Meta-Magazine. Control 1965-68
Antony Hudek

Stephen Willats founded Control magazine in 1965, and has continued editing, designing and publishing it intermittently ever since. Although it is frequently cited in overviews of Willats’ work, it rarely receives more than a passing mention. This is a serious oversight: Control is, I will argue, an essential link between Willats’ cybernetic and behavioural artworks from the sixties and his social projects from the early seventies onwards. Specifically, it is impossible to fully appreciate the ambition of such projects as Willats’ Centre for Behavioural Art and Cognition Control (1972–73) without knowledge of the first four issues of Control, from 1965 to 1968, as well as the transitional fifth issue, from 1969. these early issues form a group, both conceptually and aesthetically, as argued in the foreword to the fifth issue, which announced a break in the magazine’s direction. Whereas the first four issues of Control provided a space for different artists to articulate their views on questions relating, in some cases tangentially, to ‘a new attitude in visual communication’, [1] the fifth included a much tighter selection of contributions directly related to the magazine’s stated remit, to ‘elicit creative and interactive behaviour’ able to subvert ‘hierarchical uni-directed social structures’ [2].


Control’s irregular frequency of approximately one issue per year is significant: magazines generally depend on advertisers for revenue; advertisers in turn need the publication to appear at fixed intervals in order to better target audiences and, indeed, to advertise events occurring during the time span of the issue in which the announcement appears [3]. None of this is possible when, like Control, the magazine appears at the editor’s discretion. Control’s commercial distribution was further impeded by the fact that the editor remained anonymous for the first two issues (1965 and 1966). Willats only declared himself the editor as of issue 3 in 1967, for legal and conceptual reasons: [4] the theme of the third issue was precisely that of the artist’s position vis-à-vis the audience, with the contributors asked to address ‘the control mechanisms exercised by themselves (in the Art Work, etc.), and how these relate to the behaviour that an audience operates’[5]. In his own contribution to the same issue, Willats elaborates: ‘in order that transmission [be] fully operative between the transmitter (object) and the orientation of the receiver (observer), the path with the least interference has to be found; thus a study of Audience Behaviour seems a probable necessity.’ [6]


The first four issues of Control operated as an effective means for Willats to put his theories on the transmission of information, with the least interference, between artist (or transmitter) and audience (receiver) to the test. reminiscent of the response sheets that appear in his ‘Manual Variable’ constructions from 1963 and the artist’s social projects from the early seventies, early Control acted as a kind of polling device, measuring the transfer of data entering and exiting the publication’s production and distribution system [7]. Control’s advertiser-unfriendliness is therefore not merely the result of lack of funds, especially since Willats considers the magazine an autonomous non-profit and self-funded experiment, distinct from his artistic practice [8]. Rather, Control does away with advertising[9] because it is itself advertising, or a study of the dissemination of information within and without various audience groups [10].


Informed by marketing theories, which Willats was actively reading at the time, Control was part of the artist’s activities in the early to mid-sixties as a ‘conceptual designer’, activities that included his designs for ‘Multiple Clothing’ and ‘Corree’ modular furniture design [11]. Through these apparently varied outlets, Willats’ overarching plan was to reinvent the function of the individual in society, [12] by transforming her or him from passive consumer of messages into a highly aware and responsive element of larger complex systems – the social fabric – upon which she or he could exert control. Put differently, what these conceptual designs have in common is their ‘meta’ status: they are material and discursive objects that scrutinise their own performance as dynamic communicational elements in society. On the one hand, they were very well designed, on their own terms: for example, Control’s distinctive logo, produced by graphic designer Dean Bradley, was used for the magazine’s first five issues, giving it a recognisable ‘systems aesthetic’ look [13]. Even the type used in Control – Monotype univers Extra Bold – reflects Willats’ care in streamlining the magazine’s design. On the other hand, Control, like ‘Corree’ furniture and ‘Multiple Clothing’, is a study of the distribution networks of serially manufactured goods, analysing the role and function of the various entities as they traverse and connect groups of receivers. Including advertising in the pages of Control would have suggested an ‘outside’, whereas the publication functions as a closed (if expanding) loop, interlinking content emitters and receivers through feedback [14]. External advertising would have also introduced an additional variable (capital) into the highly controlled transmission of information between artists, theorists, writers and readers.


