VanDerBeek, Stan (1927–1984) By Levin, Erica
Stan VanDerBeek is an American artist (b. New York City, US) who is widely regarded as a pioneer and visionary in the field of experimental media. VanDerBeek coined a number of indispensable terms that describe the myriad paths he pursued as an innovator of new media forms, including ‘underground cinema’, ‘expanded cinema’, and possibly ‘social media’, using the phrase as early as 1974. His first cut-out animations and collage films were produced in the late 1950s after he picked up a Bolex camera at Black Mountain College. As more advanced technologies became available, he embraced the possibilities opened up by video processing and early computer graphics. VanDerBeek not only focused on new modes of image production, he also imagined alternatives to conventional forms of viewing and distributing moving images, devising a proposal for a system of satellite-linked ‘movie-dromes’ (dome-shaped theatres built for multi-channel immersive screenings), media labs, and image archives that he called a Culture Intercom. VanDerBeek envisioned a future in which increased access to the tools of multimedia production would enable networked exchange across the globe. His prolific output and creative re-appropriation of the flotsam and jetsam of mass culture anticipated the antic eclecticism of a user-generated social media culture yet to come.