This kaleidoscopic collection of essays, interviews, photographs, and artist-designed pages chronicles the vibrant and influential history of experimental cinema in the San Francisco Bay Area. Encompassing historical, cultural, and aesthetic realms, Radical Light features critical analyses of films and videos, reminiscences from artists, and interviews with pioneering filmmakers, curators, and archivists. It explores artistic movements, film and video exhibition and distribution, artists' groups, and Bay Area film schools. Special sections of ephemera—posters, correspondence, photographs, newsletters, program notes, and more—punctuate the pages of Radical Light, giving a first-hand visual sense of the period. This groundbreaking, hybrid assemblage reveals a complex picture of how and why the San Francisco Bay Region, a laboratory for artistic and technical innovation for more than half a century, has become a global center of vanguard film, video, and new media.
Among the contributors are Rebecca Solnit and Ernie Gehr on Bay Area cinema's roots in the work of Eadweard Muybridge and others; Scott MacDonald on Art in Cinema; P. Adams Sitney on films by James Broughton and Sidney Peterson; Stan Brakhage, Bruce Conner, Lawrence Jordan, and Yvonne Rainer on the Bay Area film scene in the 1950s; J. Hobeman on films by Christopher Maclaine, Bruce Conner, and Robert Nelson; Craig Baldwin on found footage film; George Kuchar on student-produced melodramas; Michael Wallin on queer film in the 1970s; V. Vale on punk cinema; Dale Hoyt and Cecilia Dougherty on video in the 1980s and 1990s; and Maggie Morse on new media as sculpture.
Copub: Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive
Steve Anker is Dean of the School of Film/Video at California Institute of the Arts. Kathy Geritz is Film Curator at Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive at the University of California, Berkeley. Steve Seid is Video Curator at Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive and coauthor of Ant Farm: 1968–1978 (UC Press).
“Dubbed Radical Light, the history of local art film oddities ends up touching on pretty much every important social movement and technical innovation from the 1880s to the 1990s.”—East Bay Express
“A voluminous book that distills everything you’d ever want to know about this genre, culled from 10 years of research. Consider this your avant-garde education, not to mention your duty as a resident of a bohemian city.”—7x7 : SF People, Stories+ Style
“In Radical Light, San Francisco’s deep countercultural roots reemerge as an unbroken antitradition stretching from the postwar proto-Beats to the identitarian activists and small-gauge geeks at century’s end.”—Artforum
“[A] freewheeling sampler”—New York Times
“At just over 300 pages, captures an extraordinary history, with contributions by dozens of filmmakers, historians, critics and curators.”—KCET-TV
“It is hard to imagine a book like this emerging from another source or another city, touching on the lives and accomplishments of so many of our greatest artist. . . You can acknowledge the gaps in your own understanding of film history and find remedy with this book.”—Film Comment
“This wealth of material, much of it long forgotten or ignored, will be catnip to historians, practitioners, and programmers alike, providing fodder for reexamining—and inspiration for making—movies that matter.”—The Brooklyn Rail
"A superb collection, as exciting, in many ways, as the works it chronicles."—Akira Mizuta Lippit, author of Atomic Light (Shadow Optics)