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Themesicon: navigation pathOverview of Media Articon: navigation pathMassMedia

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television station.[5] And then, as if none of that had happened, what should we read, brimming with optimistic confidence, in 1953, the first year of West German television: «Television is already an art form. It will certainly be the art of tomorrow.»[6] But Adorno, drawing on his American experience, places television within the «scheme of the culture industry» as early as 1953, when it was introduced in West Germany, as it «continues that industry's tendency to surround and capture public awareness from all sides, as a combination of film and radio. … The gap that still remained for private existence in the face of the culture industry, as long as this did not totally dominate the visible dimension, has now been plugged.»[7]

The social influence of television was also a central issue for the 1960s emergence of media theory. Marshall McLuhan predicted that the audio-visual media would bring the Gutenberg era to an end, a thesis that he both illustrates and substantiates by his own frequent radio and TV appearances. Umberto Eco devoted the conclusion of his book about «the open artwork»[8] to live broadcast television experience,


where he saw a structural relationship with the non-predetermined ‹open› art forms of his day. Like the American and European media systems, these two theories cast art in very different roles: for McLuhan, progress in the technical media has a crucial effect on artistic development in that it makes art forms feasible that previously only existed in the artist's imagination. But for Eco, art offers the model for a self-determined alternative to extraneous determination by media power.

Three time-windows

In the following, three snapshots will provide examples of the developing relationship between art and television over three decades. Various artistic attitudes and changes in the media landscape will be revealed. Even in the 1950s, Lucio Fontana, John Cage and Guy Debord were staking out possible artistic positions relating to television, radio and film, ranging from total enthusiasm to radical rejection.[9] Then around 1963–1964, Nam June Paik, Wolf Vostell and other artists tested television's practical suitability in the art field for the first time using primitive resources, still

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