Psyché Tropes Episode 21

11pm, 22 April 2024 on Resonance 104.4 FM

Presented by Steven McInerney, Episode 21 features the work of sound and video artists operating across scan processing, real-time audio and video feedback systems, analogue and digital computing, oscilloscopes, and vector synthesis from as early as the 1970's to the present day.

The Rutt-Etra synthesizer contains a system of electromagnets and a built-in synchronisation mechanism for processing the video signal. The modulations alter the field of raster lines, which are vertically deflected and appear to adopt the contours of objects. This device was used by early video artists such as Woody and Steina Vasulka in the early 1970s.

The Scan Processor Studies, is one example, a collection of works by Woody Vasulka & Brian O’Reilly. The source materials were generated by Woody using a Rutt-Etra Scan Processor in 1975, and in 2006 Brian O'Reilly collaborated with Woody to contribute the soundscape.

According to O'Reilly, “the works use sources excavated directly from the output of the Electromagnetic Objects, as well as further manipulations using Tom Demeyer's ImX software, developed with input from Steina. Extensive editing and layering and additional augmentations were done using Phil Morton’s IP. The Sound was generated (mostly) by custom software developed by called NETHER GENERATOR, which sets up a number of complex real time feedback networks filtered and processed by various means.”

The dialectic of the violin along with the video played by Steina Vasulka in Violin Power (1978), are interconnected where the sound creates the waveforms of the image. Furthermore, music is visually explored as a medium developing temporal and spatial features as it spreads the scan lines so that they become horizontally visible, Steina also uses the Scan Processor to modulate the soundwaves until they build up spatial forms of the image creating a sculptural pattern.

Following on is a piece titled Signal Culture Series by Paloma Kop from 2017. A similar aesthetic to the Rutt-Etra video synthesizer, Kop used the Dave Jones Raster Manipulator and a modified CRT television known as the Wobbulator for this piece. The audio was created in Kop's studio, using a variable-speed cassette player, field recordings, and synthesizers.

Alias 3 by oscilloscope artist Eric Lennartson, an Artist, Composer, and Improviser based in Los Angeles. His audio-visual work makes use of analog oscilloscopes in which he sends the sounds from his computer directly to the scope and a set of speakers simultaneously. In doing so, sound and image create a feedback loop of meaning. Although the sounds create the visual, the images have a direct influence on the creation of the sounds. The resulting effect is non-objective imagery that interacts with dense noise, pulsating tones, and unstable beats. Through this interaction, he explores the intersections between the analog and the digital, as well as the different perspectives and meaning inherent to the sound and image themselves.

The technique of creating oscilloscope animations purely through sound has become increasingly popular on the internet thanks to the work of Christian Ludwig, an Austria-based artist who performs as Jerobeam Fenderson. Ludwig, who describes this field as 'Oscilloscope Music' uses an analog CRT oscilloscope connected to his computer’s audio interface. The left audio channel triggers a horizontal deflection onscreen, and the right audio channel triggers the vertical emulating vextor-style graphics to create mesmerizing shapes intricate enough to form a visual narrative. His piece Shrooms is a lysergic and comical trip of dancing mushrooms in 3d space.

Playing out tonight's episode is an audio-visual work by Derek Holzer titled Ocular Pathogen Transmission. For this piece Holzer uses Pure Data to perform a Woody Vasulka inspired, Rutt-Etra style scan processing technique on a photographic image, which is then rendered as three audio signals (for the horizontal, vertical and brightness) and sent to a 1980’s Vectrex vector game console CRT monitor. The video features new ripple and block effects written specifically for this work. The audio track is the horizontal and vertical signals processed through a selection of hand-made analog synthesizers and effects. Filmed directly from the CRT in Helsinki, in early February 2020.