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Guide to the Christine Tamblyn Papers
MS-F011  
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Collection Details
 
Table of contents What's This?
  • Descriptive Summary
  • Administrative Information
  • Biography
  • Chronology
  • Scope and Content of Collection
  • Arrangement
  • Indexing Terms

  • Descriptive Summary

    Title: Christine Tamblyn papers,
    Date (inclusive): 1962-1998,
    Date (bulk): (bulk 1976-1997)
    Collection number: MS-F011
    Creator: Tamblyn, Christine
    Extent: 20.1 linear feet (44 boxes and 14 oversize folders)
    Repository: University of California, Irvine. Library. Special Collections and Archives.
    Irvine, California 92623-9557
    Abstract: This collection comprises notes, correspondence, interviews, photographs, slides, audio and video recordings, floppy disks, CD-ROMs, books, catalogues, printed ephemera, and artifacts collected and created during the life and career of artist, critic, and educator Christine Tamblyn. The bulk of this collection consists of materials documenting Tamblyn's artwork, writings, academic career, and professional activities from the 1970s through 1990s. The collection also includes some personal files and juvenilia. The collection is particularly strong in the area of conceptual art, performance, video and digital media in the 1970s and 1980s, representing her work as a multimedia, video, and performance artist as well her role as writer and critic. Files include extensive documentation of two of Tamblyn's CD-ROM works, She Loves It, She Loves It Not: Women and Technology (1993) and Mistaken Identities (1995). Materials concerning such artists as Karen Finley, Lynn Hershman-Leeson, and others can be found throughout the collection. Significant issues and debates in the U.S. art world of the 1970s to 1990s are well documented in Tamblyn's articles, essays, and reviews for a variety of publications, including Afterimage, Art news, Cinematograph, Art week, High Performance, Leonardo, and New Art Examiner. Materials also reflect Tamblyn's participation in the national and international art world, primarily through her attendance at and presentations for conferences and symposia, but the geographic emphasis is Chicago and the San Francisco Bay Area. The collection also contains posthumously collected materials, including the multimedia CD-ROM Archival Quality (1998).
    Language: English.

    Administrative Information

    Access

    Collection open for research.

    Publication Rights

    Property rights reside with the University of California. Literary rights are retained by the creators of the records and their heirs. For permissions to reproduce or to publish, please contact the Head of Special Collections and University Archives.

    Preferred Citation

    Christine Tamblyn papers. MS-F11 Special Collections and Archives, The UC Irvine Libraries, Irvine, California. Date accessed.
    For the benefit of current and future researchers, please cite any additional information about sources consulted in this collection, including permanent URLs, item or folder descriptions, and box/folder locations.

    Acquisition Information

    Gift of Christine Tamblyn, 1998.

    Processing Information

    Preliminary processing by Laura Clark Brown in 1998 and Paula Ross in 1999. Processing and guide completed by Adrian Turner in 2001.

