Installation photos by Daniel Kent.

Installation photos by Daniel Kent.

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SEND BLANK TAPE: Radical Software Magazine and Early Video Distribution Networks

This installation mines Radical Software, the first periodical devoted to video, to present a survey of the very earliest video art in existence. In the earliest days of video, the lines between art, documentation, journalism, and experimentation were either not yet existent or intentionally blurry.

In this exhibit, an array of videos are shown made by collectives and individuals active in the early video exchange network facilitated and promoted by Radical Software magazine. This collection of videos (some of which have never before been publicly screened) are examples of the range and depth of creative production made possible by access to video technology. Video made moving image media fast, accessible, and relatively cheap. While the visual quality of the medium wasn’t always great, playback could be immediate, allowing for instant results. Video is traditionally intended as a small- screen medium, to be viewed by individuals or intimate groups, rather than the cinema model of large audiences focused on a big projected image.

In SEND BLANK TAPE the videos are presented in the spirit of the early 70s Friday night video-screening parties held in the Prince Street, SoHo lo inhabited by members of the video art collective Videofreex. Included in this presentation are works by the aforementioned Videofreex, as well as individuals and collectives such as Raindance, Ant Farm, John Reilly, Community Video, and Ladies Home Journal.

Initial installation November 2014 at Pioneer Works.

Additional screenings and installations have been presented at Sight Unseen (Baltimore), Union Docs (NYC), Squeaky Wheel (Buffalo).

Software to me, was always programming— what was on the tapes. Hardware was the equipment. It was a radical break
with television, creating a new kind of programming.
— Beryl Korot, interview with the author July 4, 2014