California Countercultures: Hippie Modernism with Greg Castillo

An alternative cultural geography rooted in a new way of seeing the world can be extrapolated from the counterculture artifacts exhibited in Hippie Modernism: The Struggle for Utopia. “The cybernetic eye,” according to Whole Earth Catalog impresario Steward Brand, saw beyond a fragmented reality to perceive holistic systems. Rejecting the social systems inherent in cash transactions, the Haight-Ashbury Diggers, an anarchic art tribe, distributed free food to anyone willing to step through a portal they called the “free frame of reference.” Galvanized by the Digger directive to “create the condition you describe,” counterculture groups throughout the Bay Area enacted a new geography of “liberated territories” that converted social critique into lived practice. 

Greg Castillo, associate professor of architecture at UC Berkeley, specializes in the architectural history of interwar and postwar America and Europe. His research and teaching focuses on spaces of consumption, countercultural design in the 1960s, transatlantic transfers of architectural practices, a global survey of modernist architecture, architectural history research methods, and a writing and publication workshop. Castillo is also the guest curator of Hippie Modernism: The Struggle for Utopia.

About California Countercultures
Thinking Through the Arts and Design at Berkeley: California Countercultures is a UC Berkeley course cotaught by Natasha Boas, independent curator and critic of contemporary art and theory, and Michael Cohen, associate teaching professor in the African American studies department. The Wednesday public lecture series is organized by Natasha Boas. California Countercultures is sponsored by UC Berkeley’s Big Ideas program and the Arts + Design Initiative, with additional support from Cal Performances and The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.