Reality TV

TV as a Creative Medium opened at the Howard Wise Gallery in New York City in May of 1969. The first exhibition of video art in the United States, it was revolutionary in shaping discourse around the presentation of video in museum and art gallery settings, and defining video as an art medium. A curated gathering of installations, objects, and performances, TV as a Creative Medium was one of the first instances when visitors to an art event could experiment interactively with closed-circuit, real-time video.   

The following year, the magazine Radical Software was founded and published (with no copyright) by the Raindance Corporation, whose members included Frank Gillette and Paul Ryan, who played important roles in TV as a Creative Medium.  Ryan’s essay, “Cybernetic Guerilla Warfare” advocated putting video into the hands of the people to effect social change, presaging the colossal efficacy of viral videos in today’s public discourse.  

A watershed moment, by the early 1970s video was presented via three related channels: broadcast/cable; fine-art contexts; and DIY, independent applications. These distinctions continue to exist today, yet the lines have become blurred as corporate behemoths increase control platforms for the dissemination of independent video, and the aura of being presidential places greater concern on broadcast ratings than policy making. The need for and responsibility of fine art channels for video, in turn, has never been greater.