Since Control acts out the mechanisms of advertising for its own analytical and critical ends, its success cannot be quantified simply by conventional measures such as numbers of copies sold or size of revenue. More significant are the places where the magazine is available and the type of readers who access it [15]. In Britain in the early sixties art magazines, such as The Arts Review, Apollo and Burlington Magazine, were relatively few in number and expensive [16]. The international art magazines that reached the UK were more likely to come from France and Switzerland than the US: Willats remembers reading Art d’aujourd’hui, Art International and Cimaise [17]. The situation began to change in the mid-sixties, with mainstream art magazines reflecting more advanced contemporary art and providing a forum for artists rather than a source of information on exhibitions. In the UK Studio International took over the venerable Studio to become, under the editorship of Peter Townsend from 1965 to 1975, a magazine open to the latest artistic trends in the UK and Internationally [18]. In the US Artforum, founded in San Francisco in 1962, moved to New York in 1967 to similarly become a focal point for artists to learn of each other’s work and exchange ideas [19]. Before such specialised art magazines as Robho (founded in paris in 1967), Art-Language (founded in Coventry in 1970), Avalanche (founded in New York in 1970) and Pages (founded in London in 1970), Control filled a gap between mainstream art magazines such as Artforum and Studio International and much smaller publications, usually attached to institutions, including the newspaper published by Signals, London, between 1964 and 1966, and the ICA Bulletin, also based in London [20].


In this fast-moving editorial landscape on both sides of the Atlantic, Control remains unique not only for its longevity (surpassed only, among the magazines born in the early to mid-sixties cited above, by Artforum), but also for its status. Certain issues – in particular the highly elaborate issue 3, which contains original artwork by Peter Upward and contributions, with moveable parts, by Noel Forster and John Sharkey – bring it close to an artist’s publication, or even an artwork [21]. Yet Control never aspired to becoming collectible in the manner of the famed Aspen Magazine, another irregular journal published between 1965 and 1971 in the US, which commissioned new work from artists and writers. Control is technically an artist’s work (albeit an anonymous one at first), with Willats doing everything from commissioning and editing to copy- editing and designing, [22] but this artistry and craftsmanship begins to disappear on the inside from issue 4 (1968) and on the cover from issue 5 (1969). With the addition of the word ‘Magazine’ on the cover of Control from issue 6, Willats completed the publication’s transformation from being a social meta-level experiment to a magazine in its own right. Early Control thus does not fit easily into the available categories of artist’s publication or magazine: to use Clive phillpot’s terminology, Control is neither ‘magazine art’ nor an ‘art magazine’ [23]. For lack of a better descriptive, David Brier’s expression ‘not-quite-art-magazine’ may be the most apposite [24].


'Not-quite-art-magazine’ is particularly apt if the emphasis is on ‘not-quite-art’. From the first, Control sought to move beyond any strictly defined category of art-making, carefully avoiding the word ‘artist’. The editor’s foreword to the first issue announces that ‘Control will be organic in the sense that each issue will either be given over to a group of people which present a unified point, or will deal with a specific subject, and various designers etc’ [25]. This new artist-function combined interests in areas such as cybernetics, sociology and design (graphic as well as fashion and urban design). As Willats reminds us, Control was neither wholly a magazine nor art, but neither was it a hybrid or an in-between. In fact, the publication sought to transcend precisely these socially and economically defined categories by becoming an all-encompassing ‘cultural work’, [26] best exemplified by the purple dot motif on the cover and in the centrefold of Control issue 1. This acted as a removeable node, [27] a ‘you are here’ sign alerting the reader to the multiple positions she/he can occupy depending on her/his social and economic contexts. refusing to restrict himself to a label, such as ‘artist’ or ‘magazine editor’, was itself for Willats a performance of self-determined control, a way of ‘operating outside of proscribed patterns of behaviour’ and adopting ‘omni-directional’ as opposed to ‘uni-directional’ thought and ‘mechanistic’ behaviour [28]. ‘The conjoining of theory and practice, as part of the same territory of responsibility’, writes Willats, ‘is a natural consequence of the artist self-determining the criterion under which he chooses to operate.’ [29]

With Willats’ ambivalence towards both the label of artist and that of editor in the first two issues of Control, the magazine did what it preached, namely to desegregate areas of human inquiry to allow for greater freedom for self-determined behavioural patterns of learning. This intentional imprecision is one way to describe Control as cybernetic. As Norbert Wiener writes in his introduction to Cybernetics, published in 1948, the new field is characterised by overlaps of established disciplines – the ‘blank spaces on the map of science’ – and best tackled by a team of scientists from different backgrounds [30]. Stafford Beer, the British theorist of management cybernetics, later wrote that cybernetics was ‘always an interdisciplinary subject’, ‘seen by its founding fathers [including Wiener] moreover as transdisciplinary’ [31]. Early Control would therefore be less cybernetic in a technological sense – according to Wiener’s and Arturo Rosenblueth’s canonical definition as ‘the science of control and communication in the animal and machine’ [32] – than in the more general sense of engaged in the ‘blank spaces’ on various maps, be they of science, art or society. Cybernetics’ embrace of principles of uncertainty and ignorance (that is, the impossibility of knowing everything from within a discrete knowledge area) [33] attracted precisely those creative minds with greater curiosity than formal training. Andrew Pickering, the author of an important book on cybernetics in Britain in the fifties and sixties, is ‘struck ... by the profound amateurism of British cybernetics. Key contributions [by the likes of Beer and Gordon Pask] often had an almost hobbyist character’ [34]. Pickering adds that ‘sociologically... cybernetics wandered around as it evolved’ and that ‘an undisciplined wandering of its subject matter was a corollary of that. [...] Cybernetics was thus a strange field sociologically as well as substantively. We might think of the cyberneticians as nomads, and of cybernetics as a nomad science, perpetually wandering and never finding a stable home.’ [35]


