The Father of Video Art


 TELEVISED 1966 - 1967 - 1969.


"The role of Photography" Commissioned by the National Swedish Television year 1964. B/w. Multimedia/electronic experiment. 30 minutes. And an outdoor exhibition on giant bill board in the City of Stockhom plus indoors exhibitions at Lunds Konsthall and Gavle Museeum among other Gallerys. Represented as an installation 80 dia/slides projected on canvas purchased by Pontus Hulten at Moderna Museet Stockholm 1966.

"TIME" - b/w, Commissioned by the National Swedish Television. Electronic paintings televised in September 1966. 30 minutes. A video synthesizer was temporarily built, in spite of the TV-technicians apprehension. (Same technical system was later used to create MONUMENT one year later, 1967.) See letter from RUTT ELECTROPHYSICS, NY, USA dated March 12, 1974, below *. "In principle this process is similar to methods used by Nam June Paik and others, some years later." Rutt&Etra . Nam June Paik visited Elektronmusic Studion in Stockholm July/August 1966 , during the Stockhom Festival; "Visions of the Present". Static pictures from TIME was demonstrated for Paik at this point in time and on the national television and other media at the same time. A rich documentation is available from the main news media in Sweden about "TIME". Parts of "TIME" was planned to be send via satellite to New York, but the American participants, E.A.T. - Billy Kluver and &, pulled out. (See E.A.T.s and Billy Kluver's biased USA history page from Aug. 1966) "TIME" is the very first 'videoart'-work televised as an ultimate exhibition/installation statement, televised at that point in 'time' for the reason to produce an historical record as well as an evidence of 'original' visual free art, made with the electronic medium - manipulation of the electronic signal - and 'exhibited/installed' through the televison, televised. Other important factors for the creation of TIME was our awareness of the fact that the "electron" was, at this Time, the smallest known particle and that all traditional visual art, up to this Time was created with light - material/colour reflecting the light - (lightpainting) and the description of our new concept should be "Electronic painting". Pontus Hulten and his associates launched the term "Machine" art as an attempt to describe the Time movement. Pierre Restany was using the term "Mec Art", later. The work was commenced early 1966. (Soundtrack by Don Cherry, USA) Paintings on canvass and paper was made from the static material, and in silk-screen prints, for a large numbers of Fine Arts Galleries and Museums 1966, ironically in a 'limited edition', signed and numbered by the artist; Ture Sjolander/Bror Wikstrom. (See National Museeum Stockholm, Sweden).

 "MONUMENT" - b/w. Electronic paintings televised in 5 European Nations; France, Italy, Sweden, Germany and Switzerland, 1968. Monument reached an total audience of more than 150 million people. The work surpassed the limits of "videoart" - a word first used in the beginning of 1970 - 73 - and was developed into an extended communication project, involving other visual artists, by invitations, multimedia artwork including the creation of tapestries, (Kerstin Olsson) silk/screen prints on canvass and paper - first edition, by Ture Sjolander/Lars Weck, posters, and an LP/Record Music, (Hansson&Karlsson) and some years later paintings on canvass, (Sven-Inge), and a book among other things, exhibited in several international Fine Arts Galleries.
Catalogue text for Ture Sjolander by Pierre Restany, Paris Oct.31, 1968.

Gene Youngbloods book "Expanded Cinema". 1970.




 "SPACE IN THE BRAIN" - 30 minutes. Televised 1969, in direct connection with the moonlanding project by NASA. in Swedish Television. Soundtrack by Hansson&Karlsson. First colour electronic original painting where the electronic signal where manipulated. Described in media as an Electronic Space Opera. Based on authentic material directly delivered from NASA. Space in the Brain was a creation dealing with the ; "space out there" - the space in our brains and the electronic space, (in television) Contemporary to Clarke's 2001, except that the Picture it self was scrutinized and the subject, and focused, in Space in the Brain. The Static material from the electronic paintings was worked out into other medias and materials; tapestrys made in France among other objects was made in large size, 3 x 2 meter, for Albany Corporation USA and for IBM, Sweden, as in "TIME" and "MONUMENT", see above.


And a serie of international bestseller posters was produced, and world wide distributed, by Scan-Décor Upsala, Sweden.

"Man at the Moon". is the name of the LP Record.




