available at < >
There are a number of pieces by Mary Ellen Bute on Youtube. check

79 Norman McLaren and Evelyn Lambert, Around is Around,

81 Laposky, Ben (1969) “Oscillons: Electronic Abstractions”, Leonardo, vol.2, p.345.

82 K.L.A. (1964) “Electronic Images”, Camera World International, August 1964,

83 Paik, 1974, op cit, pp.12-14; Decker-Phillips, 1998, op cit, p.63.

84 Decker-Phillips, 1998, op cit, p.66.

85 Paik, Nam June (1971) Paik-Abe Video Synthesiser with Charlotte Moorman: electronic art III. Catalog for an exhibition at Galeria Bonino in collaboration with Intermedia Institute, New York, 23 Nov – 11 Dec, 1971.

86 Decker-Phillips, 1998, op cit, p.154.

87 Dunn, et al, 1992, op cit, pp.92-95.

88 The first uses of moving electronic imagery may have been by Mary Ellen Bute, who hung out with Leon Thermin and Thomas Wilfred in the 1930s. In the 1950s she made several animated films that used oscilloscope images. Norman McLaren and Hy Hirsh also used oscilloscope patterns in their films at the same time. [Moritz, 1996]

89 Digitised copies of these films are held in the Mortlock Archive at the State Library of South Australia, under PRG 919.

90 Davidson, Ian (1999) Art, theatre and photography: remembering Stan Ostoja-Kotkowski (1922-1994) in Adelaide, South Australia, 1954-1972. Strathalbyn, S.A.: I. Davidson, 1999.
MacDonald, Ian (2005) Explorer in Sound and Light – Josef Stanislaw Ostoja-Kotkowski, Ph.D. Thesis, School of Visual and Performing Arts, Charles Sturt University.

91 See PRG 919/5/19-22, PRG 919/5/23-46, PRG 919/52/1-18, PRG 919/52/62, PRG 919/52/63-162, PRG 919/52/163-189, PRG 919/52/190-231 in the Mortlock Collection, State Library of South Australia.
ABC television programmes including The Lively Arts 1960s, a Sound and Image production on Spectrum a broad view of the arts, 5 June 1966, created with the help of Phillips Research Laboratory using electronic images, music by Henk Badings and a dance segment "Dream" with dancer Judy Dick.

92 State Library of South Australia, Private Records Group (PRG) 919/52/63-162 Black and white photographs and negatives and a newspaper cutting relating to a Sound and Image production on GTV channel 9. Ostoja-Kotkowski created the electronic images and used music by Henk Badings. Choreography Elizabeth Dalman, dancers Dianna Clayfield and Zane Danson, and director Brian Phillis, 1964

93 Albie Thoms, email, 3/5/06.

94 Rawlins, Adrian (1965) “Beyond Painting – Stanislaus Ostoja-Kotkowski talks about electronic methods of creating images”, The Announcer, Feb 1965, n.p, Eindhoven, Holland: Philips Industries.

95 Lynn, Elwyn (1966) “Beholder's Eye”, The Bulletin, 1 October, 1966, Sydney: Australian Consolidated Press, n.p.

96 Rawlins, 1965, op cit.

97 Castles, Ray (1966) “can't add up: art by computer” The Daily Telegraph, 22 September, 1966, Sydney: Australian Consolidated Press.

98 McLuhan, 1962, op cit

99 McLuhan, 1964, op cit.

100 ibid, p.152.

101 ibid, p.154.

102 Perry, 2004, op cit, p.140.

103 David Perry – Abbreviated Filmography, 1953-1998.

104 The Cats Video Training Manual of 1974 has a good description of how tape-to-tape “crash editing” was done in those days. See Kirk, John; Hopkins, John “Hoppy” and Evans, Cliff (1974) Cats Video Training Manual, Sydney: Tomato Press, pp.30-32. This is the Australian version of a manual that the authors produced for a series of training sessions they ran for community activists in London (around 1972?).

