Since the mid of the sixties video is an emerging film system usable
to produce and to store electronic signals. The mobile elements of the
video system are the camera and the recorder meanwhile the player is not
moved to the recording location and remains connected with a cathode ray
tube (of a TV set). Signals stored on magnetic tapes contain information
being sent by players to cathode ray tubes for video presentations.
The sequence of shots (frames) on a film stripe is transformed by a projector
into a movie: Meanwhile the film is screened as a moved sequence of images
and a light projection, the video system directs electron beams in a vacuum
tube. A light emitting video presentation replaces the film projection
in a dark room.
The celluloid stripes being editable shot by shot
(the frame as a phase image) at cutting tables were substituted by magnetic
tapes, video recorders for editing and the `tools´ for `electronic
image processing´. The transformations of electronic signals by
mixer, sequencer, switcher, keyer and other means replaces film animation
techniques developed since the end of the 19th century for the editing
of frames and their montage. 1
The signals can be produced with video cameras. They
conduct the signals to the storing on magnetic tapes, but storing is not
necessary: Systems processing signals can transform the data input of
several sources into data controlling the electronic beams in vacuum tubes.
Not only video cameras but also music synthesizers (developed by Robert
Moog, Don Buchla 3 and others) supply video systems with
input for transformations in signals controlling monitor presentations.
An example offers Stephen Beck using audio signals produced by a Buchla
synthesizer as an input for his "Direct Video Synthesizer" (1970)
to produce visual signals (see chap. IV.1.2).
Before these and other kinds to produce signals via
analogue computing processes of video synthesizers have been developed
video became known by recording devices being light compared to the weights
of professional motion-picture cameras. The video cameras being acquirable
since 1965 were still connected via cable with a heavy weight, unportable
recording device for magnetic tape storage. Intermediary production steps
like the film processing were dropped. The reach of the camera was dependent
from the length of the cable to the recorder. The video system was offered
with a monitor mounted on the recorder for the filming of persons who
kept themselves within the reach of the camera meanwhile they could observe
themselves on the monitor: home video tape recording. 4
Sony VCK 2000, since 1965. A woman with microphone
and a man with the video camera mounted on a tripod. Behind it: Recorder
with magnetic tape and monitor. Photo: Sony.
Since 1968 the Sony Porta Pak Ensemble (Sony Porta
Pak CV 2400) with a light-weight video recorder portable on the shoulder
and a video camera became a mobile system for live film recordings. Sequences
taking up to a duration of 20 minutes were storable on magnetic tapes.
With a video player connected to a television set it was possible to play
the tape immediately after the recording. Since 1970 takes were observable
in real time at the recording locations by playing back the tape with
the portable video recorder. The take was then presented in the camera
search field (Sony Porta Pak AV 3400). 5
Sony Porta Pak CV 2400, since 1968. Left: Woman with
video camera and portable video recorder. Right: Video camera. Photos:
The video recording system was
cheaper and more light weight than the recording devices used at the early
seventies by camera teams of television channels before they migrated
to video systems. 6 Video was a chance for persons in
social contexts neglected by television stations to produce videos documenting
their social situation and criticising the origins of their problems.
In workshops activists offered not only to use the video equipment but
also possibilities to learn the technical skills that were necessary for
the filming of documentations. 7 In addition to the distribution
of video documentations by sending copied tapes the expansion of the cable
systems in the United States offered in the seventies possibilities to
install non-commercial advertising-free local channels whose programmes
were created by the inhabitants (Community TV).
For antenna reception the famous private TV startions
used channels in the high frequency spectrum. To avoid interferences only
a limited number of frequencies was available. In their fight for usable
frequencies the private TV channels payed high prizes. These restrictions
of the commercial broadcast didn´t exist for the use of cable TV.
George Stoney became a pioneer of the video activists´ use of cable
TV. In 1972 he realised the first programme for the Austin Community Television
(ACTV): He was filmed in front of the antennas used to feed the recorded
film live into the cable network. Stoney reported about his experiences
with cable access in Mexico. 8
Beside the activists efforts to develop programmes for community TV some
artists succeeded to interest program directors of terrestrial channels
in their experimental videos. It was planned to use video techniques to
develop new ways of filming and to include them into new programmes integrating
audience participation. In 1969 the Boston station WGBH-TV
produced videos and programmes planned by artists and supported their
In the "Boston-Cambridge area" WGBH-TV had
installed a camera network for real time transmissions (closed-circuits)
from public institutions like the Massachusetts Institute of Technology
(MIT). In 1969 Allan Kaprow used this camera network in "Hello".
The participants´ actions in front of external cameras were presented
in the studio of WGBH-TV on 27 monitors. The video "Hello" documents
some of Kaprow´s actions in the studio: He switched between the
cameras and interacted with the participants acting in front of the cameras.
Kaprow, Allan: Hello, TV broadcast "The Medium
is the Medium",
WGBH, Boston, video, 1969.
