Fred Turner: The Democratic Surround: Multimedia and American Liberalism from World War II to the Psychedelic Sixties (2013)

25 February 2019, dusan

“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
365 pages

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)

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Christopher Dunn: Brutality Garden: Tropicália and the Emergence of a Brazilian Counterculture (2001)

22 November 2018, dusan

“In the late 1960s, Brazilian artists forged a watershed cultural movement known as Tropicália. Music inspired by that movement is today enjoying considerable attention at home and abroad. Few new listeners, however, make the connection between this music and the circumstances surrounding its creation, the most violent and repressive days of the military regime that governed Brazil from 1964 to 1985. With key manifestations in theater, cinema, visual arts, literature, and especially popular music, Tropicália dynamically articulated the conflicts and aspirations of a generation of young, urban Brazilians.

Focusing on a group of musicians from Bahia, an impoverished state in northeastern Brazil noted for its vibrant Afro-Brazilian culture, Christopher Dunn reveals how artists including Caetano Veloso, Gilberto Gil, Gal Costa, and Tom Zé created this movement together with the musical and poetic vanguards of São Paulo, Brazil’s most modern and industrialized city. He shows how the tropicalists selectively appropriated and parodied cultural practices from Brazil and abroad in order to expose the fissure between their nation’s idealized image as a peaceful tropical “garden” and the daily brutality visited upon its citizens.”

Publisher University of North Carolina Press, Chapel Hill, NC, 2001
ISBN 0807849766, 9780807849767
276 pages

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Kasper Opstrup: The Way Out: Invisible Insurrections and Radical Imaginaries in the UK Underground, 1961-1991 (2017)

22 June 2017, dusan

“A counterculture history of art and experimental politics that turns the world inside out

The Way Out examines the radical political and hedonist imaginaries of the experimental fringes of the UK Underground from 1961 to 1991. By examining the relations between collective and collaborative practices with an explicit agenda of cultural revolution, Kasper Opstrup charts a hidden history of experiments with cultural engineering, expanding current discussions of art, medias, politics, radical education and the occult revival. Even though the theatres of operation have changed with the rise of the Internet and a globalised finance economy, these imaginaries still raise questions that speak directly to the present.

Here we encounter a series of figures – including Alexander Trocchi, R. D. Laing, Joseph Berke, Brion Gysin, William Burroughs and Genesis P-Orridge – that blurred the lines between inner and outer, the invisible and the material. Four singular forms of speculative techniques for igniting an invisible insurrection with cultural means make up the central case studies: the sigma project, London Anti-University, Academy 23 and thee Temple ov Psychick Youth.

Contained within these imaginaries is a new type of action university: a communal affair that would improvise a new type of social relation into existence by de-programming and de-conditioning us without any blueprints for the future besides to make it happen. Instead of being turned upside down, the world was to be changed from the inside out.”

Publisher Minor Compositions, Wivenhoe, 2017
ISBN 9781570273285
252 pages

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