Open Circuits

The groundbreaking Open Circuits: An International Conference on the Future of Television, held at The Museum of Modern Art on January 23 and 25, 1974, gathered some 40 video artists, filmmakers, curators, arts administrators, and critics among others to discuss the problems and prospects of artists' television and video. It was originally conceived in 1971 as an exhibition (with catalogue and conference components) by artist/journalist Douglas Davis and John Hightower, Director of MoMa. However, resistance to video art from the museum's community suggested a need for a wide-open forum on art and television. Redesigned as a three-day conference, Open Circuits was co-organized by Davis, Fred Barzyk of WGBH-TV in Boston, and Gerald O'Grady (a media professor at SUNY, Buffalo) with Willard Van Dyke of the MoMA Film Department and Richard Oldenburg, who succeeded Hightower as MoMA's Director. The conference featured illustrious presenters; new works and works-in-progress (for example, the first sections of Nam June Paik's landmark Global Groove) rolled inevitably into the panel proceedings. The atmosphere was electric and every session was packed, attended by hundreds. The feisty conference proceedings were anthologized in The New Television: A Public/Private Art (The MIT Press, 1977), a seminal but under-recognized text of the early video era.

Proposals, Conference Schedule, and other Documents

Conference Participants


The New Television

Electronic Hokkadim