I recently had the distinct honor and pleasure of collaborating with the legendary Richard Devine on a multi-sensory piece for Moog synthesizers. The project is called “Cathodoluminescence” and features Richard with an original track (composed on the Moog Grandmother and the Matriarch) and myself contributing the visual element. To find out more about the piece as well as read a conversation between Richard and I about the creative process please check out “Cathodoluminescence” on Moog Music.
Originally we had filmed a live performance of Richard’s in Durham, NC for Moogfest. We had used an interactive vector graphics based installation of mine as the backdrop of which I performed on for the shoot. I got involved in the post production, one thing led to another and the live performance evolved into an entirely different affair.
The visuals were created over a number of sessions with an assortment of fun gear in the mix. I had built a couple of interactive video walls for Moog in the past and I wanted to pay homage to them by incorporating a lot of simulated video wall elements into the piece. I also made a point of incorporating a number of the modified gaming systems into the mix. The floating man motif that I return to is from a rare consumer game development platform for the Japanese Sega Saturn that I’ve spent a lot of time with. There is some circuit bent Playstation 1 & 2 in there as well… even some 3DO (let me know if you can pick it hehe). The dominant system in use here is the modified Dreamcast I crafted back in 2016.
The Video Nasty is featured heavily as it is the lone source of analog sync corruption throughout the video wall sequences. As I’ve said before it’s got one of my favorite sync corruption looks in the BPMC arsenal. There is a number of fun DVE units featured in the creation of things as well including the Pinnacle Prism, the Fairlight CVI and some Sony DME series units. Probably some other shit as well, hard to keep track.
The piece was composed as I was packing up the Pauper Palace over a number of sessions in an apartment that kept catching fire. Regardless of the fire it was a productive time and I’ve got a lot of unused footage from the sessions. I thought it’d be nice to piece together an alternate edit of the video using the original live track Devine and I were first working from (which is another banger). Something for the BPMC youtube channel a little later on in the year perhaps.
It’s been an honor working with Moog over the years. I grew up playing an Etherwave theremin and saving my hard earned cash for a Moog Model D from Daddy’s Junky Music in Boston, MA. Big respect for Bob and the house that Bob built (no respect for the House Jack Built however… the f is wrong with Von Trier?). Besides the point but I missed meeting him by ONE session at RBMA a year before he passed away. Still haunts me! That said, much respect to Richard and Moog and thanks for watching.
I love when I get a chance to put down the soldering iron (turn it off even), put on a pot of good coffee, blast some Espirit and plug a bunch of weird shit into the big screen. It’d be even better if I could do all of this from the bath (as I am a lazy comfort-seeking bitch)… but there is a serious electrical hazard there. Man oh man, when winter chills ya’ to the bone nothing beats a silky smooth hot bath. Candles, powdered milk, a good oatmeal scrub, some dead sea salts loaded with essential oils…. oh, I don’t know, call me crazy but perhaps even a glass of 2012 Californian Merlot?!? But I digress…. ah yes, you’ve no doubt got a little time off on the horizon so I suggest you get plugging in some video gear of your own. If you are looking for a little inspiration take a gander below. Here I’ve posted some recent demos and excerpts with a brief explanation of what is going on technically behind da scenes.
I knew there was more to this thing! Recently I re-worked my mods on the extraordinary Sima SFX-9 two channel mixer. The intent being to take better advantage of the multi-option chroma-key feature. I really love the chroma options on the SFX-9 and wanted to ensure that the surgery hit it right-proper. The demo utilizes a VHS input on channel one and an out being routed back into channel 2 in conjunction with the chroma mode. One of the mods implemented greatly distresses the FX buffer sending it cycling through all FX settings (independently on each channel) at warp speed. The joystick, in this mode, has a lot of say in corruption speed, feedback speed & effect variability…. and you see that here.
While the SFX-M does not have a TBC, instead frame synchronization, it sure handled every conceivable corrupted signal I could throw at it via the Premium Cable. Here we have the SFX-M plugged directly into a projector. I’ve got a VCR on channel one with the monitor out on channel one going into the Premium Cable and then back into channel two. Utilizing the awesome, though limited, wipe patterns on the SFX-M I dialed in a nice feathered circular blend with the processed signal on channel two and the clean signal on one. I enjoy the moments when the corrupted channel artfully shadows the action on channel one. Radical!
