TVTV’s members were part of a rich interconnected network of artists who propelled a countercultural movement through the use of personal and portable video recording equipment. Throughout the late 1960s and into the 1970s, these "guerrilla television" makers banded together, forming collectives with evolving memberships serving the common purpose of disrupting mainstream media. Raindance Corporation, Ant Farm, Videofreex, TVTV and others shared cofounders and members. The following resources shed light on the origins of this underground world of community-based news, citizen journalism, and democratized media.
Eight of the standalone TVTV programs are available from the original TVTV members to stream or download on tvtvnow.com
The World’s Largest TV Studio (1972)
Four More Years (1972)
The Lord of the Universe (1974)
Gerald Ford's America: WIN and Gerald Ford's America: Chic to Sheik (1975)
The Good Times Are Killing Me (1975)
TVTV Looks at the the Oscars (1976)
TVTV Goes to the Super Bowl (1976)
EAI and Video Data Bank are two major resources in North America for video and media art from the ’60s to the present day.
Image courtesy First Run Features
Directed by TVTV member Paul Goldsmith, this 2018 documentary explores the origins, achievements, and antics of the TVTV crew between 1972 and 1977. It features footage of Goldie Hawn, Abbie Hoffman, Bill Murray, Steven Spielberg, Lynn Swan, Hunter S. Thompson, Lily Tomlin, and more, as well as original interviews with many of TVTV’s members. Read a review from Vulture here.
Read a review from Vulture here.
Image courtesy Radical Software
Radical Software was an underground magazine revolving closely around the core of the independent video and video art scenes. It was founded in 1970, in the wake of Sony loading the first generation of (relatively) low-cost, portable video equipment into the hands of artists, activists, and ordinary people. With a circulation of 5,000 freex, it became a communication network for the burgeoning American video community of the early 1970s and included contributions by Ant Farm, Gregory Bateson, Charles Bensinger, Douglas Davis, R. Buckminster Fuller, Frank Gillette, Beryl Korot, Nam June Paik, Paul Ryan, Ira Schneider, Parry Teasdale, Ann Tyng, Gene Youngblood, and many others.
All eleven Radical Software issues are available to browse, read and download on this comprehensive site which also includes informative essays and a detailed history about the publication. Published between 1970 and 1974, the magazine was overseen at first by the Raindance Corporation, then by the Raindance Foundation with Gordon and Breach Publishers.
Ant Farm was deeply interwoven into the video and conceptual art scenes of the 1970s. Members crossed over into many other groups, with varying degrees of collaboration: Chip Lord, Hudson Marquez, Doug Michels, Curtis Schreier, and others contributed to or were core members of TVTV.
Image from the TVTV Papers collection
“A San Francisco-based collective of artists and architects working from 1968 to 1978, Ant Farm’s activity was distinctly interdisciplinary—combining architecture, performance, media, happenings, sculpture, and graphic design. With works that functioned as art, social critique, and pop anthropology, Ant Farm tore into the cultural fabric of post-World War II, Vietnam-era America and became one of the first groups to address television’s pervasive presence in everyday life. As graphic artists, Ant Farm contributed to numerous underground publications, including Radical Software, and designed Michael Shamberg’s Guerrilla Television (1971).” (Video Data Bank)
Image courtesy Raindance Foundation
“Founded in 1969 by Frank Gillette, Michael Shamberg, [Megan Williams,] and Ira Schneider, among others, Raindance was a self-described ‘countercultural thinktank’ that embraced video as an alternative form of cultural communication. The name ‘Raindance’ was a play on words for ‘cultural R & D’ (research and development) [and a play on the establishment RAND Corporation thinktank]. Influenced by the communications theories of Marshall McLuhan and Buckminster Fuller, the collective produced a data bank of tapes and writings that explored the relation of cybernetics, media, and ecology. . . . In 1971, Shamberg wrote Guerrilla Television, a summary of the group’s principles and a blueprint for the decentralization of television. In 1976, Raindance members Ira Schneider and Beryl Korot edited Video Art: An Anthology, one of the first readers on video art. The original Raindance collective dispersed in the mid-‘70s; the nonprofit Raindance Foundation continues to exist today.” (Video Data Bank)
Image courtesy Videofreex
“Videofreex, one of the first video collectives, was founded in 1969 by David Cort, Mary Curtis Ratcliff and Parry Teasdale, after David and Parry met each other, video cameras in hand, at the Woodstock Music Festival. Working out of a loft in lower Manhattan, the group’s first major project was producing a live and tape TV presentation for the CBS network, The Now Show, for which they traveled the country, interviewing countercultural figures such as Abbie Hoffman and Black Panther leader Fred Hampton.
The group soon grew to ten full-time members–including Chuck Kennedy, Nancy Cain, Skip Blumberg, Davidson Gigliotti, Carol Vontobel, Bart Friedman and Ann Woodward–and produced tapes, installations and multimedia events. The Videofreex trained hundreds of makers in this brand new medium though the group’s Media Bus project.” (Video Data Bank)
Image courtesy Loren Sears
“A van outfitted with video recording, editing, and playback equipment toured the Pacific Coast in the early seventies… Loren Sears describes how the goal of his Tribal Vision Network (TVN) was ‘to record lifestyle innovation happening in these communities, edit and feed it back as a way of providing connection and clarifying what was being accomplished – a kind of self-critical tool for cultural innovators.’” (Tanya Zimbardo)
Night at the Planetarium (1971)
From the collection of Visual Studies Workshop ©Visual Studies Workshop / Portable Channel
“Portable Channel was a Rochester, NY non-profit (1971–1987) founded by documentary filmmaker and activist Bonnie Sherr Klein. Portable Channel supported community access to video equipment, provided training, and produced programs with an emphasis on community activism and documentary work.” (Visual Studies Workshop)