The Experimental Televison Center. More Picsounds.

After a week in Brooklyn, I headed down to Maryland to brainstorm with Fereshteh about our upcoming artist residency at the Experimental Television Center (E.T.C.). Tucked away in the heart of Owego, NY, the E.T.C. is a spacious loft located above an antique store and cafe. There was vintage analog video editing equipment like you wouldn't believe. These guys are in the stone age and are proud of it...old monitors, old video mixers galore. But the craziest stuff was unique to the place, such as the Image Processor (I.P.), Wobulator, Jones Colorizer, and Jones Sequencer. Not to mention tons of oscillators (waveform generators).

It was great playing with the ancient electronic toys, and especially difficult to try and think of a way to use the equipment that others hadn't done before. When you first learn new equipment there is a tendency to try the same things that everyone else has tried and sometimes it's hard to know if you are really the first person to run the wobulator through the colorizer and trigger image shapes with hand claps.

Like Nola Recording Studios, what I enjoyed most was realizing how historical this spot was, for electronics and for video art, and it was great to actively become a part of that history just by being there. It's kind of like a museum where every visitor not only learns about the past but contributes to it in some way. I wish I knew about more places like this.

Ironically our project focused mostly around Jitter, which is a computer program that allows one to control video via digital methods. Walking away from the experience I think I grew a deeper appreciation for digital electronics, no matter how "warm" "vintage" "rich" "organic" analog electronics is supposed to be. The fact is, analog electronics are not as reliable. And when it comes to figuring out why something doesn't work, it's much easier to assume *you* did something wrong and not have to think, "well, maybe the equipment isn't working right now," which was sometimes the case with the analog gear. Very frustrating.

I think our project turned out pretty well; there of course wasn't enough time to really tweak it exactly right but hopefully we can continue working on it in the future...definitely a great start to post-grad life.

I'm headed back to Illinois in a few days, to live in an efficiency with only one sink in the bathroom. I guess this means I'll have to wash vegetables in the shower which is ok for me but I'm guessing it will weird my guests out. And no, I don't mean showering *with* the vegetables. (kramer?) So come on by and say hello if are in the neighborhood, and we'll record a song or two. In the meantime, check out the new picsound by Spinnerty and the two new ones by Kaveh!


Wobulator......modified tv set that can distort a video to wobble in vertical shaped waves, horizontally shaped waves, and s-shaped waves

Image infinitely configurable collection of analog video processing equipment that was impossible to use because the maker decided not to label any of the knobs

Jones Sequencer......If you've ever used a music sequencer or drum machine, imagine a similar contraption except that it can sequence several sources of video at the same time. A simple version of a video sequencer would be security cameras that sequence between different cameras.

Oscillator (VCO)......a device that generates a waveform shape (sin, triangle, square). These waveforms can be used to control other pieces of equipment, or other oscillators.

dave (not verified) says:

Yeah old electronics are hard to deal with, but maybe it has to do more with them being old than the inherent design? At least analog stuff is "user servicable", what do you do when your imac boots up normally and then crashes about 3 minutes later no matter what you do? Seriously, what would cause this?

Justin (the rest vanished when my harddisk died) (not verified) says:

Holy analog oscillators .....
The thought of all that vintage electronic equipment and all the rare vacuum tubes....droool. That sounds like a pretty cool place to spend some time. The thought of all those oscillators fills my head with pipe dreams of building a polyphonic analog synth. It will be good to have you back in town.

farsheed_ (not verified) says:

the design of the analog electronics is great, it's the parts that are unreliable - for instance analog oscillators tend to drift which makes them hard to calibrate. i don't know if they are any more "user serviceable" - the only difference is for analog electronics you are replacing and fixing hardware while in the case of computers usually it is the software that needs to be "serviced". Re: your iMac - maybe try reinstalling the OS?

xbeethovenx (not verified) says:

that sounds like a lot of fun. do you have any video or document of your final project? interested in seeing dat. TEETS! wow! My random word to verify comment authorship is a singalese word for "little sister" = Nungi


Justin (not verified) says:

I guess part of the appeal of analog is the very dynamic nature you mentioned....things drift sometimes. So, when you find the right settings and it sounds glorious, maybe it's slightly more rewarding. Even though I know that that idea is half-baked, perhaps the ease (I use the term very lightly) with which one can obtain the sounds with digital electronics makes it seem less spontaneous or rewarding to some. Hence, why old analog stuff demands such exorbitant prices? As long as it's still a human creating the sounds, song, music, picsounds, etc., then it's still creative. Though, your Dell did some pretty creative rearranging of some of your tracks when it bit the dust....

dave (not verified) says:

It was not the software..
It was the PRAM battery. They die after about 5 years, I figured it out by unplugging the computer for a few days, and then it wouldn't boot at all. Replacing the battery solved the problem.

xbeethovenx (not verified) says:

good job figuring it out! i'm still waiting on the iPod settlement to replace my iPod battery

xbeethovenx (not verified) says:

midnight parking / dogs are barking / you can call me mark cause i've been tarking / and i'm walking / with a parkguin / and we are starkin in the larkin!!!!!!!!!!!

xbeethovenx (not verified) says:

yo checkin for updates and eating cupcakes i just ate some pizza pie and watched with my eye a groovy movie with my main men john and albert and it wasn't called "Calbert"

Mike Love (not verified) says:

nothing to do with picsounds...

the end of locks! the ultimate in lockpicking

lost in the parking lot (not verified) says:

farsheedx (not verified) says:

this lockpicking link took me on an amazing 2 hour tangent.