1970s Magazine Radical Software Influenced by Marshall McLuhan


Radical Software, Volume I, Number 4, 1971

Radical Software, Volume II, Number 1, 1972Radical Software, Volume II, Number 4, 1973Radical Software, Volume II, Number 5, 1973

Stewart Brand, publisher of the Whole Earth Catalog from 1968 to 1974, acknowledged the influence of Marshall McLuhan (see 2nd posting below this one) and Radical Software, a historic video magazine started by Beryl Korot, Phyllis Gershuny, and Ira Schneider that first appeared in Spring of 1970, soon after low-cost portable video equipment became available to artists and other potential videomakers.


Alternative Media: Software and Video in 1970s Counterculture

Between 1970 and 1974 the Raindance Corporation published eleven issues of the journal, which are now compiled in an online archive.

It was a DIY [do-it-yourself] venture aiming to disseminate discoveries of any and all possibilities video had to offer, not just for art, but also for activism, documentary, science, psychology, and play. Its distribution forged the consciousness and communication of disparate collectives across the country. The title of this exhibition refers to a system set up at Antioch College in Ohio by which people could send in their own videos to be included in an ever-expanding archive, along with a blank tape to be filled with other programs from the collection, creating a kind of grass-roots library that embodied the ideology of a movement.

Fueled by the teachings of Marshall McLuhan, Radical Software railed against the deeper message of that 1950s family portrait: that the television at its center was broadcasting the same corporate media message into every American living room, a fixed perspective consumed by the masses as truth. One video at Pioneer Works, “Some Short Scenes in the Life of Radical Software,” shows the printing and distribution of the journal. Beryl Korot, one of the journal’s founders, explains to the camera that they believe television can be much “more than a radio with a screen,” or the “feedback of feedback of information.” The journal’s agenda was to promote independent, pirate television, and gave down-to-earth information about equipment and how-to’s in all levels of production. In the videos we see mechanics laid bare – microphones poke into many shots and you hear directions and the voices of people behind the camera. Emphasis is always on the medium and its practicality.

Read the rest of this article at: http://tinyurl.com/lp546zb 


Installation view, “Send Blank Tape” at Pioneer Works

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