Tina Rivers Ryan at Artforum:
Similar to Tony Conrad—who reflected in one of his final interviews, “You don’t know who I am, but somehow, indirectly, you’ve been affected by things I did”—Tambellini has yet to receive the recognition he deserves for prognosticating the future we now inhabit. For example, in 1969, he made a modified television set called Black Spiral, which distorts live broadcasts into churning abstractions, highlighting the transformation of information into electronic flows. He then used this hacked appliance (made with the help of Bell Labs) to produce a single-channel tape and cameraless photographs he called “videograms,” presaging the infinite commutability of digital data. Notably, these related projects were included in the first major exhibitions of video art: “TV as a Creative Medium” at the Howard Wise Gallery in 1969, and “Vision and Television” at the Rose Art Museum in 1970. He also produced the multimedia happening Black for “The Medium Is the Medium,” the groundbreaking program of video art that aired on WGBH Boston in 1969. By that time, he and Otto Piene of Group Zero had already cofounded the Black Gate—a pioneering “electromedia” venue in Manhattan’s East Village that hosted future luminaries like Nam June Paik—and coproduced the first work of video art made for broadcast, 1968’s Black Gate Cologne. With these and other activities over just a few short years, Tambellini helped put the now-gridlocked “intersection of art and technology” on the map, defining its boundaries in ways that could not be more relevant to our contemporary moment.