Video and Technologies of Consciousness: An Interview with Peter Sachs Collopy

Deborah Withers and Peter Sachs Collopy, Greatbear Analogue and Digital Media Tape Blog, 2015

We were really struck by your description of early video as a technology of consciousness. Can you tell us a bit more about this idea? Did early users of portable video technology use video in order to witness events?

Absolutely! Technology of consciousness is a term I found in communications scholar Fred Turner’s work, particularly his essay on the composer Paul DeMarinis. Every technology affects how we think and experience the world, but I use this phrase specifically to refer to technologies whose users understood that they were doing so. The quintessential examples are psychedelic drugs, which people use specifically in order to alter their consciousness. For many videographers in the 1960s and 1970, video was like a drug in that it helped a person see the world in new ways; a cartoon in the magazine Radical Software proclaimed, for example, that “Video is as powerful as LSD.”

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Subjects: analog/digital, consciousness, counterculture, media, technology, video, visual culture
Category: discussions