Image Processing

Fashioned out of home movies recovered from failing hard drives, this glitch-art video makes comparisons between different forms of memory - suggesting that, while error and decay may keep us up at night, they might also be the way we put our ghosts to bed.

-- Evan Meaney

We have come to this place of meaning together, celebrating our un-remaindered completeness. Yet, in our wake endures a long procession of stowaways: misspoken sounds we unconsciously omit, the limitations of our alphabet, the ignored gaps of an imperfect analog, and most recently, these forgetful bits of the virtual. We celebrate the lineage of our information as we celebrate one another, not realizing that the loudest affirmations might come from these unacknowledged, unavoidable participants. With each generation, they say a little bit more, speaking a little bit louder.

The Commision is an ambitious narrative in operatic form that blends video effects and electronically manipulated sound with stylized docu-drama. Based on the real-life drama of Niccolo Pagnini, the 19th Century violinist and composer (Ernest Gusella), and his contemporary, Hector Berlioz (Robert Ashley), the work addresses the exploitation of genius, the artist as tragic hero, and the historical exploration of inspiration in the Romantic tradition.”

—Bob Riley, FOCUS: Steina and Woody Vasulka (Boston: Institute of Contemporary Art, 1986)

"A cup and saucer, pouring and drinking coffee, a duration ritual of contemplation and invigoration, doubled (tape copied), mixed, keyed + synthetic color, normal play and rewinding, sync events, the opening of a space to put the self in. 1/2 inch b+w Portapack, 2 reel to reel video tape decks, David Jones keyer and colorizer."

– Peer Bode

This video uses a yoga performance by Barbara Breder to explore the masks of life and the dance of death.

Deadline, 1981

An insert square of a man running is superimposed over a magnified mouth that speaks to him — first in nurturing encouragement, then with a no-win Mommie Dearest kind of criticism. Originally presented as an installation on six monitors, Deadline focuses on “the stress man feels in the urban environment,” using a range of digital video effects to stretch, compress, flip and fracture the image.

A specific period of late-night TV channel surfing is dissected and manipulated through fast forward and freeze frame. Cultural icons (Roseanne, Mary Tyler Moore, The Golden Girls) can occasionally be glimpsed amongst the detritus, while the echoing and ghostly soundtrack pays homage to the cultural isolation of solitary viewing.

Imagine that the camera is possessed with a psychosis similar to human schizophrenia; suppose that this disease subtly changes every single frame of film while leaving the narrative superficially intact. Then imagine that these symptoms came on as a result of the trauma of recording bizarre or horrific events, for instance those of the 1941 horror film Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde...

Adapted from the novel by Robert Louis Stevenson.

This title is also available on Paul Bush Pixilated.

Electric Yogurt documents different modes of childlike play, beginning with footage of a group of people dancing together with arms outstretched against a background of growling, cooing, and coughing. As the dancing continues, the participants get increasingly tangled up in one another and repeatedly chant the word “culture,” eventually transitioning into a trust fall. The enactment of these activities is simultaneously playful and somewhat disturbing, particularly as they parallel symbolic enactments of American nationalism.

ETC: Experimental Television Center 1969-2009 is a five-DVD box set presenting the electronic media work of over one hundred artists who participated in the Center’s Residency Program during a 40-year period. The collection offers a look at the evolution of the unique artist-designed sound and image tools that are the hallmark of the Center’s studio, and provides a view into the constantly changing artistic processes and practices that have shaped the work over the years.

Family Court introduces us to the world of good, clean, family fun and leisure. 

This title is also available on Animal Charm Videoworks: Volume 2, Hot Mirror Mix.

Fantasy Suite was the last standard definition video I made from VHS tapes. Like WHS VHS #1, I made it to premiere at Roots & Culture’s Zummer Tapez, and speed manipulation figured heavily into its construction (the Bachelor material was not interesting or even tolerable at normal speed, but slowed down slightly, it became fascinating to me). Shana Moulton’s work was a strong influence on this video (I programmed my piece to play after hers in the Zummer mixtape), hence the animated facial masks and SkyMall imagery.

