Bootleg Video of “Transmission” Event at the Americas Society, With Live Run of the Diskette Containing William Gibson’s “Agrippa” (9 December 1992)
Item #D48. Bootleg Video of Live Run of the Diskette Containing William Gibson’s “Agrippa” at the Americas Society, New York City (9 Dec. 1992).
This video, approximately one hour long, was made surreptiously by “Templar,” the pseudonym of one member of a graduate-student team known as “Templar, Rosehammer, and Pseudophred” from New York University’s Interactive Television Program. The team had been recruited to shoot the screen of a laptop computer used by Kevin Begos, Jr. (the publisher of Agrippa) for the public unveiling of Agrippa at the Americas Society, New York City, on December 9, 1992 (during the so-called “Transmission” event). Their sanctioned mission was to project on a large screen the laptop’s image of a complete, live “run” of William Gibson’s poem (running from Agrippa’s diskette). Unbeknownst to the event’s organizers, however, Templar had slotted a blank video cassette into the camera used for the live feed. The resulting recording is presented here from a copy of the original videotape (the original has not been found) recovered in 2007 by “Rosehammer” from a ¾ video tape cartridge (in NTSC format) labeled “AGRIPPA—[Templar's] VIEW.” Highlights of the recording include:
- Interview of Kevin Begos, Jr. by Karen Benfield, producer for the Wall Street Journal Television Report (approx. 20 minutes).
- The “run” of Gibson’s poem scrolling up the screen of Begos’s laptop, accompanied by a synchronized audio recording of comedian Penn Jilette reading the text (approx. 20 minutes).
- Question and answer period with Begos, cut off unexpectedly when someone approached Templar and caused him to stop recording to prevent discovery.
For detailed discussion of this video and related events, see on this site Matthew G. Kirschenbaum’s “No Round Trip: Two New Primary Sources for Agrippa“ (as well as the earlier excerpt from his book, Mechanisms: New Media and the Forensic Imagination (MIT Press, 2008). Of related interest: Re:Agrippa, an experimental video composition made by Rosehammer and Templar in 1993 that samples and remixes selected footage from the 1992 bootleg video, and adds experimental-video-style montage, sound, and titling effects.