Skip Sweeney was an early and proficient experimenter with video feedback. A feedback loop is produced by pointing a camera at the monitor to which it is cabled. Infinite patterns and variations of feedback can be derived from manipulating the relative positions of camera and monitor, adjusting the monitor control, becoming a swirling vortex. Sweeney and others were intrigued with feedback's ability to generate pulsing images like a living organism.
In Search of the Castle is an optical journey that combines Steina’s abstraction of real images and Woody’s digital effects. Taped from a car passing through the flat landscape of New Mexico, computer effects create an interesting play of movement and lines, adding a degree of tension as the rhythm of the electronic distortion intensifies.
“Encapsulated in a computer globe, the Vasulkas’ imagery of America is revealed to us as an electronic journey.”
"A chamber drama set in the confines of an apartment’s sun room, this video further explores visual themes and obsessions found in my earlier works and adds in a few new ones for good measure. Earlier motifs seen here are lightbulbs in pendulum movement, tabletop antics with simple household objects, Christo-like fleshy textures, sketchbook pages torn from their binders, book pages, bookshelves, and flowers. I play a vaguely Walter Mitty-ish figure, who imagines himself as a conductor, as Orpheus, and as conflicted characters in a Greta Garbo movie.
A grinding mortar and pestle vignette analogously describes the evolution of digital resolution; from a single color to a high definition image to an infinite splitting of that image back into the pixels themselves.
This title is only available on Suitable Video, Volume 1.
A Nazi battalion marches in red in front of the ominous floating hand from THE AX HAS FLOWERED. This meditative treatment on genocide can be taken as a palliative or as a poison pill.
Through a process of degeneration of both sound and image, Just endows the iconic American flag with new context and implication. The image is repeated by generations, using different processes such as digital video, computer printout and photocopying, and then combined with degenerated sound. Single frames of original digital images are exported, and evolve through the repetition of process, before being metamorphosed back to digital image by scanning and rendering.
"Bricks, white noise, video. Free floating sync, altered, drifiting camera: video image and time. Keying permutations, switching via gray level values, using a modified b+w Sony special effects generator (SEG). Building the building, one brick at a time. In video what is a brick? In spite of what was then a fierce cultural doxa, an anti-materialist pressure, and being quite anti-anti-materialist I was working hard to coax out significant features as expressive intensity zones, electronic energy points always engaging with the signals."
– Peer Bode
"Real time digital buffer recording, light bulb, panning camera motor and turntable. Light Bulb, the title says it almost all. Real time recording events. Two cameras, light bulb, camera panning motor, electric lazy susan, spinning white paper rectangle for the clip. Using the first digital video frame buffer I built together with David Jones, video buffer number one with variable clock. Several minutes of Rube Goldberg like digital electronics and optical props and motors. No computer, just entergetic digital slivers, shimmering and shattering."
– Peer Bode
A very special episode of television's Full House devours itself from the inside out, excavating a hypnotic nightmare of a culture lost at sea. Tropes of video art and family entertainment face off in a luminous orgy neither can survive.
— Michael Robinson
This is the new choreography of devotion, via the vlog of southern nightmares. This is the light that never goes out. This is the line describing your mom.
Lines of Force opens with footage of a dramatic explosion. For most of the piece, the screen is divided, into a triptych at first, and slowly into horizontal and vertical bars. Electronically manipulated footage shows a man walking, a marching band, ferns, cartoons, a window, and a train arriving on a set of tracks. The naturally occurring lines in the array of images presented mirror the electronically created bars and lines that divide the screen. Natural scenes provide a respite from the frantic pace of the images.
Long Live the New Flesh uses found footage to transmogrify existing fragments from horror films into a new video. It deploys a digital technique with painterly quality in which the images literally consume one another and the horror in all its visual power is brought to a natural boiling point. Provost strips down the imagery of a mass medium, uses it to construct a new visual story behind the dissection and horror, and allows the viewer to cross every phase of the emotional spectrum.
