Media Burn

1975, 23:02 min, color, sound

Media Burn integrates performance, spectacle and media critique, as Ant Farm stages an explosive collision of two of America's most potent cultural symbols: the automobile and television. On July 4, 1975, at San Francisco's Cow Palace, Ant Farm presented what they termed the "ultimate media event." In this alternative Bicentennial celebration, a "Phantom Dream Car"—a reconstructed 1959 El Dorado Cadillac convertible—was driven through a wall of burning TV sets.

Footage of the actual event, much of which was shot from a closed-circuit video camera mounted inside a customized tail-fin, is framed and juxtaposed with news coverage by the local television stations. Doug Hall, introduced as John F. Kennedy, assumes the role of the Artist-President to deliver a speech about the impact of mass media monopolies on American life: "Who can deny that we are a nation addicted to television and the constant flow of media? Haven't you ever wanted to put your foot through your television?"

The spectacle of the Cadillac crashing through the burning TV sets became a visual manifesto of the early alternative video movement, an emblem of an oppositional and irreverent stance against the political and cultural imperatives promoted by television, and the passivity of TV viewing.

Examining the impact of mass media in American culture, Media Burn exemplifies Ant Farm's fascination with the automobile and television as cultural artifacts, and their approach to social critique through spectacle and humor.

By Ant Farm: Chip Lord, Doug Michels, Curtis Schreier, Uncle Buddie. Artist- President: Doug Hall. Executive Producer: Tom Weinberg. Editors: Chip Lord, Skip Blumberg, Doug Michels, Tom Weinberg.

Ordering & Fees

Educational Rental
Screening Rental
Digital File
Exhibition Rental
Digital File
Educational Purchase