The works that Willats was producing alongside these first issues of Control – particularly his Shift Boxes (c. 1964), Visual Automatics (from 1964–65) and Visual Transmitters (1965–68), based on the so-called ‘alpha rhythms’ – also seem relatively distant from a scientific definition of cybernetics and more akin to heath robinson-type machines with flashing lights, rotating elements and unwieldy forms [36]. Because Willats was working as an occasional assistant at Gordon Pask’s System Research Ltd between 1964 and 1965 it has become standard to claim that these early three-dimensional works bear the traces of cybernetics [37]. I believe that this term better suits the later, more interactive, works such as Visual Meta Language Simulation (1971–72) and Meta Filter (1973–75), where humans interact with each other, mediated by a machine conditioning the code of their exchange. Willats’ earlier artworks, by contrast, would be better termed ‘behaviourist’, [38] as they still rely heavily on the artist’s early interest in phenomenological experience and bear superficial similarities with other, thoroughly un-cyber- netic works being exhibited in London at the time, such as Lygia Clark’s interactive constructions [39].

If, as I would argue, the early issues of Control can be qualified as cybernetic, it is not because they address the theory. In fact, the term first appears in the essays by Victor Burgin and Willats in Control issue 4, and although a text by Roy Ascott appears in the first issue of Control, it is only in his second contribution to the magazine, in issue 5 (1969), that cybernetics become the focus [40]. Moreover, while the word ‘control’ had immediately recognisable cybernetic connotations in the fifties and early sixties, Willats had actually initially intended his magazine to be called Norm, making clear the publication’s greater interest in broader societal formations than applied cybernetics [41]. Willats would later explain his choice of ‘Control’ in these terms: ‘two primary uses of the word ‘control’ exist: 1) A system determines the behaviour of another, i.e. a state of social determinism. 2) A system determines its own behaviour, i.e. social self-determinism. the last example is the usage embodied in the title Control Magazine, which refers to the notion that the artist might himself determine the resources for his activity as extensions of his work.’ [42] It is therefore Control’s function as a self-determining information network, instead of its content, that makes it truly cybernetic. Ascott wrote that ‘where art of the old order constituted a deterministic vision, so the art of our time tends towards the development of a cybernetic vision, in which feedback, dialogue and involvement in some creative interplay at deep levels of experience are paramount’. [43] Control was from the start an organ of such creative interplay, a hallmark of ‘cybernetic vision’.

Thus ‘Control’ is not an ‘unfortunate’ title; [44] it posits the magazine as a cybernetic experiment by the artist to ‘determine the resources for his activity as extensions of his work’. In this sense Control can be seen as a tautology, a cybernetics-inspired feedback loop: it is simultaneously a platform for reflection on art-making and a potent example of making art in its own right. In 1962 Willats seems to have switched radically between two modes of address, possibly as a result of his encounter with Pask at Ealing College of Art [45]. he moved from a singular, authorial voice communicated through manifestos, which he would distribute at exhibition openings in London, to a collective voice through an aborted research centre which would have ‘brought together scientists, philosophers, art theorists and artists (mainly constructivists) to explore the foundation of a new art practice’ [46]. In a letter dated 1962 addressed to a colleague at the college, Willats outlines a workshop he aims to set up ‘to get Scientists and Designers working on one project together’. In the letter Willats admits not knowing the particular objective of the workshop: ‘it might be a series of static images shown in our gallery, or an environmental communication system or a Sign and Symbol Computer machine.’ [47] Control would be among the earliest manifestations of Willats’ desire to create such a multidisciplinary forum; indeed, the artist convened a short-lived project called Research Control alongside the magazine to do precisely this [48].


