"TV as a Creative Medium" was a catalytic event around which a video art community began to coalesce. New names and faces had appeared on the scene every year since 1965, but until the Spring of '69 there had been no center, no real cohesion, no sense of a community of purpose. After the show at the Howard Wise Gallery, It was possible to identify oneself as a video artist, and to recognize other video artists."3
The shape and direction of video art's accelerated growth, since virtual nonexistence in the mid-'60s up to the present, has been influenced primarily by the priorities of major founders-the New York State Council on the Arts, the Rockefeller Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, among others. It has matured without the bevy of individual collectors who support more established forms such as painting and sculpture. Within video's media arts centers and funding organizations, there are many advocates, administrators, and curators who provide an infrastructure which enables artists to produce and distribute work, often doing so with little publicity or recognition. In this realm, Howard Wise stands out as an individual benefactor who preceded and has supplemented private foundations and public moneys. He has been a central figure in the visibility, production, and acceptance of video art. For almost 20 years, he has been one of the few patrons of video art.
On May 17,1969, a show which was to become the seminal exhibition of video art in the U.S. opened at the Howard Wise Gallery in New York City. That exhibition, "TV as a Creative Medium," effectively pointed to the diverse potential of a new art form and social tool. Subsequently, the show became renowned for the inspiration it provided for many artists and future advocates of video. The artists represented in the show, a few of whom are still involved in the medium today, came from varied backgrounds-painting, filmmaking, nuclear physics, avant-garde music and performance, kinetic and light sculpture-and their approaches presented a primer of the directions which video would soon take. Theoretically, they variously saw video as viewer participation, a spiritual and meditative experience, a mirror, an electronic palette, a kinetic sculpture, or a cultural machine to be deconstructed. Ripe with ideas and armed with a heady optimism about the future of communications, these artists used video as an information tool and as a means of gaining understanding and control of television, not solely as an art form. In "TV as a Creative Medium" alternative television was presented as a stepping stone to the promised communications utopia.
Despite such non-aesthetic Concerns among first generation videomakers, the exhibition signaled the emergence of a definition of video as an art medium.
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