Media Burn


Ant Farm ( American, 1968 - 1978 )

1975, remastered 1983
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General Description

In this elaborately staged performance of a supercar smashing through a pyramid of televisions, Ant Farm takes on the need for spectacle in our culture, and how that spectacle enfolds political, social, and cultural expression. Surreally including a John F. Kennedy impersonator to comment on the proceedings of what was a bona fide media event staged for its very unreality and hokiness, the film records a dramatic gesture to annihilate the influence of television through the very means of television itself. Yet such serious subject matter is tempered by the evident glee with which the participant artists go about their exposé, and their enactment of their roles. Resembling the interior of an Apollo space capsule, the driver's seat of the automobile provides the visceral place in which we, through the medium of film, can experience the famous stunt of the car barreling through the burning TVs. This image, which has become synonymous with avant-garde 1970s video practice, ran as the signature opening and closing image for a regularly scheduled Chicago public television program that featured experimental video shorts. Looking almost quaint in its low-tech way, Media Burn nonetheless remains entirely relevant to our own day and age of instantly pervasive and manipulable modes of getting the news.

Adapted from

Charles Wylie, Unpublished DMA material, 2005.

Fun Facts

The car in the video was a reconstructed 1959 Cadillac Eldorado convertible dubbed the "Phantom Dream Car."

Web Resources

  • Ubu
    Watch Media Burn.