In March 1969 WGBH-TV presented in The
Medium is the Medium" six videos realised by artists for this
programme: Beside "Hello" Nam June Paik´s "Electronic
Opera #1" was broadcasted. In Paik´s video act a female
bare-chested dancer, two persons kissing each other, Richard Nixon, Hippies
and others in TV-images being manipulated by a magnet. On or before these
sequences floated transformations of three green-blue figure-eight loops
laying on or above each other. The figure-eight loops were created by
direct processings of the electronic signal. 10
Paik, Nam June. Left: Electronic Opera #1, WGBH-TV,
Boston, video, 1969.
Right: Video Commune The Beatles from Beginning to End, WGBH-TV,
Boston, video, 1970.
The TV channel WGBH-TVfinanced the development of
Nam June Paik´s and Shuya Abe´s "video-synthesizer".
The studio of the station received the first "synthesizer".
It was utilised for the first time in the programme "Video
Commune The Beatles from Beginning to End". 11
Under David Atwood´s direction Paik realised with the synthesizer
video animations to the Beatles´ oeuvre. Following Paik´s
invitation into the studio passersby operated the synthesizer, too.
In 1970 Stan VanDerBeek combined in "Violence
Sonata" participation TV, presented in "Hello" as documented
action only, and experimental film. It was produced by WGBH-TV and broadcasted
simultaneously on the station´s channels 2 and 44. Only observers
with two television sets next to each other were able to view on channel
2 footage edited with "overlays and color saturation" and, simultaneously,
on channel 44 live broadcast of an audience in the studio discussing the
shown experimental films. Furthermore each TV viewer could communicate
via telephone with three participants of the discussion in the studio.
Stan VanDerBeek expanded his experiments with electronic image processing,
that he began in 1964 creating "Poem Fields" in collaboration
with Kenneth Knowlton in the studios of the Bell Telephone Company (see
chap. IV.2.1.2), to the TV-experiment "Violence Sonata". 12
Experimental filmmakers and artists understood their concepts for alternative
uses of media as a provocation of the established cinematic presentation
of fictional films and of the mass medium of television. The viewers should
be liberated by participation from a passive consuming and observing position.
Thus, Nam June Paik wrote in 1971:
Communication means the two-way communications. One-way communication is simply a notification...like a draft call. TV has been a typical case of this non communication and mass audience had only one freedom, that is, to turn on or off the TV. 13
Between 1970 and 1974 eleven
issues of the video journal "Radical Software" were published.
The journal edited by Phyllis Gershuny, Beryl Korot, Michael Shamberg
and others contained informations on projects by media activists and experimental
filmmakers. 14 The video-activists informed about groups
offering conveyable documentations of critical social imbalances and injustices
filmed by concerned persons as well as about community TV, meanwhile the
experimental filmmakers presented new technical possibilities. Alternative
strategies to develop new media and new forms of media utilisations complementing
each other in a common search for new TV forms were on the one hand the
use of video by the experimental filmmakers augmenting their technical
equipment with tools developed for their needs and on the other hand the
use of standard video equipment by activists concentrating themselves
on the production of documentations in situ with the persons concerned
by social problems as well as on the short-term processes of editing and
Radical Software, Vol.1/Nr.1 and Nr.2, 1970.
The activists´ goal of a "participatory democracy" with
possibilities for all citizens to express themselves in a community TV
was the result of a criticism of the use of media in a "consciousness
industry" and its "one-way communication". 15
Furthermore video tools could become publicly accessible, as Paik demonstrated
in "Video Commune".
IV.1.2 Video Synthesizers
Lee Harrison III developed "The Bone Generator"
(the late fifties) further to ANIMAC (between Christmas 1959 and New Year
1960). The tool for animations was constructed with tube
technology and included included "a patchy panel, potentiometers,
joysticks, dance interfaces, and a flying spot scanner. Analog and simple
digital circuits were patched together physically through the patch panel..."
With ANIMAC´s "patch panel" stick figures were realisable.
They were presented on XY
oscilloscopes. These sticks were "basically line segments"
and constituted the "bones" of the represented figures. With
"`spinning vectors´ called Skin" the "surface characteristics"
were stored. These vectors were constituted by "high frequency sin/cosine
oscillators." Their outputs "created the three electronic signals
representing the animation´s image." The perspective of an
animation produced with this "3D-output" could be determined
by the "Camera-Angle Network". This network transformed "three
signals" of an animation "into two signals" ("2D perspective").
The two signals of the animation were emitted to the oscilloscope and
its screen was filmed. The recordings were colorised by filters being
placed "in between the oscilloscope and the camera".
Participants with sensors fixed to their bodies could navigate the motions
of the figurative line patterns in real time. The sensors reacted to body
movements and changed the voltage. That caused the animation to react.
The changing voltage navigated control signals that moved the lines of
the figure on a 3D rotation matrix.
When Harrison started in 1969 to develop SCANIMATE on the basis of ANIMAC
then he chose analog computers (with transistors)
and a two-dimensional animation system to transform scanned drawings.