Lossless #2 is a mesmerizing assemblage of compressed digital images of Maya Deren and Alexander Hammid’s 1943 masterpiece Meshes of the Afternoon. Baron and Goodwin play heavily with Teiji Ito’s 1959 soundtrack, making the film’s lyrical ambience feel more astonishing than ever before. --Neil Karassik
Removing keyframes from a digital version of John Ford's The Searchers, Baron and Goodwin attack the film's temporal structuring to render a kinetic “painted desert” of the West. The dust kicked up by the movement in the film is pure pixel, unanchored from the photographic realism that used to constrain it.
In Lossless #5, a water-ballet crafted by the famed Busby Berkley is compressed into an organic mitosis, within which we detect the spirit of a "buggy" Brakhage ghosting about the integrated circuit.
At Breder's direction in the studio, the performer releases a body of light that casts a transient shadow. Following the tantric chakra stations, a match is lifted from root to crown. Instead of a perfect mirror, Breder filmed the reflection in a dented, scratched piece of polished steel.
Magic for Beginners examines the mythologies found in fan culture, from longing to obsession to psychic connections. The need for such connections (whether real or imaginary) as well as the need for an emotional release that only fantasy can deliver is explored.
"Out of the blue, I bought my first television. I kept the TV on all the time."
— Andy Warhol
The secret lives of invisible magnetic fields are revealed as chaotic ever-changing geometries. All action takes place around NASA's Space Sciences Laboratories, UC Berkeley, to recordings of space scientists describing their discoveries. Actual VLF audio recordings control the evolution of the fields as they delve into our inaudible surroundings, revealing recurrent 'whistlers' produced by fleeting electrons. Are we observing a series of scientific experiments, the universe in flux, or a documentary of a fictional world?
A wonderful and humorous example of early image processing, Parry Teasdale and Carol Vontobel perform to camera as their faces are morphed together, forming an image of one person.
Less than two minutes long, this short tape makes playful and surreal use of video’s editing capabilities. Set to a sped-up version of The Band’s “The Weight” – complete with the falsetto vocals, and accelerated tempo that come with time manipulation on records – is a series of rapid, alternating washes and split-image cuts overlaying and juxtaposing the faces of the freex upon one another. Male faces and female faces fuse, the exact identity of the individuals becoming dissolving into ambiguity.
Merce by Merce by Paik is a two-part tribute to choreographer Merce Cunningham and artist Marcel Duchamp. The first section, “Blue Studio: Five Segments,” is an innovative work of video-dance produced by Merce Cunningham and videomaker Charles Atlas. Cunningham choreographed the dance specifically for the two-dimensional video monitor screen. Atlas uses a variety of video imaging effects, including chromakey, to electronically transport Cunningham’s studio performance into a series of outdoor landscapes. The audio track includes the voices of John Cage and Jasper Johns.
In Music on Triggering Surfaces, Bode constructs an interface between audio and video systems. The luminance information (voltage) from the visual images traversed by the black dot is routed to an oscillator to produce the audio signal, which varies according to the changing luminance. The video image itself then triggers the audio. The shifting grey-scale of the image becomes a two-dimensional sound map or audio score. This tape was produced at the Experimental Television Center.
Nine Hamlet RGB engages a simple algorithm to destabilize the timing of the red, green and blue frame sequential display system while incorporating fragmented, appropriated “to be or not to be” excerpts from nine Hamlet films. The audio is the synced sound from the appropriated excerpts laced with low frequency binaural tonal pulsations. The physicality of the constructed optical and aural experience is seeking a mechanism of unconscious disarticulation.
"A trance is a state of detachment with aspects of the ecstatic. Paradoxically, a trance can be induced by a surfeit of input or by its deprivation... In Anthony Discenza's Object 8242600, television imagery is reduced to a flood of unanchored signifiers reorganized as a motive mosaic."
—Steve Seid, Pacific Film Archive
‘ODDS AND ENDS’ is a dazzling patchwork of moods, lost and found, for the eye to savor.