Throughout the sixties Willats would attempt to launch a version of the workshop idea in tandem with Control magazine. In 1969 this plan took the form of a proposed exhibition at the Hayward Gallery. The purpose of the exhibition, Willats wrote, ‘is to make a statement about the artist as a structurist of behaviour, and would be made up of nets of mapped behavioural propositions by artists and other specialist persons working within this area at the present time’ [49]. Willats invited a number of scientists to take part in the exhibition, including Christopher Evans from the National Physical Laboratory at Teddington, as well as Pask [50]. The interdisciplinary workshop project finally came to fruition at the turn of the seventies, with the related projects the Centre for Behavioural Art and Cognition Control (1972–73). The Centre for Behavioural Art occupied an entire floor of gallery house in South Kensington, London, where Willats organised a weekly public seminar as well as documentary displays relating to projects he initiated elsewhere [51]. Among these projects was Cognition Control, a virtual network of like-minded artists and students first based in Nottingham (1972) and later in Oxford (1973) [52]. The Centre also featured material generated by Willats’ projects The Social Resource Project for Tennis Clubs in Nottingham (1971), The Oxford Insight Development Project (1972) and The West London Social Resource Project (1972–73), along with a version of his interactive Visual Meta Language Simulation. Both Cognition Control and the Centre for Behavioural Art acted as collective stages for transdisciplinary interventions ranging from performances to lectures and publications. Both projects, moreover, had connections to pedagogy: Cognition Control relied on Willats’ ties to students from various art schools outside of London, including Cheshire, Hornsey, Leicester, Loughborough and Nottingham; while the Centre for Behavioural Art could be seen as a parallel school, with participants and students including artists, but also mathematicians and scientists, working in the field of artificial intelligence.

Another way of phrasing the argument that Control acts as a cybernetics-inspired feedback loop is to say that the magazine is both a network itself and about networks. Networks, Willats has stated, ‘are the very parameters to society, for they not only mould our consciousness but also denote to us how we experience secondary as well as primary sources of information’ [53]. If, according to the OED, a magazine is ‘a periodical publication containing articles and illustrations, often on a particular subject or aimed at a particular readership’, then the readership at which the first four issues of Control were aimed could be presumed to be the relatively small art world in London from the late fifties and sixties. This is how John A. Walker has described Willats’ work from the seventies, feeding ‘back to the art world information about what he and his collaborators had been doing in society so that ... it could serve as a model of practice for other artists’ [54]. Willats himself, speaking in 1973, said of Control that it was ‘concerned with just a very small group of artists, and is used ... as a journal between those artists – as a means of communicating and disseminating information’ [55]. But, like the artist’s later social projects such as the West London Social Resource Project, Control had two audiences in mind, of which the ‘art community’ was only one – and even this audience would need to be qualified, given the variety of art communities in London in the mid- to late sixties. the other audience was society at large, itself composed of multiple groups. This is how Control can aspire to offering a model of what Willats terms ‘counter-consciousness’. Whereas ‘nearly all contemporary practice still relies on the communication network associated with the authoritative consciousness’, Control can be seen as ‘a manifestation of a model of social relationships. The potentially more involved relationship between artwork and audience requires that art practice extends its operating territory beyond the institutions in which it is presently confined. It must function directly within the reality of everyday social experience.’ [56]

Control’s initial function as an audience connector was for Willats more than a theoretical exercise. One could argue that the artist found himself in the early sixties on the margins of precisely those communities he strove to reach, namely science, academia and art. With no advanced scientific training, he became familiar with advanced theoretical texts on cybernetics and communication theory through informal contacts with polymath scientists such as Pask, Evans, George Mallen (Pask’s collaborator at System Research and a future co-founder of the Computer Arts Society, London) and Edward de Bono (the inventor and theorist of ‘lateral thinking’). With no other art training besides a year on Roy Ascott’s Groundcourse at Ealing College of Art in 1962–63, he immediately embarked on a teaching career at Ipswich Civic College between 1965 and 1967, followed by two concurrent teaching positions at Nottingham and Hornsey Schools of Art from 1968 until 1972–73 – schools on the periphery of the more established London art colleges. Although he was loosely associated with numerous art scenes in London in the second half of the sixties and his experience as gallery assistant at the Drian Galleries, London, afforded him a broad exposure to international avant-garde art movements, he was not represented by a UK gallery nor was a solo presentation of his work made in an established private or public gallery in the uk until his 1968 exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art, Oxford [57]. Disillusioned by the reigning orthodoxies within these respective communities, yet sensing the potential of their overlaps and connections, Willats turned to Control as the means by which he could encourage the ‘interaction between what were culturally segregated areas of information’ [58].

