Community and Activist Video
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Welcome to the Videosphere...

Once upon a time.... 

People arose wielding half inch video cameras 
with pack recorders strapped to their sides... 

They sought to document unpublished truths...

They created art...

They wanted us to open our eyes...


These sites below  tell their story - enjoy! 



Click here to join Community-Activist-Art-Video-TV-History
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Click the above image page to sign up to the Yahoo Groups LISTSERV. Tell us briefly on your application some of your background in early video. Please also make sure we have your email address and website also. - Many Thanks!


Kaye Miller and the text of
what was to have been 
Radical Software #6
Unearthing Chicago's underground video scene
Articles about....

Tom Weinberg     Tedwilliam     Theodore Dan Sandin 

Anda Korsts       Kaye Miller      Phil Morton 

Dave Affelder - Hum Video 

A unique old article from Hyde-Parker Magazine form 1973...


Alternative Television:

A Short History of Early Video Activism in Chicago

©Sara Chapman

Learn about....

Alternative Television, A Short History of Early Video Activism in Chicago, Sara Chapman, Judy Hoffman , Process art, earth art, conceptual art, performance art, Jim Morrissette, Sony Portapak, Tedwilliam Theodore, independent videomakers, TVTV, Republican &Democratic, National Conventions, 1972, Guerrilla Television, Shamberg ,cybernetic guerrilla communications, Chicago Videomaking, Video groups, University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC), the Media Production Center, Jerry Temaner, documentary film collective, Kartemquin Films, Videopolis, Anda Korsts, WBBM, ( Freestyle Video Journalism, Judy Hoffman, Lilly Ollinger, Jack McFadden, Women Doing Video, 1973, UIC , YWCA, 37 South Wabash, ˝” video equipment, Ron Powers, Chicago, Sun-Times, Illinois Arts Council, Chicago Imagists, 1974, Anda Korsts, Tom Weinberg,Illinois Arts Council, Studs Terkel’s, book, Working, Skip Blumberg, Videofreex, Jim Mayer, Optic Nerve, Paul Challacombe, Joel Gold, Tom Shea, ,Jim Wiseman, Terkel’s book, Tivicon,Vidicon, It’s a Living, WTTW, Channel 11, Chicago’s, PBS, station, Scott Jacobs, Paper Roses, Kartemquin documentary filmmaking collective, Stanley Karter, Gordon Quinn, and Jerry Temaner,  Judy Hoffman, Sharon Karp, Community Television Network, CTVN, Denise Zaccardi ,  Lily Ollinger, Mary Ann, Debra Jackson, Karen Smiley, and Sandra Smiley, Mary Ann Jackson, National Film Board of Canada’s, Challenge for Change, George Stoney, Mirko Popadic, Social Institutions, Tedwilliam Theodore, Tom Weinberg, Scott Jacobs, Chicago Editing Center, Communications for Change, National Endowment for the Arts, Irving Harris, Slices of Chicago, Tom Finerty, Jim Morrissette, Denise Zaccardi, Woody & Steina, Vasulka, Dee Dee Halleck, Wendy Clarke, and George Stoney,  the Chicago Editing Center ,Center For New Television ,The Pop Video Test, Scott Jacobs , Tom Weinberg , Image Union, The Center for New Television, Anda Korsts, Video Notes (aka Freestyle Video Journalism), Tedwilliam Theodore, Milton Shulman, The Ravenous Eye, Michael Shamberg, Raindance, Guerrilla Television, World’s Largest TV Studio, TVTV, Jim Morrissette, Judy Hoffman, The Hyde Parker, Center for New Television.


Amherst Community Television

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AMHERST COMMUNITY TELEVISION (ACT) is a non-profit community service which brings locally produced television to Amherst Mass.  viewers by operating the Amherst's cable television channel.



Dan Berrigan Jail Release 


Dan Berrigan Suppoed to be a die in but... is a dinner party? Can anyone tell us more? 



go there to read even more!

Daniel Berrigan was born in Virginia, Minnesota, a Midwestern working class town. His father, Thomas Berrigan, was second-generation Irish-Catholic and proud Union man. Tom left the Catholic Church, but Berrigan remained attracted to the Church throughout his youth. He joined a strict Jesuit seminary directly out of high school, where he spent the next twenty years studying theology.

 Protests against the War in Vietnam

Berrigan, his brother Philip, and the famed Trappist monk Thomas Merton founded an interfaith coalition against the Vietnam War, and wrote letters to major newspapers arguing for an end to the war.

