Creating Radical Software: A Personal Account

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What can be analyzed in my work, or criticized, are the questions that I ask…my composition arises out of asking questions.

— John Cage

 

 

Radical Software Volume I, Number 1: the Alternate Television Movement (Spring 1970)

As rare as it is for something to be an instant success, this is what happened with Radical Software, a journal started in 1970 to bring a fresh direction to communication via personal and portable video equipment and other cybernetic explorations. Its intention was to foster an alternative to broadcast media and lessen the impact of its control. I was the co-founder.

When I began conceiving of the journal, no one really knew precisely what I was getting at because my ideas about it were at an inchoate stage of development, making for loose coherency. The idea was for individuals to be able to communicate interactively without the filters of broadcast media. Even at a more formalized stage the process superseded any formulaic views. Perhaps asking non-hierarchical questions could materialize the structures leading to a two-way network for communicative exchange. Our choices were no longer determined by traditions and customs.

I don't often look, but when I do, I notice so much misinformation, both printed and online, about the origins of Radical Software. I‘d like to clarify what my role was then and what my inspiration was in conceiving of it. It is important to set the background and tone of events. In order to accurately tell the tale I will weave in some personal life anecdotes from the time. It's all one story to me, as the vicissitudes of life often direct our fates.

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Poetry as Practice: Ye Mimi's filmic postcards of street life in NYC, Chicago, and Taiwan

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The poetry film Was Being Moved? (2011) takes the form of a series of postcards to a "Mr. Parade," interspersed with vignettes of public rituals and street life in Chicago, New York City, and Taiwan. It features music composed and played by Taiwanese musician Yujun Wang.

Ye Mimi is a Taiwanese poet and filmmaker. Having earned an MFA in creative writing at Dong Hwa University and an MFA in film at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, she is the author of two volumes of poetry and has exhibited several of her poetry films internationally. Through collaging her words and images, she improvises a new landscape, trying to erase the border between poetry and image making. A bilingual chapbook of her poems was recently published by Anomalous Press under the title His Days Go by the Way Her Years (2013).

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Art Focused and Distracted: Three new media exhibitions curated by Joshua Decter

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Image of äda 'web page produced for the exhibition "Screen," 1996.

In 1996, curator, critic, and educator Joshua Decter colorfully defined "media cultures" as "a euphemism for how we reproduce ourselves, as a society, into a spectacular—i.e., ocular and aural—organism whose viscera has become technology itself."

Throughout his career, Decter has paid special attention to media cultures and their relationship with the public sphere, developing a curatorial practice that has long been distinguished by its openness to adjacent new media and net art practices. Beyond spectacle, his use of websites, apps, and other technological apparatuses sheds fresh light on artists and artworks generally considered to be decidedly analog.

I invited Decter to walk me through three curatorial projects, all ambitious group shows, that exemplify his career in digital and AFK spaces. In each, the artwork is mediated—either by conceit, didactic, or display—so as to variously diffuse and emphasize the image, addressing the nature of art and its publics under the condition of networked technologies. 

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