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New Television Workshop; Medium Is the Medium, The

Part of New Television Workshop.

Approximate date: 1969

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New Television Workshop
Medium Is the Medium, The
Series Description

The New Television Workshop originated at WGBH in 1974 to support the creation and development of experimental video art. This experimental programming included dance, drama, music, performance and visual arts on video and film. As early as 1968, WGBH was committed to the development of video art through residency programs, with artists such as Nam June Paik. Many of these early works (pre-1974) were broadcast both locally and nationally. Fred Barzyk, a WGBH producer and director, was the Workshop's Executive Director from 1974 to 1982. Susan Dowling was Executive Director from 1982 to 1993. In 1993 the Workshop ceased production at WGBH. Major broadcast series created by the Workshop included "Artist's Showcase," "Frames of Reference," "Dance for Camera," "Poetry Breaks," and "New Television." Individual works were created for "Visions," a series produced by WNET (New York), and "Alive From Off Center," a series produced by KTCA (St. Paul - Minneapolis). The Contemporary Art Television (CAT) Fund was co-founded by the Workshop and Boston's Institute for Contemporary Art (ICA) in the 1980's, to commission works by video artists. Series release date: 1974

Program Description

Six artists were invited to work with television technicians for the creation of "The Medium Is the Medium." Aldo Tambellini's work "Black" features images from slides, films, and television monitors and the responses of children. The work, which is black-and-white, opens with abstract circular designs and moves into street scenes and images of children's faces. At one point the children are heard discussing blackness and racial identity. Thomas Tadlock's "Architron" makes use of an "electronic optic machine" of his own invention, which creates kaleidoscope-like patterns of color and light. Allan Kaprow's "telehappening" "Hello," makes use of multiple monitors to help people in various locations throughout Boston make contact with one another. "Hello?" they call out, searching for familiar faces amid a jumble of monitors. WGBH producers David Atwood and Fred Barzyk are seen along with Allan Kaprow, Alvin Lucier, Nam June Paik, David Silver, Gus Solomons, Jr. and others. In James Seawright's "Capriccio" two dancers depicted in negative and positive images overlap in an array of colors. In Otto Piene's "Electronic Light Ballet" a young woman is levitated with hot-air balloons against a backdrop of feedback and colorful designs. In Nam June Paik's "Electronic Opera #1," a topless dancer and three hippies have their images manipulated and distorted, saturated with additional color. Richard Nixon and other well-known figures are twisted up. Voiceovers issue commands to the audience: "This is participation TV." Paik instructs the viewers to close and open their eyes at certain intervals. Just when it appears the work is about to start over again from the beginning, the voice implores viewers, "Turn off your TV set." End credit reads: "Produced by WGBH-TV Boston for PBL of NET"

Asset Type

Broadcast program

Media Type


Video art
Film and Television
Barzyk, Fred (Producer)
Dowling, Susan (Series Producer)
Fred Barzyk (Producer)
Solomons, Gus ()
Seawright, James ()
Tambellini, Aldo ()
Atwood, David ()
Silver, David ()
Tadlock, Thomas ()
Lucier, Alvin ()
Piene, Otto, 1928- ()
Paik, Nam June, 1932-2006 ()
Kaprow, Allan ()
Barzyk, Fred ()
Chicago: “New Television Workshop; Medium Is the Medium, The,” WGBH Media Library & Archives, accessed October 26, 2016, http://openvault.wgbh.org/catalog/V_E6FECA16220D49AF9A6CC3B976863BC4.
MLA: “New Television Workshop; Medium Is the Medium, The.” WGBH Media Library & Archives. Web. October 26, 2016. <http://openvault.wgbh.org/catalog/V_E6FECA16220D49AF9A6CC3B976863BC4>.
APA: New Television Workshop; Medium Is the Medium, The. Boston, MA: WGBH Media Library & Archives. Retrieved from http://openvault.wgbh.org/catalog/V_E6FECA16220D49AF9A6CC3B976863BC4
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