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Radical Light: Alternative Film and Video in the San Francisco Bay Area, 1945 - 2000

"Dubbed Radical Light, the history of local art film oddities ends up touching on pretty much every important social movement and technical innovation from the 1880s to the 1990s."—East Bay Express

This long-awaited collection of essays, interviews, photographs, and artist-designed pages chronicles the vibrant and influential history of experimental media in the San Francisco Bay Area. Encompassing historical, cultural, and aesthetic realms, Radical Light features critical analyses of films and videos; reminiscences from artists; and interviews with pioneering filmmakers, curators, and archivists. It explores the artists’ groups, artistic movements, film and video exhibition and distribution practices, and film schools that were central to the blossoming of avant-garde film and video in the Bay Area. Reproductions of rare period ephemera—posters, correspondence, photographs, newsletters, program notes—punctuate the pages of Radical Light, bringing the era to life with visual immediacy. This groundbreaking, hybrid assemblage excavates the complex history of how and why the San Francisco Bay Area, a laboratory for artistic and technical innovation for more than half a century, has become a global center of experimental film, video, and new media.

Radical Light: Experimental Film and Video in the Bay Area, 1945-2000 was edited by Steve Anker (Dean of the School of Film/Video at CalArts); Kathy Geritz, BAM/PFA film curator; and BAM/PFA Video Curator Steve Seid. Among the contributors are Rebecca Solnit and Ernie Gehr on Bay Area cinema's roots in the work of Eadweard Muybridge; Scott MacDonald on the film series Art in Cinema; P. Adams Sitney on films by James Broughton and Sidney Peterson; Stan Brakhage, Bruce Conner, Lawrence Jordan, and Yvonne Rainer on the Bay Area film scene in the 1950s; J. Hoberman on films by Christopher Maclaine, Bruce Conner, and Robert Nelson; Craig Baldwin on found footage film; George Kuchar on student-produced melodramas; Michael Wallin on queer film in the 1970s; V. Vale on punk cinema; Dale Hoyt and Cecilia Dougherty on video in the 1980s and 1990s; and Maggie Morse on new media as sculpture.

Copublished by BAM/PFA and UC Press in 2010

352 pages


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Steve Anker, Kathy Geritz,
and Steve Seid