Harrison integrated a light table and a camera to capture drawn figures.
SCANIMATE made it possible to transform these figures, to present them
on a cathode ray tube and to record them with "a monochrome NTSC
video camera". ANIMAC´s colour-filters were substituted by
"electronic colorizers". The results could be stored on magnetic
Harrison III, Lee: ANIMAC, 1962. A dancer controls
the line patterns of a figure by activating sensors mounted on her body.
Denver 1962 (photomontage).
In 1972 Ed Emshwiller built the video "Scape-mates"
with SCANIMATE in the TV Lab of the New York station WNET/Thirteen. At
the start the image processing was constituted by 24 black and white cells
in five different shades of grey. Two cameras of the two computers of
SCANIMATE provide the input for the cells. The cells were animated as
well as colorized in real time. A computer processed the background and
the other one the foreground. Recordings of dancers have been partially
edited with "SCANIMATE" before they were included via chromakey
procedures in the fore- and the background. 17 Emshwiller
utilised the Paik/Abe-Video Synthesizer (see below), too. The video distributor
"Electronic Arts Intermix",
founded in 1971 by Howard Wise, explains the importance of "Scape-mates"
for the development of video films:
With its witty interplay of the `real´ and the `unreal´ in an electronically rendered videospace, and the skilfull manipulation and articulation of sculptural illusion of three-dimensionality, scape-mates introduces a new vocabulary of video image-making. 18
The central focus of the video
tools´ developers is directed to the control of the electron beams´
motion in the cathode ray tube. A bundled electron beam is directed in
the vacuum tube between anode and cathode to a screen coated with phosphorous.
Electronic impulses constitute an electromagnetic field directing the
electron beam. The electron beam is controlled along horizontal and vertical
axes, the "xy plotting coordinates". 19 The
horizontal and vertical steering between two magnet pairs constitutes
either the vector images in oscilloscopes as well as early computer monitors
or the raster images in television and later computer monitors (since
the midst of the seventies). Raster images are a special form of vector
images. For "bitmaps" raster images require memory capacities
not available for the early computers.
The manner to provoke the optical effect of motion pictures changes
from film to video. Meanwhile the film is constituted by frames for motion
phases and these frames are moved mechanically by the projector, the videofilm
activates the screen by the writing of the raster image´s "scan
lines" with steered electron beams to create the impression of moving
images. The possibility to create "transformation images" 20
stored on magnetic tapes becomes the technical basis of experimental videofilms.
Abe, Shuya/Paik, Nam June: Paik/Abe Video Synthesizer,
model of 1972, WNET/Thirteen, New York (Courtesy Nam June Paik Studios,
Inc. In: Joselit: Feedback 2007, p.47).
The first version of the Paik/Abe video synthesizer
from 1970 (see chap. IV.1.1 with ann.11) was not a synthesizer. It could
be used to mix seven external image sources, to invert and to manipulate
colours: "Combining video feedback, magnetic scan modulation and
non-linear mixing followed by colorizing, generated its novel style of
External sources (cameras) are used by scan processors like the Paik-Abe
synthesizer and the tools by Dan Sandin, Bill Etra and Steve Rutt (presented
below) as an input to start signal processes. In contrast, Stepehen Beck´s
"Direct Video Synthesizer" (1970) and Eric Siegel´s "Electronic
Video Synthesizer" (1970) generate signals. Both synthesizers can
mix these internally generated signals with external camera input.
Siegel, Eric: EVS Video Synthesizer, 1970.
Left: Eric Siegel in the office of Electronic Arts Intermix, New York,
Right: function diagram by Jeffrey Schier.
"Electronic Video Synthesizer" used generators and oscillators
to process moving patterns. Two mixers conflated the waves of the oscillators
and the generators. A third mixer united the input of two cameras. A "color
encoder" combined the three to build the "color video signal"
22 Siegel described the possibilities of the "EVS"
to process patterns as selectable symmetrical and asymmetrical "geometric
formations". Furthermore a video creator could decide if the patterns,
the colors or both remain constant or changing. 23 In
1973 Siegel utilised the "EVS" in the performance "Yantra
Mantra" at New York´s "The Kitchen". The difficulties
to find film documents created with the EVS can be traced back to Siegel´s
lack of interest in the production of video documents. Furthermore he
prevented Howard Wise in his efforts to produce and to sell the synthesizer.
Beck, Stephen: Direct Video Synthesizer, 1970. Left:
Right: function diagram by Jeffrey Schier.
Stephen Beck´s prototype
of the "Direct Video Synthesizer" ("Direct Video #0")
included a modified television set with possibilities to control the cathode
ray tube´s colour generation. The components for the colour generation
were audio signals, oscillators and external analogue mixers. A Buchla
synthesizer provided the functions for the colour setting. 25
The Buchla synthesizer was developed for musicians to generate sounds.
