A Short History of VinylVideo™ - A Collective Memory

VinylVideo™ is a fake archeological relic of media technology, a revision in the record of technological progress that bridges a gap in the history of consumer technology while it provides a unique new viewing experience in the medium of video.

In collaboration with Martin Diamant, Günter Erhart and Best Before, the Austrian artist Gebhard Sengmüller has created a technique for storing and reproducing video signals (moving image and synchronized sound) onto conventional analog long-playing vinyl (LP) records with a running time of approximately 8 minutes per side.  With the VinylVideo™ Home Kit, a "black box" that transforms the audio signal back into a video signal, the VinylVideo™ Picture Disk can be played back on a standard turntable with an ordinary diamond needle and a conventional black and white television set.  The black and white images of the VinylVideo™ disks appearing on the monitor are of reduced resolution and low frame rate, while the synchronized sound is reproduced in telephone quality. The resulting drastically reduced picture quality creates a new perceptual mode of accessing video works, creating a time-bound medium that both references the earliest television pictures at the same time as its uncanny combination of the familiar and the novel summons up fantasies of other possibilities in the continuum of technological progress.

As a hybrid of different technologies, VinylVideo™ reveals and connects a variety of media history alignments, combining art, science and technology, low- and high-tech and analog and digital elements to create a new vision (a breaking-open) of the limits of a medium, of consumer technology and of the artifacts of everyday life that quotes the contemporary renaissance of vinyl at the same time that it questions the expiration of technologies.

The historical background for this video disk technology is the discontinuity in the development of electronic video technology. While the electronic transmission of images has been possible since the late 1920s, the reproduction of such stored images only became possible with the invention of the videorecorder in 1958 and recording for private use only became available in the 1980s with the mass introduction of the VCR. (Footnote: As early as 1927 John Logie Baird invented an apparatus called "Phonovision" that recorded moving images on the wax plates that were then used for sound recording.  He was unable, however, to play back these recorded images.  References to the age of wax plates may perhaps be found even today in names like "nightmares on wax" and "mo wax".)

Playing the VinylVideo™ Picture Disk on a regular audio turntable results in an audio output that reflects the constantly changing visual content of the recorded video. VinylVideo™ thus encompasses contemporary forms of DJ-ing while at the same time making new forms of "videoscratching" available to VJ-s. The simple placement of the needle on different points on the record makes possible a random access manipulation of the time axis. The picture can also be manipulated by changing the speed at which the record is played.

VinylVideo™ is an ongoing collaborative project. International artists are invited to produce works for the VinylVideo™ record edition. The artists engage and reflect on the specific qualities of the new medium using a variety of different artistic approaches. Consequently, while the resulting VinylVideo™ record edition has in common a curiosity about and a
willingness to explore the possibilities of the medium, artists have chosen to engage aspects of the technology as varied as the interconnection between sound and image, the manipulation of the time axis, the use of VinylVideo™ as a VJ tool and the connection to the ASCII code.

The VinylVideo™ record edition includes works by Perry Hoberman, Julia Scher, Elke Krystufek, Heimo Zobernig, Oliver Hangl, Annika Eriksson, Monoscope, Harald Hund, Visomat Laboric/Gereon Schmitz, Cut-up/Geert Mul, Vuk Cosic/Alexej Shulgin, Andrea Lumplecker, Peter Haas, JODI, Lampalzer/Oppermann, Olia Lialina, students of the HGB Leipzig, Nuno Tudela, Kristin Lucas and Cecile Babiole.

For additional information please access http://www.vinylvideo.com or contact info@vinylvideo.com.

VinylVideo™ is an Austrian cooperation between: Gebhard Sengmüller, an artist working with new technologies; Günther Erhart, an information scientist; Martin Diamant, and experimental physicist; and Rike Frank of Best Before.

(copyright 1998 by Best Before)