    Biography

    Christine Tamblyn was an American visual artist and critic active in Chicago and the San Francisco Bay Area from the 1970s through 1990s, and known for her performance pieces and multimedia works utilizing CD-ROMs and video. She was born in 1951 in Waukegan, Illinois and attended a Catholic girls' school. In 1968 or 1969 she moved to Chicago where she audited courses at the University of Chicago while working as an administrative assistant for an insurance company. She began her studies at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC) in approximately 1973 and taught graduate-level courses in video while still an undergraduate. She also worked as the Video and Performance Editor for the New Art Examiner journal from 1977 to 1979, a beginning in her long and prolific career as an art critic. She quickly became an active participant in the flourishing community of Chicago video artists. In a series of lectures about her own work, Tamblyn noted that she focused on video and performance art at SAIC since they were "the closest to everyday life." In the area of performance she was strongly influenced by the work of Allan Kaprow and the Happenings artists of the late 1950s and early 1960s. Among her video teachers was Phil Morton, who in the early 1970s founded the Video Data Bank at SAIC. Morton, Dan Sandin (inventor of the Image Processor, an analog video synthesizer), Tom DeFanti, and Bob Snyder were part of what became known as the Chicago Imagist school of video makers. This group was the "first generation" of video artists to incorporate the use of special effects into their work, a practice that was initially met with derision by other artists who termed the results "video wallpaper."
    Tamblyn herself went on to produce video and performance pieces in which she utilized the technologies available at the time to manipulate autobiographically-based materials that she subjected to filtering, with influences ranging from Dada and surrealist art, the mysticism of Rosicrucianism and the Cabala, to poststructuralist and feminist theories. The theoretical foundations that shaped her work can be easily traced through her decades-spanning habit of journal writing as well as her detailed research for exhibition catalogue essays, articles of art criticism, conference and symposia presentations, and academic papers.
    After graduating from SAIC around 1979 she moved to New York City. She described her work there as "stylized Neo-Expressionist performances in East Village clubs." The New York period was a difficult one. She taught for a time at the School of Visual Arts and worked in clerical positions. Without access to equipment, however, she could not make the kind of technology-dependent work she had spent four years producing while in Chicago.
    From the late 1970s through the 1990s she was actively involved in a variety of national and international conferences, workshops, symposia, lectures, and festivals. She also became progressively involved in work as a curator in the 1980s. In approximately 1982 she entered the MFA program at the University of California, San Diego where she could study with conceptual artists she admired, including Eleanor and David Antin and Allan Kaprow. She received her degree in 1986. Tamblyn also began working with feminist performance artists during this time. In 1984, at the invitation of the Los Angeles Woman's Building, she created As the Worm Turns, a response to what she considered a disturbing anti-pornography stance within certain sectors of the women's movement.
    In 1985 she moved to San Francisco and began teaching at San Francisco State University (SFSU). In San Francisco she actively worked as a contributing editor for Artweek, an editor for Cinematograph, and a correspondent for Art news. The issue of censorship and the arts, which occupied the U.S. art world's center stage for much of the late 1980s and early 1990s (funding of the National Endowment for the Arts was a key site of contention), surfaced in her career as an art critic and curator. Tableaux Vivants, a group show sponsored by the San Francisco Arts Commission and curated by Tamblyn, and the ensuing Climate of Censorship conference in 1989 unleashed a fury of protests and discussions in response to Tamblyn's conflict with one of the participating artists' large-scale sculptures.
    The digital revolution of the 1980s and early 1990s found Tamblyn at the forefront, stemming from her early exposure to and use of technology in her pieces. An artist who often collaborated with others, Tamblyn's first CD-ROM, She Loves It, She Loves It Not: Women and Technology (1993), was a joint project with her students at SFSU, Marjorie Franklin and Paul Tompkins. This was one of the first CD-ROMs created and produced by a woman artist. Women and technology remained a topic of intense interest for Tamblyn throughout her career. This is reflected both in journals from her undergraduate days, in which she recorded her frustrating attempts to forge a place for herself as a woman in the male-dominated world of media labs and studios, and in her commitment to new digital genres, which resulted in two additional CD-ROMs, Mistaken Identities (1995) and the posthumous Archival Quality (1998).
    Between 1990 and 1996 she taught at the University of California, Berkeley, and Florida International University, Miami (FIU). She left FIU in 1996 for the Department of Studio Art at the University of California, Irvine (UCI), due to what she perceived as a lack of support for the art program. At UCI she was instrumental in developing the foundation for a digital arts program.
    Tamblyn's conceptual and intellectual products are at least as significant as her art production. Part of her life-long project was the blurring of borders between art and living. Until the very end of her life, she continued working on the project she had begun as a young artist, the desire to, as she put it, "make my life a work of art. Having my life as my work of art makes my art totally dependent on the contexts that I operate in." Tamblyn died of breast cancer on January 1, 1998 in San Francisco.
    A biographical article on Tamblyn is available online through "University of California: In Memoriam."

    Chronology

    1951 Born in Waukegan, Illinois and lives in Libertyville.
    Ca. 1968 Moves to Chicago and begins to audit courses at the University of Chicago.
    Ca. 1973 Begins studies at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.
    Ca. 1979 B.F.A., The School of the Art Institute of Chicago.
    1977-1979 Video and Performance Editor, New Art Examiner.
    1978-1980 Instructor and Lecturer, The School of the Art Institute of Chicago.
    1980 Moves to New York City.
    Ca. 1982 Begins M.F.A. studies at the University of California, San Diego.
    1982 Lecturer, The School of Visual Arts, New York.
    1983-1985 Teaching assistant, University of California, San Diego.
    1984 Research Assistant to Moira Roth, University of California, San Diego.
    1985 Moves to San Francisco.
    1986 M.F.A. University of California, San Diego.
    1986- ca. 1994 Lecturer and Graduate Program Coordinator, San Francisco State University.
    1986-1989 Contributing Editor, Artweek.
    1987-1988 Editor, Cinematograph.
    1987-1993 Correspondent, Art news.
    1988-1990 Visiting Assistant Professor, San Francisco Art Institute.
    1989 Lecturer, University of California, Santa Cruz.
    1990 Lecturer, Mills College.
    1990-1993 Visiting Assistant Professor, University of California, Berkeley.
    1994-1996 Assistant Professor, Florida International University.
    1996-1998 Assistant Professor, University of California, Irvine.
    1998 Dies on January 1st in San Francisco.