Beck added to it a further analogue synthesizer with capacities to visualise
sounds. But the frequency spectrum of audio synthesizers was not appropriate
for interesting visualisations. With a grant from the National Endowment
for the Arts (NEA) Beck was able as "artist-in-residence" in
the National Center for Experiments in Television (at the station KQED-TV,
San Francisco) to solve his problems to visualise sounds and to develop
his prototype further. The modules for form, motion, texture and colours
of the "Direct Video #1" could be controlled via voltage regulators
in real time, for example in live performances. 26
Beck, Stephen/Jepson, Warner: Illuminated Music 2 &
3, video documentation of a PBS broadcast (Public Broadcasting Service),
1973. Left: Beck at the Direct Video Synthesizer. Right: Beck´s
visualisation of Jepson´s music.
In "Illuminated Music 1", a live broadcast
of the station KQED-TV (San Francisco) at 19th Mai 1972, Beck visualised
Yusef Lateef´s improvisations on "Like It Is". In 1973
the National Center for Experiments in Television recorded "Illuminated
Music 2 & 3" for a broadcast of the PBS/Public Broadcasting Service,
Arlington/Virginia. The recordings show Warner Jepson at the Buchla Synthesizer
in a live performance with Stephen Beck at the "Direct Video Synthesizer".
Meanwhile Beck controlled the output on a little cathode ray tube, the
public could follow the visualisations of Jepson´s music on big
screens. 27 Coloured areas with wave-like contours overlapping
and concealing other planes, wave-like moving particles and continuous
as well as broken waved lines dominated the visualisation of a music accelerating
and slowing down the tone sequences like ascending and descending waves.
Several times the visualisation reacted only after a number of sound waves
with perceptible changes of the visual patterns.
Sandin, Dan: 5 Minute Romp Through the IP [Analog Image
Processor], video, 1973.
presents the technical basis of his "Analog Image Processor"
(1971-73) as a "general purpose analogcomputer" being programmable
via "patch cables". Sandin has "optimized" the analog
computer "for processing video information...[and] television information".
28 The "processing modules" can be activated
via "patch cables". With these modules image sequences from
an external source can be transformed by the manipulation of controllers:
"The instrument is programmed by routing the image through various
processing modules and then out to a monitor or video tape recorder."
29 Between "processing modules" and the output
for the monitor the "output color encoder" adds colours. 30
A demonstration of the fact that thinking of video keying as putting one thing in front of another is inaccurate and limiting. The Analog Image Processor was programmed to implement the logic equations if triangle and square show triangle, if square and circle show square, if triangle and circle show circle. 31
Sandin, Dan: Triangle in Front of Square in Front of
Circle in Front of Triangle, video, 1973.
Meanwhile Steina and Woody Vasulka used a "George
Brown Multi-Level Keyer" (1973) to provoke the impression of three-dimensionality
by the layering of levels (cf. "Golden
Voyage", 1973), Sandin tried to proove that the result is not
an adequate design for the cathode ray tube. 32 The
vocabulary of the video technology should as Sandin demanded
supersede the perspectival image space.
In 1973 Tom DeFanti developed
GRASS (Graphics Symbiosis System) for the digital minicomputer PDP
11/45 of the Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC, since 1972). 33
It was possible to build two-dimensional elements as vectorial animation
in black and white by typing instructions on a keyboard and to control
the result in real time on the cathode ray tube. David Sturman characterises
the possibilities of GRASS: "With GRASS, people could script scaling,
translation, rotation and color changes of 2D objects over time."
34 At the University of Illinois in Chicago the colour
animation could be realised with a "Sandin Analog Processor"
(see above): The digital animation was followed by an analogue animation.
DeFanti, Tom/Morton, Phil/Sandin, Dan/Snyders, Bob:
Ryral, video of a live performance at the University of Illinois, Chicago
In 1976 Dan Sandin and Tom DeFanti presented their
video animation system in "Ryral",
a computer performance with music and animations processed in real time
at the second "Electronic Visualization Event" organized at
the University of Illinois in Chicago: Bob Snyder´s music processed
by an "analog EMU Synthesizer" was to hear simultaneously. The
dancers oscillating in Emshwiller´s "Scape-mates" (see
above) between fore- and background recur in "Ryral" changed
into an actrice sometimes recognizable as a silhouette: Camera recordings
of a dance performance are transformed in a two-dimensional image processing
creating perceptual tensions by contours and colours especially in cases
if the planes merged together. These tensions provoke difficulties to
sort out the levels between fore- and background. In some colour constellations
patterns with circles and spirals in moving dotted lines provoke flickering
Etra, Bill/Rutt, Steve: Rutt/Etra Scan Processor, 1973.
Left: Rutt/Etra Model RE-4 Scan Processor.
Right: function diagram by Jeffrey Schier.
Etra, Bill/Rutt, Steve: user manual for the Rutt/Etra
Scan Processor with "system information flow".