Some serious stoney baloney shit right here. Here I’ve got a GlitchMix’d SFX-M with mixer feedback set up on channel two. The feedback channel, in wipe mode, also has negative and strobing on to create this cool stutter-steppin trippy goodness. The soft pastels and posterization come from some of the delightful FX buffer mods I stumbled upon. These mixers are like little old plants. They have a look like a mushroom and taste like you just picked ’em fresh from the garden.
These are some recent sketches I made for Leaving Records utilizing the Fairlight CVI processed by a Premium Cable. The two make a delightful combo with the CVI doing the bulk of the heavy lifting. The Leaving logo was transplanted into the CVI via laptop and processed within the confines of the almighty trails effect. Great for green-screenin’ but also great for spicing up something simple like this.
It takes some care putting the audio reactivity feature of the Fluxus to good use. It is all about implementing audio in conjunction with a stable effect. Wild and erratic effects tend to make it challenging to pick out the audio reactivity… “is it doing anything?” The dropshadow effect in powered mode reflects the influence of audio well. As does some of the chunky artifact feedback in feedback mode. Choosing the right sonic source is important as well. The feature was not designed with My Bloody Valentine’s Loveless in mind. More like the output of an 808 or an old Fender Rogue. The more defined attack and decay you give this thing the better.
I am a certified gearwhore and was advised, somewhere in the mid-two thousands, against getting into modular synthesis due to it’s crack-like effects on the gearwhore brain. I am glad I held out so long, definitely saved me a buck or two, but I can think of a number of video projects over the years where a healthy modular setup would have been most helpful. The first time I hit the AVE3 with CV my jaw damned near hit the floor. It was like seeing the machine in a whole different light. “Why the hell didn’t I get into CV sooner?” Damn you.. sensibly responsible self!
My apologies to your brain if you’ve ever seen this early Herschell Gordon Lewis student film but it definitely made good b&w fodder to toss into a Touch Deluxe. The Touch Deluxe has a weird digital feedback made available by one very particular mod in conjunction with the onboard “art” effect. It has varying degrees of line thickness and fill however in this video I dialed it in to one silky lil’ position and let it go for the full duration. This look is B-U-T-T-A!
Here we have but a mere function generator injecting tiny little voltage packets into the guts of an AVE3. Pretty entertaining for a single module but imagine the visual potential all you Celldwellers & professional Muff Wigglers have at your fingertips. We are going to leave it there folks, thanks for having a look and let me know if you develop a bathtub friendly video synth anytime soon. Error successfully illustrated.
The autumn rains are here (at least in Portland they are) and it’s time for you to stop feeling so bad for stayin’ indoors with the blinds closed videotaping your CRT. Some tend to spiral downward into the winter blues but I for one find I’m as productive as a mudderfucker without all that sun. As long as I have a fresh pot of coffee, a formal tuxedo snuggie fleece & fresh batteries in my heated shiatsu massage video-art-making chair I’m bound to do great things. Here is a small treasure trove of videos from talented BPMC users, the world over, who managed to stay productive despite the sun’s best & brightest efforts this summer. Here’s to a productive spat of seasonal depression! Best wishes, the Big Pauper.
Dreamcrusher – Fear (and No Feeling) by Videopunks.
Dewy Sinatra – No War by Matt Woodman.
Aquarius Heaven feat. dOP – Nasty Boys by Timur Musabay
City Lights (Pixelated Passion Phase 1 Remix) by Dakota Reed.
Dreamtrak – Do Re Mi by Hard Science.
HEAP (Excerpt) – Toby Kaufmann-Buhler.
exm – Hold On by Fracta
Evacuated Fern – Need it When I’m Older from Glob Records.
