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Radical Software, Volume II, Number 3
Videocity, Summer 1973

Click cover for thumbnails

At the turn of the decade, San Francisco had a powerful music scene, a vibrant and subversive community of comic book cartoonists and illustrators, and a laid-back Marin County lifestyle. Right next door at Berkeley, activists of the New Left conceived the notion of participatory democracy and developed the habit of speaking truth to power. Video was a natural.

Videocity was Phillip Gietzen's name for it all; there was a lot of video in San Francisco, and very early on as well. Gietzen, the editor of this issue, was himself making video in 1970. Video Free America, piloted by Skip Sweeney and Arthur Ginsberg, and championing the inventive genius of Philo T. Farnsworth, inventor of television, was active early in 1970 (and is still going strong). Peter Berg's Homeskin, the Portola Institute in nearby Palo Alto, Ant Farm from Sausilito, and Gietzen himself had all contributed a paragraph or two to the very first issue of Radical Software in 1970.

Even earlier, in 1967, The National Center for Experiments in Television was founded at KQED, San Francisco's public TV station. It was funded by the Rockefeller Foundation, and directed by Brice Howard. Howard was less interested in programming suitable for broadcast than he was in true video experimentation. He coined the term 'videospace' and invited artists from all over to his workshop in San Francisco.

Gietzen himself was an interesting player. A native of North Carolina, a licensed architect and a visionary, he worked for various architectural firms in the Bay area before opening his own office. With a small circle of friends, he gathered and assembled this very inclusive survey of San Francisco video activity in 1973. Sadly, Phil Gietzen died of a heart attack at his home in the Mission in 1999.