Expanded Cinema: Fiftieth Anniversary Edition

by: Gene Youngblood

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RIP Gene Youngblood. This book always seemed kind of hard to find, so it's nice to stock this 2020 reprint. 450-page paperback, 60 color illustrations and 284 b/w illustrations.

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Summary

“Stan VanDerBeek coined the phrase ‘expanded cinema.’ But it was Gene Youngblood who put it on the cover of a book, filled it with rocket fuel, and sent it buzzing through the late-1960s art world like a heat-seeking missile. For its fiftieth anniversary, Expanded Cinema has been lovingly reissued by Fordham University Press with a substantial new memoir-ish introduction by the author. The volume reminds us to locate the techno-anarchic edge of what became ‘new media’ on the left coast, where filmmakers, psychedelic engineers, and intermedia practitioners wrested cybernetics from its military command-control origins in machine feedback loops and put it in dialogue with the autopoiesis of self-regulating, life-entangled systems mixing ‘mescaline and logarithms.’ . . . What makes the book so terrific is Youngblood’s heartfelt embrace of all these performative tinkerers trying to blast humanity into a higher state. His generosity is everywhere on display in these pages: a willingness, on our behalf, to sit, to listen, to endure, to space out, to vibrate with, to drift off, to rock out, to witness, and to report in gorgeous prose on the ‘shimmering trilling universe’ he experienced.” ― Artforum

First published in 1970, Gene Youngblood’s influential Expanded Cinema was the first serious treatment of video, computers, and holography as cinematic technologies. Long considered the bible for media artists, Youngblood’s insider account of 1960s counterculture and the birth of cybernetics remains a mainstay reference in today’s hypermediated digital world. This fiftieth anniversary edition includes a new Introduction by the author that offers conceptual tools for understanding the sociocultural and sociopolitical realities of our present world.

A unique eyewitness account of burgeoning experimental film and the birth of video art in the late 1960s, this far- ranging study traces the evolution of cinematic language to the end of fiction, drama, and realism. Vast in scope, its prescient formulations include “the paleocybernetic age,” “intermedia,” the “artist as design scientist,” the “artist as ecologist,” “synaesthetics and kinesthetics,” and “the technosphere: man/machine symbiosis.” Outstanding works are analyzed in detail. Methods of production are meticulously described, including interviews with artists and technologists of the period, such as Nam June Paik, Jordan Belson, Andy Warhol, Stan Brakhage, Carolee Schneemann, Stan VanDerBeek, Les Levine, and Frank Gillette. An inspiring Introduction by the celebrated polymath and designer R. Buckminster Fuller―a perfectly cut gem of countercultural thinking in itself―places Youngblood’s radical observations in comprehensive perspective.

Providing an unparalleled historical documentation, Expanded Cinema clarifies a chapter of countercultural history that is still not fully represented in the arthistorical record half a century later. The book will also inspire the current generation of artists working in ever-newer expansions of the cinematic environment and will prove invaluable to all who are concerned with the technologies that are reshaping the nature of human communication.