(Rutt/Etra: RE Video Synthesizer Systems Models RE 4A and RE 4B 1974,
In 1973 Steve Rutt, Bill and Louise Etra developed
a "scan processor" that was utilised in video productions by
Nam June Paik, Steina and Woody Vasulka as well as Gary Hill. 36
With the "Rutt/Etra Scan Processor" signals of a black-and-white
monitor can be modified. The signals are modified by controlling the voltage
along the horizontal and vertical axes. It is possible to locate the images
of a video input on different places of an image raster. Furthermore the
dates of the image portions´ screen presentations are modifiable
The Rutt/Etra changes the time in which you see parts of the picture. It is a machine that manipulates images in time. 37
Etra, Bill /Rutt, Steve: Rutt/Etra Scan Processor,
1973. Demo by Bill Etra, video.
Since 1975 the scan processor was distributed commercially
with waveform generators, four-quadrant multipliers and a summing amplifier.
Optionally it could include a ramp generator for the processing of many
motions. Seizes, localisations, zoom and intensity could be adjusted on
15 turning knobs. The monitor was integrated into the scan processor and
presented the transformed images. Deflection yokes were mounted around
the monitor. The "sine,
triangle, or square waves" processed by deflections appeared
on the monitor whose images were recorded by a camera, colorised and led
to a videotape recorder of a broadcast system. 38
Vasulka, Woody: C-Trend, video, 1974.
In the "Vasulka
Effekt" (see below) the brightness of the video input determines
the positioning on the vertical axis. Zones becoming brighter and darker
move up and down: "When combined with other synthetic waveforms,
the raster forms a three dimensional contour map where video brightness
determines elevation." 39
Woody Vasulka transforms in "C-Trend"
(1974) driving cars into disturbed sinus waves. Street scenes were recorded
with a camera placed in a window. The recordings are "scanned again"
and are "modulated" in the "Rutt/Etra Scan Processor"
via "retiming and repositioning" with "deflections"
whilst the sound is reproduced unchanged. 40 The staggered
wave lines facilitate observers to structure them visually in a spatial
manner as the layers are successively arranged behind each other: Disturbances
in multiple layers appearing simultaneously or following in short distances
one after another provoke the impression of moving bodies. Because the
recorded driving cars are not easily recognisable, an "intermediate
sphere" ("Zwischenreich") appears situating the recognition
of moving objects between still recognisable recordings and already constructed
images. When the black background is substituted by "video `noise´",
then it is "created by blackout intervals which normally fill the
`gap´ between the scanning of singular fields." 41
Vasulka, Woody: Artifacts, video, 1980.
and Steina Vasulka bought a minicomputer DEC
LSI-11 (since 1975), a version of the PDP-11 (PDP-11/03). When their
student Jeffrey Schier developed concepts, how to use the minicomputer
in video image processing, he initiated the construction of the "Digital
Image Articulator" (1976-77). 42 The result of
the programming can be seen and corrected without a recognisable time
delay. The "Digital Image Articulator" processes images by combining
rectangular basic elements: The partition into discrete basic components
substitutes the waveforms of the "Rutt/Etra Scan Processor".
Woody Vasulka constructs in "The Arithmetic Logic Unit (ALU)"
the relations between discrete elements "A" and "B"
in following the Boolean
algebra. 43 The new structure creates "unusual
patterns of color and box-like textures without equivalence in analog
video". 44 In 1980 Woody Vasulka demonstrates that
The structure is relatively rough and appears today again relatively uncommon.
The creation of super-signs and textures with microstructures built by
rectangles alternately attract the observer´s attention. An optical
flicker constituted by discrete elements forms recognisable formations
again and again in the course of the film. 45
Vasulka, Woody. Left: Didactic Video, Tableau IV, 1975
(Vasulka/Nygren: Video 1975, p.13), demonstration of the Rutt/Etra Scan
Right: Syntax of Binary Images, Tableau 3 & 4, 1978 (Vasulka/Weibel:
Buffalo 2008, p.423), demonstration of the relations between the discrete
elements "A" and "B" in "The Arithmetic Logic
In "Artifacts" Woody Vasulka demonstrates the differences between
the analogue image processing of the "Rutt/Etra Scan Processor"
and the digital image processing of the "Digital Image Articulator"
by picking up a hand as subject again that he used earlier to demonstrate
the video vocabulary made possible by the "Rutt/Etra Scan Processor":
"Tableau IV" of his text "Didactic Video" (1975) presented
four transformation phases of a hand. The hands appeared in concave and
convexe reliefs built by the waveforms in inclined planes constituted
by staggered horizontal lines. In contrary, a hand is presented in "Artifacts"
on a sphere whose outline is multiplicated meanwhile the surface of the
hand is dissipated into optical flicker. In a comparison with an earlier
video it becomes easier to recognise that the flicker elements in "Artifacts"
are rectangles and not flickering signals as in "Noisefields"
that was realised in 1974 with analogue video tools: In both videos a
circle is raised from the ground and then again merged with it, but in
"Noisefields" the circular outline given by the video input
remains preserved also and especially in positive-negative inversions,
meanwhile in "Artifacts" the circle forms can be recognised
sharper or weaker because their outlines are constituted and dissipated
by combinations of rectangles. "Electronic Snow" is in "Noisefields"
the basis of audio noise as well as of visual flickering. 46
Vasulka, Woody: Noisefields, video, 1974.
