(Radical) Software



“In the winter of 1964, […], Students marching for free speech at the University of California at Berkley feared that America’s political leaders were treating them as if they were bits of abstract data.

One after the other, they took up blank computer cards, punched them through with patterns of holes—”FSM” and “STRIKE”—and hung them around their necks. One student even pinned a sign to his chest that parroted the cards’ user instructions: “I am a UC student. Please do not fold, bend, spindle or mutilate  me.”

ART: Marble? Aerated concrete? Plaster? Stack of IBM punch cards, (Photo IBM)

“For the marchers of the Free Speech Movement, as for many other Americans throughout the 1960s, computers loomed as technologies of dehumanization, of centralized bureaucracy and the rationalization of social life, and, ultimately, the Vietnam War.”

Hollerith’s Punched Card system


Ey up! He’s got Half-a Charlie!

Half Charley


Demonstrators throw bricks at Irish Riot Gardai during a protest in Dublin on the first day of the Queen Elizabeth II four day visit to Ireland on May 17, 2011. At least 100 protesters chanted slogans and torched the British flag in Dublin as Queen Elizabeth II began the first visit by a British monarch to the Irish Republic. AFP PHOTO/Carl de Souza. (Photo credit should read CARL DE SOUZA/AFP/Getty Images)

Apple ][ 1977


“Yet, in the 1990s, the same machines that had served as the defining devices of cold war technocracy emerged as,the symbols of transformation. Two decades after the end of the end of the Vietnam War and the fading of the  American counterculture, computers somehow seemed poised to bring to life the countercultural dream of empowered individualism, collaborative community, and spiritual communion. How did the cultural meaning of information technology shift so drastically?” — Fred Turner 2006, Counterculture to Cyberculture: Stewart Brand, the Whole Earth network, and the Rise of Digital Utopianism, pp.1-2.

Trust me this book is good. You know what they say…’Can’t trust a book by its cover.’

And so Fred Turner opens his investigation into the the cultural shift in consciousness towards the computer, from one of fear of techno dystopia to the utopian dream of cyberspace.


From Counterculture to Cyberculture: Stewart Brand, the Whole Earth network, and the Rise of Digital Utopianism 

A Crunchy-Granola Path From Macramé and LSD to Wikipedia and Google, By Edward Rothstein, Sept. 25, 2006, NY Times review

The pages are yellowed, the addresses and phone numbers all but useless, the products antique, the utopian expectations quaint. But the “Whole Earth Catalog” — and particularly “The Last Whole Earth Catalog,” published in 1971, which ended up selling a million copies and winning the National Book Award — has the eerie luminosity of a Sears catalog from the turn of the last century. It is a portrait of an age and its dreams.

Deerskin jackets and potter’s wheels, geodesic domes and star charts, instructions on raising bees and on repairing Volkswagens, advice on building furniture and cultivating marijuana: all this can be found here, along with celebrations of communal life and swipes at big government, big business and a technocratic society.

Hito Steyerl

Hito Steyerl, STRIKE, 2010,

Installation with 46”-flatscreen mounted on two free standing poles video, HDV, 28 sec.


Claes Oldenburg

Claes Oldenburg, Giant Pool Balls, 1977 Installation comprising three reinforced concrete spheres Sphere diameter, each 3.5 m Location: Lake Aa terraces on the north bank of lake Aa, permanent installation. “[T]the location has established itself as a popular meeting place and has become a city landmark, supplying the motif for such souvenirs as snow globes and the decoration for chocolate wrappers. Consequently Oldenburg’s work has also provided a means of understanding the contentious development of public art.” —1977 Skulptur Projekte Catalogue text, excerpt.

German Autumn. Kommunistische Partei Deutschlands/Marxisten-Leninisten, KPD/ML. ROTE GARDE. RAF. 18 October 1977

Radical Software Number 1

Radical Software Number 1, 1970, “The Alternative Television Movement”.

Alternative TV

I get your point. You’re so sharp.

Beryl Korot

A pioneer of video art and co-founder of Radical Software, her five channel video work “Text and Commentary” debuted in 1977 at the Leo Castelli Gallery,

“As with many artist’s videos of the 1970s, “Text and Commentary” is a reaction against television. The three-dimensional form of a cathode ray monitor, its dials and buttons, are intentionally masked by a recessed wall. The piece also takes a radical approach to time, running 30 minutes in length, and challenges the authority of a single-channel linear narrative. It expands the video frame into a multiple-channel viewpoint. By banding a horizontal strip of video screens together, the visual structure references celluloid film (which was typically cut by women who were film editors, another reference to handiwork such as weaving).” —Bitforms Gallery

Beryl Korot
“Text and Commentary,” 1976-1977
Five-channel video installation, black and white
with weavings, drawings, pictographic video notations
33 min, stereo sound
Installation dimensions variable

Whole Earth catalog, issue 1, 1968

Still from Tron, 1982, Steven Lisberger. (An aside: Music by Wendy Carlos)

