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Black Gate Cologne (Piene, Otto; Tambellini, Aldo), 1968

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«Black Gate Cologne»—a happening in the studio

Otto Piene and Aldo Tambellini's «Black Gate Cologne,» 1968, is often called the first TV art broadcast. But the concept was not originally produced for television, rather it is based on a multimedia live action involving audience participation that had already been performed in New York. Tambellini's films are projected on to light objects and inflatables by Piene that the audience playfully move around the space—«expanded cinema» in the literal sense, as the subtitle «Ein Lichtspiel» (= ‹cinema film› and ‹play on light›) suggests. WDR did not broadcast the piece live, but recorded it in the new electronic ‹Studio E.› Possibilities for superimposing and mixing images from five television cameras were fully exploited. The pictorial aesthetics of the program, which was edited from two recordings and increasingly condensed through a number of working phases, is thus based on combining artistic direction and TV-specific implementation by close teamwork between artists and the television directors. It remains difficult to decide whether the electronic image manipulation synthesizes with the intermedia art action, or whether both compete to make the most


powerful effect.[50] But the WDR could not make up its mind to tie television in with the pioneering work of its 1950s electronic music studio so that artists could be taught to use the new techniques, hence the experiment remained unique.[51]

«The Medium is the Medium»—everything is possible

The WHGB-TV station in Boston is a public service institution that may not have the range and financial clout of the national commercial networks, but it can permit itself more experiments with its programs. From 1967, with the support of the Rockefeller Foundation, it set up an «Artist-in-Television» program, in other words, precisely what The WDR failed to do in Germany. Fred Barzyk, the creative producer, invited musicians, artists, writers and dancers to take part in experimental projects. Unconventional production methods were going to be used to break down the barriers between technicians and artists. Barzyk says: «We adopted some of John Cage's theories: many times we'd have as many as thirty video sources available at once; there would be twenty people in the control room—whenever anyone got bored they'd just switch

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