Of the three worlds of art, science and academia, it was the latter to which Willats had the most direct access [59]. Willats was prescient, anticipating and contributing to the radical transformation of art education in Britain, from craft and medium-based instruction to curricula with broad and interdisciplinary remits such as Ascott’s Groundcourse at Ealing College of Art. This transformation allowed power to shift from the tutors to the students, who exercised increasing control over their own learning, which in turn led to the tutors addressing their students less as pupils than as peers [60]. At Ipswich Civic College, where Willats was invited to teach by Ascott in 1965, the difference in age between him and his students was negligible [61]. Brian Eno, a student of Ascott’s groundcourse at Ipswich, [62] wrote to Willats in 1968 that ‘suddenly Winchester School of Art [where Eno was teaching at the time] is feeling the grumblings of subversion and a number of people find themselves in need of Controls 1, 2 and 3’. the upheaval in art colleges across the UK in 1968 may have prompted Willats to aim Control squarely at students, as a promotional leaflet from around 1969 suggests: ‘Control magazine is a unique publication which is concerned with concepts of control which are central to an artist’s area of behavioural operation, and as such is an invaluable publication for the professional artist and student who is alert to the need for a reassessment of the role of the artist in society today, and is therefore essential for the college library.’ [63]

The detailed ledgers in Willats’ archive recording the sales and distribution points of Control testify to the magazine’s impressive reach, with such diverse institutions as the Arts Laboratory, Better Books, Indica Books, British Museum, ICA, Jack Wendler Gallery, Tate Gallery and University College London in the UK, Archiv Sohm in Germany, and the New York public library, Something Else Press and the University of Wisconsin Library in the US regularly ordering copies from the first issues of Control onwards [64]. The magazine’s content, too, encouraged its wide circulation across various art communities in London, with articles on systems, behavioural or cybernetic art by Ascott and Willats; on language and poetry, connecting Control to the performance and concrete poetry scene at Better Books, by such authors as John Sharkey and Tom Phillips; [65] on more traditional painting and sculpture, with essays by Anthony Benjamin and Peter Stroud; and on radical architecture with a piece by Peter Cook from Archigram. Still, art school libraries formed what one could call Control’s core market,[66] as students were the most likely group to demonstrate a certain mobility between a ‘restricted’ behavioural code specific to their age and social group, and a more ‘elaborate’ or neutral code capable of addressing a wider variety of communities [67].

The informality of the networks created by Control among student and art communities stands in contrast to the homeostatic networks that Willats developed in drawings and installations around 1969. Whereas homeostasis seeks to restore a state of equilibrium after a disruption upsets the balance between the nodes of the system, informal networks are rhizomatic, proliferating, self-regulating and therefore difficult to control from the outside. In Willats’ terms, ‘informal networks between people are usually spontaneous, transient, casual affairs arising through exchanges that are defined by some need for society, by the participants’. Students in mid- to late sixties Britain are a perfect illustration of a group that was developing its own networks and codes, borrowing from dominant culture but also transforming it, by ‘giving it new meaning specific to their own special grouping’ [68]. As we have seen, Control would become a much more focused publication as of issue 5, shedding the ‘wandering’ and ‘nomadic’ logic of the first four issues. More recently, however, Willats has sought to return to the informality that characterised his interaction with students in the mid- to late sixties, and with peers in the early issues of Control. As Willats puts it, ‘instead of ... going to a place with a kind of manifesto, a kind of model of what I want to do, I would start from zero and allow the work to informally develop its own framework through my connections and relationships with people’ [69]. Early Control laid the groundwork for this openness to informal networks, proposing a social cybernetic model of interaction that would guide Willats’ practice from the late sixties to today.



[1] Stephen Willats, foreword, Control, issue 1 (1965), n.p.
[2] Stephen Willats, ‘the Artist as
a Structurist of Behaviour’, Control, issue 5 (1969), n.p.
[3] Stephen Willats, ‘Control Magazine’, Studio International, vol. 193, no. 983 (September–October 1976), p. 161: ‘Control Magazine does not have any advertising, or any other source of support, other than from sales, either through bookshops or subscriptions. It pays its own costs.’
[4] ‘Control’ happened to be the
title of another journal, a specialist electronics publication, forcing Willats to identify himself as the editor from issue 3 (Stephen Willats, conversation with the author, 31 October 2013).
[5] Stephen Willats, foreword, Control, issue 3 (1967), n.p.
[6] Stephen Willats, Control, issue 3 (1967), n.p.
[7] Control’s potential as a catalyst
for author/reader feedback increased over the early issues. In issue 2
(1966, n.p.), the editor ‘invites people interested in contributing to the next issue to contact him, they then will be able to obtain information on the next issue’. In issue 3 (1967, n.p.), the editorial foreword took a more direct tone on the subject of feedback:
‘In order that an information feedback can be established between
the individual articles and the reader, letters are invited to be sent to the Editor of Control, which raise some points relating to the articles or contribute to the platform.’ By issue 4 (1968, n.p.), the editorial no longer requested general feedback from readers, but only articles ‘for editorial consideration’.
[8] A document in the Stephen Willats Archive (london/rye) indicates that logie Barrow contributed £15 towards the printing costs of Control issue 1, entitling him to a percentage of the magazine’s proceeds. Control would receive an Arts Council grant as of the third issue, a support that would cease with the fifth issue (1969).

