Pop Video Test IV: Entertainment, parts 1 and 2

"The Pop Video Test" was a joint effort between Scott Jacobs and Tom Weinberg of the Chicago Editing Center, and the Video Group of the Bell and Howell Corporation. This cooperative effort between the independent video community and a corporate video distributor was intended to test the viability of the home video market. The videomakers assembled ten hours of video pieces meant as an alternative to available pre-recorded programming (ie Hollywood movies). Fifty VCR owners in the Chicago area agreed to examine and review the tapes. Test viewers then received the programming two hours at a time, in groupings labeled Video Art, Documentary, Entertainment, and Potpourri.

00:30Copy video clip URL “National Arts & Culture Quiz,” by Nick Despota and John Mabey. Over classical music a narrator discusses the onscreen color bars while the title briefly displays onscreen: “What you are seeing is known as a color bar test pattern. It’s a standard test signal for accurately adusting your TV set. A recent study has shown that over 68% of all home receivers fail to accurately reproduce flesh tones because of simple tuning errors. So why not take a moment now to get up and adjust your set. We’ll show you how to do it. If you’re watching in black-and-white, the pattern will appear as gray bars and will allow to adjust contrast and brightness. If your set is color it probably has two additional controls, labeled ‘color’ and ‘hue.’ On some sets, ‘hue’ may be labeled as ‘tint.’ The color control actually affects the degree of saturation: how dark or light the colors are. Try it and see how the intensity of the color bars change. If you turn the ‘hue’ or ‘tint’ control, you’ll see that it actually affects blueness or greenness. When your set is properly adjusted, the color bars should be white, yellow, cyan, green, magenta, red, and blue.” A green hand appears onscreen to point each bar out. The tuning lesson continues. 

02:10Copy video clip URL “Did you just get up from your seat to adjust your set? How actively do you participate in forming your picture of the world? How actively can you participate in forming your picture of the world? And what is the nature of that participation? We’ve designed a quiz which will ask you to consider these questions.” Onscreen text: “The National Arts & Culture Quiz.” 

02:46Copy video clip URL Instructions for the quiz, asking you to write down answers on a sheet of paper, with the example question “1. Did you adjust your set?” 

03:00Copy video clip URL In a park, a sign onscreen reads “Society for Preservation of Ambiguous Effects. Perception Test. win a prize!”

03:08Copy video clip URL Nick Despota asks participant Margaret Smith what she sees in a series of Rorschack tests and what the images suggest to her, what it function might be. “Radar,” she says, about the first one. Dipota interviews several other participants, including a mustachioed man who identifies it as “a Rorschach test ink blot” before being pressed and admitting, “It looks like an angel to me.” Another woman says a picture looks like “fallopian tubes.” 

05:40Copy video clip URL “In each of the following questions, are ‘A’ and ‘B’ the same?” Two boxes, on the left and right sides of the screen, either filled with a solid color or highlighting an element of a background image. 

06:30Copy video clip URL Comparing “A. organ” and “B. organ,” followed by the playing of an electronic organ with the word “organ” superimposed over it and by an open mouth, also with the word “organ” superimposed. 

06:54Copy video clip URL Despota asks participants to compare two scratch and sniff stickers. 

08:07Copy video clip URL “Craig Goldwin is a professional wine taster and columnist. His system for evaluating wines has received national recognition.” Goldwin discusses the function of the tongue and where on the tongue it is most sensitive to which tastes, and how little the general public understands about taste and smell. He offers a brief, simple vocabulary lesson to allow people to converse more freely about wine, and then demonstrates his method of rating and evaluating a wine. 

11:13Copy video clip URL Orson Welles’ wine commercial for Paul Masson wine is the “B” for Craig Goldwin’s “A”: “We will sell no wine before its time.”

11:50Copy video clip URL Despota asks people what an arch symbol means. Nobody knows, but one speculates that it means: “Danger: Church Crossing.”

14:35Copy video clip URL “In each of the following questions, decide whether the central figure, in this case a square, is concealed in “A”, “B”, or “C.”  Starts with simple line drawings, then moves to real world images, a painting of The Assumption, a weather report, and a TV preacher. 

21:06Copy video clip URL People in the park wear a pair of tinted glasses and look through magnifying glasses.