105 Foldes was a Hungarian born painter who lived in London and then Paris. He turned to animation and in the early 1970s made some of the most important early computer animated films with the Canadian National Film Board (of Norman McLaren fame). See Russett and Starr, 1976, op cit, pp.203-205.

106 Other than mentions of Connor in Mudie, 1997, op cit, the only descriptions I have found of his films are in Thoms, 1978, op cit: Marilyn Times Five on p.214 and Report on p.237. Thoms informed me that Ubu “included a mini-retrospective of the work of Bruce Conner in our program, American Underground Movies, screened at the Wintergarden on 10/5/68, but had screened two of his films in our Experimental Film and Underground Movies program on 26/2/67.” [email of 3 May 2006]

107 Russett and Starr, 1976, op cit, pp.137-141; Thoms, 1978, op cit, p.24.

108 Youngblood, Gene (1970) Expanded Cinema, New York: Dutton, pp.157-177; Thoms, 1978, op cit, p.215.

109 Mudie, 1997, op cit, p.71; Lawson, 1967, op cit.

110 Russett and Starr, 1976, op cit, pp.65-71; Horrocks, 2001, op cit.

111 Glasheen, conversation, 9/3/06.

112 Mudie, 1997, op cit, P.59.

113 Kepes published Language of Vision, in 1944, and The New Landscape in Art and Science in 1956. Beginning in 1965, while at MIT, he published his compilations of writings by important artists, designers and scientists called the Vision + Value series. [Kepes, various years] These have been important works for many artists and may well have been the ones that Glasheen was reading. This would fit well with the year of private research that he did in 1967.

114 McLuhan, 1962, op cit, 1964, op cit.

115 Fuller is essential to understanding Glasheen’s work. He was the radical American architect who invented the geodesic dome and who had considerable impact in the late-60s through his writing and speaking about a view of science, technology and nature that emphasised the connectedness of everything. Essentially Fuller took a systems theory view of the world, although he did not use that language. A quote from Fuller’s No More Secondhand God published originally in 1963 gives a flavour of the way he thought and spoke in that period.
“My continuing philosophy is predicated, first, on the assumption that in dynamical counterbalance of the expanding universe of entropically increasing random disorderliness there must be a universal pattern of omnicontracting, convergent, progressive orderliness and that man is that anti-entropic reordering function of universe and, secondly, upon the assumption that man is born with an extraordinary inventory of faculties within an extraordinary inventory of universal phenomena. Most of the inventory is invisible, operating either infra or ultra to our sense apprehension. … we were given our faculties to permit and induce our progressively greater apprehension and comprehension of the universal phenomena.” [Fuller, R. Buckminster (1963) No More Secondhand God. Carbondale, Illinois: Southern Illinois University Press preface.]

116 < > Oz magazine was based on the British satirical magazine, Private Eye, and was renowned for its satirical content and daring. It was regularly in trouble with the guardians of morality in Sydney and the editors were charged with producing an obscene publication several times. But it was also a visual extravaganza, with graphical content supplied by Sharp, Glasheen and Gary Shead, among others.

117 Glasheen, conversation, 14/5/05.

118 Glasheen, conversation, 14/5/05.

119 McLuhan, 1962, op cit and 1964, op cit.

120 Glasheen, Michael (1966b) “Be Astounded” Foundation Day Tharunka, vol.12, No.10, July 5, 1966, Journal of the University of New South Wales Students’ Union.

121 ibid.

122 Glasheen, conversation, 4/11/01.

123 And Martin Sharp, whose graphical style set the tone for Oz, then went on to become one of the leaders of Pop Art when he went to London and started the London version of Oz as well as designing posters and album covers for, among others, Bob Dylan and Cream.

124 Glasheen, Michael (1966a) “Oz Pop Shop Catalogue”, Oz, no.27, May 1966, pp.9-12.

125 In a review of the show Craig McGregor commented that the show was “a sort of local variant” on a supermarket staged by Claes Oldenburg, Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein, and Jaspar Johns at the Binanchini Gallery in New York in 1964, [McGregor, 1966] which was itself derived from a show called The Store which Oldenburg set up in his studio in East 2nd St, N.Y., in December, 1961. Some of the objects can be seen in the catalogue for the Oldenburg travelling exhibition organised by the Museum of Modern Art, N.Y. in 1970.