Getting started with glitch art video production may seem a little daunting at first but there are really only a couple of key things you need to know. First, we should clarify what we mean when speaking of glitch video production. I am speaking of any video project that incorporates modified or circuit bent video mixers, fx processors, titlers or cameras into the mix. Speaking of which, this website is infested with them. If you’re new to glitch video production in general have a look around. While glitch video production does draw some parallels to the world of eurorack video synthesis and video art in general there are some things unique to glitch video production worth mentioning.
Displays ultimately decide the manner in which your destabilized signals are interpreted. They decide whether you get all those crazy squiggles or the ol’ blue screen of i-can’t-handle-this-shit. CRT TVs are the quintessential display when it comes to broken standard definition video. I design my machines strictly on CRTs and then later test them on other displays as an afterthought. Unless your CRT has digital noise reduction on (dig through the menu and make sure that shit is OFF as a mutherfucker) a CRT will display any signal you throw at it. This is not the case with LCD screens, projectors & capture devices as they all utilize analog to digital conversion and drop your signal rather than try and interpret a corrupted signal. An LCD screen will do it’s best to display corrupted signals but certain FX will create signal dropout for sure. What FX sneak through and at what amount varies from LCD to LCD but this is the same story with all those projectors you want to plug directly into. Projectors are even more touchy and are quick to interpret some corrupted signals as a lack of signal. But don’t worry, all is not lost. This can be worked around with a TBC unit or a cheap video mixer with a TBC in it, but we’ll get to that shortly. Before moving on I’d like to point out that each display type has it’s own flavor and subsequent time/place. It’s also good to note that results can vary from manufacturer to manufacturer and even between sizes when it comes to CRTs.
Time Base Correction.
For stable results when working with LCD screens, projectors and capture devices Time base correction is imperative. To quote wikipedia, “TBC counteracts errors by buffering the video signal and releasing it at a steady rate.” In instances where analog signal drop-out would occur a TBC unit, either a standalone box or a video mixer with one in it, would cleanly convert it up in to the digital realms. A TBC also changes the aesthetic of some FX. Often times this is the trade off. The Panasonic WJ-AVE5 for instance has a really weird flavor. It’s buffer has a very digital glitch feel; pulling out greens, often freezing or strobing the bottom half of your screen. The Sima SFX-9/10 does a really accurate job of displaying corrupted video. I find that it is most true to the original effect. The Videonics MX1 seems to vary over the course of it’s production run. There are also many stand alone units but the newer ones tend to either drop out to color bars or black (I’m looking at you AVT-8710). I highly recommend checking out ebay for cheap old rackmount ones often under a hundred bucks.
You’ve got a couple of ways to record your glitch video. You can find a display you love and point a DSLR or a camcorder it. With a little time and care this looks lovely. It is usually the way I go. There is a bit of an art to it; getting the right focus, dialing in your moire patterns or eliminating screen banding. It’s a nice easy way of bumping your video up to HD as well. If you’d like something a little more practical (or travel handy) you can always go the capture card route. There are many options to choose from and price varies based on software integration, input varieties, data transfer type, resolution availability and codec support. I say there is no shame in going the cheaper route for starters, just don’t expect a lot of support or integration into your preferred video editors of choice.
It is inevitable that you will one-day want to process youtube cat footage through your glitch art rig. It is not that challenging to setup, you just have to dumb that digital signal back down to analog. How to do it depends on what kind of computation device you are runnin’ over there. This Macbook Pro I am typing to you on for instance has both a mini-display port or and HDMI port I can utilize. The mini-display port for instance would require that I use an Apple mini-display to VGA adaptor and then a VGA to composite video adapter. The HDMI port is a little more straight forward and would only require an HDMI to composite video adapter. In my case I use the VGA method more often because I have found it to be more reliable. I have run into a couple of instances where I lose color going from the HDMI converter to certain pieces of glitch gear. This could be due to the converter I was using. Haven’t tried them all yet. You can even create a laptop loop by running out of your display port into your glitch gear and back into your laptop via a capture card. This can pose some challenges and be a little tricky to setup but I have seen it done. Despite the latency created utilizing this method it can still be pretty useful.
So these are the basics I want to make sure you know before you dive in but I hope this has been helpful and if you have any BPMC related glitch art video questions do not hesitate to hit me up. Cheers and be well.