Video as an art form emerges at the beginning of the decade from the encounter of visual artists, engineers, and television station managers who work together to explore new possibilities for the use of the video medium.
George Maciunas coins the term fluxus during his three lectures on "Musica antica et nova" (June).
The nascent Fluxus group gives fourteen concerts/happenings in Wiesbaden. The professional musicians who refuse to play the music they are given are replaced by artists, who proceed to compose three hours of "antiviolin" music (the famous scene in which Dick Higgins, George Maciunas, Ben Patterson, Wolf Vostell, and Emmett Williams destroy a grand piano) (September).
Jean-Christophe Averty and Max Debrenne experiment with the first graphic effects on television images for the monthly variety shows "Histoire de sourire" (Story of Smiling) and "Les Raisins verts" (Green Grapes) on France's first channel.
Creation of the ORTF (French Radio Television Office), which replaces the RTF (May).
Peter Foldès makes Un appétit d'oiseau (Eating Like a Bird), an animated color video short, at the ORTF.
The first Sony mass-market video recorder goes on sale.
Publication of Marshall McLuhan's Understanding Media.
Jean-Jacques Lebel organizes the Second Free Expression Festival at the American Students and Artists Center in Paris, with the participation of Arrabal, Ben, Robert Filliou, Serge III, Nam June Paik, and Charlotte Moorman (video installation : Robot Opera) (17-25 May).
24 Stunden, dé-coll/age happening by Wolf Vostell at the Parnass Gallery in Wuppertal.
First "New Cinema" Festival at the New York Cinémathèque (videotapes by Nam June Paik and Charlotte Moorman).
With a Rockerfeller Foundation grant, Nam June Paik buys one of the first Sony Portapaks on the American market. On 4 October he shows a tape accompanied by a text entitled "Electronic Video Recorder" at the Café Au Go-Go in New York, a gathering place where performances often take place.
Les Levine, one of the early Portapak users, makes his first videotape, Bum. In 1966 he makes one of the first closed-circuit installations using a time lag, so that viewers see themselves with a five-second delay. The installation is presented at the Toronto Art Gallery.
Third Free Expression Festival at the American Students and Artists Center in Paris, with actions by Robert Filliou, Jean-Jacques Lebel, and Kudo. The festival is suspended by the police (April).
Sony places the ½-inch, black-and-white Portapak on the French market (its appearance in the US goes back to 1965).
Martial Raysse creates Portrait Electro Machin Chose at the Research Department of the ORTF. Initially filmed in video in order to make use of special effects techniques, the videotape is subsequently transferred to 16 mm film. The same year, Raysse creates a closed-circuit video installation, Identité, maintenant vous êtes un Martial Raysse (a camera that films visitors in order to reflect them in a "monitor-painting").
KQED-TV in San Francisco sets up an experimental workshop on the double initiative of Brice Howard and Paul Kaufman and with a grant from the Rockefeller Foundation. In 1969 it will be named "National Center for Experiments in Television at KQED-TV" and funded by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and the National Endowment for the Arts. WGBH-TV in Boston initiates its artists- in-residence program through a grant from the Rockefeller Foundation.
"American Sculpture of the Sixties," exhibition presented at the Los Angeles County Museum, includes a video installation by Bruce Nauman.
New production and distribution structures emerge: Jean-Luc Godard creates the Sonimage Company in Paris, then moves it to Grenoble. Chris Marker creates the SLON (Service for Launching New Works) group with André Delvaux: "a cooperative available for all those who wish to make documentaries and who share certain common preoccupations." Filmmakers, workers, and political activists join (autumn).
French television commissions Le Gai Savoir from Jean-Luc Godard. Filmed in the studio in December 1967, it will be edited after May 1968. By deconstructing the traditional narrative structure of film, Godard explores its critical and educational capacities. His argument is deemed too subversive, and the film is never broadcast.
Video becomes an additional tool (shooting and editing facilities) for political filmmakers. Godard and Marker use the first Sony 2100 ½-inch black-and-white cameras to create rough documents that will be distributed in the form of a counter-culture magazine called Vidéo 5 in François Maspéro's bookstore. Also shown in this bookstore are works by students at a school run by Noël Burch and Jean-André Fieschi.