Letter from: RUTT ELECTROPHYSICS, 21-29 West 4th Street, New Yourk,N.Y., 10012. March 12, 1974.

Signed by Sherman Price.


To: International Section of Swedish National Television, Stockholm, Sweden.


"I am writing a detailed magazine article about the history of video animation.

From literature avaiable I gather that a videofilm program, "MONUMENT", broadcast in Stockholm in January, 1968, was the first distortion of video scan-line rasters achieved by applying tones from wave form generators.

This is of such great importance - historically - that I would like to obtain more detailed documentation of the program and of the electronic circuitry employed to manipulate the video images.

I understand from your New York office that there may have been a brochure or booklet published about the program.

I will be happy to pay any expense for publications, photcopies or other documents about the program and its production -particulary with regard to the method of modulating the deflection voltage in the flying-spot telecine used.

"Video synthesis" is becoming a prominent technique in TV production here in the United States, and I think it will be interesting to give credit to your broadcasting system and personal for achieving this historic innovation."

Sherman Price


( A number of authentic documents/letters from this communications is avaliable)

No "detailed article" or even magazine was never reported or later presented after receiving the vital information from the Swedish Broadcating Company, by Rutt Electrophysics)

Letter from the Manager of


Stockholm, Septembre 11th 1967.


Dear Messrs Sjolander & Weck,


Having seen your interesting Stockholm exhibition of portraits of the King of Sweden made with advanced electronic techniques I have been struck by the connection between this new type of image creating and the music-and-light art presented by The Pink Floyd.


I think that your work could and should be linked with the music of The Pink Floyd in a television production, and I would like to suggest that we start arranging the practical details for such a production immedialtely. With all his experiences from filming in the USA and elsewhere I also feel that Mr. Lars Swanberg is the ideal man tp help us made the film.

Please get in touch as soon as possible.

Yours sincerely

Andrew King


following text was written by

the Swedish Art writer





electronic painting 1968byTURE SJOLANDER/LARS WECK


We create pictures. We form conceptions of all the objects of our experience. When talking to each other our conversation emerges in the form of descriptions. In that way we understand one another.


Instantaneous communication in all directions. Our world in television! The world in image and the image in the world: at the same moment, in the consciousness and in the eyes of millions.

The true multi-images is not substance but process-interplay between people.

"Photography freed us from old concepts", said the artist Matisse. For the first time it showed us the object freed from emotion.

Likewise satellites showed us for the first time the image of the earth from the outside. Art abandoned representation for the transformational and constructional process of depiction, and Marcel Duchamp shifted our attention to the image-observer relation.

That, too, was perhaps like viewing a planet from the outside. Meta-art: observing art from the outside. That awareness has been driven further. The function of an artist is more and more becoming like that of a creative revisor, investigator and transformer of communication and our awareness of them.

Multi-art was an attempt to widen the circulation of artist's individual pictures. But a radical multi-art should not, of course, stop the mass production of works of art: it should proceed towards an artistic development of the mass-image.

MONUMENT is such a step. What has compelled TURE SJOLANDER and LARS WECK is not so much a technical curiosity as a need to develop a widened, pictorially communicative awareness.

They can advance the effort further in other directions. But here they have manipulated the electronic transformations of the telecine and the identifications triggered in us by well-known faces, our monuments. They are focal points. Every translation influences our perception. In our vision the optical image is rectified by inversion. The electronic translation represented by the television image contains numerous deformations, which the technicians with their instruments and the viewers by adjusting their sets usually collaborate in rendering unnoticeable.

MONUMENT makes these visible, uses them as instruments, renders the television image itself visible in a new way. And suddenly there is an image-generator, which - fully exploited - would be able to fill galleries and supply entire pattern factories with fantastic visual abstractions and ornaments.

Utterly beyond human imagination.

SJOLANDER and WECK have made silkscreen pictures from film frames. These stills are visual. But with television, screen images move and effect us as mimics, gestures, convultions. With remarkable pleasure we sense pulse and breathing in the electronic movement. The images become irradiated reliefs and contours, ever changing as they are traced by the electronic finger of the telecine.

With their production, MONUMENT, SJOLANDER and WECK have demonstrated what has also been main-tained by Marshall McLuhan: that the medium of television is tactile and sculptural.

