Note: If you see this text you use a browser which does not support usual Web-standards. Therefore the design of Media Art Net will not display correctly. Contents are nevertheless provided. For greatest possible comfort and full functionality you should use one of the recommended browsers.

Themesicon: navigation pathOverview of Media Articon: navigation pathMassMedia

icon: previous page

The synchronicity with which artists started to work with television as a medium in 1962–1963 remains surprising. There is no more a sense of clear priority among them than in the case of other invented and found image-making processes in the early twentieth century. For example, around 1920 Walter Ruttmann, Viking Eggeling, Hans Richter and Marcel Duchamp were also all working on the first abstract films at the same time, to an extent without being aware of each other. One key fact is that the artists started to work with TV on the basis of different genres: Paik comes from music, Vostell and Wesselmann from painting, César and Uecker see the TV above all as object sculpture, Gerstner uses it as a source of optical signals, Isou's starting points are film and literature. The new medium is at a point of intersection between the traditional disciplines. So the artistic ‹reconquest› of television is symptomatic of the new interdisciplinary direction being taken in the 1960s, working towards removing the boundaries between genres and the cultural institutions linked with them. The milieu of new music, happening, Fluxus, expanded cinema and


concrete poetry helped to shape this early phase, which can only be reinterpreted as the beginning of media art from today's perspective. However, at the time the term ‹intermedia› emerged, introduced by Dick Higgins, which was certainly a more apt description than the later restriction to ‹video art›; in the light of the sweeping ambitions of those days, which embraced all the media, this is something of a retrograde step into terrain that has clearly been cordoned off again.

When the digital multimedia age is proclaimed thirty years later in the 1990s, the forgotten 1960s intermedia concept comes back into its own. But there is one important difference: the artistic transformations of the TV set that took place around 1963–1964 are just one symptom of this interference with genres with an impetus derived from art—but in the 1990s the computer is de facto the driving force behind the media's convergence to multimediality. In this respect the interrelations between culture and media technique have reversed from the 1960s to the 1990s.

icon: next page