Hello (1969)

Hello by Alan Kaprow was a TV happening for The Medium is the Medium, an experimental television programme for WGBH-TV in Biston. Six artist were specially invited to experiment and produce work in collaboration with television technologists. Kaprow’s Hello situated his famous happenings structure, and in particular randomness and chance, within a broadcast technology.

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Four locations in Boston were connected via closed-circuit television network (cctv). Here description of the work from Gene Youngblood’s book Expanded Cinema:

The station has direct closed-circuit inputs from a nuber of locations in the Boston-Cambridge area: a line to M.I.T., another to a hosital, another to an educational videotape library, and a fourth to Boston Airport. These were intercnnected with five TV cameras and twenty-seven monitors that Kaprow utilized as a sort of sociological conduit, demonstrating the possibilities of creativity in the act of videotronic communication, including obstacles to communication.
Groups of people were dispatched to the various locations with instruction as to what they would say on camera, such as “Hello, I see you,” when acknowledging their own image or that of a friend. Kaprow functioned as “director” in the studio control room, ordering channels opened and closed randomly. If someone at the airport were talking to someone at M.I.T., the picture might suddenly switch and one would be talking to doctors at the hospital. Thus not only the process of communication was involved, but the elements of choice and decision-making as well. Kaprow has suggested a global form of Hello, interconnecting continents, languages, and cultures in one huge sociological mix. The information transmitted in Hello, he emphasized, was not a newscast or lecture but the most important message of all: “Oneself in connection with someone else.”

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Kaprow referred to such a possibility of connecting people with each other as “TV Arcades”. He dreamed that such places would be open to all, all the time. A form of public utility where ‘a person will be free to do whatever he (sic!) wants, and will see himself on the monitors in different ways.’ They will be able to manipulate their own image, while transmitting it to other arcades at the same time.

These arcades are public spaces, yet Kaprow imagines a possibility where ‘a woman might want to make electronic love to a particular man she saw on a monitor. Controls would permit her to localizeĀ  (freeze) the communication within a few TV tubes. Other visitors to the same arcade may feel free to enjoy and even enhance the mad and surprising scramble by turning their dials accordingly. The world would make up its own social relations as it went along! EVERYBODY IN AND OUT OF TOUCH ALL AT ONCE!’

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