21:40Copy video clip URL End credits. 

22:25Copy video clip URL Answer Sheet. 

22:43Copy video clip URL End of “National Arts & Culture Quiz”

22:45Copy video clip URL “Media Burn,” by Ant Farm. Zoom in to a logo reading “Media Burn. July 4, 1976.” In a large stack of televisions, one monitor plays news segments about Fourth of July Celebrations and the “Media Burn” performance/event. 

23:31Copy video clip URL Footage of event preparations. Selling souvenirs. Onscreen text: “July 4, 1975. Cow Palace, San Francisco.”

24:25Copy video clip URL Interview with an attendee. “What are your expectations?” “Well I’m hoping that there are no deaths. No fatalities, no fires burning through the asbestos suits…. I’m hoping that it really kicks off the bicentennial.” She notes the event’s symbolic/metaphorical commentary. 

25:24Copy video clip URL Brief conversation with a TV reporter about the event. 

25:36Copy video clip URL Interview with “Artist-Dummy” members of Ant Farm: “Are you worried about your chances for survival?” “I’m more worried about America’s chances for survival than my own personal chances for survival.”

26:13Copy video clip URL The Phantom Dream Car is unveiled and described in great technical detail by Bill Ding (John Hillding), along with an explanation of what is going to happen at the event.

27:19Copy video clip URL Artist-President John F. Kennedy (Doug Hall) arrives with his bodyguards (members of The Residents) to begin the event. He delivers a stirring speech on media consolidation and introduces the event. “My fellow Americans, haven’t you ever wanted to put your foot to your television screen.” 

31:00Copy video clip URL “Today, there stand before us two media matadors, brave young men from Ant Farm, who are about to go forth into the unknown. And let me say this, these artists are pioneers. They are pioneers as surely as were Lewis and Clark when they explored uncharted territory. They are pioneers as surely as Armstrong and Aldrin when they set foot on the moon. They do this not from self-interest but intuitively as an act of patriotism. And so, my fellow Americans, let me finally say this about ‘Media Burn’: the world may not ever understand what was done here today, but the image created here shall never be forgotten.”

32:09Copy video clip URL The “Artist-Dummies” approach their car as the “Star-Spangled Banner” is played. They enter the car. 

34:17Copy video clip URL Footage from inside and outside the car as the countdown begins. The TV pyramid is set on fire. 

35:15Copy video clip URL The car begins its approach and breaks through the pyramid. The crash is shown several times, including in slow motion. 

36:32Copy video clip URL The “Artist-Dummies” ride by the audience in a convertible, waving at the fans. 

36:58Copy video clip URL TV news reporters cover the event, expressing confusion. 

37:55Copy video clip URL Attendees at the event destroy what’s left of the televisions. Onscreen text: “99.9% off [sic] all homes in USA with electricity have TV sets. There are 68.5 million TV sets in American homes. Color sets are watched 49 hrs/wk.”

38:13Copy video clip URL End credits. 

38:44Copy video clip URL “The Bumbernationals”: Seattle Center, Labor Day 1979. A video about an artists’ boxcar derby taking place as part of the annual Bumbershoot festival. Interview with an organizer who explains the prizes, including “Best Dressed Pit Crew” and “Best Accidental Crash.” 

39:50Copy video clip URL Footage of the various cars and track set-up, set to Bruce Springsteen’s “Born to Run.” 

40:36Copy video clip URL Cha Cha Muldowney, a driver with enormous hair and sunglasses and a greaser-inspired fashion sense . “Aw I’ve raced before. Lotsa times haven’t we?” She talks about how her mom letting go of her baby carriage when she was three months old made her want to race, and how as a woman this is a rare opportunity to race. She gets in her car, which is decorated in a checkerboard pattern. 

42:13Copy video clip URL Drivers and audiences arrive. 

42:45Copy video clip URL Miss Bumbernationals and “Her Court of Killer Bees,” men and women in bee costumes. “There she is, Miss Bumbernationals!” the announcer sings. 

43:15Copy video clip URL The first race features a false start. 

44:02Copy video clip URL Interview between Dave Ross of KIRO and a designer of one of the cars, which he’s dubbed “The Foul Heap.” 

