document 15 
Subject: A synthesis of art and politics
Author: Gene Youngblood
Date: March/April 1979

The Future of Reality.

'...I'm calling for the rise of a new breed of political activists that I call cultural workers. The task of cultural workers is to reconstruct reality by forcing a political reconstruction of the mass media.'.

'The protean achievements in electronic technology have brought forth a set of video tools which hold, in our collective imagination, unprecedented potential for social change and individual liberty. The new video is identified with community decentralization, ecological balance, a synthesis of art and politics. The image is a world of autonomous city-states in which men and women have almost total control over their material and cultural environments.'

I predict that what follows is a world of alternative "reality communities." I think that discrepant realities will be available on a market basis in the future. With hundreds of cable-TV channels, millions of video discs and the ability to produce our own video images we'll just construct our own realities, and live in them. At that point we won't speak of towns or cities, but of reality communities - communities not defined by geography, but by consciousness. Reality will be whatever your reality community wants it to be.- And there'11 be thousands of them. Walking down the strect, you won't be able- to tell if someone's "on another reality" just as people at the airport often are "on another time. "

Andy Warhol said that in the future every- one will be famous for fifteen minutes. I take that seriously. For in these new reality communities, a great personal deed will have room. lt could seize upon the hearts of those who conspire to that reality. Its effusion of strength and will could overwhelm law, and mock all authority and all argument against it. But that occurs only in that reality community and we shouldn't expect to be known outside. We'11 be famous like ichthyologists. No single reality will dominate. Walter Cronkite is the last voice heard round the world. The global village is a fantasy of blind astronomers, since your reality community will be your globe, even if you wish to exclude all others. Yes, new lands will be found in the old empire. Republics without histories will arise in a new glory of new men and women.

Of course, by saying all this, I'm not really pointing to the future. I'm urging you to the present - to those electrons doing their sub-atomic thing on the luminous windows of the videosphere, describing a purpose that's not ours. Sixty-five years ago E.F.T. Marinetti, progenitor and guiding brain of Futurism, proclaimed that it was necessary for art to keep bringing itself to an end so that it can stay alive. He could easily have said "reality" instead of "art" since the tools needed to accomplish this task are now at hand. They constitute a force capable of transforming reality. The difference between fact and fiction is a decision, not a distance. lt's the use of reality as a verb, not a noun. Reality isn't what it is, it's a vacuum, consisting of the many realities into which it can be made. Things seen are things as seen. A new videosphere would make a new humanity in the same way another sunlight would make another world. The prologues are over and it is now time to choose.

Gene Youngblood in WET magazine of March/April 1979, p.53 on 'Future Politics'

note from the editor: men, women and childern we would say now. This was written before internet existed.


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