The Foundation for MONUMENT was the fact that television, as no other medium, draws the viewers into an intimate co-creativity. A maximum of identification - the Swedish King, The Beatles, Chaplin, Picasso, Hitler etc, - and a maximum of deformation.

A language that engages our total instinct for abstraction and recognition.

Vital and new graphic communication. A television Art.

Kristian Romare, Sweden

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Quotes about Ture Sjolander

Video Report

David Hall on Artists Video at The Galleries, Washington Tyne and Wear, 18-30 October 1976.

First published in Studio International, 1977

Artists' Video    (not even 1977 the phrase "Video Art" was established)

The Galleries, Washington, Tyne and Wear

19-30 October

Driving into Washington New Town, just a few miles south of Newcastle, is peculiarly out of context when compared to my other experiences of old Geordieland. It is almost a Little Los Angeles. A network of de luxe new highways interconnect scattered buildings over a vast area, and everyone appears to travel by car (public transport seems to be incidental rather than an absolute necessity at present). In the town centre most social and commercial amenities are provided in one giant enclosed precinct called The Galleries. This includes shops, pubs, legal advisers, libraries, local government offices - the lot. It also includes the town's Information Centre, part of which was taken over by the local Biddick Farm Arts Centre to stage the Artists' Video exhibition. The Biddick Centre is grant-aided by Northern Arts, Sunderland Borough Council and the Arts Council of GB, and Brian Hoey and Wendy Brown, its present Artists in Residence, were the initiators of this show. Hoey, Brown and Rosemary Herd, the Visual Arts officer of the Biddick Centre, undoubtedly worked very hard -in a climate not particularly well-attuned to art shows of any sort, let alone video- to produce one of the few shows of this kind to appear anywhere in Britain.

Even though the show was very much an international affair (including tapes from the US, Canada, Switzerland, Sweden and some of the best from Britain), the national press typically ignored it, presumably on the grounds that it was in such an 'obscure' locale. This is ironic at a time when everyone is clamouring for greater attention to art activities in the regions. Even William Feaver, who wrote the catalogue foreword (blundering a little-but acceptable), made not the slightest whisper of a mention of it in his Observer column. The local press, forever looking for a cheap thrill and a quick sell, made no serious attempt to discover what it was all about but instead jumped headlong into a totally unfounded Customs' suspicion that they were importing a blue movie from Sweden in the form of Ronald Nameth's tape The Adventures of Energy (music by Terry Riley). The local radio did a hurried two-minute interview with Hoey and Herd on an early morning breakfast show, and local TV was nowhere to be seen. Despite this dearth of media publicity audiences were quite good, showing a lot of interest and asking a lot of questions.

A fair proportion of the tapes on show had that seductive, though mostly cosmetic, appeal of electronic trickery produced with colourisers, complicated special effects generators, chroma-key circuits, video-synthesisers and the like. In fairness to those artists who are aware of the dangers, I must say here that it is extremely difficult to offer a generalised complaint about work such as this- only that much of it truly reads as the now proverbial moving wallpaper. The intention so often seems to be based purely on exploring kinetic image invention for its own sake, where the prime objective appears to be to gain access to more and more sophisticated means with less and less concern for the implications of doing it. Certainly it rarely does anything to extend the now well-established 'principles' peculiar to institutionalised TV. To quote from an earlier article: 'Almost without exception tapes in this genre present complex synthetic imagery which, while not a normal experience on broadcast TV, tends if anything to corroborate the mystique convention by the (obsessive) development, deification and utilisation of increasingly sophisticated hardware available to, and operable by, only a few. Equally, this in turn produces the inevitable obscuration of any immediately perceivable evidence of the creative process.'[1]

Woody and Steina Vasulka (US) were the two artists in the show perhaps most totally absorbed in electronic wizardry, and since I am so diametrically opposed to their work let it suffice to quote their catalogue entry for one of their tapes as an illustration of my point: 'The Matter’-a dot pattern with its raster is displayed on a scan processor. Three basic waves, sine, triangles and square, generated by a locked waveform generator, are applied to shape the display. A slow ramp generator controls the size and image drift.' Alternatively, Doron Abrahami (GB), avoiding this technical jargonese, commits himself to the core of the matter (inadvertently aligning his intentions with the dictum of the broadcasters) by stating: 'I have tried to explore the possibilities provided by sophisticated TV equipment, to create a kinetic entertaining video-tape, set to music.' Pleasant, but highly soporific. However, it would be quite out o place to hint at a general condemnation of the show on the strength of my comments so far. Tapes by John Freeman (Canada), Genevieve Calame (Switzerland), Brian Hoey (GB) and to some degree Cliff Evans (GB) all involved synthetic 'abstraction', which proved with careful consideration that it is possible to manifest ideas which extend beyond the eclectic amorphous dream-state of outmoded psychedelia (Dewitt, Donebauer), or glossy and hard-edged 'computed' animation (Vasulkas, Emschwiller).

