Gene Youngblood

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Gene Youngblood (30 May 1942, Little Rock, Arkansas, United States – 6 April 2021, Santa Fe, New Mexico, United States) was a theorist of media arts and politics, and a scholar in the history and theory of alternative cinema. His best known book, Expanded Cinema, was the first to consider video as an art form and has been credited with helping to legitimate the fields of computer art and media arts. He is also known for his pioneering work in the media democracy movement, a subject on which he taught, written, and lectured from 1967.

Born in Little Rock, Arkansas, in 1942, Youngblood spent most of the 1960s in Los Angeles variously working as a reporter and film critic for the Los Angeles Herald-Examiner, as a reporter for KHJ-TV, and as an arts commentator for KPFK. In 1967, he was hired at $80 a week as associate editor at the Los Angeles Free Press, the first and most influential countercultural organ of its time.

He would remain at the publication until 1970, when he began co-teaching at California Institute of the Arts, with video artist Nam June Paik, one of the first college courses on the history of video. That summer, his “Call to Arms” was published in the inaugural issue of the crucial journal Radical Software. The piece manifested Youngblood’s unending drive to democratize the media, announcing, “The media must be liberated, must be removed from private ownership and commercial sponsorship, must be placed in the service of all humanity.”

A few months later, Youngblood published Expanded Cinema, much of which was based on his columns for the LA Free Press. Though the volume took as its title a term coined by Stan VanDerBeek, “it was Gene Youngblood who put it on the cover of a book, filled it with rocket fuel, and sent it buzzing through the late-1960s art world like a heat-seeking missile,” wrote Caroline A. Jones in Artforum in 2020, on the occasion of the book’s fiftieth anniversary. Expanded Cinema—in which Youngblood limned concepts ranging from the Paleocybernetic Age to the videosphere to “new nostalgia,” all in context of what he termed the “global intermedia network”—is considered a seminal work in the field of communications. “I thought maybe four hippies would read it,” Youngblood wrote decades later. The book sold nearly fifty thousand copies in seven years.

Youngblood lectured on media arts theory at more than four hundred higher-learning institutions. In 1988, he founded the moving image arts department at the College of Santa Fe, where he remained a professor for years (the institution, which in 2010 was rechristened the Santa Fe University of Art and Design, closed in 2018). Though the rise of the internet hardly led to the utopian mediascape Youngblood had hoped for—“The architecture of tyranny is in place,” he wrote in 2013; “truth-telling and dissent are criminalized”—he continued to advocate for a counterculture media characterized by radical democracy. “Anything less,” he wrote, “is a betrayal of us all.” (Source)



  • Expanded Cinema, intro. R. Buckminster Fuller, New York: E.P. Dutton, 1970, 432+[6] pp; London: Studio Vista, 1970, 432+[6] pp; repr., 50th anniv.ed., New York: Fordham University Press, 2020, xxxii+449+[12] pp.
    • Cine expandido, intro. Emilio Benini, Buenos Aires: Editorial De La Universidad Nacional De Tres De Febrero (EDUNTREF), 2012, 447 pp. [1] (Spanish)
    • Expanded cinema, eds. Pier Luigi Capucci and Simonetta Fadda, Bologna: CLUEB, 2013, xvi+388 pp. (Italian)


  • "Buckminster Fuller's World Game", in Whole Earth Catalog: The World Game, ed. Gurney Norman with Diana Shugart, Mar 1970.
  • "The Future of Desire: The Art and Technology of Video in the 80's", c.1980. [5] [6]
    • "欲望の未来--八〇年代ヴィデオ技術と芸術", trans. Morioka Yoshitomo, 美術手帖, Jan 1982, pp 118-127. (Japanese)
  • "Art, Entertainment, Entropy", in Video Culture: A Critical Investigation, ed. John G. Hanhardt, Layton, UT: Peregrine Smith Books, and Rochester, NY: Visual Studies Workshop Press, 1986, pp 225-231. Taken from Youngblood's Expanded Cinema, pp 59-65.
  • "Metadesign: Toward a Postmodernism of Reconstruction", Ars Electronica, Linz, 1986.
  • "Metaphysical Structuralism: The Videotapes of Bill Viola", in Metaphysical Structuralism: The Videotapes of Bill Viola, Santa Monica, CA: Voyager Press, 1987. Catalogue text. [7]
  • "Vidéo et utopie", Communications 48:1, 1988, pp 173-191. (French)
  • "The New Renaissance: Art, Science and Universal Machine", in The Computer Revolution and the Arts, May 1989, pp 8-20. [8]
  • "Cinema and the Code", Computer Art in Context: SIGGRAPH 89 (, supplement to Leonardo), eds. Marc Resch and Pamela Grant-Ryan, Pergamon Press, 1989, pp 27-30; repr. in Steina e Woody Vasulka: Video, Media e Nuove Immagini nell’Arte Contemporanea, ed. Marco Maria Gazzano, Rome: Fahrenheit 451, 1995, 48-58; repr. in Future Cinema: The Cinematographic Imagery after Film, eds. Jeffrey Shaw and Peter Weibel, MIT Press, 2003, pp 156-161. Manuscript.
    • "Il cinema e l’immagine numerica", in Steina e Woody Vasulka: Video, Media e Nuove Immagini nell’Arte Contemporanea, ed. Marco Maria Gazzano, Rome: Fahrenheit 451, 1995, pp 45-59. (Italian)
  • "Dream Machine, the Visual Computer", eds. Mitsuo Katsui and Toshifumi Kawahara, in Computer Graphics / Konpūta gurafikkusu, Tokyo: Kodansha, 1989. Catalogue text. (English)/(Japanese)
  • "Metadesign. Die neue Allianz und die Avantgarde", in Digitaler Schein. Ästhetik der elektronischen Medien, ed. Florian Rötzer, Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp, 1991, pp 305-322. (German)
  • "Il Mito utopistico della rivoluzione comunicativa", Comunicazioni sociali 14:2-3, 1992, pp 196-200; repr. in Utopia e cinema: cento anni di sogni, progetti e paradossi: Mostra Internazionale del Nuovo Cinema, ed. Andrea Martini, Venice: Marsilio, 1994, pp 275-278. (Italian)


  • Gene Youngblood, "Interview with the Vasulkas" [c.1981], in Buffalo Heads: Media Study, Media Practice, Media Pioneers, 1973-1990, eds. Woody Vasulka and Peter Weibel, Karlsruhe: ZKM, and MIT Press, 2008, pp 442-455. Manuscript.
  • Steina, Peter Weibel, Woody Vasulka, Gene Youngblood, "Santa Fe Talks", [12 Jul 1987], 73 pp, transcript.
  • "Orbits of Fortune with Steina and Gene Youngblood", in Steina: 1970-2000, Santa Fe, NM: SITE, 2008, pp 21-48.