In 1984, the idea of live satellite links was still fresh in people’s imaginations, and on New Year’s Eve, Nam Jun Paik and Paul Garrin pulled together an incredible line-up of avant-garde artists (e.g. Laurie Anderson), composers (John Cage), writers (Allen Ginsburg), dancers (Merce Cunningham) along with pop culture stars and TV hosts for a mind-boggling hour of video-art bricolage, live hardware video effects, and ostentatious haircuts.
You can’t find this video in full online (there’s a little excerpt of one of Laurie Anderson’s performances below) so you’ll have to go to see it installed at Space Studios in Hackney before March 5th. Be warned though – it’s hidden behind an exhibition of very bad paintings. Worse still, whoever installed it decided to show the video simulteneously on a series of 4 monitors, linked with video signal relays, each with a progressively weaker signal until the 4th monitor is just static. I suppose it’s some kind of ‘sculptural’ gesture to accentuate the novelty of live satellite broadcast in 1984 – but it’s idiotically distracting from what is otherwise an amazing slice of pre-cyberpunk digital art.
Highly recommended, especially for you, Toby. The excitement of the presenters and artists about the simultaneously broadcast event says a lot about how liveness, digital effects and mediation has gone from novelty to norm in the last 20 years.