Feathers: An Introduction is a self-portrait centered on the story of Latham's grandmother’s comforter which, old and worn, scatters feathers everywhere. Displaying an arresting stage presence, Latham addresses the viewer as a potential friend or lover, speaking in a soft-spoken near-whisper, and gingerly touching and kissing the camera lens and monitor. Then, almost mocking the video’s intimacy, Latham gives us close-ups of herself chewing a sandwich and shaving her armpits, heightening the sense that she has been playing cat and mouse with the viewer all along.

FF, 2010

A short Flicker Film adulterated by some extra images shot in Malawi, Africa. FF was in answer to an assignment given by artists Melissa Dubbin and Aaron Davidson who created the soundtrack to which I was asked to make a “Future Film”.

-- Deborah Stratman

In 1973, Dan Sandin designed and built a comprehensive video instrument for artists, the Image Processor (IP), a modular, patch programmable, analog computer optimized for the manipulation of gray level information of multiple video inputs. Sandin decided that the best distribution strategy for his instrument "was to give away the plans for the IP and encourage artists to build their own copies.

Decidedly low-tech, this optical abstraction begins with a shot of an aluminum reflector inside a lamp; a lightbulb in the shot’s center flicks on and off. As the video plays on, nearly identical shots are superimposed, but at a steadily decreasing scale, resulting in an array of nested rectangles. The rhythmic blinking of intense light- accompanied by audible clicks from the plastic light switch- presents the viewer with a swift progression of blinding geometries, (with) dizzying effects.

-- Michelle Grabner, Artforum, May 2010

 

flight, 1998

flight is a frame-by-frame re-editing of an astronaut walking on the moon into a seven-minute long meditation on technological transcendence. The unstable, stuttering image depicts the astronaut's struggle to separate from his body. Comically majestic, the astronaut enacts a late 20th Century ballet. A performance of anti-heroic stumbling, falling down, and disappearance into white light.

This title is also available on Les LeVeque Videoworks: Volume 1.

Free Society is a short experimental music video that juxtaposes images of police harrassment in the U.S. with images of the military quelling revolutionary opposition. Includes comments from televangelist Jerry Falwell.

This title is also available on Paul Garrin Videoworks: Volume 1.

"Actions, states, one B+W video camera, the Paik Abe Colorizer, a video switcher. The two states, a b a b, I put my hand in the camera frame and saw a colored hand shifting. I moved my, the, hand, including back and forth, realizing or connecting to the visual and language potential of front hand and back hand. Giving it some veracity, the pace became about attempting to keep up with the position changes together with verbally reciting front hand back hand, co-coordinating from hand to mouth and mouth to hand."

– Peer Bode

A response to the inability of his local General Motors dealer to fix Morton's 1974 Chevy van to his satisfaction, this tape blends experimental image-processing techniques with documentation of the faulty vehicle. Morton states that he is upset primarily because General Motors "can't get their tech together," and as a video producer involved with using and maintaining high-tech equipment, this strikes Morton as expecially bothersome.

An erotic/mystical misadventure in which the allure of the religious path is strewn with earthly temptations. Struggling with a bogus Zen koan involving flowers in keyholes and jumping through windows, the protagonist will end up entering, by the conclusion, the realm of subatomic particles, thereby achieving transcendence-of-a-sort. On the soundtrack, operatic quotations comment ironically (and sometimes sincerely) on the visual proceedings.

Ana Mendieta performs a kiss in Old Man's Creek with another performer.

Icron, 1978

Using the image processor as it was intended as a performance instrument, Icron exploits the processor’s real-time capabilities: the image and soundtrack were generated through simultaneous improvisation, although the color was added later. The title of the piece is a neologism created by fusing "icon" with "chron" as a reference to the effect of temporal changes on images. Snyder combines iconographic elements of broadcast television with the structural features of music by deconstructing the face of a newscaster into scan lines.

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.”