The Electric “Now Indigo Blue”: Synthetic Color and Video Synthesis Circa 1969




 

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Abstract/Summary/Introduction:

  • Circa 1969, a few talented electrical engineers and pioneering video artists built video synthesizers capable of generating luminous and abstract psychedelic colors that many believed to be cosmic and revolutionary, and in many ways they were. Drawing on archival materials from Boston’s WGBH archives and New York’s Electronics Arts Intermix, this paper analyzes this early history in the work of electronics engineer Eric Siegel and Nam June Paik’s and Shuya Abe’s Paik/Abe Video Synthesizer, built at WGBH in 1969. The images produced from these devices were, as Siegel puts it, akin to a “psychic healing medium” used to create “mass cosmic consciousness, awakening higher levels of the mind, [and] bringing awareness of the soul.” While such radical and cosmic unions have ultimately failed, these unique color technologies nonetheless laid the foundation for colorism in the history of electronic
    computer art.


References:

  • I. Hays, Ron, “Music & Video Feedback/Video Light,” unpublished technical memo, 7.

    2. Siegel, Eric, “T V as a Creative Medium” (New York: The Howard Wise Gallery, 1969) 8.

    3. Youngblood, Gene, Expanded Cinema (New York: Dutton, 1970) 285.

    4. Sandin, Dan, et al., ”A Color Video Collaborative Process,” WGBH archives, January 26, 1973.

    5. Siegel, Eric, “Statement” (New York: Electronic Arts Intermix, 2001) 2.

    6. Yalkut, Jud, “The Electronic Video Synthesizer: Interview with Eric Siegel by Jud Yalkuc”
    (New York: Electronic Arts Intermix, 1970-1973).

    7. Vasulka, Woody, “EVS Electronic Video Synthesizer” (New York: Electronic Arcs Intermix).

    8. Siegel, Eric, “Patent for the Invention of the Video Color Synthesizer” (New York: Electronic Arts
    Intermix, 1972) 2.

    9. Vasulka, Woody, “EVS Electronic Video Synthesizer” (New York: Electronic Arcs Intermix) 120.

    IO. Schier, Jeffrey, “The Eric Siegel EVS Synthesizer,” Eigenwelt der Apparate-Welt: Pioneers of Electronic Art, ed. David Dunn (Linz: ARS Electronica, 1992).

    II. Ibid.

    12. Yalkut, Jud, “The Electronic Video Synthesizer: Interview with Eric Siegel by Jud Yalkut,”
    (New York: Electronic Arts Intermix, 1970-1973) 1-3.

    13. Anonymous WGBH archivist, May 20n.

    14. Fred Barzyk and David Atwood, interview with the author, 24 May 2011.

    15. Ibid.

    16. Paik, Nam June, “Electronic Opera #1,” The Medium Is the Medium (1969).

    17. Barzyk, Fred, Fred Barzyk: The Search for a Personal Vision in Broadcast Television (Miwaukee:
    Haggerty Museum of Art, 2001) 63-72.

    18. Fred Barzyk and David Atwood, interview with the author, 24 May, 2011.

    19. Barzyk, Fred, “Paik and the Video Synthesizer,” Fred Barzyk: The Search for a Personal Vision in
    Broadcast Television (Milwaukee: Haggerty Museum of Art, 2001) 74.

    20. Carter, Curtis, “Without Fear of Failure,” Fred Barzyk: The Search for a Personal Vision in Broadcast
    Television (Milwaukee: Haggerty Museum of Art, 2001) 18.

    21. Fifield, George, “WGBH,” Fred Barzyk: The Search for a Personal Vision in Broadcast Television
    (Milwaukee: Haggerty Museum of Art, 2001) 64.

    22. Benjamin, Walter, “The Work of Art in the Age of Technical Reproducibility,” Selected Writings,
    Volume 3, I935-I938, ed. Howard Eiland and Michael W. Jennings (Cambridge: Belknap/Harvard
    Univ Press, 2002) n2.