<< preface

this blog is nina wenhart's collection of resources on the various histories of new media art. it consists mainly of non or very little edited material i found flaneuring on the net, sometimes with my own annotations and comments, sometimes it's also textparts i retyped from books that are out of print.

it is also meant to be an additional resource of information and recommended reading for my students of the prehystories of new media class that i teach at the school of the art institute of chicago in fall 2008.

the focus is on the time period from the beginning of the 20th century up to today.

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2008-10-01

>> Sandin Image Processor + Distribution Religion

from: http://www.evl.uic.edu/core.php?mod=4&type=1&indi=337

Between 1971 and 1973, Dan Sandin designed and built the Sandin Image Processor (IP) a patch programmable analog computer for real-time manipulation of video inputs through the control of the grey level information. The version that allowed for color manipulation was refered to as the Color IP

This modular design was based on the Moog synthesizer and is often explained as the "video equivalent of a Moog audio synthesizer" or as a video synthesizer. That is, it accepted basic video signals and mixed and modified them in a fashion similar to what a Moog synthesizer did with audio. An analog, modular, real time, video processing instrument, it provided video processing performance levels and produced subtle and delicate video effects that became popular with early video artists.

The IP's real-time effects naturally led to its use in live theater performance, including "Electronic Visualization Events" where the IP was seen processing the output of Tom DeFanti's Graphics Symbiosis System - GRASS. Real-time image processing was combined with sound to create visual concerts.

Physically, an Image Processor system would be built out of modules. Several types of modules were defined and typically would be an aluminum box containing a circuit board inside, video connectors and knobs on front of box and power connector on back of box.

The modules would be organized in rows. Individual systems could vary in size and increase in power with the addition of more modules. Typical modules would be signal sources, combiners and modifiers, effects modules, sync, color encoder, color decoder, and NTSC video interface.

Sandin was an advocate of education and espoused a non-commercial philosophy, emphasizing a public access to processing methods and the machines that assist in generating the images.

Accordingly, he placed the circuit board layouts for the IP with a commercial circuit board company and freely published schematics and other documentation. The Do It Yourself ethos combined with the low cost of the parts and a free dissemination of information created a large following of video artists, students, and others interested in experimental video electronics. The modules were often assembled by individuals who had no prior knowledge of electronics fabrication. Also, from time to time Sandin and staff would hold fix-it parties where modules that had failed to work would be repaired by the senior staff.

The Image Processor's educational success can be found in its numbers. In its time, more IP's were built than any other commercial "video-art" synthesizer. This distribution method was, and to a very large extent still is, unique in the proprietary and competitive industrial field of advanced electronics.

Sandin's IP, and the instructional video that accompanied the modules trained and inspired numerous individuals who would go on to make substantial contributions to both art and science.

Sandin received grants in support of his work from the Rockefeller Foundation (1981), the National Science Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts (1980) and the Guggenheim Foundation (1978). Sandin's early IP video work "Spiral PTL" was one of the first pieces included in the Museum of Modern Art's video art collection.


for current images done with the IP, see on satrom's flickr-site: http://www.flickr.com/photos/jonsatrom/sets/72157602017681573/




















The construction-instrucions for Sandin Image Processor were distributed freely, so anyone who wanted to have one could build it. This example of open source was called "Distribution Religion" or "copy it right". For further information see http://mediaarthistories.blogspot.com/2008/06/dan-sandin-demonstrates-sandin-image.html. To see and download the Distribution Religion, visit: http://criticalartware.net/rsrc/dwnl/dS_DISTREL.dwnl/www_VR/

>> collaborations of artists and engineers, some quotes

>> Leslie Mezei, “Collaboration and multimedia are not impossible, only extremely hard and rarely successful.”

>> Billy Klüver, “The raison d'etre of E.A.T. is the possibility of a work which is not the preconception of either the engineer or the artist, but is the result of the exploration of the human interaction between them."

>> Lilian Schwartz, „The associative properties once used by the non-computer artist no longer correspond to the direct will of the artist“ → simple acts become major programming tasks; mastery of the medium

>> Gene Youngblood: "the ultimate computer will be the sublime aesthetic device: a parapsychological instrument for the direct projection of thoughts and emotions.”

>> A.Michael Noll, “"Most certainly the computer is an electronic device capable of performing only those operations that it has been explicitly instructed to perform.”

>> Jasia Reichardt, “Noll is one of the few people involved in computer art from the technological end who has always claimed that the roles of the artist and the engineer are not only not interchangeable, but beyond making his techniques available and accessible, the engineer had no role in the area of creative activity generally called art.” (in: “The Computer in Art”)

>> Leslie Mezei, “The first wave of artists that came to the computer expected miracles from it without a serious effort of learning and exploring and creation on their part."

>> Herbert Franke: “A new generation of computer artists comes on the stage - Many of them have collaborated in the technical development, but also use their medium for free artistical performance. So they are entitled to call themselves artists as well as technicians.”

>> A.Michael Noll in “Expanded Cinema”, 1970:
“First of all, artists in general find it extremely difficult to verbalize the images and ideas they have in their minds.”

>> “Klüver's wish was to find 'new means of expressions for artists... and to find out where they stood in relation to the society that was sending men to the moon.'”

>> Gene Youngblood: “man so far has used the computer as a modified version of older, more traditional media.” [...] “But the chisel, brush, and canvas are passive media whereas the computer is an active participant in the creative process.”

>> Gene Youngblood: "Most certainly the computer [...] has been explicitly instructed to perform.”

>> Gene Youngblood: "For the first time, the artist is in a position to deal directly with fundamental scientific concepts of the twentieth century.”

>> Gene Youngblood, “When that occurs we will find that a new kind of art has resulted from the interface. Just as a new language is evolving from the binary elements of computers rather than the subject-predicate relation of the Indo-European system, so will a new aesthetic discipline that bears little resemblance to previous notions of art and the creative process. Already the image of the artist has changed radically.

In the new conceptual art, it is the artist's idea and not his technical ability in manipulating media that is important. Though much emphasis currently is placed on collaboration between artists and technologists, the real trend is more toward one man who is both artistically and technologically conversant.”

Billy Klüver, "It is hard to think of two professions with such great dissimilarities as the artists and the scientists. … I feel like a man standing with one leg each on an icefloat [sic]. The icefloats are drifting apart and I will end up with the fish. C.P. Snow cornered the market with his “two cultures.” Art and technology, art and science are not two cultures, they are two separate worlds speaking two entirely different languages" (Loewen 1975: 41).

summary of keywords:
--> language, new language, translation, conversant in both art and technology (Youngblood, Franke); human-computer interaction; human-human interaction (Klüver, Knowlton), conceptual art, art as research; direct will, deal directly (Schwartz, Youngblood); miracles, no serious learning efforts (Mezei, Noll, Knowlton); collaboration hardly ever successfull (Mezei, Knowlton) vs equal partners (Klüver)

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... is a Media Art historian and independent researcher. She is currently writing on "speculative archiving && experimental preservation of Media Art" and graduated from Prof. Oliver Grau's Media Art Histories program at the Danube University in Krems, Austria with a Master Thesis on Descriptive Metadata for Media Arts. For many years, she has been working in the field of archiving/documenting Media Art, recently at the Ludwig Boltzmann Institute for Media.Art.Research and before as the head of the Ars Electronica Futurelab's videostudio, where she created their archives and primarily worked with the archival material. She was teaching the Prehystories of New Media Class at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC) and in the Media Art Histories program at the Danube University Krems.