In "Artifacts" the digital processing is
presented in real time, without the acceleration of the images in film
sequences as it is usual in computer animation. Vasulka points "in
a spirit of exploration" (voiceover at the start of the video) the
oberservers´ attention to the new functions to build and to transform
images. The video includes varying modes of presentation close to pointillism,
cubism and surrealism, meanwhile the sound underscores the unitary technical
basis of the signal processes of all kinds of image and audio processing.
Vasulka explains at the beginning of the video:
By artifacts I mean that I have to share the creative process with the machine. It is responsible for too many other elements in this work.
For the distribution of video synthesizers and processors their authors
didn´t only choose the usual ways of sale:
In the seventies Dan Sandin and Phil Morton augmented
the "Analog Image Processor" to an open developers´ platform
called "Distribution Religion". The construction plans of the
"Sandin Analogue Image Processor" were available (by paying
the expenses for copies) for reconstructions and further developments
by constructors and users were welcome. These developments could be integrated
into the plans. The plans of the "Sandin Analogue Image Processor"
and Phil Morton´s videos were distributed with Morton´s licence
"Copy-It-Right" inviting the production and distribution of
After Seth Siegelaub´s contract published in
the catalogue of the documenta 5 (Kassel, 1972) expanded the artists´
exploitation rights and obliged the owners of works to share future income
with their creators 48, Dan Sandin and Phil Morton choose
the opposite strategy by eliminating the restrictions that have been installed
via copyright and the contracts for the distribution and further developments.
Dan Sandin´s practice to disseminate the construction plans of
his "Analog Image Processor" and the commercial distribution
of the Rutt/Etra Scan Processor are counter-models. This opposition continues
to determine the discussions on copyrights until today. Sandin wrote:
The Image Processor may be copied by individuals and not-for-profit institutions without charge, for-profit institutions will have to negotiate for permission to copy.
Nowadays the alternative propositions to use copyrights
published by Creative Commons
offer authors ways to announce how they differentiate between releases
of restrictions for non-commercial users and restrictions for commercial
users of their files. Permissions for non-commercial multiplications and
distributions can be announced via links to the relevant propositions
of the site "Creative Commons". Then the determination of the
amount of fees for commercial distributions remains a task of negotiations
with the author. 49
The video practice of the activists and the experimental
filmmakers continues the development of alternatives to the role play
in movies. This development was driven by the experimental filmmakers
of the fifties and sixties in frame-by-frame animation procedures. The
camera as a reproducing technology and image creating procedures constitute
the opposite ends of a scale. In the sixties these both ends of the scale
of experimental filmmaking can be found in films realised by people of
Andy Warhol´s factory ("Sleep", 1963 and others) on one
side and on the other side in structural films by Peter Kubelka ("Arnulf
Rainer", 1958-60), Tony Conrad ("The
Flicker", 1966) or Paul Sharits ("Ray
Gun Virus", 1966). 50 The camera fixated at
a static place in Warhol´s Factory is substituted in the seventies
by the mobile video equipment of activists and the self-presentation of
actresses or actors in front of the camera is transformed into a critical
self-embedding of the filmmaking and filmed persons into their social
context. Warhol´s negation of a director-dependent language is substituted
by renewed forms of film documentations and TV news. The cutting procedures
for the combination of frames in structural films substitute the authors
of experimental videos by tools directing the motions of electron beams
in the cathode ray tube. This causes in "Noise Fields" a change
in the function and meaning of the "flickers" being produced
in structural films by the thematisation of film as material via filmcuts
and the combination of frames. The criticism of the cinematic film language
by non-narrative film forms is augmented by the video practices to a television
criticism (see chap. IV.1.1). "Commercial broadcast" appears
reduced in forms and contents if it is compared to the explored possibilities
of video technology.
On the one hand the constructors
of video tools developed new means of production and partially they demonstrated
themselves the possibilities to develop a video-specific film language.
On the other hand the video activists used the video camera as a means
to create critical statements and broadcasted the documents produced by
the persons living under the criticised conditions or sent copies on videocassettes.
On the experimental side the signal processes were central, on the activist
side the mobile camera. The experiments with the new medium resulted in
new means of production and new methods to distribute these means ("Distribution
Religion", see above), meanwhile the media activists thematised the
contemporary social conditions by utilising available means of production
and the distribution of the results in uncommon ways.
Dr. Thomas Dreher
Germany. Homepage with numerous articles
on art history since the sixties, a. o. on Concept Art and Intermedia
2 Dunn/Vasulka/Weibel: Eigenwelt 1992; Miller Hocking:
Principles 1978; Russett/Starr: Animation 1988, p.178-210; Spielmann:
Video 2008, p.46-57,89-112. back
3 Dunn/Vasulka/Weibel: Eigenwelt 1992, p.96-103. back
4 Sony CV/VCK 2000, since 1965: without author: Sony
CV 2000 (undated); without author: Sony CV Series Video (undated); Sherman:
Birth 2007. back
5 On the Sony Porta Pak video equipment and its different
meanings for activists as well as experimental filmmakers: Vasulka: Sony
CV Portapack 1992.
