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The Tube Global Village

By William M. Kutik

454 Broome Street, New York City Fri, and Sat., 9 and 11 p. m. 966-1515

SETTLED in the middle of lower Manhattan's 19th century manufacturing district is a loft-theater where two artists are doing things with television and videotape that you have never seen on the rube.

Actually they are attempting much more: creating a total sensual environment that includes a light show, rock music, films shown on a screen, and videotapes on television screens. Borrowing from McLuhan, the theater is called Global Village.

The theater has seven television screens arranged in a semicircle. Visitors sit and lie on slabs of foam rubber thrown on the floor in front of the sets. The show consists of about two dozen videotapes shown in various sequences on different sets while films and light shows are cast on the movie screen behind them. No need to get stoned; the show does it for you.

One of its creators, Rudi Stern, described it this way:

"Global Village our video environment, reflects in its structure our concept of the medium. It is a multi-channel, multi-sensory experience of video and kinetics. Entertainment and information exchange merge... an overload is triggered and from it a refracted image of our time is created."

Most of the tapes are textually linear, but they are used in non-linear ways. A videotape of The Who singing "We Ain't Gonna Take It" is intercut on five screens with an interview about the Panthers with a black woman. The cuts back and forth are made in time with the music, and the effect is mindblowing. Instant America.

My favorite was a long interview with Abbie Hoffman of the Conspiracy Seven. Abbie gives you a feeling for just what kind of insanity is going on in Judge Hoffman's courtroom-a feeling that Tony Lukas' daily Times stories cannot hope to give. While he talks about the trial as a battle between life and death with all the symbolism of life being on the defendants' side, a tape of a beautiful young couple screwing in the woods comes on the other three screens. They move together like ballet dancers, making love the way you always knew it should be made. Is the tape pornographic? Sure, and it's great. Sometimes, John Reilly, the television man of the team, is kind enough to play the tape again at the end of the show so you can give it all the attention it deserves.

For you sex/rock freaks there are tapes of Janis Joplin singing with Big Brother and the Stones, rather Mick Jagger, singing "You Can't Always Get What You Want," which will make you hate yourself for not being in the front row of the Boston Garden last Thanksgiving. And the tapes of Woodstock may so infect you with the spirit of that great historio-cultural event as to talk with the person on the cushion next to yours.

But few people do, which is part of the show's failure as a total environment. The light kinetics on the movie screen rarely relate to what is on the televisions; so the totality can become as confusing as a five-ring circus. And people lie on their separate cushions completely isolated from each other. This is after all New York City, and it will take more than comfortable, informal surroundings and an exciting show to make strangers talk to each other.

With all its shortcomings, Global Village is still the best breakthrough in experimental television playing in New York. So do yourself a favor over intersession and make the trip down to Broome Street. But if you have to stay in Cambridge to finish that overdue paper, catch "Television and Vision" at Brandeis' Rose Art Museum, which includes a small, one-person video environment by the Global Village team. It's a trip.

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