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New Television; I Do Not Know What It Is that I Am Like


Original date 4/21/87. Dubbed from A1-05828. (Bill Viola)

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New Television
I Do Not Know What It Is that I Am Like
Series Description

"New Television" began as a local pilot production of WNET (New York) in 1986. In 1987, WGBH signed on as co-producer, and the shows were aired in Boston and New York. In 1988 and 1989, KCET (Los Angeles) and WETA (D.C.) became producers in association. In 1991, PBS picked up "New Television," and it was broadcast nationally. The following year, the Wexner Center for the Arts in Columbus, Ohio, replaced WNET, WETA, and KCET as co-producer with WGBH. In 1993, WGBH ceased to be a co-producer for the series, and the "home base" moved to Connecticut Public Television (CPTV) in Hartford, CT.

"New Television" commissioned, produced, and acquired programming. In its early years, "New Television" broadcast works commissioned by The Contemporary Art Television (CAT) Fund. Increasingly, experimental films as well as video works were broadcast as a part of this series. Many of the later episodes of "New Television" contain works that play with and deconstruct the documentary genre. Series release date: 1986

Program Description

The work juxtaposes images of animals, both wild and domestic, and natural environments with human activity as it takes place in an apartment and during a fire walking ceremony in Fiji. Documentary-style footage is combined with staged events. Despite the piece’s lack of a traditional narrative, it bears some relationship to nature works. The credits indicate that the work is divided into five named sections, but the beginnings and endings of these sections seem deliberately blurred. The juxtaposition of images, along with the title, suggests some comparison between human and animal behavior, but no single or clear relationship is defined.

Images included in each section are as follow: Il Corpo Scuro (The dark body): animals and natural environments are seen up close and at a distance — The Language of Birds: exotic birds are filmed — The Night of Sense: a man is seated at a desk in an apartment, studying books that seem to be on the subject of anatomy; a cat howls; the man moves around the apartment, eats a cooked fish, and makes a mug of tea; close-ups of objects in the apartment and a hatching egg are interspersed; the man leaves the mug on the table, and an elephant enters from behind a backdrop to remove it — Stunned by the Drum: close-ups of dogs barking at the camera evolve into a succession of quick images that include zebras, moving cars, people, landscapes, and previously viewed scenes — The Living Flame: scenes of a Fiji fire-walking ceremony.



Asset Type

Broadcast program

Media Type


Film and Television
Chicago: “New Television; I Do Not Know What It Is that I Am Like,” 06/20/1997, WGBH Media Library & Archives, accessed October 27, 2016, http://openvault.wgbh.org/catalog/V_6A11EA37E5E344279AC5F8F6F53CE454.
MLA: “New Television; I Do Not Know What It Is that I Am Like.” 06/20/1997. WGBH Media Library & Archives. Web. October 27, 2016. <http://openvault.wgbh.org/catalog/V_6A11EA37E5E344279AC5F8F6F53CE454>.
APA: New Television; I Do Not Know What It Is that I Am Like. Boston, MA: WGBH Media Library & Archives. Retrieved from http://openvault.wgbh.org/catalog/V_6A11EA37E5E344279AC5F8F6F53CE454
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