Sony CV 2400 Porta Pak, since 1968: without author: Sony DVK-2400/VCK
2400 (undated); Miller Hocking: Texts 1992.
Sony Porta Pak AV 3400, since 1969/70: Bensinger: Video 1981, p.157ss.,161,164,166s.,172,174;
without author: SONY AV-3400 PORTA PAK (undated). back
6 Murphy: Television 1997, chapter "Local Television
News Archives": "In the mid-1970's, a period marked by the transition
from 16mm news film to 3/4-inch U-matic cassettes, about 700 commercial
television stations were operating in the United States. Less than 10%
of the stations transferred their news film to public archives. The rest
was mostly destroyed." back
7 without author: Program Guide 1972, unpaginated: "In
issue one, volume one of Radical Software (Summer, 1970) we introduced
the hypothesis that people must assert control over the information tools
and processes that shape their lives in order to free themselves from
the mass manipulation perpetrated by commercial media in this country
and state controlled television abroad. By accessing low cost 1/2"
portable videotape equipment to produce or create or partake in the information
gathering process, we suggested that people would contribute greatly to
restructuring their own information environments: YOU ARE THE INFORMATION...Through
such decentralization of the information medium, we asserted that the
overall information environment of this country could be humanized and
9 Video, 4 min. 23 sec., b/w, sound, in: Nadeau: Medium
2006, p.53,57-62; Youngblood: Cinema 1970, p.343s. back
10 Barzyk, Fred: The Medium is the Medium, WGBH-TV,
Boston, 3/23/1969: Nadeau: Medium 2006, p.34-72.
Paik, Nam June: Electronic Opera #1, WGBH-TV, Boston, 3/23/1969: Decker:
Paik 1988, p.150,152,193,200, ill.99; Fifield: Paik/Abe Synthesizer 2000;
Joselit: Feedback 2007, p.48s.; Nadeau: Medium 2006, p.64-67; Youngblood:
Cinema 1970, p.306. back
11 Paik/Abe Synthesizer at the WGBH-TV, Boston: Decker:
Paik 1988, p.151; High: Mods 2014, p.367. Previously the broadcast WNET
(Channel 13 in New York City) is said to have bought a prototype (without
author: Paik-Abe Video Synthesizer (undated)).
Paik, Nam June/Atwood, David: Video Commune The Beatles from Beginning
to End, WGBH-TV, 1970: Decker: Paik 1988, p.152; Fifield: Paik/Abe Synthesizer
12 VanDerBeek, Stan: Violence Sonata, WGBH-TV, Boston,
1/12/1970: Davis: Art 1973, p.90; without author: Vanderbeek (undated);
O´Grady: Vanderbeek 1970.
Knowlton, Kenneth/VanDerBeek, Stan: Poem Fields, 1964, in: Auzenne: Visualization
1994, p.29s.,45; Youngblood: Cinema 1970, p.246-249; see chap. IV.2.1.2.
More experiments with participation TV:
Davis, Douglas: Electronic Hokkadim, WTOP-TV, Washington D.C., 6/12/1971.
In: Ross: Davis 1972, unpaginated; Deecke: Davis 1978, p.7.
Davis, Douglas: Talk Out: A Telethon, WCNY-TV, Syracuse/New York, 12/1/1972.
In: Davis: Talk Out 1973; Deecke: Davis 1978, p.6ss.,17,96; Torcelli:
Video 1996, p.24. back
14 Gigliotti: History 2003; Joselit: Feedback 2007,
15 "Consciousness industry"/"Bewußtseins-Industrie":
Enzensberger: Aporien 1962/1980, p.60,68,73; Enzensberger: Baukasten 1970/1997,
"Participatory democracy": Hill: Attention 1996, p.2 with ann.8
(with reference to: Students for a Democratic Society (SDS): Port Huron
Statement, 1962). back
17 Scape-Mates: 28 min. 16 sec., colour, sound, in:
Russett: Robert: Interview Ed Emshwiller (1974). In: Russett/Starr: Animation
1988, p.207; Spielmann: Video 2008, p.92.
In chroma keying
an image layer with only one colour range is substituted by a filmed overlay.
Objects which move before the image layer for chroma keying remain unchanged.
Television presenters can walk before a film projection substituting a
studio wall painted blue for chroma keying. back
19 Youngblood: Cinema 1970, p.194: "...at a rate
of 100,000 per second within a field of 16.000 possible xy coordinates".
20 "Transformation image"/"Transformationsbild":
Spielmann: Video 2008, p.4s.
On the cathode ray tube as a display for vector and raster images: Johnson:
Synthetics 2011, p.40,43s.
