Abstract- Caroline Seck Langill

(full paper) http://hdl.handle.net/10002/458

Corridors of Practice I: Technology and Performance Art on the North American Pacific Coast in the 1970s and Early 80s

In 1969, the Vancouver Art Gallery mounted the first Intermedia exhibition, Electrical Connection, featuring a broad range of works. With their geodesic domes, preoccupation with circuit schematics and "happening" presentation mode, the Intermedia collective was riding the Whole Earth wave from California, connecting technology to ecological systems, hoping for a utopic solution to the crisis that the world was seemingly facing in 1970. California was the site of both ecological and technological revisionism in the sixties. Married through systems theory, the back to the land movement parlayed computer science as a means of fostering new collectivities, and cross-disciplinary endeavours. Much of Intermedia's mandate was equally drawn from these two fields, likely inspired and mentored by those who found themselves on the north side of the Canada / United States border in the late sixties.
Beginning with Intermedia, I will track the corridor of practice that existed between Los Angeles and San Francisco, and Vancouver and Victoria from the mid-sixties to the late 1970s, for artists working in a performative mode with electronic media. The link between artists living in Southern California and the Pacific Northwest was much stronger than links between artists on an East/West axis in Canada, despite an intense nationalistic imperative at that time. Much of the communication occurred through pedagogical institutions where artists were teaching and learning, but the effects, and legacy, of this corridor of practice can be seen in the work of Canadian artists Mowry Baden, Max Dean and Diana Burgyone produced in the 1970s and early 80s.