The Corporation and the Counterculture: Revisiting the Pepsi Pavilion and the Politics of Cold War Multimedia

To date, many historians have accepted the notion that the American counterculture stood in opposition to the values of mainstream, Cold War America. This article aims to challenge that view. It returns to Osaka, Japan, and Expo ’70 in order to revisit the Pepsi Pavilion—an immersive computational and artistic environment—and explore the ways it brought together military planners, corporate executives, hippie artists, and Bell Labs engineers. By doing so, the essay shows how the ideals and technologies of the Cold War military-industrial research world served as resources for countercultural artists. It also shows how those artists helped give form and legitimacy to the new managerial mode of American political power.