TV Guide to Experimental TV

The first broadcast of a television image occurred in 1929, when an image of Felix the Cat was transmitted from Washington to New York by WXBS. In the immediate postwar years, commercial broadcast television began to conquer the living rooms and imaginations of first Americans, then Europeans. By 1960, 90 percent of American households had a television as the centerpiece of domestic life.

The central medium of broadcast television was video. Video was exclusively the domain of broadcast television until 1967, when Sony introduced video equipment that was inexpensive and portable, thus initiating a phase of attempting to democratize television. Video art developed in reaction against commercial broadcast television. In the mid-1960s, some artists believed this mass communication medium could become the art form of the future. For a period of nearly two decades, more adventuresome television stations, the Public Broadcasting Corporation, and independent collectives formed with experimental television programming as a creative and active form of leisure activity, as opposed to a passive form.

Experimental television from the mid-1960s through the mid-1980s essentially takes three forms: abstract manipulation of electronic imagery, recording of performance, and social documentary. Over the course of the 2011-2012 academic year, the Huret and Spector Gallery will offer a continuously changing program, presenting interesting examples of experimental television produced in Europe and the United States.