In 1969, Philip Berrigan was arrested for non-violent protest and sentenced to six years in prison. Afterwards, Daniel Berrigan seriously considered taking more direct action against the war. Howard Zinn, professor emeritus at Boston University, invited Berrigan to accompany him on a trip to Hanoi to negotiate the release of three U.S. pilots held prisoner by the North Vietnamese. Although the mission had a high chance of success, it was opposed by the FBI on the grounds that it violated their policy of non-negotiation with North Vietnam. J. Edgar Hoover went so far as to publicly call Zinn and Berrigan "traitors". U.S. planes even bombed locations where they were scheduled to be. Despite the opposition, three pilots were returned home. They were the first American POWs released unharmed by the North Vietnamese. The lack of acknowledgement and appreciation by the U.S. government helped to radicalize Berrigan.

In 1969, Berrigan decided to participate in a more radical non-violent protest. A local high-school physics teacher helped to concoct homemade napalm. Nine activists, who later became known as the Catonsville Nine, walked into the draft board of Catonsville, Maryland, and removed 378 draft files, which they brought outside and burned. The Catonsville Nine, who were all Catholic, issued a statement:

"We confront the Catholic Church, other Christian bodies, and the synagogues of America with their silence and cowardice in the face of our country's crimes. We are convinced that the religious bureaucracy in this country is racist, is an accomplice in this war, and is hostile to the poor."

Berrigan was arrested and sentenced to three years in prison, but he refused to serve his time. Instead, he went underground, living discreetly among like-minded individuals. The FBI, to its great embarrassment, was not immediately able to apprehend Berrigan, although he frequently showed up briefly at public events, made impromptu speeches, and went back into hiding. During this time Berrigan was also interviewed for a documentary titled "The Holy Outlaw," by Lee Lockwood.

Eventually, the FBI managed to find and arrest Berrigan. He was released from prison in 1972. After his release from prison, Berrigan spent time in France meeting with Thich Nhat Hanh, the exiled Buddhist monk peace activist from Vietnam.

He is interviewed in the 1968 anti-Vietnam War documentary film In the Year of the Pig.

 The Plowshares Movement

On September 9, 1980, Berrigan, his brother Philip, and six others (the "Plowshares Eight") began the Plowshares Movement when they entered the General Electric Nuclear Missile Re-entry Division in King of Prussia, Pennsylvania where nose cones for the Mark 12A warheads were made. They hammered on two nose cones, poured blood on documents and offered prayers for peace. They were arrested and initially charged with over ten different felony and misdemeanor counts. On April 10, 1990, after nearly ten years of trials and appeals, the Plowshares Eight were re-sentenced and paroled for up to 23 and 1/2 months in consideration of time already served in prison. Their legal battle was dramatically re-created in Emile de Antonio's 1982 film In The King of Prussia, which starred Martin Sheen and featured appearances by the Plowshares Eight as themselves.

Since this action over seventy Plowshares actions have taken place around the world against weapons of war, several involving Berrigan himself.

 Other activism

Berrigan has spoken out on many issues since then, and has been involved in many protests. He has led protests against American destabilization of Central America, the 1991 Gulf War, the Kosovo War, the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan, and the 2003 invasion of Iraq. He is also a prominent pro-life activist. He had been a guest speaker at Regis High School, a Jesuit college preparatory school in Manhattan.

 Further reading go to the link



The Radical Software Web Site is a joint project of the Daniel Langlois Foundation of Montreal, and Davidson Gigliotti Formerly of VIDEOFREEX) and Ira Schneider (Formerly of RAINDANCE).

Thanks to the efforts and hard work of these folks you can view the contents of  the magazines online!

Click on any of the pictures or the direction link ... visit the site... learn the history... read the  publication presented for you in PDF format... Indeed a unique piece of American Media History - Ed Sharpe


The historic video magazine Radical Software was started by Beryl Korot, Phyllis Gershuny, and Ira Schneider and first appeared in Spring of 1970, soon after low-cost portable video equipment became available to artists and other potential videomakers. Though scholarly works on video art history often refer to Radical Software, there are few places where scholars can review its contents.

The Southwest Museum of Communications and Computation  (SMECC) is just 4 issues away from a complete set! if you have any duplicate issues please let us know.


Vol. I, no. 1 Vol. I, no. 2 Vol. I, no. 3 Vol. I, no. 4
Vol. I, no. 5 Vol. II, no. 1 Vol. II, no. 2 Vol. II, no. 3
Vol. II, no. 4 Vol. II, no. 5 Vol. II, no. 6


This issue was designated Vol. I, Number 6 of Radical Software, although it appeared on the street before Number 5. It was unique as it was sold though standard books stores rather than by subscription.  It also was a money maker for the group!



