“Analogue televisions in the South Island will show nothing but static today after a switch to digital overnight.”
– the New Zealand Herald, 28.4.2013
“Television is the most efficient reproduction and distribution medium in human history, but it can scarcely be said to have come up with anything in the last half century that could be called an art form unique to that medium. The high-low distinction never took hold here in the way that it did in film. There is no form of high television culture that could be seen as a lasting cultural asset to be preserved for future generations.”
- Dieter Daniels, 'Television : Art or Anti-art? Conflict and cooperation between the avant-garde and the mass media in the 1960s and 1970s'
New Zealand was a relative latecomer to public television, with Auckland’s first T.V. broadcast on the 1st of June 1960 (Dunedin’s was just over 2 years later in July 1962) lagging behind the British introduction of this particular public medium in 1936. As of today in the South Island, analogue TV bands are switched off with the turn to digital broadcasting, rendering this history something of an architecture of empty static, a zone of ‘dead air’.
Personally, we haven’t watched TV ourselves for years, but taking this timely opportunity to go wandering a moment within the abandoned city of the televisual, the now-empty signal of the mass medium of our collective childhoods, Avant Gardening presents a show dedicated to both signal and static within the TV paradigm, looking at some of the discussion around TV as a medium for artistic possibility throughout the last 40 years, and a small selection of artists' varied interventions into the medium-as-material, from self-consciously critical or activist interventions into the content of public broadcast media, to the medium as a momentary focus within the wider context of the development of video, media and electronic art.
Of course, much TV art isn't really audible, great things like Paik's earliest works in the medium, Wolf Vostell's 'Sun in Your Head' and and Richard Serra's 'Television Delivers People', but you can easily track these down elsewhere. And being a show that itself transfers one medium to another, in this case streaming media or digital files to analogue radio waves, we would like to remind our listeners that during the following announcements, ‘dead air’ may be in evidence, and that the visual can itself sound like static, or silence, or even radio - where possible, we've included the links to the material if you would like to watch.
1. Nam June Paik, ‘Waiting for Commercial’, performed by David Behrman and Charlotte Moorman (8:18)
2. 'The Medium is the Medium' (1969) : six artists work with television (Aldo Tambellini, Thomas Tadlock, Allan Kaprow, James Seawright, Otto Piene, Nam June Paik) (30:00) http://www.ubu.com/film/tambellini_medium.html
3. Marshall McLuhan, 'The World is a Global Village', May 18, 1960 (8:44)
4. Chris Burden 'The T.V. Commercials 1973-1977' (9:08) http://www.ubu.com/film/burden_tv.html
5. Paper Tiger TV (1983), 'Brian Winston Reads the T.V. News' (15:04)
6. Sean Snyder, 'Schema (Television)' (2006-07), (7:00) http://www.ubu.com/film/snyder_schema.html
7. Sean Snyder, 'Analepsis' (2003-04), (4:00) http://www.ubu.com/film/snyder_anal.html
8. Phil Collins, 'The Return of the Real' (2007) (68:00, excerpt)
9. Shelly Silver, 'The Houses that are Left (1991) (52:00, excerpt)
10. Laurie Anderson, 'Difficult Listening Hour' from The Kitchen Presents Two Moon July (4:21)