An Urgent S.O.S. Through a Sea of Static

An Urgent S.O.S. Through a Sea of Static


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An Urgent S.O.S. Through a Sea of Static

Writings by Dale Hoyt and Natalie Welch

Author/Editor: Author: Dale Hoyt Editor: Steve Seid


An Urgent S.O.S. Through a Sea of Static: Writings by Dale Hoyt and Natalie Welch

An Urgent S.O.S… is published by San Francisco Cinematheque on the occasion of Dale Is Dead/Chaos Theory: Remembering Dale Hoyt (screening January-February 2023). Compiled by series curator Steve Seid and released in limited edition zine format, An Urgent S.O.S… compiles writing by video artist Dale Hoyt (and alias Natalie Welch), published in Send Magazine 1983–1985.

Related item: For a double dose of Dale, check out Fear is the Opposite of Art, Dale Hoyt’s 2021 SFAI Commencement Address, available here!

SEND was the off-again-on-again publication of the San Francisco International Video Festival, founded in 1980. The earliest issues were formatted as large tabloid extravaganzas with dynamic artist pages and the flamboyant observations of such writers as David Ross, Willoughby Sharp, Doug Hall, Gene Youngblood, Jerry Mander, Juan Downey, Bill Viola, Ira Schneider, Lowell Darling, often writing as Dr. Ray Orbison and others. The predominantly male cast of critics was matched by a more equitable array of artists who contributed to the artist pages, Chip Lord, Dara Birnbaum, Howard Fried, Paul McCarthy, Kit Fitzgerald & John Sanborn, Chris Burden, Tony Oursler, Ilene Segalove, Max Almy, Doug Hall and Judith Barry, among them. Dale Hoyt found himself within the pages of the Fall, 1983 issue of SEND, but here as a writer. He had earlier, in the festival issue Video 81, appeared as “the youngest artist in this year’s festival.” Overtly writing as himself, Hoyt explored first a wry survey of recent video porn, then under the pseudonym Natalie Welch covered an exhibition at Video Free America he had, in fact, curated himself. Welch’s riotous critique remains one of the most insightful looks at Hoyt’s work in which she remarks, “What must it be like to have enthusiasm as your biggest obstacle?” Hoyt again chooses the dual-personality approach for the Spring, 1984 issue. As Welch, he reviews Howard Fried: 1969-1983, a retrospective staged at the Berkeley Art Museum. A second review, posing as Hoyt, concentrates on video’s subtle ability to manipulate the viewer. Works by Les Levine and Tony Labat take a friendly beating. In the Spring, 1985 issue, Dale Hoyt’s final appearance, he takes down the monstrosity of the moment, MTV, in a feature-length essay. His multi-pronged attack culminates in a kind of exhausted optimism—“Somewhere out there, there’s a Valium with your name on it.”  

Published January 2023 by San Francisco Cinematheque on the occasion of Dale Is Dead/Chaos Theory

Dale Is Dead presented February 7, 2023 at Gray Area.
Chaos Theory presented online January 12–February 7, 2023 at www.sfcinematheque.org
both programs curated by Steve Seid

Text Selection: Steve Seid
Design: India Nemer
Project Director: Steve Polta
Gratitude: Stephen Agetstein, Dena Beard, Canyon Cinema, The Lab, David Lawrence, Pacific Film Archive, Jon Shibata

20 pages
Paperback | 8.5 x 11
Published 2023 by San Francisco Cinematheque

Additional information

Dimensions 18.5 × 12.25 in