Monday, 30 September 2013

GEARS / Northlight Video 1973

 Some amazing early video art from bobvidpix on youtube, thanks to Peter for the link

"GEARS - Computer Video Art - We made this ditty in 1973, you won't find much earlier combinations of online video mix of 3D computergraphics - especially as this was all done, effects etc. in one live pass. Ed Kammerer got a job at Adage, the first developer of realtime-controllable 3D CAD computers - each filling a midsized room. Like leaving kids in the candy store, they let us take over on weekends and nights to make computer/video art. We ran camera cables to two computer rooms, headset intercoms to each computer and camera operator in both of the rooms and then played with XYZ values and phases on the computers and target/beam on the camera and a mixer/keyer. The music was later custom created by Mark Styles. Credits/Tech - from memory, sorry for mental dropouts - Orville Dodson programmed and operated the AGT 130 Adage Graphic Terminal - Edwin Kammerer assisted and operated the other AGT. Charles Phillips and Andrika Donovan each ran camera and I mixed and tech'd. - We had two black & white Sony AVC 4600 cameras & CCU's and a Shintron SEG 366 switcher - recorded on a Sony EV 320 1" VTR.
The sales director for Adage, George White took this tape to show on a morning network TV show interview during the National Computer Graphic Assoc. tradeshow in NY - the host introduced the roll-in with, " Let's see how a computer works ... "

"The music was composed, performed & recorded by Mark Styles when he was at the Musician's Workshop on Clematis Ave., Waltham. I think it was created on the Arp 2600. After we recorded the multicam video of the computer graphics, Charles brought Mark a video player with this and another piece called 'Lisa' (from lisajous, the math that the computers used for the shapes) and he built the music around the flow of the visuals. I've always felt it was the perfect accompaniment."

"Adage Inc. created the first 3D graphic computer with realtime controls. These huge machines with a dozen racks of binary processors had knobs that controlled motion, dimension and other parameters of the 3D patterns programmed into it. Ed Kammerer worked there and brought us in to spend long sleepless weekends with a camera in each of the computer rooms and live mixing onto B&W reel to reel videotape. Cameras operated by Andrika Donovan and Charles Phillips, with Ed and Orville Dodson at the AGT Terminals, and me at the mix. This clip has the live intercom track, and it must have been made before the term 'crash' was coined - so 'watch out for imminent system collapse!'"

"the other difference, perhaps more significant than 16mm vs. video, is we approached these recordings as jam sessions. There was no set routine, such as a software demo, but instead computer and video operators played and improvised together for the visual mixes we made.

"thanks for your comment. Yes, cameras used for this lisajous and 'Gears' were 1" vidicon tube Sony AVC 4600's, live switched on a Shintron 360 & recorded on a 1" Sony EV 310 (pre-C-format). The computer screens we shot were (approx) 18" vector, oriented vertically, and we would position the cameras over the shoulder of the seated terminal operators, turn the room lights off and go. The cameras had CCU's with target and beam control, which enhanced the ghostly lagging typical of vidicon imagers."

Friday, 27 September 2013

Bill Sebastian's Outer Space Visual Communicator

It's not often I come across such a unique hybrid instrument, the OCV by Bill  Sebastian and eventually his company Visual Music Systems is a complex hybrid visual music machine with some very complex control interfaces. It incorporates both optical electromechanical light sources, electronic video effects and video generation and an incredibly complex interface system for intuitive instrumental control. The system has been adapted and added to over time extending it's original functionality while maintaining the beautiful imagery and excellent user control. So here is some information very kindly provided by Bill about his astounding and very unique visual instrument. (please excuse accuracy of the info as with such a complex system I may make mistakes or place the available images in relevant but not completely correct contexts)

"The Original OVC built 1973-1978
Input devices (original system)
multi-touch keyboard using capacitance switches to support something similar to electronic finger painting,

as well as large numbers of switches, faders etc to control signal processing, 7 foot-pedals

Signal processing (original system)
signals processed by about 5000 separate TTL digital logic packages (DID YOU SAY 5000 BILL!) to build patterns, implement sequencers, and otherwise expand upon the multi-touch input. Total latency through processing system < 10 msecs, so that responses were as immediate as audio musical instruments, phase-controlled firing of projector lamps

above is a pic of 1 of 6 wire wrap boards, each with about 750 ICs.!

Display (original system)
12 foot diameter hexagonal display curved as if looking at 10% of the inside of a sphere
rear projection using 3 primary filtered lamps per segment. 91 segments. 

high contrast: performed in optically controlled environments (absolutely no light other than display) so that sections of performances were done in scotopic range (where luminance is too low for retina cones to function), so that we could explore the bottom threshold of visual perception. Concerts usually began at those levels and remained there long enough for the photoreceptor chemicals to adjust for maximum sensitivity, so that when we moved up to higher brightness levels, colors were generated that are not possible under normal lighting conditions

"Funniest moment in that process was once when we had a short between ground and VCC, which could be anywhere on board.Couldn't find it after half a day of searching.  So we took the VCC & ground (no ICs were installed at this point) and plugged into 110VAC.  Got a nice 'POP' and then had to do 1/2 hour of cleanup repair." (brilliant!)