The Early Video Project

The purpose of the site is to support the community of people interested in early video with information about early video and early video art, and current activities connected with that topic. - Davidson Gigliotti




Works by Steina & Woody -  The Kitchen 1971-1973 - Vasulka Archive



Experimental Television Video History Project

The Experimental Television Center’s Video History Project is an on-going research initiative which documents video art and community television, as it evolved in rural and urban New York State, and across the US. Begun in 1994, the Project has several initiatives including research, conferences and the website.


Subject to Change: 
Guerrilla Television Revisited

Boyle, Deidre
Boyle, Deirdre Oxford University Press Paperback

Before the Internet, camcorders, and hundred-channel cable- systems - predating the Information Superhighway and talk of cyber-democracy - there was guerilla television. Part of the larger alternative media tide which swept the country in the late sixties, guerilla television emerged when the arrival of lightweight, affordable consumer video equipment made it possible for ordinary people to make their own television. Fueled both by outrage at the day's events and by the writings of people like Marshall McLuhan, Tom Wolfe, and Hunter S. Thompson, the movement gained a manifesto in 1971, when Michael Shamberg and the Raindance Corp. published Guerilla Television. As framed in this quixotic text, the goal of the video guerilla was nothing less than a reshaping of the structure of information in America. In Subject to Change, Deidre Boyle tells the fascinating story of the first TV generation's dream of remaking television and their frustrated attempts at democratizing the medium. Interweaving the narratives of three very different video collectives from the 1970s - TVTV, Broadside TV, and University Community Video - Boyle offers a thought-provoking account of an earlier electronic utopianism, one with significant implications for today's debates over free speech, public discourse, and the information explosion.

Price from the SMECC Museum Giftshop $24.95 plus shipping



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Spaghetti City Video Manual
(click on cover to see a close up of this great cover art)

One of the most useful  books if you are still trying to use a ˝ inch machine. This book is historically interesting and has great cover and interior artwork.

 Even if you are not maintaining a ˝ inch machine this is  'one of those books' that will give you even more insight into the early video efforts. We, from time to time, have an extra copy at the museum... Contact us.  -Ed Sharpe archivist for SMECC


MEDIA BURN: A video art piece examining the media, particularly Television news.

On July 4, Independence Day, 1975, a "media circus" assembles at San Francisco's Cow Palace Stadium. A pyramid of television sets are stacked, doused with kerosene, and set ablaze. Then a modified 1959 Cadillac, piloted by two drivers who are guided only by a video monitor between their bucket seats with the image from  an Sony AVC-3400 Video camera located in the towering dorsal fin, smashes through the pyramid destroying the TV sets.

Preceding the event are actual clips from various TV news broadcasts that covered it (most of the TV reporters make the comment that they "didn't get it"; coverage of the "media circus" at Cow Palace; and a speech given by an imitator of the late President John F. Kennedy who explains the message of Media Burn. Click the 'Media Burn" Logo to watch this unique movie at 

NOTE: Observe the  Portapak AVC-3400 camera used in the dorsal fin of the car! Also see how many Sony AV-3400 Portapaks (AKA Video Rover II) you can spot in the duration of this movie.  Notice also the traditional media that was on site was shooting 16mm film not any form of video back in those days. -Ed Sharpe




Artists and activists outlined their plan to decentralize television so that the medium could be made by as well as for the people, in the pages of Radical Software and in the alternative movement's 1971 manifesto, Guerrilla Television, written by Michael Shamberg and Raindance Corporation,. These "alternative media guerrillas" were determined to use video to create an alternative to the aesthetically bankrupt and commercially corrupt broadcast medium.

Earlier in the 1960s various versions of "the underground"--alternative political movements, cultural revolutionaries, artists--began to search for new ways of reaching their audience. Cable television and the videocassette seemed to offer an answer. The movement was assisted, perhaps inadvertently, by federal rules mandating local origination programming and public access channels for most cable systems. These channels provided a forum for broadcasting community-driven production. The newly developed videocassette allowed independent media producers to create an informal distribution system in which they could "bicycle" their tapes--carrying them by hand or delivering them by mail--to other outlets throughout the country, or even the world.

These new forms of exhibition and distribution were accompanied by the development of a portable consumer-grade taping system. In 1965 the Sony Corporation decided to launch its first major effort at marketing consumer video equipment in the United States. The first machines were quite cumbersome, but in 1968 Sony introduced the first truly portable video rig--the half-inch, reel to reel CV Porta-Pak. Prior to this, videotape equipment was cumbersome, stationary, complex, and expensive, even though it had been used commercially since 1956. With the new international standard for 1/2" videotape, tapes made with one manufacturer's portable video equipment could be played back on competing manufacturer's equipment. In the hands of media activists these technological innovations were used to realize radical changes in program form and content.

