The first of a series of four monthly Saturday afternoon forums bringing together artists, scholars, and counterculture veterans to explore the contemporary relevance of the Bay Area hippie legacy. Digital pioneer and fellow at the Computer History Museum of Palo Alto Lee Felsenstein; Stanford professor Fred Turner, who has written about The Whole Earth Catalog; and Lynn Hershman Leeson, media artist and chair of the Film Department at the San Francisco Art Institute join in a discussion moderated by UC Berkeley’s Greg Niemeyer.
Lee Felsenstein is a digital pioneer and a fellow at the Computer History Museum of Palo Alto. In 1973 as a member of the Berkeley “Village of Arts and Ideas” commune, Felsenstein worked with Efrem Lipkin, Mark Szpakowski, and others to develop the Community Memory Project, a hippie experiment in decentralized, user-friendly technology that has been called the world’s first version of online social media.
strong>Fred Turner is the author of several books about media and American culture since World War II, including the award-winning From Counterculture to Cyberculture: Stewart Brand, the Whole Earth Network, and the Rise of Digital Utopianism. He has taught at Harvard University and MIT, and is currently Harry and Norman Chandler Professor of Communications at Stanford University.
Lynn Hershman Leeson is among the first and most influential of media artists. Her most recent works include robots, mass communication media such as smart-phones, and scientific developments like 3D bioprinters that create human body parts—explorations surveyed in the monograph Civic Radar. Hershman Leeson is chair of the Film Department at the San Francisco Art Institute.
Greg Niemeyer, UC Berkeley associate professor of art practice, creates works that explore the mediation between humans as individuals and as members of a technological collective, and emphasizes playful responses to technology. Niemeyer’s teaching focuses on critical analysis of new media on human experience, including digital citizenship and the nature of online participatory practices.
“Hippie Modernism: The Struggle for Utopia” is also on exhibit at the Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive from February 8 to May 21, 2017. This major exhibition is the first comprehensive exploration of the counterculture of the 1960s and 1970s and its impact on global art, architecture, and design. It presents an extraordinary array of works—many of which have been added for the Berkeley presentation—including experimental furniture, immersive environments, media installations, alternative magazines and books, printed ephemera, and films that convey the social, cultural, and political ferment of this transformative period, when radical experiments challenged convention, overturned traditional hierarchies, and advanced new communal ways of living and working. In the art, architecture, and design of the counterculture one can see early stirrings of the tech revolution and ecological consciousness, as well as powerful expressions of the desire for peace and social justice.
Find out more at bampfa.org.