The conclusion of analog television broadcasting in the U.S. can be understood as heralding the arrival of the digital era. The End of Analog is an exhibition that marks this historic transition with an exploration of technology's shifting significance on our culture, as well as on individuals. The move from analog to digital opens up a space of uncertainty regarding the status of physical objects and bodies, leading us to ask: What is materiality in the digital age? The artists in this show prefigure the post-analog landscape, creating objects and images that explore this looming question from multiple angles.
Alexander Stewart + George Monteleone, Robert Snowden + Carson Salter, Todd Simeone, Jon Satrom, Rebecca Gordon, Brandon Alvendia
Curated by Eric Fleischauer
February 20th - March 21st 2009
Roots and Culture Gallery 1034 N. Milwaukee Ave Chicago IL 60622
I just finished installing PSTXTICS at ROOTS AND CULTURE CONTEMPORY ART CENTER for the END OF ANALOG show opening on 2009.03.20. The piece is documentation of an hour-long terrestrial analogue broadcast I constructed in my studio a bit ago. I built a small transmitter to broadcast a signal between CH3 and CH6. The VCR’s output of CH4 was plugged into the input of the transmitter, creating a sort-of-feedback-loop. I say “sort-of-feedback-loop,” because the signal, at times, caused the VCR to switch to blue. I am not entirely sure that the feedback loop was live for the recorded portion of the piece.
While exploring the spectrum, I ended up discovering a nice rainbow-looking area in-between channels; which I believe originated from the recursive broadcast of the VCR’s blue screen. It was tricky to rope the rainbow into place. I experimented with manipulating the transmitter’s video-gain and bias in micro-increments with a screwdriver in order to hold it. I really had to slow myself down, it didn’t help that I had just finished a 4 shot americano. Even sans-caffeine, I have a tendency to be a knob twittler when I play live.
I started to develop a palette of micro-movements that would affect the band of colors. In limiting my focus and slowing-down, I became sucked into a feedback-loop that connected my hands, my body, and my environment. In addition to tweaking the gain, bias, and broadcast frequency with my fingers, shifting my body in my chair and my cat roaming in and out of the room affected the image. I wrestled with the idea of installing the system/set-up in the gallery and I would have, if it wasn’t so volatile. There is something in discovering and struggling to hold a little beautiful analog-oasis on the bleeding edge of a signal — it’s not about the static...
While thinking about the piece in relation to the show, I also wanted to include a digital element — especially because the broadcast would ultimately end up as a file on a computer to create a gallery-worthy loop. I ended up researching DTV compression standards and compressed the footage as MPEG2, which is the lossy compression format broadcasters are currently using. I then nibbled at the data in the file, literally. I took arbitrary chunks of four bits (a NIBBLE) and shifted them throughout the file, creating hiccups and blips in the playback. The loop for The End of Analog oscillates between the original analogue broadcast footage and the nibbled and compressed digital footage.
I’ll be putting it online when I get a chance... Below are some stills from the piece...
PSTXTICS: nibbling a rainbow at the bleeding edge of an analogue-oasis