Art historian Deidre Boyle picked up her first video camera in 1972 while in graduate school. Four years later she decided to write about the medium instead. She began researching video collectives, eventually viewing hundreds of tapes in archives around the country and interviewing more than a hundred pioneers–and finally writing a book, Subject to Change: Guerrilla Television Revisited. “Guerrilla television theory asserted that if people had cameras they could change the world,” she writes. But the utopians failed “to create a viable alternative to commercial television.” Instead we wound up with shows like America’s Funniest Home Videos, where citizens use camcorders “not to change the world but to humiliate themselves and their friends, families, and pets.”

But even if the pioneers didn’t change much, their legacy is intriguing. Boyle, who now teaches at the New School for Social Research, recently helped Chicago’s Video Data Bank put together a 17-hour anthology of work done between 1968 and 1980, including TVTV’s gonzo reporting on the 1972 Republican National Convention in Miami, Four More Years. “For younger people who are looking back to understand their parents or the people who came before them,” she says, “they’re probably going to be as successful using this work to understand the 60s as I was growing up in the 60s and looking at 30s movies trying to understand my parents–which is to say, I thought Fred and Ginger were cool.”

Boyle will introduce and screen selections from the anthology, “Rewind: Video Art and Alternative Media in the U.S. 1968-1980,” at 8 PM this Saturday as part of the Museum of Contemporary Art’s “Hall of Mirrors: Art and Film Since 1945” exhibit. The MCA is located at 220 E. Chicago; tickets are $8. Call 312-397-4010.

–Bill Stamets

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): various TV images/ uncredited.