10: 26 November 1977: Southern Television broadcast interruption – Wikipedia

Andrew Gardner, interrupted, 26 November 1977

Chris Burden

Chris Burden Title card

Chris Burden Title card

Chris Burden
Full financial disclosure, 1977

“During the early seventies I conceived a way to break the omnipotent stranglehold of the airwaves that broadcast television had. The solution was to simply purchase commercial advertising time and have the stations play my tapes along with their other commercials.” — Chris Burden

Johan Grimonprez

dial H-I-S-T-O-R-Y
a film by Johan Grimonprez1997, Belgium-France, digital betacam,
color & black/white, 68 min, stereo


dial H-I-S-T-O-R-Y premiered in 1997 at the Musée National d’Art Moderne (Centre Georges Pompidou (Paris); and Documenta X (1997)


The Belgian artist and filmmaker Johan Grimonprez came to prominence when this highly-acclaimed one hour video montage was shown in 1997. The work traces the history of airplane hijackings through found video footage and televised images. Grimonprez juxtaposes this central narrative with references to the Cold War and quotations from Don DeLillo’s novels ‘White Noise’ and ‘Mao II’. Examining the abundance of information available via the media, much of which is spectacular and sensationalist, Grimonprez acknowledges the hidden or unseen events which cannot be recorded. He thus presents the viewer with the potential impossibility of documenting historical fact.Tate 

Stan VanDerBeek

Stan VanDerBeek. Poemfield No. 1, 1967. 16mm film transferred to video (color, silent). 4:45 min. Realized with Ken Knowlton. Courtesy Estate of Stan VanDerBeek and Andrea Rosen Gallery, New York. Photograph: Lance Brewer. © 2017 Estate of Stan VanDerBeek

From 1964 through around 1969, artist Stan VanDerBeek worked with computer scientist Ken Knowlton on a series of films. […]
PoemField No. 1 (1965)
PoemField No. 2 (1966) (this one, with a free jazz soundtrack by Paul Motian)
PoemField No. 3 (1967)
PoemField No. 4 (no date)
PoemField No. 5 (1967)
PoemField No. 6 (no date)
PoemField No. 7 (1971)
PoemField No. 8 (no date)
Collido-Oscope (1966) (VanDerBeek, Knowlton and Bosche)
Man and His World, 1967 (shown at Expo ’67)
Each film was constructed using Knowlton’s BEFLIX computer language, which was based on FORTRAN. The films were programmed on a IBM 7094 computer. The films were created in black and white, with color added later by Brown and Olvey. This particular version is taken from a film with some color decay. — AT&T Archives

The Incredible Machine, 1968.

I love how they put cute sounds over film so we know when the computer is processing a task. AnthropoSkeuomorphic?The film features some clips of Stan VanDerBeek & Ken Knowlton’s films, including “Man and his World”

It also has some shots of what looks like an electric IBM Selectric typewriter which had a rotating “golf ball” instead the usual “basket” of swinging typebars. They are likely using IBM’s  monospaced typeface ‘Courier’ (More on this later).

IBM Courier Character map

Some quotes:

“Computer movies can be used to show phenomena we can’t directly see.”

“Experimenters in visual perception are using computers to create weird random patterns that never occur in real life. To find out what, and how people see when these patterns are show them.”

“When we learn to separate the relevant from the irrelevant in visual information. We’ll be on the way to sending three dimensional colour picture messages over ordinary telephone lines.”

Douglas Engelbart and “The Mother of All Demos”, 1968

Fred Turner describes the Mother of All demos…”In  1968 Dave Evans [A staffer at Doug Engelbart’s Augmented Human Intellect project at the Stanford Research Institute. (Turner, F, 2006, p.81)] recruited Brand to serve as videographer for an event that would become known as the “mother of all demos.” On December 9 of that year, at the Association for Computing Machinery / Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (ACM/IEEE)—Computer Society’s Fall Joint Computer Conference in San Francisco, Engelbart and members of the ARC [Augmentation Research Center] team demonstrated the NLS [ desc.. ]system to three thousand computer engineers. Engelbart sat on stage with a screen behind him depicting both himself and the text he was working on. His system was linked via telephone lines and microwave channels to a terminal at SRI. In the course of the presentation, Engelbart demonstrated the key features of the computer interface to come—including the mouse-keyboard-screen combination we now take for granted—for the first time in public. Moreover, he showed that computers could be used for complex group communications over long distances and for the enhancement of individual and collective learning.”

“Starting today, you can remix your friends’ photos — then send them back for fun conversations.”—Instagram, November 28, 2017. via: https://instagram-press.com/blog/2017/11/28/remix-photos-from-friends-in-direct/

“By all accounts, the audience was electrified. For the first time, they could see a highly individualized, highly interactive computing system built not around the crunching of numbers but around the circulation of information and the building of workplace community.” (ibid.) (Turner, F 2006, p.110)

SRI Packet Radio Van (The SRI Bread Truck) Birthplace of the internet, Menlo Park, 22 November 1977.

TO DO….Adam curtis :All watched over by machines of loving graceBrautigan

cybernetics Norbert Weiner.



edison: The wizard of Menlo PArk (not that Menlo park),

telephone… graham bell

SRI bread truck, ARPANET 1977

Lynx text based browser..


Wax: tv bees .etc

see also: BELL LABS, EAT 9 evenings? Johns, Rauschenberg, Cage..etc//

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