On January 1, 1984, PBS aired Nam June Paik's "Good Morning Mr. Orwell." The entire concept, of PBS airing a series of bizarre happenings with artists ranging from Salvador Dali to Oingo Boingo, is pretty hard to imagine nowadays. Actually watching clips from the program is even stranger. A collection of clips from the program can be seen here, and gives a slight taste of what it must have been like to watch the program back in the day. John Cage plays amplified cactus with Takehisa Kosugi, Oingo Boingo is...Oingo Boingo, and Allen Ginsberg chants a sing songy tune with Arthur Russell on cello. The most striking piece, though, is Laurie Anderson's solo piece, "The Language of the Future." The piece also appears on Anderson's wonderful release, "United States Live." Her 1984 T.V. performance is transfixing:
"Man, oh man, you know, like, oh man! It's so...digital!" And she just meant that the relationship was on again, off again, always two things, switching, current runs through bodies, and then...it doesn't. It was a language of sounds, of noise, of switching, of signals. It was the language of the rabbit, the caribou, the penguin, the beaver, a language of the past. Current runs through bodies and then it doesn't. On again. Off again. Always two things switching. One thing instantly replaces another. It was the Language of the Future."