Wipe Cycle by Frank Gillette and Ira Schneider, 1969

The Third Space Network Archives is a repository for research that examines a selected history of “social broadcasting” and the alternative, experimental media and video movements that brought about a departure from traditional, hierarchical, one-way forms of media, television, and live performance. The concept of social broadcasting centers around the shift to many-to-many, participatory forms of expression and transmission. This resulted in large part from the seminal history of first generation media artists and activists organized around socially and politically motivated agendas. They embraced the new media as a call-to-action against the establishment, forming alternative and radically mobilized collectives. Throughout the 1960s and 1970s, activist-driven media communities emerged in the US, including: USCO, Merry Pranksters, San Francisco Tape Music Center, Videofreex, Ant Farm, T.R. Uthco, TVTV, Optic Nerve, Raindance, and many others. They encouraged the creation of experimental media production, performance events, and Happenings, which proliferated as part of the emergence of 1960s counter-culture, psychedelia, and alternative communalism.

In the seminal video art journal Radical Software, noted media scholar Gene Youngblood proclaimed: “The videosphere will alter the minds of men and the architecture of our dwellings,” forecasting the transformative, revolutionary potential of emerging communications networks. By looking back and analyzing the historic legacies of first generation media artists and activists, we see a still unfolding agenda for current day networked and social media, not just as a corporate controlled delivery mechanism for reinforcing consumerism and mainstream popular culture, but as a collaborative platform for experimental invention and social broadcasting.