Underground video groups appeared throughout the U.S., but New York City served as the hub of the 1960s underground scene. Prominent early groups included the Videofreex, People's Video Theater, Global Village, and Raindance Corporation. Self-described as "an innovative group concerned with the uses of video," Videofreex was the most production-oriented of the video groups and developed a high expertise with television hardware. In 1973 the Videofreex published a user-friendly guide to use, repair and maintenance of equipment titled the Spaghetti City Video Manual. The People's Video Theater made significant breakthroughs in community media; members used live and taped feedback of embattled community groups to create mini-documentaries that "spoke back to the news." The Global Village was perhaps the most commercial of the original groups, and initiated the first closed-circuit video theater to showcase their work. Raindance Corporation functioned as the counter-culture's research and development arm; Shamberg described it as an "analogue to the Rand Corporation--a think tank that would use videotape instead of print." Raindance chronicled the movement by publishing Radical Software, underground video's chief information source and networking tool.

Top Value Television, one of the earliest ad hoc group of video makers, assembled in 1972 to cover political conventions for cable TV. Equipped with porta-paks, TVTV produced hour-long documentary tapes of the Democratic and Republican National Conventions, providing national viewers with an alternative vision of the American political process and the media that cover it. Four More Years (1972), a tape covering the Republican National Convention, was produced with a crew of 19, and featured footage of delegate caucuses, Young Republican rallies, cocktail parties, antiwar demonstrations, and interviews with the press from the convention floor. TVTV's success with its first two documentaries for cable television attracted the interest of public television and the group became the first group commissioned to produce work for national broadcast on public TV. In 1974, shortly after TVTV introduced national audiences to guerrilla TV, the first all-color portable video documentary was produced by the Downtown Community Television Center (DCTV) and aired on PBS.

In 1981, the Paper Tiger Television Collective formed--a changing group of people that came together to produce cable programming for the public access channel in New York City. Drawing upon the traditions of radical video, Paper Tiger Television invented its own home-grown studio aesthetic using rather modest resources to make revolutionary television. Many of Paper Tiger's half-hour programs are live studio "events," faintly reminiscent of 1960s video "happenings." The show's hosts are articulate critics of mainstream American media who examine the corporate ownership, hidden agendas, and information biases of the communications industry via the media in all of their forms.


Paper Tiger Television
Photo courtesy of Paper Tiger

Paper Tiger Television
Photo courtesy of Paper TIger

In 1986, Paper Tiger organized Deep Dish TV, the country's first alternative satellite network, to distribute its public access series to participating cable systems and public television stations around the country. The successful syndication of this anthology of community-made programs on issues such as labor, housing, the farming crisis, and racism promised a new era for alternative documentary production.

With a similar agenda, The 90's Channel first began "shattering the limits of conventional TV" in 1989 as a PBS television show, and has since established an "independent cable network" carrying blocks of activist programming on leased access over a number of cable systems owned by Telecommunications, Inc. (TCI), while also bicycling its programs to public access channels and universities around the country. The 90's Channel programming (now known as Free Speech TV) is a compilation of activist, community-based and experimental media produced by independent film and video makers.

Activist media are oriented towards action, not contemplation--towards the present, not tradition. Politically integrated opposition against mainstream broadcast television by marginalized groups has considered the form, content, and regulatory structures of the medium. As a mode of activism, television may be used as a occasion for media analysis and intervention, as a pathway for the exchange of information, as well as a vehicle for securing representation for those groups otherwise marginalized from the media. The ultimate goal of committed alternative video groups, however, is to secure universal access to the tools of production and the channels for distribution and exhibition. For these reasons, community-based programming has not simply followed the lead of network television, but rather served as a forum for envisioning the future of the medium.

-Eric Freedman


Fabaer, Mindy, editor. A Tool, A Weapon, A Witness: The New Video News Crews. Chicago: Randolph Street Gallery, 1990.

Goldberg, Kim. The Barefoot Channel. Vancouver: North Star, 1990.

Hall, Doug, and Sally Jo Fifer, editors. Illuminating Video: An Essential Guide to Video Art. New York: Aperture Foundation, Inc., 1990.

Kahn, Douglas, and Diane Neumaier, editors. Cultures in Contention. Seattle: The Real Comet Press, 1985.

Roar! The Paper Tiger Television Guide to Media Activism. New York: The Paper Tiger Television Collective, 1991.

Michael Shamberg and Raindance Corporation. Guerrilla Television. New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1971.

