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Violence Sonata

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This episode of "Rockefeller Artists in Television" features "Violence Sonata," a double-channel work by video artist and filmmaker Stan Vanderbeek. When the work was broadcast on WGBH channels 2 and 44, viewers were asked to take two television sets and place them side-by-side.

Stan Vanderbeek's "Violence Sonata" mixes live studio action and a prerecorded video work to question violence, race relations, and man's ability to communicate at the beginning of the 1970's. On channel 2, the original work created by Vanderbeek was shown. This includes archival film footage of the Ku Klux Klan, street scenes, images of outer space missions, riots, and so on. This imagery is manipulated and enhanced through overlays and color saturation. Martin Luther King's "I Have a Dream" speech is featured. A white man and black man repeat the phrases, "I want to like you" and "Adapt or die." Raised fists are recurring images.

On channel 44, sections of this work were played before a live studio audience who responded to the question "Can man communicate?" At home, viewers were also encouraged to call in their responses to this question and, despite the somewhat dire issues raised by the work, the viewers voted overwhelmingly in favor of man's ability to communicate. In one image from the work, a black woman and a white man appeared in bed together. Directed by David Atwood and Fred Barzyk.

The "Rockefeller Artists-in-Television" materials were created before the creation of the New Television Workshop. They were processed as part of this Collection because of their relationship to video art and experimental work.

The "Rockefeller Artists-in-Television" residency program was created to support artists working in television. Funded by the Rockefeller Foundation from 1967 through 1970, it was replaced by "The WGBH Project for New Television."
Audience participation television programs, Communication, Video art, Race relations, Violence
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