Gene Youngblood 1970

In the light of 21st century media developments (you know what they are), Youngblood’s 1970 book reveals its lasting importance. It was a blast for us multimedia geeks at the time – the first proper art-critical-historical work that I had come across that recognised this most interesting fusion of art-technology-cinematic – digital media that I was just glimpsing through student work at Portsmouth and Hornsey. In 1967, I’d collaborated on a fringe degree show entitled Krystal Klear in Warp Drive, with Gary Crossley, John Czaky and Bob Blagdon – it was a multi-screen installation with 4-track stereo, timed carousel slide projections, 8mm film – a very loud sound-track mixed from the Ronette’s Walking in the Rain with sound effects of NASA Saturn 5 Rocket launches and other stuff – we aimed for a sensory bombardment that matched our enthusiasm for this new mix of media. I went on for a post-graduate year at the Light/Sound Workshop at Hornsey College of Art (1968-69) where we were experimenting with just the fusion of audio-visual media that Youngblood was investigating in Expanded Cinema.

Youngblood surveyed developments that created this territory, and impacted upon the range if motion-image arts and tools that were just newly appearing (or being freshly examined) – computer graphics and animation, multi-screen projections, analog and digital computing, performance art, computer-generated sound and poetry, music-art synaesthesia. This was a new language that talked the talk of the zeitgeist. We were hooked.

 

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