Fred Turner: The Democratic Surround: Multimedia and American Liberalism from World War II to the Psychedelic Sixties (2013)
Filed under book | Tags: · 1960s, cold war, counterculture, cultural history, liberalism, mass culture, underground
“We commonly think of the psychedelic sixties as an explosion of creative energy and freedom that arose in direct revolt against the social restraint and authoritarian hierarchy of the early Cold War years. Yet, as Fred Turner reveals in The Democratic Surround, the decades that brought us the Korean War and communist witch hunts also witnessed an extraordinary turn toward explicitly democratic, open, and inclusive ideas of communication and with them new, flexible models of social order. Surprisingly, he shows that it was this turn that brought us the revolutionary multimedia and wild-eyed individualism of the 1960s counterculture.
In this prequel to his book From Counterculture to Cyberculture, Turner rewrites the history of postwar America, showing how in the 1940s and ’50s American liberalism offered a far more radical social vision than we now remember. Turner tracks the influential mid-century entwining of Bauhaus aesthetics with American social science and psychology. From the Museum of Modern Art in New York to the New Bauhaus in Chicago and Black Mountain College in North Carolina, Turner shows how some of the most well-known artists and intellectuals of the forties developed new models of media, new theories of interpersonal and international collaboration, and new visions of an open, tolerant, and democratic self in direct contrast to the repression and conformity associated with the fascist and communist movements. He then shows how their work shaped some of the most significant media events of the Cold War, including Edward Steichen’s Family of Man exhibition, the multimedia performances of John Cage, and, ultimately, the psychedelic Be-Ins of the sixties. Turner demonstrates that by the end of the 1950s this vision of the democratic self and the media built to promote it would actually become part of the mainstream, even shaping American propaganda efforts in Europe.
Overturning common misconceptions of these transformational years, The Democratic Surround shows just how much the artistic and social radicalism of the sixties owed to the liberal ideals of Cold War America, a democratic vision that still underlies our hopes for digital media today.”
Publisher University of Chicago Press, 2013
ISBN 9780226325897, 022632589X
Reviews: Jathan Sadowski (LA Review of Books, 2014), Carolyn L Kane (J Visual Culture, 2015), Matthew Linton (Society For U.S. Intellectual History Blog, 2015), Craig J. Pearison (J American History, 2016), Katie Simpson (J-History, 2017), Malte Hagener (NECSUS, 2015), Erika J. Pribanic-Smith (Journalism History, 2014), Debra Cash (ArtsFuse, 2014), Alex Sayf Cummings (2014).
Interview with author (Henry Jenkins, 2014), (cont.)
Interview with author (Clay Shirky, Public Books, 2014)
Video lecture (Berkeley, 2014)
Filed under book | Tags: · 1960s, art criticism
A collection of articles published in Art International, Artforum, Art in America, Hudson Review and exhibition catalogues, covering the art of the 1960s.
Publisher Dutton, New York, 1971
Documents in Modern Art Criticism series, 2
ISBN 0525079424, 9780525079422
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Filed under journal | Tags: · 1950s, 1960s, art and science, art history, experimental art, technology, united kingdom
“This special double issue of ISR came out of the conference The experimental generation: networks of interdisciplinary praxis in post war British art (1950–1970) we organized together in 2014, exploring an apparent convergence of interest in art and science around the notion of social responsibility in the 1960s. …
It is rarely recognized that Cambridge was something of a hotbed of interdisciplinary exploration in the 1960s. Within this issue we seek to bring some of the leading figures behind this into the foreground, from the Language Research Unit led by Margaret Masterman to the Centre for Land Use and Built Form Studies created by Leslie Martin in the Architecture Department. Cambridge was, after all, where C.P. Snow (re)ignited the ‘Two Cultures’ debate in 1959; where two key figures in cybernetics and systems theory, Gordon Pask and Robin McKinnon-Wood, met as undergraduates, founded their company ‘System Research’ and developed their first early computers. Ian Sommerville, the precocious mathematician who invented the ‘Dreamachine’ with Bryon Gysin was an undergraduate at Trinity College when he invited Gustav Metzger to give his first public lecture/demonstration on Auto-Destructive Art for the Heretics Society in 1960. In 1964, St Catharine’s College, Cambridge, played host to the ‘First International Exhibition of Concrete, Kinetic and Phonic Poetry’ initiated by a young academic in the English department, Michael Weaver who gathered together over 60 works by poets and artists from 14 countries for a week’s exhibition in a Cambridge college. He worked closely with Reg Gadney, Philip Steadman and Stephen Bann who co-edited a formative issue of IMAGE magazine, on Kinetic Art: Concrete Poetry in November 1964. Steadman, Weaver and Bann went on to launch Form (1966–1969).
As a founder member of the Cambridge University Artists Group, Gadney was instrumental in spreading knowledge of Kinetic Art methods and techniques through articles in the student magazine Granta as well as the London Magazine. In 1965 Metzger was invited back to Cambridge to deliver his ‘Chemical Revolution in Art’ lecture attended by Bann, Gadney and Steadman. In his article for this journal Professor Stephen Bann looks back at the art and ideas that informed his book Experimental Painting, published in 1970, which took developments in art of the previous decade as its subject.
This issue spotlights a period that is still within living memory, and still reverberates today. In encouraging such a diversity of articles we have followed our instincts as curators rather than historians. We have gathered together a constellation of voices, from pioneers to emerging scholars, in order to encourage and facilitate unanticipated connections.” (from the Introduction)
Edited by Bronać Ferran and Elizabeth Fisher
Publisher Institute of Materials, Minerals & Mining, London, 2017
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