The Democratic Surround: Multimedia and American Liberalism by Fred Turner

By Fred Turner

We normally reflect on the psychedelic sixties as an explosion of artistic strength and freedom that arose in direct insurrection opposed to the social restraint and authoritarian hierarchy of the early chilly battle years. but, as Fred Turner finds in The Democratic Surround, the many years that introduced us the Korean struggle and communist witch hunts additionally witnessed a rare flip towards explicitly democratic, open, and inclusive principles of verbal exchange and with them new, versatile types of social order. unusually, he exhibits that it used to be this flip that introduced us the innovative multimedia and wild-eyed individualism of the Nineteen Sixties counterculture.

In this prequel to his celebrated publication From Counterculture to Cyberculture, Turner rewrites the heritage of postwar the USA, exhibiting how within the Forties and ’50s American liberalism provided a much more radical social imaginative and prescient than we now have in mind. Turner tracks the influential mid-century entwining of Bauhaus aesthetics with American social technological know-how and psychology. From the Museum of recent artwork in ny to the hot Bauhaus in Chicago and Black Mountain university in North Carolina, Turner indicates how essentially the most famous artists and intellectuals of the 40's constructed new types of media, new theories of interpersonal and overseas collaboration, and new visions of an open, tolerant, and democratic self in direct distinction to the repression and conformity linked to the fascist and communist activities. He then exhibits how their paintings formed probably the most major media occasions of the chilly warfare, together with Edward Steichen’s Family of Man exhibition, the multimedia performances of John Cage, and, eventually, the psychedelic Be-Ins of the sixties. Turner demonstrates that through the tip of the Nineteen Fifties this imaginative and prescient of the democratic self and the media outfitted to advertise it is going to really turn into a part of the mainstream, even shaping American propaganda efforts in Europe.

Overturning universal misconceptions of those transformational years, The Democratic Surround indicates simply how a lot the creative and social radicalism of the sixties owed to the liberal beliefs of chilly warfare the USA, a democratic imaginative and prescient that also underlies our hopes for electronic media today.

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