[9] In a letter to the Arts Council, dated 6 April 1968, Willats writes that Control ‘has a policy of having no advertisements so as to keep the magazine strictly within the bounds of serious discourse only’ (Stephen Willats Archive, london/rye).
[10] See Stephen Willats, ‘Cognition and Advertising’ (1972), in Stephen Willats: Art, Society, Feedback,
ed. Anja Casser and Philipp Ziegler (Nuremberg: Verlag für moderne kunst, 2010), pp. 286–90.
[11] Stephen Willats, Multiple Clothing (Cologne: Walther könig), 2000,
pp. 12–13.
[12] At the turn of the sixties Willats would go so far as to perform this new function by dressing entirely in white, and publicly adopting specific postures and ways of walking (Stephen Willats, conversation with the author, 31 October 2013). In other words, no aspect of ‘daily life’, no matter how ordinary or seemingly trivial, would escape the impact of the individual’s new-found control over his or her environment.
[13] On Willats’ interest in advertising theories, see Andrew Wilson, ‘the Audience as rationale’, in Stephen Willats, ed. Casser and ziegler, op. cit., p. 47; and gwen Allen, Artists’ Magazines: An Alternative Space for Art (Cambridge, Mass., london: the MIt press), 2011, p. 251.
[14] The magazine would later place advertisements in other magazines, including Studio International and Art Monthly. See, for example, Art Monthly, no. 46 (1981), p. 4.
[15] By the measure of circulation alone, early Control was successful, going from a run of 450 copies (issue 1, 1965), to 500 (issue 2, 1966), 650 (issue 3, 1967) and 800 (issue 4, 1968) – see the letter from Willats
to the Arts Council, dated 10 March 1969 (Stephen Willats Archive, london/rye).
[16] In conversations with the author, Willats has not mentioned Art & Artists, a london-based magazine that was set up in 1966, which later published a text by him. (‘Metafilter’, vol. IX, no. 104 [November 1974]).
[17] Stephen Willats, conversation with the author, 27 July 2013.
Art d’aujourd’hui, founded in 1949, ceased in 1954; Art International, under the editorship of its founder James Fitzsimmons, ran from 1958 to 1984; Cimaise, founded in 1953, stopped in 2009, but has since reappeared.

[18] See Clive phillpot, ‘Feedback’, Studio International, vol. 186, no. 957 (Summer 1975), p. 224.
[19] On the early history of Artforum, see Amy Newman, Challenging Art: Artforum 1962–1974 (New york: Soho press), 2000.
[20] Willats is mentioned in Signals,
vol. I, no. 2 (September 1964), p. 13: ‘Stephen Willats, 21-year-old English artist, is now constructing kinetic light machines which work on the principle of analogue computer systems. he hopes to exhibit his machines this year.’
[21] Willats has referred to Control as an ‘artwork’ and an ‘artists’ production’ – see Willats, Multiple Clothing, op. cit., p. 11. In an interview from 2002, Willats states that ‘he didn’t see [himself] as a magazine editor but saw Control as part of [his] practice as an artist’ (Cognition Control: From the Archive of Stephen Willats [Cambridge: Institute of Visual Culture], Materials 02, 2002, n.p.). the complex nature of Control is borne out in an exhibition Willats staged in 1965 at the Better Books bookstore
in london: he displayed all the pages of issue 1 resting on a ledge running along the four walls of the store’s white cube-shaped space. By its location and form, the exhibition clearly signalled Control’s dual connection to publications and art (Stephen Willats, conversation
with the author, 31 October 2013).
[22] Willats would sometimes find support among his friends in the production of Control. london- based artist John Murphy remembers helping Willats silkscreen covers
of an early issue of Control (John Murphy, communication with the author, July 2013).
[23] Clive phillpot, ‘Art Magazines
and Magazine Art’, vol. XVIII, no. 6 (February 1980), pp. 52–54, quoted in David Briers, ‘Nearly a Sculpture,
Not Quite an Art Magazine’, in United Enemies: The Problem of Sculpture in Britain in the 1960s and 1970s (leeds: henry Moore Institute), 2011, p. 70.
[24] Briers, ‘Nearly a Sculpture, Not Quite an Art Magazine’, op. cit., p. 71.
[25] Stephen Willats, foreword, Control, issue 1 (1965), n.p.
[26] Stephen Willats, conversation with the author, 31 October 2013.
[27] Allen, Artists’ Magazines, op. cit., p. 251.

