D.F. Who named it the Kitchen?
W.V. It was really a kitchen.
S.V. Woody named it. Then we added to the name. We called it "LATL: Live Audience Test Laboratory." It was actually called "Kitchen, LATL." We did not want to announce to the audience that they were some kind of laboratory rats, but that is what they were. They were our last concern. This place was for the artists to experiment in. If the audience did not like it, too bad.
C.C. Can you say how far Marshall McLuhan influenced you, and what kind of criticisms would you make about him at this period?
W.V. At that time it was all second hand information siphoned through Frank Gillette and the Raindance group. They went to the McLuhan seminar. They all came back converted, especially Frank. Paul Ryan had been an assistant to McLuhan prior to his video involvement. We met Marshall McLuhan in Toronto around '73 or '74. At that time he was not speaking about media at all. He held a weekly seminar at McGill University in Toronto. Usually, he would construct a virtual linguistic machine. Something like a pinball machine. You would throw a verb or a noun at him and the apparatus started to click. It was wonderful to see the words processed. They bent, squeezed, stretched and finally came out inverted. As far as I could tell, he was wholly unconcerned with art and would not play with anything related to it. I think that all his famous quotations came from this kind of an imaginary linguistic engine.
S.V. He was no closer to us than a professor of French, or biology. At a certain point he suggested that the people in the group introduce themselves. The participants introduced themselves by name and profession and we stood up and said that we did video art. He obviously did not want to ask us anything further and got quite insecure at that moment.
W.V. But I think he influenced all of us. The terminology that he invented became perpetually quoted and it made him into the "New Media Guru." It was the most provocative language surrounding the subject of media. Whatever he said was skillfully used by the word-people, like journalists and critics. They eventually gave it great meaning, even if McLuhan had not necessarily meant it that way.
C.C. What have been your main philosophical influences since you started working with video?
W.V. We are practitioners. I mostly learned from music in the sense of how to organize these new patterns. You know, all of these waveform controls and means of composition for our early video artifacts were developed first as audio. They were directly related to the development of early musical instruments. In video, the instruments played similar functions. I believed
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