Videofreex. The Spaghetti City Video Manual: A Guide to Use, Repair and Maintenance. New York: Praeger, 1973.




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            Levitt & Vertel Stake Out

The JPG is a photo of two of my compatriots at the parking lot of a White Castle hamburger joint in Chicago, 1972, after a video shoot of their band. Only this image remains... Terry Moyemont


Allen Rucker

ALLEN RUCKER was born in Wichita Falls, Texas, raised in Bartlesville, Oklahoma, and has an MA in Communication from Stanford University, an MA in American Culture from the University of Michigan and a BA in English from Washington University, St. Louis.

He is the author of the New York Times bestseller, "The Sopranos: A Family History," as well as two books with comedian Martin Mull, "The History of White People In America" and "A Paler Shade of White." His next book, "The Sopranos Family Cookbook," comes out in September, 2002.

As a TV writer-producer, he co-founded the experimental video group, TVTV, and has written numerous network and cable specials and documentaries, including "The History of White People In America," "Christopher Reeve: A Celebration of Hope" (Emmy nominee), "CBS: The First Fifty Years," "Penn & Teller's Sin City Spectacular," "Big Guns Talk," a history of the Western, and TNT's "Family Values: The Mob & The Movies." He is also the head writer of the official Sopranos website.

Mr. Rucker is the recipient of the duPont-Columbia Journalism Award, the Writers Guild Annual Award, and two CableACE Awards, among others. "The History of White People In America" was honored by the Museum of Television & Radio at their 2001 Paley Television Festival in Los Angeles.

Mr. Rucker also teaches in the USC School of Cinema-TV. He lives in LA and is married, with two children.


TVTV Goes to The Superbowl


TVTV Goes To The Superbowl (1976)

Excerpt from a behind-the-scenes documentary about the events and personalities surrounding Superbowl X in Miami between the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Dallas Cowboys. Features intimate portraits of the players and the CBS personnel who broadcast the events of Superbowl week. Produced with multiple lightweight video cameras in TVTV style, it is both informative and revealling of the extremes surrounding football culture and hype.

In this clip, some ex-football players play a game for fun in their street clothes. Bill Murray does color commentary while Christopher Guest briefly interviews some of them. Phyllis George of CBS Sports says the game is good, clean all-American fun. Bill Murray grills Phyllis George as Johnny Unitas runs a pass. Murray asks her which football player she would marry, and George claims the question is sexist. Following this moment, George is playfully brought in the game while all of the men patronizingly let her by. Billy Murray jokes around with Johnny Unitas, who seems like a bit of a loveable doofus. He claims he drives Pontiacs because he likes the Indians on the hood.
Production Company: TVTV
Audio/Visual: sound, color


Click here to watch a short clip.


There is also the full VHS tape or DVD that you can find online at Amazon and other places.....





Subject to Change: Guerrilla Television Revisited
   by Deirdre Boyle, 1985, Art Journal: Video - The Reflexive Medium, No. Fall 1985

Michael Shamberg, Megan Williams, Abbie Hoffman




VIDEO DAYS begins in 1969 when video technology was still virtually unknown to the public. A portable video camera was an oddity. The only people who had them were cops, hippies, and conceptual artist Nam June Paik, who recorded the Popes visit to New York in 1965 using one. The cops recorded the faces of hippies at events and political actions and the hippies loved to shoot videos of the cops shooting video of them. When I would overhear the word video being spoken on the street or in a restaurant somewhere, says author Nancy Cain, I would assume people were talking about me. It was logical. And if I turned to look, I would often see people pointing at me and my camera and they would be smiling and waving. Theyd want to know how much it cost, was it heavy, and what it was for. It cost maybe $1,500; the deck and camera together weighed about twenty pounds; and it was for adventure and freedom and possibilities and truth. It wasnt movies or television, it was video. Video was a rover. Video came along for the ride. Video was immediate. It was participatory. During that summer of 1969, while working on a pilot production for the CBS television network, I met the Videofreex. They had just returned from the Woodstock Festival of Peace and Love with amazing reverse angle footage that completely changed the way I saw television and the world. Ultimately, the network passed on our project but I stayed with the Videofreex, and then struck out on my own. VIDEO DAYS is about me and my camcorder, where we went together for the next thirty years, and how television media changed as a result of this technological revolution. Today our good old video media revolution is history. It has been replaced by the social media revolution, which is huge and important beyond belief, all streaming and instantaneous, a peoples medium. And don't forget, video is everywhere. It detonates our bombs, it watches our babies, it belongs to us all. *Author: Cain, Nancy/ Cowles, Joseph Robert 


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