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USCO: Films and Performance with 1960s Multimedia Pioneers

Michael Callahan, electronics innovator, co-founder of USCO, and president, Museum Technology Source Inc.; in conversation with Gerd Stern, poet, media artist, co-founder of USCO, and president, Intermedia Foundation.

Founded in 1964, USCO, or The Company of Us, was one of the first art and technology collectives in the United States to create unique and ephemeral performances featuring slide projectors, audiotapes, moving images, oscilloscopes, refracted lenses, and lasers. USCO attempted to achieve “oneness” through media techniques available to them during the 1960s. On March 3, 2019, two of the group's co-founders, Michael Callahan and Gerd Stern, joined together for a rare performance at the National Gallery of Art with the assistance of Adrienne Callahan. The Gallery performance utilized the equipment and technology of the period―featuring sound from quarter-inch audio tape reels and multiple carousels of slides, programmed and pulsed by a mixed electromechanical and electronic device designed and built by Michael Callahan. This performance began with Verbal American Landscape, the first collaboration between Callahan and Stern that explores the poetic possibilities of combining language with images. A recreation and mix of two USCO multimedia performances, Hubbub and We Are All One, followed. Hubbub, named after a quote by Martin Luther, and its later iteration We Are All One developed from a post-psychedelic realization that multiplicity and fragmentation could be unified through meditation and focused consciousness.