45:55Copy video clip URL Another race between a tiny car and The Foul Heap. The Foul Heap stalls and the driver gets out to run down the other car and knock it over. Fake medics run onto the track and remove the driver of the overturned car, placing him carefully on the ground before picking up the tiny car and placing it on their stretcher and carting it off. 

47:26Copy video clip URL Return to Cha Cha, who discusses her obligation, as a race car driver, “to be really gorgeous on the course.” 

48:13Copy video clip URL A coffin with wheels races a smaller, upright cart with spinning fans on each side. Interview with Jim Gardner, aka Discordion, another designer/driver, who says that he’s been working on his car for about a month. “It’s based on an old Greek myth, that I made up.” It’s modeled on a chariot, with wind chimes. He’s dressed up as a Roman gladiator for his race. He finishes the race, but slowly. “Well, I never did very well in engineering. But I did make a lot of noise.” 

50:39Copy video clip URL Interview with Paul Sparks, one of the jury members. More races. 

52:10Copy video clip URL Cha Cha races. Interview with her afterwards, when she muses that she might try putting an engine in her car and trying for the Indianapolis 500. She hopes she might get a hair spray commercial out of her win at Bumbershoot. 

53:06Copy video clip URL Award announcements. Gardner wins the award for Best Design. The Grand Champion Award goes to sculptor Buster Simpson and the 747. The Best Dressed Crew Award goes to Dee Dee Rainbow, whose entourage was “less a crew than a parade.” They sing “Happy Birthday” to Dee Dee. 

55:58Copy video clip URL End Credits. 

56:55Copy video clip URL A designer explains his plans for designing a machine to break the “steel wall barrier” as final credits appear.

57:59Copy video clip URL “JGLNG” by Skip Blumberg: An image-processing work using footage of juggler Mario Groguett. 

63:00Copy video clip URL End Credits. 

63:30Copy video clip URL “Now and Then” by Lilly Ollinger: A short documentary about a group of elderly women who perform in a Broadway revue-type show. The video begins with rehearsal. The women discuss how beneficial and enjoyable the rehearsals have been. “My family say that it’s taking about twenty years off me and they say ‘Keep it up, Mom, you’re doing great!'”

65:37Copy video clip URL The women arrive for a performance  at the Chicago Public Library Cultural Center. October 23, 1979. The women sing and have a group meeting/conversation about needing to care for themselves in between performances as if they’re “in training.” 

67:30Copy video clip URL More performances, including of the song “A Good Man Is Hard to Find” and “The Maharajah of Magador” and discussions of enthusiastic responses from audiences and the growing number of “groupies” that follow them from performance to performance.

72:50Copy video clip URL Nostalgia for the times of their youth and their appreciation for vaudeville and songwriting of the 1930s. More song performances, including “Ten Cents a Dance.”

73:58Copy video clip URL The need for this sort of group activity for one member after the death of her husband left her alone and isolated. “To tell you the truth I feel like 16, but I know all of my years are in back of me. So, therefore, I’m going to enjoy every day of my life, and I have a spicy life.” Followed by more conversations and performances of “Some of These Days.” 

78:04Copy video clip URL Conversation with the group about old age. Performance of “Now and Then” as end credits begin. 

79:20Copy video clip URL End of “Now and Then.” Beginning of “Cadillac Ranch” by Ant Farm. Onscreen text: “Detroit Culture-Mystery. The Cadillac Ranch, A Roadside Attraction, on Route 66, Amarillo, Texas. Not just another roadside attraction, but a long goodby [sic] to squashed dogs. Image technology by Ant Farm – Lord, Charles L. Jr., Marquez, Hudson B.L., Michels, Douglas D…. See you slicks later.” Over an image of a buried Cadillac, with the song “Ya Gotta Buy Buy, Buy for Baby” by Kay Starr playing on the soundtrack. 

80:19Copy video clip URL A man in a cowboy hat and a bowtie welcomes Jean-Paul-Jacques Gooseberry (Doug Michels) and Uncle Buddie (Chip Lord) to a bare bones talk show. Buddie, wearing a fake mustache and big sunglasses, claims that he’s a used car salesman and uses his appearance to pitch several cars that are supposedly for sale to the audience. 