Moving on from the synthesised work, I was very disappointed in Ira Schneider's (US) tape More or Less Related Incidents in Recent History . However hard I tried I could not see it as more than an ad hoc compilation of off-air shots of Nixon, Vietnam, Cambodia, Rock stars and, as he states, 'other brief clips from broadcast TV which typify our age'. These were interspersed with colour portapak shots of a New York boutique being decorated. As a rather slender insight into the American 'media/political/rock/alternative culture' I suppose it was OK. But for a video artist of Schneider's reputation to get off on the 'junk footage and roving camera routine' was in my view a slight on his proven capabilities.

Ture Sjölander and Bror Wikström (Sweden) showed three tapes: Time, Monument and Space in the Brain . I was particularly interested to see Time (1965-6) since this was one of the first experimental tapes to be broadcast. And their subtly structured nudging and twisting of familiar broadcast imagery (by carefully distorting the video scan-line raster) induces a very particular reappraisal of the Telly conventions. It is certainly an historical landmark in the development of video art. Their statement about broadcast TV is as applicable now as it was then: '...pictures have not attained more than a purely illustrative function ... because most of the pictures are created by Word-people. In fact, roughly half the items on TV today could just as well be broadcast on radio instead.'

John Hopkins and Sue Hall (GB) presented a compilation entitled Albion Free State which included one or two slightly bizarre experiments and some important controversial documentation (which I have always suspected they are better disposed towards than the former) like Squat Now While the Stocks Last . Other British work included Aidanvision's Figure in an Interior which was the record of a staged situation in which an (unmistakable) actor was confronted with a Logan's Run simulated-computer-style interrogation. The initial concept suggested many of the inherent psychological and philosophical issues which have emerged with the one-way systems of present-day media presentation. In its realisation the resultant tape employed too obviously the very tactics and traditional techniques of those systems which I assume it sought to question. Viewers remained passive and external to the performance-voyeuristic rather than integral to the process.

However, that particular tape aside, Aidanvision (situated in Carlisle) is headed by Roy Thompson and is one of the rare independent studios in this country which, to quote, 'concentrates on the experimental use of the medium, in the context of commitment to art'. Artists in that region and from beyond are apparently welcome to use its facilities.

Tapes were also shown by Tamara Krikorian, Steve Partridge, Stuart Marshall, Tony Sinden, David Critchley, and myself. Some of these I have discussed before. Krikorian showed an adaption for single screen of her multi-monitor installation Breeze (1975). Partridge presented five works, the most successful being Interlace (1975) which, by systematically over-modulating, rolling, mixing, freezing, etc the video image from an off-air discussion, insists on the viewing experience having a 'televisual autonomy' bringing into question the re-presentation convention as adopted by broadcasters. This is very much an extension of Sjölander and Wikström's concern, hinted at ten years earlier in their tape Time . Stuart Marshall, though handling his work somewhat differently, comes to similar conclusions when he says that his tapes called Go Through the Motions , Just a Glimpse and Arcanum all examine the interrelations of the image and sound tracks and challenge the notion that any system of representation can simply re-present'. Go Through the Motions (1975) is probably the earliest of his tapes shown, yet for me remains one of the strongest. Briefly, it shows a close-up of his mouth throughout the duration apparently repeating the words 'Saying one thing and meaning another' (in fact he is miming to a pre-recorded sound loop). As his lips attempt to synchronise with the sound they purposefully move almost imperceptibly in and out of phase with it. The viewer is, almost hynotically, induced into at once attempting to assimilate sound and vision according to his preconditioned subconscious, yet simultaneously conscious of the purposeful disparity, not only of sound and vision but of system and actual context.


1 David Hall. 'British Video Art', Studio International, May/June 1976.

First published in Studio International. Copyright David Hall.