Magnetic tape, first video cassettes: Sony
U-matic, since 1971. In: Bensinger: Video 1981, p.131-145. back
21 Schier: Paik-Abe Video Synthesizer 1992. Cf. Decker:
Paik 1988, p.150s.; Furlong: Notes  1983, p.36 with ann.13; High: Mods
2014, p.365ss.; Joselit: Feedback 2007. p.47-50; Spielmann: Artists 2014,
p.518s.; Spielmann: Video 2008, p.98ss. back
26 Description of the modules, in: Schier: Direct Video
Synthesizer 1992, p.124s. back
27 Beck: Beck Direct Video Synthesizer 2000; Beck:
Music (undated); Beck: Video (undated); Furlong: Notes  1983, p.37.
Beck and Jepson used video projectors of the type "Eidophor GE Light
Valve" in performances of "Illuminated Music 2 & 3".
29 Dan Sandin, in: Morton, Phil/Sandin, Dan/Wiseman,
Jim: In Consecration of a New Space. A Color Video Process. Information
sheet, 1/26/1973. Cited from: Spielmann: Video 2008, p.99s. with ann.69.
30 Schier: Image Processor 1992. Cf. Miller Hocking:
Grammar 2014, p.461; Spielmann: Artists 2014, p.507s. back
31 Dan Sandin 2004. In: Spielmann: Video 2008, p.99s.
with ann.69. Cf. Dolanova/Vasulka: Vasulka 2014, p.289s. back
32 Brown, George: Multikeyer, 1973. In: Dolanova/Vasulka:
Vasulka 2014, p.288; Schier: Multi-Level-Keyer 1992; Spielmann: Video
2008, p.103s., 200. back
33 Magnenat-Thalmann/Thalmann: Computer Animation 1990,
36 The "Rutt/Etra Scan Processor":
in Nam June Paik´s Videos: Spielmann: Video 2008, p.154s.
Groove", 1973); Spielmann: Video 2009, chap.4.
in Steina and Woody Vasulka´s Videos: Spielmann: Video 2009,
Hatanaka/Koizumi/Sekiguchi: Vasulka 1998, p.14ss.,21,34,42,46,48; see
in Gary Hill´s Videos: Broeker: Hill 2002, p.96-99; Furlong:
Manner 1983, p.13 (on "Videograms",
1980-81, and "Happenstance
(part one of many parts)", 1983); Spielmann: Video 2008, p.108s.;
Spielmann: Video 2009, chap.4.
38 Miller Hocking: Grammar 2014, p. 458,460; Miller
Hocking: Rutt/Etra 1986; Rutt: What 1992; Rutt/Etra: RE Video Synthesizer
Systems Models RE 4A and RE 4B 1974; Schier: Rutt/Etra 1992; Spielmann:
Artists 2014, p.519ss.; Vasulka/Nygren: Video 1975, p.9. back
39 Schier: Rutt/Etra Scan Processor 1992, p.139. Cf.
Spielmann: Video 2008, p.205. back
42 in 1980 Steina Vasulka documented the development
of the "Digital Image Articulator" in the video "Cantaloup",
in: Hatanaka/Koizumi/Sekiguchi: Vasulka 1998, p.20; Vasulka/Weibel: Buffalo
2008, p.496s. back
44 Schier: Digital Image Processor 1992, p.145. back
45 Furlong: Notes  1983, p.16; Spielmann: Artists
2014, p.516s.; Spielmann: Video 2008, p.207s.; Vasulka/Weibel: Buffalo
In 1979 the video "Bad"
presents an utilisation of the "Digital Image Articulator",
that was done before "Artifacts" was realised: Spielmann: Video
2008, p.208s. with ill.104; Vasulka/Weibel: Buffalo 2008, p.496s. back
46 "Didactic Video", "Tableau IV":
Vasulka/Nygren: Video 1975, p.13.
On the digitalisation in "Artifacts": Dolanova/Vasulka: Vasulka
2014, p.296ss.; Spielmann; Video 2008, p.207s. with ill.121s.; Spielmann:
Woody Vasulka 2004; Sturken: Artifacts 1996; Vasulka/Weibel: Buffalo 2008,
"Noisefields": Dolanova/Vasulka: Vasulka 2014, p.288; Spielmann:
Video 2008, p.203s.; Spielmann: Video 2009, chap.4.
47 Cates: Copying-It-Right 2008; Cates: Copying-It-Right
2014; Furlong: Notes  1983, p.38; Sandin: Distribution Religion 1992;
Sandin/Morton: Distribution Religion 2014; Schier: Image Processor 1992,
48 Siegelaub: Artist´s Reserved Rights Transfer
and Sales Agreement 1972. back
49 Sandin: Distribution Religion 1992 (quote); Sandin/Morton:
Distribution Religion 2014. Cf. the choice of licenses offered by Creative
Commons, in: URL: http://creativecommons.org/choose/
50 Hein: Film 1971, p.103,106; Hein: Structural Film
1979, p.96s.; Sitney: Film 1974, p.409ss.,424s.; Vasulka/Weibel: Buffalo
2008, p.315s.,542s. back