81:45Copy video clip URL Gooseberry discusses the Cadillac Ranch art project, speaking in an exaggerated and uneven French accent: “I am ze artist, he sells ze used cars…. As you know, ze artist Dali, ze artist Picasso, zey all work from inspiration, oui? We work ze same way, as Ant Farm…. One day, we were at Uncle Buddie’s Used Cars and ze phone rang, I said ‘Allo?’ Is a patron, from Texas. He said, ‘Jean-Paul and Uncle Buddie, you would like to come to Texas? I am a very rich man – I am the richest man in Texas – and I want some art. And we said ‘Oui oui! Très bon!””

83:06Copy video clip URL Discussion of patron Stan Marsh, “who does crazy things… he has money to throw away.” Photos and video of installation preparation as Buddie discusses finding the cars and depositing them in the ground. Photos of the finished installation. 

84:59Copy video clip URL Buddie discusses the decision to make a TV show about the Cadillac Ranch, with a script written by Gooseberry, at the TV station owned by rich patron Marsh. 

86:03Copy video clip URL The TV show about the Cadillac Ranch, beginning with an old promotional film about the car.

87:05Copy video clip URL The TV show continues with footage of a Cadillac driving through a field into a hole, set to Emmylou Harris’s “Amarillo.” After the car stops, a shirtless man springs out of the car wildly flailing his arms. Four more men exit the car. 

88: 30 Lowering the car into the hole with a bulldozer. 

88:52Copy video clip URL More old promotional film for Cadillac, comparing the car with an airplane. 

90:30Copy video clip URL A man exits a car wearing a cowboy getup, speaking in an exaggerated Texas accent: “Howdy there partner! Elvis Presley Festival here and we want to tell you one thing, we’re glad to see ya and we got something here to show ya you’ve never seen before, and it’s called ‘The Ant Farm Spectacular!'” Festival jumps to the ground and fires his pistol at the Cadillac. Bullet holes appear, forming an “A” on the car door while shout-singing “The Cadillac Ranch is here to take you away, take you away, take you away!!!” The bullet holes start to spell “Ant Farm”: “I’m just a stranger here myself, but I enjoy shooting up Cadillac Ranches for the Ant Farm! They say they’re artists but I say they’re Cadillac lovers.”

92:04Copy video clip URL “Out here in the West, where men are men, we like to pull our wagons into circles. Sometimes those wagons are Cadillacs.” Festival continues to muse on Cadillacs and drives away, set to “When You Leave Amarillo, Turn Out the Light.” More images of the installation. 

94:54Copy video clip URL End credits. 

95:03Copy video clip URL “Instant This Instant That” by TwinArt (Lynda Kahn and Ellen Kahn): A music video for the song “Instant This Instant That” by Taste Test. 

95:12Copy video clip URL Two near-identical women wake up in bed and go about their day, showcasing the products they use at each step as if in a commercial. 

98:44Copy video clip URL End credits. 

99:04Copy video clip URL “The Golden Gloves” by Scott Jacobs and Tom Weinberg. A boxing match. 

99:17Copy video clip URL A boxer tells camera operator Weinberg: “You better stick around so you can see what’s gonna happen…. I’m gonna shock this stadium!” “How?” “With a right and a left and another right and a beautiful left hook to the body. And down he’ll go.” Another boxer, in street clothes, talks to Weinberg: James Blevins, from Woodlawn’s Boys Club, where he’s trained by Kid Carson. He talks about his fight earlier that evening and how he got into boxing. 

101:00Copy video clip URL Blevins steps into the ring. Opponent unknown. After a brief flurry of action, the video cuts to the decision in which Blevins is announced as the winner of the fight. Blevins celebrates. He poses for photographs afterwards and shows the medal to Weinberg. 

102:42Copy video clip URL Blevins at his job shining shoes. He muses about what he needs to do to continue boxing. 

102:57Copy video clip URL Another boxing match for Blevins. Fans cheer from the sidelines, yelling instructions. Blevins loses by decision. Cheers and boos from the crowd. 

107:19Copy video clip URL Post-match discussion with Blevins, who blames himself for not responding properly to his opponent’s aggressive attacks. He discusses the difficulties of getting to the gym to work out as much as he’d like because his job allows no flexibility. 

108:35Copy video clip URL End credits for “The Pop Video Series.” 

109:25Copy video clip URL End of video. 



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