Untitled #2 – Kromatose 1996


Untitled #2 – Kromatose 1996

I was dusting off an archive the other day, and found this video from a program I created in 1996 for CATV channel 12 in Bismarck called Kromatose. The model of the program was inspired by OFFLINE, a video art program put together by Greg Bowman & Scott Noegel.

OLBookCover

Offline 1993-2003

OffLine’s cable television screenings showcased over four hundred works by independent media producers internationally. The program focused on the diverse forms of the artistic experience. All creative strategies to video and film were encouraged. Genres included experimental, art, computer graphics, animation, music videos, performance art, experimental documentary, and short narrative.

OffLine also featured a wide variety of interviews with artists. Artists included Philip Glass, Steina Vasulka, Dee Dee Halleck, Craig Baldwin, Malachi and the Mass Resists, the Second Hand Dance Company, George Rhoads, Flava Flav, Alien Farm, Tall, and  many more.
– Page 7 of Offline, a retrospective 1990-2003 (PDF)

After watching Untitled #2 – Kromatose 1996, I began thinking about my use of technology at that time. The tape is a document of experimenting with multiple generations of analogue dubs and scrubs. I am not sure if I was aesthetically into blowing out the color and sound as much as I was into pushing the tools and media to the brink. I recall hitting the wall while making these tapes. There was a point of degradation that frustrated me then, which is interesting now; I feel like that wall is ever-present in my work.

Around that time, the television industry was buzzing with the promise of digital “non-linear” tools. I was looking for the ability to layer multiple videos, create samples, and make micro edits. Digital video promised to make life easier and make my videos better. I consumed as many articles and demo tapes as I could get my hands on.

The Toaster was released as a commercial product in October 1990 for the Commodore Amiga 2000 computer system, taking advantage of the video-friendly aspects of that system’s hardware to deliver the product at an unusually low cost.
– Wikipedia: Video Toaster

CATV didn’t end up getting a toaster, but they did have the demo video above. Years later, they ended up getting a Play Inc. Trinity system. I was one of the few that were trained on it. I was ready for it to take my work to the next level.

Trinity

First of all, it looked like a Klingon soda machine sitting in the edit suite. Second, it sucked. Needless to say, I was disappointed, but, it made me realize that it isn’t about the tools; it’s about how you use them. I began to be interested in the physical systems that facilitated the manipulation of media. I realized that there wasn’t a “right” way to create videos. It was (and still is) a balance of standards, formats, compatibility, and intention.

I became interested in the artifacts that certain systems and machines provided. I cued into the nuances that the tool designers and engineers left within machines. From menus lay-out to input and output options; I became interested in the “wrong” way of connecting systems and machines.

My work has obviously evolved since then, however, I feel that there is a through-line. Looking back, I feel that the broken promise(s) of early “non-linear” video systems gave rise to my critiques of upgrade culture and attention to artifacts.

just-another-tool

This was also pulled from an archive...I can't remember where it's from, my first guess is that it's a page from Radical Software

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4 thoughts on “Untitled #2 – Kromatose 1996

  1. Yes, I remember the Trinity at CATV–it was somewhat of a white elephant for them–they did have it in their main editing suite for a while (I remember futzing around with it and doing some edits). They then moved it down to the basement studio to use as a live production switcher.

    The last time I was at CATV to dub off those episodes of The Idiot Box for you and Derek earlier this year, they had the Trinity setting off in the corner of their studio, unused. They replaced it with a Panasonic Firewire & SDI-based production switcher.

    The main thing with CATV’s Trinity was that it wasn’t configured with the optional hard disk array to make it a true NLE (although it could be purchased and installed inside the unit), they decided to save some bucks by not purchasing that option. If it had the hard disks, it probably would of been a kick-ass system (and the first NLE that CATV would have). I don’t think CATV didn’t get a NLE system until about 2000-2001, after we left. They now have 2 of them, one PC-based using Avid Media Composer (in the main edit room), and a Mac using Final Cut Pro (in the room where the public Internet PCs used to be).

    Like the preceding linear Sony FXE-100 edit controller based system that me and you edited countless hours of tape on (including the video above :) ), CATV’s Trinity was still a linear editor. I remember it using the same BetaSP & Hi8 decks that were used with the FXE-100.

    Even when we were working together on projects at the station, I as well wished that CATV had a true NLE system at the time (namely a Avid or Media 100 system, NLE leaders in the late ’90s). They were about the same cost at the time as a Video Toaster (IIRC), and everyone had one excapt CATV (heck, even KFYR, where I was working at the time, had one (an Avid) in one of their edit bays).

    But CATV (or namely Guy) just didn’t want to buy one, and both of us suffered at the limitations. I remember all the tricks we did to make video effects for The Idfiot Box and other projects, and I remember hitting those walls too… We pushed a lot of envelopes with the facilities they had then… ;)

  2. Hey Ryan!
    White elephant is right…
    It was a super expensive investment that required more dollar-signs ($$$) to have “revolutionary” potential.

    Hooking it up to the FXE-100 + Hi* decks made it more like a notebook replacement. At least we didn’t need to write lists of time-code samples anymore. We had a purple-and-orange Flintstones Computer to cue-up the tape.

    RE:”I remember all the tricks we did to make video effects for The Idiot Box and other projects”
    One of my favorite effects-hacks was combining the red text-underline and side page-scroll from the CG to make lasers!

    :) :)

    • I remember that particular CG hack when you and Derek used it in the “Taser Sipper” skit–quite efective!

      We definitely tried to make $1.00 out of $0.15 with CATV’s facilities then… ;)

  3. Pingback: YOU, I… UI « interweb netlog

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