Radical Light: Alternative Film and Video in the San Francisco Bay Area, 1945-2000

As you've probably heard Radical Light, which has taken the form of a large-scale book, several film programs and various exhibitions, is an unparalleled consideration of the incredibly rich history of alternative media in the West Coast Bay Area.  While I can't speak for the film series or the exhibitions (though I have no doubt they are of the utmost quality), I can say without equivocation that the book, published by University of California Press and BAM/PFA and edited by Steve Anker,Kathy Geritz and Steve Seid, is an essential release.  It seems that today you are all too likely to encounter the word essential describing the most mundane of items, but for those of us who do not have access to any sort of instituional or academic offerings on the subject a book like this is a lifeline, a spectacularly wide-ranging guide with which we can begin to get some inkling of the vastness of this previously unexplored movement. 

The design itself is gorgeous, divided into six easily digestible chronological sections,

it's a visual cornucopia featuring essays,

interviews, artist pages,

remembrances, "focuses" on various individual films,

and large scale image reproductions (film stills, letters, ads, collages, etc.).

The list of contributors is impressively extensive, and there is no doubt that each and every one of them approached the subject with a great deal of care and respect.  Make no mistake, this is a book to take your time with, I've just about neared the end and already there is an overwhelming urge to restart at page one (rest assured that this post is only just an initial spark, it will inspire many more posts here in the future).  I realize that this isn't so much a measured review as a love-letter, but if you're able to wean one bit of reliable information from this let it be that the book speaks for itself.  Please seriously consider supporting this effort by picking up a copy, in hopes that it will be an impetus for other like-minded efforts in the future.

(And hey, with the holiday season just around the corner it makes the perfect gift!...)


Paul Taberham said...

Just ordered my copy! Thanks a lot for that

Jacob Waltman said...

Glad to hear it Paul, would very much like to hear some of your thoughts on it whenever you get a chance to digest it...