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.
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.
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.