[28] Stephen Willats, Control, issue 3
(1967), n.p.
[29] Stephen Willats, ‘Control Magazine’, Studio International, op. cit., p. 162.

[30] Norbert Wiener, Cybernetics (Cambridge, Mass.: the MIt press), 1948, p. 9.
[31] Emphasis in the original: Stafford Beer, ‘Cybernetics’, in Cybernetics of Cybernetics: or, the Control of Control and the Communication of Communication, ed. heinz Von Foerster (urbana: the Biological Computer Laboratory, University of Illinois), 1974, p. 3. See also Stafford Beer, Decision and Control: The Meaning of Operational Research and Management Cybernetics (London, New York and Sydney: John Wiley & Sons), 1966, pp. 48–9: ‘[the scientist’s training] gives him a bias. For this reason, when a new area of study is being opened up, it is well to use an interdisciplinary team. [...] the interdisciplinary Or [Operational research] team of scientists ... do not play individually stereotyped roles; they do not owe special allegiance
to one branch of the firm.’
[32] See Gordon Pask, An Approach to Cybernetics (London: Hutchinson), 1961, p. 15.
[33] See the opening line of F. Kenneth Berrien, General and Social Systems (New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press), 1968, p. v: ‘this is an outline of ignorance ... For today it is not given to any man to master the knowledge even of the discipline in which he has been formally educated, let alone the knowledge of fields apart from his own.’
[34] Andrew Pickering, The Cybernetic Brain: Sketches of Another Future (Chicago and London: the University of Chicago Press), 2010, p. 10; on the subject of British amateurism in the early sixties, see the letter to the editors of the Sunday Times (June 1963) titled ‘Amateurs in Art’ and signed by, among other artists, Roy Ascott: Stephen Willats Archive, London/Rye; and David Mellor, The Sixties Art Scene in London (London: Barbican Art Gallery), 1993, p. 91.
[35] Pickering, The Cybernetic Brain, op. cit., p. 11.
[36] The comparison with Heath Robinson was proposed to the author by Willats, who described how he made the Visual Transmitters in his cramped studio with limited funds and assistance. the man who first identified the source of the alpha rhythm in the brain, Grey Walter, is himself known as the creator of a Robinsonesque three-wheeled machine called Machina Speculatrix: see Walter J. Freeman, ‘W. Grey Walter: Biographical Essay’, in Encyclopedia of Cognitive Science, vol. IV (london/hoboken: Wiley), 2013, pp. 537–9. For an overview of the origins of the alpha rhythm – ‘an oscillation at around ten cycles persecond in electrical potentials within the brain’ – see Pickering, The Cybernetic Brain, op. cit., p. 39.
[37] See Adrian Glew, ‘Transmitting Art Triggers: the Early Interactive Work of Stephen Willats’, in White Heat Cold Logic: British Computer Art 1960– 1980, ed. paul Brown, Charlie Gere, Nicholas Lambert and Catherine Mason (Cambridge, Mass., London: the MIt press), p. 21; and Wilson, ‘The Audience as Rationale’, op. cit., p.35.
[38] See the interview with Willats in Cognition Control: From the Archive of Stephen Willats, op. cit.
[39] See Clay Perry’s photograph of Willats at the Signals opening of a Lygia Clark exhibition in 1965: http:// php?mainId=175&groupId=none&_ p=58&_gnum=8&media=photography [accessed 22 October 2003].
[40] See Roy Ascott, ‘Behaviourables and Futuribles’, Control, issue 5 (1969), n.p.
[41] See the undated letter from Willats to Niclay, Stephen Willats Archive, London/Rye.
[42] Stephen Willats, ‘Control Magazine’, Studio International, op. cit., p. 161.
[43] Roy Ascott, ‘the Cybernetic Stance: My process and purpose’, Leonardo, vol. I, no. 2, 1968, p. 106; ‘determinism’ reappears in Jack Burnham’s article ‘Systems Aesthetics’, Artforum, vol. 7, no. 1, (September 1968), p. 32.
[44] See Pickering, The Cybernetic Brain, op. cit., p. 470, n. 53.
[45] See also p. 71 of this publication.

