[-empyre-] old media cycles to new: Signal Culture and Jason Bernagozzi

Jason Bernagozzi jason at seeinginvideo.com
Sun Feb 8 03:06:51 AEDT 2015

I first want to say thank you Renate for inviting me to discuss what we do
at Signal Culture!

The residency programs at Signal Culture are designed with several
philosophies in mind. First and foremost is the idea that old media is
still new media, and that each media device is imbued with a specific
language. We are aware that the relentless tide of new technologies often
tout more "quality" in the process or image, but we are more interested in
the "qualities" inherent to a specific device. Shooting a video essay with
a Barbie Video Girl camera has distinctly different connotations than a 4K
camera, and understanding and utilizing media for specific nuances we
believe will help form more dynamic relationships between artists and their

But this notion of old media is new media goes beyond that. When media
devices from several ages talk to one another, what kind of dialogue forms?
While our artist studio has a large system of analog video processing
tools, we are not attempting to emulate the Experimental Television Center
in this context. We have the ability to fluidly shift from digital to
analog to digital within a fluid real time system. What happens when you
convert the data from a Microsoft Kinect controller to control voltage and
"perform" a Jones Colorizer in real time? We think these kinds of questions
are exciting and perhaps are the beginning of fostering the idea that all
media is relevant.

This is not to say that we came up with these ideas by ourselves. One of
our founders is Hank Rudolph, who worked with training of residents at the
Experimental Television Center for over 25 years. The notion of a real time
system fundamentally changed our perceptions of media, and a large part of
Signal Culture is working with video and audio in real time using a hybrid
of old and new analog and digital processes. In terms of innovation, we
believe that it can come through re-evaluation of what has been made.
Steina Vasulka always maintained that in order to get everything you needed
out of a media "instrument" you needed to play it over the period of a
decade. Too often we are asked to shed our media processes for the new. We
choose to keep those processes and include the new.

A good example of this was the construction of our raster manipulation
device (aka the Wobbulator) this past summer. We came to make this device
because we knew how valuable it was at the Experimental Television Center.
However, there are some major issues with the original design. First, the
S-Coil needed to be driven by a hefty McIntosh tube amplifier because the
short circuit created by this coil would either blow amplifiers or in worse
case scenarios cause them to burst into flames, according to Andrew
Deutsch. The second major design issue was needing to get a late 60's color
TV yoke large enough to fit over the electron gun circuit board to drive
the horizontal and vertical deflection.

We did not have the money to buy these parts, the McIntosh amps are a
collector's item and feature an auto forming transformer that let it run
heavy loads without a problem. So, after some consultation with Dave Jones
we figured out some new designs for this old media device that would allow
it to be run using new peripherals.

The reason this re-investigation is exciting is that through these
redesigns we were able to prove that not only can we create a wobbulator
from a color CRT, but we can turn it into a real video instrument with over
12 potential processes to localize and further process the image into a
raster animation instrument with variable raster collapse ramping. Based on
these findings, we will be constructing this instrument this summer and
adding it to the Signal Culture system.

On Fri, Feb 6, 2015 at 8:00 PM, <empyre-request at lists.artdesign.unsw.edu.au>

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