126 Glasheen, conversation, 14/5/05.

127 ibid.

128 Fuller, R. Buckminster (1965) World Resources Inventory, edited by John McHale, Carbondale, Illinois: Southern Illinois University Press. Available at < >
recovered document at < >
See also < >

129 Glasheen, conversation, 14/5/05.

130 Which, according to Thoms, featured the Bee Gees song World for its soundtrack.

131 Khourey, Joseph el (1973b) “The Land is Not Empty”, interview in Cantrill’s Filmnotes, no.16, December 1973, pp.32-38.

132 Glasheen, conversation, 14/5/05.

133 Ibid.

134 This way of defining video as being based at least partially on camera-derived images is inadequate. As we will see below, it cuts out a swathe of experimental video work that was produced entirely with synthesisers or other electronic devices, mostly computers.

135 Glasheen, conversation, 14/5/05.

136 Glasheen, conversation, 14/5/05.

137 The Experimental Film and Television Fund of the Australian Council for the Arts had just been established with an initial $500,000 to distribute. There was a considerable tussle for how that money should be spent, some asking for it to be devoted to final costs of commercial films, some wanted it to be spent on developing a Film and Television School and some wanted it to be devoted to experimental and otherwise new film making. [Mudie, 1997, op cit, p.16] A copy of the notice announcing the first call for applications for funding, closing on 4th May 1970 is on p.243 of Mudie, 1997. The results of this first round of grants were announced in July, 1970 [Mudie, 1997, op cit, p.256].

138 Glasheen, conversation, 14/5/05.

140 Interestingly the Richmond Hill mixer turned up at an auction in 1984 and I purchased it for my then recently established experimental video post-production suite Heuristic Video. Many independent video productions and lots of music videos, including the complete Severed Heads opus to 1992 were made at this facility.

141 There is also a description of the video by Arthur Cantrill in a paragraph headed “Bucky Fuller on Video” in “The Video Revolution” Cantrill’s Filmnotes, no.4, July 1971, p.(7).

142 Glasheen, conversation, 4/11/01.

143 A kine is a film recording of the video image made by a film camera synchronised to the frame rate of the video (here 25 frames per second as opposed to the 24 fps of film).

144 Glasheen, conversation, 14/5/05.

145 GTK was an acronym for the phrase Get To Know and was shown on the ABC most weekday evenings from 1969-1976. It became an important means of getting news about new arts and music out to people throughout Australia. Thoms tells me he interviewed Glasheen and screened Teleological Telecast on GTK in 1975, so this 1972 date, derived from the GTK list compiled by ABC archives might be incorrect. [email 3 May, 2006]

146 Raindance Corporation (1970-1974) Radical Software, New York: Gordon and Breach. Radical Software was the primary journal for the new video experimenters. It was launched in mid-1970. The same presumably goes for Gene Youngblood’s book Expanded Cinema [Youngblood, 1970, op cit] which had a huge impact but did not arrive till sometime in 1970 either.

147 The National Educational Television network.

148 Youngblood, 1970, op cit, p.281ff. And see

149 See: and

150 Youngblood, 1970, op cit, p.298.

151 Thoms tells me that Phil Noyce interviewed him with a Sony Portapak from the University of Sydney’s TV Service, circa August 1969. The interview was screened on the University’s closed circuit TV system to advertise a screening of Thoms’ film Marinetti. [email from Thoms: 3 May, 2006]

152 David Perry was now in London and doing a very similar thing.

153 See Thoms, 1978, op cit, p.83, pp.120-122 and p.252 for short descriptions of some of their films. See for their web site.

154 Cantrill, Arthur and Cantrill, Corinne (editors) (1970-2004) Cantrills Filmnotes, Melbourne: Arthur and Corinne Cantrill. See for the contents of all issues.