[46] Stephen Willats, statement, in United Enemies, op. cit., p. 33. 47. Stephen Willats Archive, London/Rye.
[48] See the blank letterhead stationary featuring the addresses of both ‘Research Control’ and ‘Control Magazine’, Stephen Willats Archive, London/Rye.
[49] See the letter from Stephen Willats to Christopher Evans, dated 30 August 1969, in the Stephen Willats Archive, London/Rye.
[50] Pask declined the invitation – see his letter to Willats, dated 22 August 1969, in the Stephen Willats Archive, London/Rye. For Evans’ relationship to Willats, see glew, ‘Transmitting Art Triggers’, op. cit., p. 21 and p. 31, n. 14; and Wilson, ‘the Audience as rationale’, op. cit., p. 35 and p. 59, n. 15.

[51] Stephen Willats, West London Social Resource Project/Public Monitor (London: CHELSEAspace), 2011, n.p. Gallery House, run by Sigi Krauss and Rosetta Brooks between 1972 and 1973, in a building adjacent to the present-day Goethe-Institut in London, quickly became a centre for progressive art in the UK and internationally, through such landmark exhibitions as the three-part Survey of the Avant-Garde in Britain, curated by Brooks in 1972. Besides hosting Willats’ Centre for Behavioural Art, Brooks included the artist in the first of the three ‘Survey’ displays, and published his first book, The Artist as an Instigator of Changes in Social Cognition and Behaviour, in 1973.
[52] Interview with Stephen Willats in Cognition Control: From the Archive of Stephen Willats, op. cit., n.p.;
and Stephen Willats, ‘Introduction’, The Artist as an Instigator of Changes in Social Cognition and Behaviour (london: Occasional papers), 2010, pp. 9–11.
[53] Stephen Willats, ‘random Networks’, in Stephen Willats: Random Networks, Artlab in association with Control Magazine (November 2003), n.p.
[54] John A. Walker, Left Shift: Radical Art in 1970s Britain (London, New York: L.B.Tauris, 2002), p. 101. Walker, believing that the intended readership of Control was extremely limited, compares it to a ‘small circulation science journal’ (ibid.,p. 98).
[55] David Briers, ‘Nearly a Sculpture’, op. cit., p. 71.
[56] Stephen Willats, ‘From a Coded World’, in Art For Whom?, ed. richard Cork (London: Arts Council of Great Britain), 1978, pp. 63–4.

[57] In the UK Willats’ main public exposure as an artist before 1968 was at the Chester Beatty Research Institute in London in 1964: see Glew, ‘Transmitting Art Triggers’, op. cit., p. 22. Willats did take part in major group exhibitions, including Kunst-Licht-Kunst at the Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven, in 1966 and Light in Movement at the herbert Art gallery & Museum, Coventry, in late 1967/8. See also p. 76 of this publication.

[58] Willats, ‘Control Magazine’, Studio International, op. cit., p. 162.
[59] Although described here as distinct, the worlds of science, particularly cybernetics, and pedagogy are intimately connected – see, for example, pask’s machines simulating pupil–teacher interactions in An Approach to Cybernetics, op. cit., p. 33.
[60] This horizontalising shift in British art education is exemplified at Hornsey College of Art in 1968, where students organised a programme of guest speakers and tutors, including Stephen Willats; see Lisa Tickner, ‘The Network System’, in Hornsey 1968: The Art School Revolution (London: Frances Lincoln), 2008, p. 50.
[61] Willats in conversation with the author, 21 August 2013 – see the photograph of Willats among his students, dated 1965, in which he does indeed appear no older than those surrounding him (Stephen Willats Archive, London/Rye). See p. 73 of this publication.
[62] Emily Pethick, ‘Degree Zero’, Frieze, no. 101 (September 2006), p. 14.
[63] Stephen Willats Archive, London/Rye.
[64] Evidence of orders placed by these institutions can be found in the Stephen Willats Archive, London/Rye.

[65] For evidence of Control’s appeal to concrete poets see, for example, the correspondence between Willats and Dom Sylvester houédard, dated August 1966, in the Stephen Willats Archive, London/Rye.
[66] In a letter to ‘Brendon’, dated 13 February 1967, Willats concedes that Control would be expensive for students, but that they should nonetheless be interested ‘as it does serve as a means of gleaning certain conceptual positions that are around in London’ (Stephen Willats Archive, London/Rye).
[67] ‘Restricted’ and ‘elaborate’ codes are terms coined by Basil Bernstein, whom Willats would have encountered at Ealing in 1962 and whose influential collection of papers entitled Class, Codes and Control, published in 1971, exerted a strong influence on the artist: see Mellor, The Sixties Art Scene in London, op. cit., p. 113.
[68] Stephen Willats, ‘Informal Networks’, in Artwork as Social Model: A Manual of Questions and Propositions (Sheffield: research group for Artists publications), 2012, p. 2D.
[69] Stephen Willats in conversation with Michael Stanley, March 2007, in Stephen Willats: Person to Person, People to People (Milton Keynes: Milton Keynes Gallery), 2007, p. 14.