From art to avant-garde?
Television, formalism and the arts documentary in 1960s Britain
in Experimental British television
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Arts programming has been a mainstay of British television since its early days, a tradition tied up with the public service ethic contractually enshrined in both public and commercial services. This chapter looks at two series that attempted to experiment with the presentation of art to British television viewers: New Tempo and Who Is?. The profile template greatly influenced Monitor, BBC's critically acclaimed arts series. Pop Art would feed into the look and attitude of New Tempo, which drew on the iconography of popular culture and approached a variety of disparate cultural subject matter with equal seriousness. In New Tempo's concept of a radical arts programme, and in line with its McLuhanesque ideology, the series continually foregrounded technological mediation. Who Is? was stylistically varied, adopting a range of different approaches that challenged the conventions of documenting individual artists.

Editor: Laura Mulvey

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