First exhibition including video art organized by Pontus Hulten at the Museum of Modern Art in New York: "The Machine to Make the Mechanical Age," with work by Nam June Paik.
Fred Forest sets up a video installation in an abandoned church (transformed into the Galerie Sainte-Croix) in Tours. The work, Interrogation 69, uses screens integrated into a wall (May).
Creation of resource centers in the provincial MJCs (community art centers) in order to facilitate local access to video.
Appearance of mass-market Sony portable video recorders at the Salon de la Radio-Télévision (September).
Creation of the Atelier des Techniques de Communication (Communications Techniques Workshop, ATC), which organizes out the first video animation projects in cultural centers. The workshop directors, Jean-Marie Serreau and Guy Milliard, obtain a research contract from the Ministry of Cultural Affairs' Research Department (with equipment donated by the director of cultural action) (September-December).
Martial Raysse makes Camembert Martial extraterrestre with the support of the German TV station ZDF. Shooting in video, he uses Francis Coupigny's "truqueur universel" synthesizer and later transfers Camembert Martial onto film.
Gerry Schum opens the TV Gallery in Berlin and, shortly afterward, inaugurates the Videogalerie in Dusseldorf, the first in Europe. The videotapes he shows include not only his own productions (he invites, among others, Daniel Buren for a video installation produced in 1971, Wolf Knoebel, and John Baldessari), but other works as well (Bruce Nauman).
Werner Höfer, manager of WDR, allows the broadcast of memorable conceptual projects. From 11 to 18 October, the English artist Keith Arnatt, in an intervention entitled TV Project Self-Burial, shows an image of his own photograph for two seconds, either just after the news or during prime time. During Christmas week, Jan Dibbets' TV as a Fireplace, shows the slow end of a hearth fire at the end of the evening's programming.
Analysis of the video medium is undertaken by artist-theorists like Jean Otth, René Bauermeister, Gérald Minkoff, and Muriel Oleson, who open the Galerie Rencontre in Lausanne. This gallery will present a vast international survey of video in 1974. The Swiss pioneers (in 1969) come from the French-speaking community: René Bauermeister, Gérald Minkoff, Muriel Oleson, Jean Otth, Janos Urban, and later Chérif and Sylvie Defraoui. Among the first German-speaking Swiss video artists are Urs Lüthi, Dieter Meier, Dieter Roth, and Hannes Vogel.
René Berger, director of the Musée d'art moderne in Lausanne, is one of the first Swiss theorists to deal with video and television at the University of Lausanne and in publications.
With the end of the decade, political video collectives, action groups, and research workshops are created in New York and San Francisco (Televisionary Associated, the Alternate Media Center, Open Channel, the Media Bus). Political and community organizations use video as a means of communication and activism (Vietnam Veterans Against the War, Gay Activist Alliance, Environmental Protection Agency, etc.).
In New York, John Reilly and Rudi Stern create Global Village, a collective video space seeking to explore video as a cultural, educational, artistic, and community-based medium. Global Village, funded by the City of New York and the Rockefeller Foundation, makes its technicians and equipment available to outside groups. Each week, Global Village broadcasts ten hours of programs on New York's public television stations (September).
Video Freex, an experimental video group, is set up in New York by Skip Blumberg, Nancy Cain, David Cort, Bart Friedman, Ann Woodward, and others.
Bruce Nauman shows his first neons, videotapes, and a closed-circuit video installation, Live/Taped Video Corridor, at the Leo Castelli Gallery in New York.
The Howard Wise Gallery in New York organizes a video exhibition, "TV as a Creative Medium," with works by Frank Gillette, Charlotte Moorman, Nam June Paik, Earl Reiback, Ira Schneider, Eric Siegal, Thomas Tadlock, Aldo Tambellini, and Joe Weintraub.
Russell Connor organizes the "Video and Television" exhibit at Brandeis University's Rose Art Museum in Waltham, Massachusetts.
Body Art is born in New York. Like their European counterparts, artists Vito Acconci, Dan Graham, Bruce Nauman, Dennis Oppenheim, and others begin to use their own bodies as a medium.