Real-time video synthesis experiments 1980-1985

Input devices
used original OVC, but played with only 1 hand, as 2nd hand used control video equipment
video control system that allowed controlling cameras, optical effects, etc. with 1 hand
mouth controller that controlled 18x3 channel RGB mixing board using something like a 3D harmonica 

Signal processing (video synthesis experiments) - added to the orignal OVC system: 
optical video effects, such as 6 foot long front-surface mirrors with 4 axis servo control over camera at one end and 2 axis control over monitor at other 18x3 channel RGB analog video mixing system, with 6 level depth controls per channel 

I asked Bill about the complex lines generated in the mandala like structures and he very kindly replied
"There are actually 2 low-level image sources in the the videos, both of which go through the optical
kaleidoscope feedback processor. The blob-like shapes are coming from a video camera pointed at the original OVC. If you look closely at the them in some places you can actually notice that is a hand doing multitouch fingerpainting.

The other low-level source is a line generator.It doesn't make a good dancer, but worked well with the kaleidoscope processor to provide a nice background texture to counterbalance the blobs."

To add a short extra interesting bit of information to this story the OVC was primarily if not exclusively used with the amazing Sun Ra and his Arkestra (can you think of a better partner for these visuals)
 and Bills work is mentioned in the excellent book How To Wreck A Nice Beach which I am yet to dig in to. Bill apparently is also a keyboardist/synthesist and built much of the OVC in a basement at MIT as well as a barn in Ore City, Texas. The OVC would later go on to be referenced in the pioneering early Hip Hop classic from Jonzun Crew "Pac Jam Look Out for The OVC" 
The lineage of Sun Ra's direct influence on the cosmic aspect of early hip hop can clearly be seen with the OVC being a link in that chain (detailed in a few places linked below in a far more knowledgeable way than I could ever do). Bills 3D system - started construction as of Jan, 2011 and is still under progress see coverage on web site!

Wednesday, 25 September 2013

CTI (Chris & Cosey)- Elemental 7

Chris & Cosey messing with some video

Bush Video Collective

A find from Stephens book mentioned a few posts back

"Bush Video was a prominent group using video as an experimental art form in the early 1970s in Australia. Bush Video was set up by the experimental filmmaker, Mick Glasheen, who had been using video since 1968. He was approached by the organisers of the Nimbin Aquarius Festival held in May 1973 to provide video access to festival participants. Bush Video applied for funding to build a cable network throughout the town of Nimbin. This was the very first experiment in cable television in Australia." In Stephens book it also talks allot about the computer processing and video synthesis  and feedback work that some of the members did as well as their activist work.

Psyberflight by David Eagan

from David of

Plaisir Synthetique Don Slepian·

Lissajous Patterns on a Tektronix Oscilloscope

Pretty swish

Monday, 23 September 2013

Synthetics Aspects of Art and Technology in Australia, 1956-1975

Just been reading Stephen Jones (of Severed Heads) book on early Australian media art, It's kind of like the book I wish someone would write about the subject world wide but because it limits itself in scope by confining the subject to Australia and between 1956-1975 it actually deals with the mechanics of the work better more thoroughly explaining the significance connections and evolution of this type of work. Stephen also goes on to compare video to writing as the technology stems from encoding images of signatures down a single telegraph wire using  synchronisation pulses to set the start of each line of an image, this is amazing to me as for a while now I have been giving talks explaining the relation of video to drawing and drawings links to writing so it was nice to read a really concise explanation of this linage similar to what I have been saying but backed up by the very roots of the technology. I had been explaining that a video image whether raster or vector drawn was actually linear in nature and then showing early sound and image recording technologies roots in drawing with examples such a the phonautograph. Australia made some big strides in media art and there are some amazing artists work dealt with here
More Jones inspired posts to follow at some point.

Wednesday, 18 September 2013

Ron Pellegrino

Ron Pellegrino has been making and documenting his visual music work since 1967, He makes incredible work often utilizing lasers and sometimes video synthesis techniques and has written many books on the subjects of composition and working with sound and light. More info on his site. I have all his books :)

Ed Leckie

Some beautiful LZX patches here from Ed one half of the team behind LZX they have quite a few new modules on offer now and in the pipeline

Detergent from BOB-SNARE on Vimeo.

Weavings #1 from BOB-SNARE on Vimeo.

Thursday, 12 September 2013

Richard Monkhouse

Richard Monkhouse often thought of as a designer of equipment (somthing I am guilty of in older posts) is also an active artist in his own right, He seems to be very comparable to the more numerous American  artists technicians working with video synthesis around the 1970s such as Stephen Beck or Dan Sandin. The tools he began developing for commercial reasons as well as artistic ones such as the Spectre/Spectron and much later Videosizer were also used by Richard for his own less well known work. He also assisted Peter Donebauer with his Videokalos video processor and performed with Peter as VAMP (Video And Music Performance) whose members would perform live audio visual sets using various acoustic and electronic techniques. Two final things allot of this history has already been covered very well by Chris Meigh-Andrews on his excellent site and in various publications and I also have an interview with Peter that I have been meaning to post for about a year but have been put off by poor sound quality so I may post the information and stills in a post at some point soon! Images sources here are from various sites and books (links at the bottom), If you have an issue with me using an image please contact me and I can remove it, I hope you will understand the benefits of sharing and disseminating this sometimes difficult to find work.

A still of Richards abstract work
from 1976

Various images of  Richard's machines

 Richard's image processing using photos from William Kentish

Some very interesting abstract work

 Richard and Peter as part of Vamp

And finally a computer art image from Richard's Site

Gieskes Oscillatoscope1

So as usual Gieskes has come out with something cool the Oscillatoscope1