After A Long Pandemic Pause

After a long pandemic pause, I'm back to posting new stuff on my Image Maya blog. You might ask what have I been doing? Actually, I've spent the time quite resourcefully pulling together a complete system to digitize all of my library of video tapes that have languished in a cupboard for way too long... My tape library starts back in the early 1980's with my first 1/2" Beta portable unit (from CTL Electronics in lower Manhattan (my old Tribeca loft neighborhood). After a handful of well-used Beta portables, I jumped in the Hi8 bandwagon - smaller, lighter weight, better quality (?). Then off to digital DV land when that format became available. Meanwhile, as a vidiot producing video art work in the 80's and early 90's, I did all my Master productions on an industrial A/B roll 3/4" U-matic system. 

Needless to say, I faced hundreds of hours of video inventory from my travels around the world to digitize. On top of that, I had over 60 3/4" reels of image processed footage from my residencies at the Experimental Television Center (ETC). These are what I consider to be the 'crown jewels' from the days of analog video processing using tools such as the Jones Colorizer, the Paik-Abe Wobbulator, and other signal processing and keying devices. At the time, the only digital device available at ETC was an one-of-a-kind Jones Frame Buffer (which did just that - buffered a set of video frames for looping, freeze framing, and delaying). Of course, key to the whole production process was using video cameras to rescan off of monitors which allowed for multiple levels of processing effects (way beyond simple feedback). In the case of the Wobbulator, a raster distortion device manipulating H & V frequencies of a CRT display, the only way to actually make use of its range of processing effects was by rescan. (In any case, in hindsight there was a whole lot of glitchy / processed stuff one could easily do in the analog  realm that have no direct analog in digital software-based processing. Exhibit A: the Wobbulator, which became my favorite tool.)

The process in the ETC studio for me involved selecting source footage from my video library and passing that thru the various hot-patched processing devices, and finally back to tape. Because of the analog nature of the controls, real time modifications and tweaking (playing around with settings and patches) was the norm. So typically once a record tape got rolling, a long 5-15 minute 'play' session would resulted. Fine. But of course, unlike many other video folks engaged in image processing triggered by music or electronic sounds (think of early Mudd Club visual music stuff), I was interested not in the durational / abstract / generational element of the process, but rather in generating 15-30 second, perhaps 2 minute long processed segments to incorporate into my video narratives.

With that as background, I decided the shutdown provided me a window of time to digitize my source videos before the inevitable wear of time made the tapes unplayable physically, either due to tape decay or unavailability of obsolescent decks to play such. I calculated that I'd need around 6TB of storage for all of my material, stored at DV's equivalent to pre-HD analog resolution: 720x480. And lots of time - as digitizing tapes is by its very nature 'real time'. Plus, I wanted to create a tape index of locations, subjects, and scenes to make finding interesting material possible in the virtual haystack. (I have started by using EXCEL spreadsheets, with a goal of creating a true relational database... sooner than later...)

And of course, every video deck I owned needed repair servicing after being idle in the closet for 20+ years. Or I had to buy something off EBAY...

So all of that has been taking time.

But that's not all - I've also been working on a series of digital glitch animations based upon my Tibetan Buddhist art. But more on that in a later posting.

For now, I want to post several short video excepts from some of the ETC processed footage. 

Paik-Abe Wobbulator

Image of a color Paik-Abe Wobulator under development
Image of an experimental color CRT Wobbulator being built at Signal Culture labs.

Wobulator image - Nixon
Wobbulated still image of Nixon

sequence of still Wobulated images - self portraits
Animation of a sequence of still Wobbulated images

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