Old Skool Revolutionaries | Chicago Reader

Old Skool Revolutionaries

Jon Cates's documentary on the beginnings of video art at the School of the Art Institute in the 1970s abjures journalistic conventions—there's no narrator, and we aren't given the names of key participants (who include Phil Morton, Dan Sandin, and Gene Youngblood) until the end. Instead Cates captures the experimental spirit of the time by using contemporary scenes of the artists explaining their theories that have been altered with Sandin's “image processor,” an analog device for manipulating video. It's hard not to feel nostalgic for the utopianism these gurus express (new media will create “a viable anarchistic society,” in the future we will be able “to dial and tune our brains”), even now that the interactivity they dreamed of has been realized on the Internet—albeit with pop-up ads. 68 min.

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