    Scope and Content of Collection

    This collection comprises notes, correspondence, interviews, photographs, slides, audio and video recordings, floppy disks, CD-ROMs, books, catalogues, printed ephemera, and artifacts collected and created during the life and career of artist, critic, and educator Christine Tamblyn. The bulk of this collection consists of materials documenting Tamblyn's artwork, writings, academic career, and professional activities from the 1970s through 1990s. The collection also includes some personal files and juvenilia. The collection is particularly strong in the area of conceptual art, performance, video and digital media in the 1970s and 1980s, representing her work as a multimedia, video, and performance artist as well her role as writer and critic. Files include extensive documentation of two of Tamblyn's CD-ROM works, She Loves It, She Loves It Not: Women and Technology (1993) and Mistaken Identities (1995). Materials concerning such artists as Karen Finley, Lynn Hershman-Leeson, and others can be found throughout the collection. Significant issues and debates in the U.S. art world of the 1970s to 1990s are well documented in Tamblyn's articles, essays, and reviews for a variety of publications, including Afterimage, Art news, Cinematograph, Art week, High Performance, Leonardo, and New Art Examiner. Materials also reflect Tamblyn's participation in the national and international art world, primarily through her attendance at and presentations for conferences and symposia, but the geographic emphasis is Chicago and the San Francisco Bay Area. The collection also contains posthumously collected materials, including the multimedia CD-ROM Archival Quality (1998).
    Video material is in VHS, 8-mm., Hi-8, and U-matic formats. The bulk of this material is recorded on U-matic tapes. Audio material is primarily recorded on standard audio cassettes although some material is recorded on 3 1/4" tape.
    Tamblyn's 1996 curriculum vitae filed in Series 2 contains a comprehensive chronological list of her artwork, publications, and professional activities, as well as a detailed bibliography of works about her.

    Arrangement

    This collection is organized into 6 series.
    • Series 1. Artwork, 1973-1997. 8.2 linear ft.
    • Series 2. Personal and biographical files, 1967-1998. 0.4 linear ft.
    • Series 3. Academic files, 1973-1996. 1.4 linear ft.
    • Series 4. Writings, 1962-1997. 6.7 linear ft.
    • Series 5. Professional files, 1978-1997. 1.9 linear ft.
    • Series 6. Research files, ca. 1976-1997. 0.7 linear ft.

    Indexing Terms

    The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in the library's online public access catalog.

    Subjects

    Tamblyn, Christine--Archives.
    Tamblyn, Christine. She loves it, she loves it not : women and technology--Archival resources.
    Tamblyn, Christine. Mistaken identities--Archival resources.
    Tamblyn, Christine. Archival quality--Archival resources.
    Finley, Karen--Archival resources.
    Hershman-Leeson, Lynn, 1941- --Archival resources.
    University of California, Irvine--Faculty--Archival resources.
    Video art--Archival resources.
    Performance art--Archival resources.
    Interactive multimedia--Archival resources.
    Feminism and art--Archival resources.
    Art and technology--Archival resources.
    Art criticism--Archival resources.
    Feminist art criticism--Archival resources.
    Art, modern--20th century--Illinois--Chicago--Archival resources.
    Art, modern--20th century--California--San Francisco Bay Area--Archival resources.

    Genres and Forms of Material

    Photographic prints.
    Slides.
    Negatives.
    Sound recordings.
    Video recordings.
    Floppy disks.
    CD-ROMs.
    Artifacts.
    Diaries.

    Occupations

    Artists.
    Art critics.

    Index Terms Related to this Collection

    Tamblyn, Christine. She loves it, she loves it not : women and technology.
    Tamblyn, Christine. Mistaken identities.
    Tamblyn, Christine. Archival quality.