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Derek Holzer - Vector Synthesis: a Media Archaeological Investigation into Sound-Modulated Light

Vector Synthesis: a Media Archaeological Investigation into Sound-Modulated Light is a computational art project inspired by theories of media archaeology, by the history of computer and video art, and by the use of discarded and obsolete technologies such as the Cathode Ray Tube monitor. This text explores the military and techno-scientific legacies at the birth of modern computing, and charts attempts by artists of the subsequent two decades to decouple these tools from their destructive origins. Using this history as a basis, Holzer describes a media archaeological, real time performance system using audio synthesis and vector graphics techniques to investigate direct relationships between sound and image using analog CRT displays. Key to this system is a didactic, open source approach which encourages reuse and modification by other artists. The conclusion of the book reflects on how the project and the research surrounding it has contributed to the larger experimental audiovisual arts community through events such as the Vector Hack Festival.

Artists discussed include Mary Ellen Bute, Ben Laposky, Norman McLaren, Desmond Paul Henry, James Whitney, John Whitney Sr., Dan Sandin, Steina Vasulka, Woody Vasulka, Larry Cuba, Bill Etra, Mitchell Waite, Rosa Menkman, Cracked Ray Tube, Andrew Duff, Benton C. Bainbridge, Philip Baljeu, Jonas Bers, Robin Fox, Robert Henke, Ivan Marušić Klif, Jerobeam Fenderson, Hansi Raber, Ted Davis, Roland Lioni, Bernhard Rasinger, and the Kikimore group.

Holzer wrote this book over the period of 2017-2019 as part of his MA thesis in Sound in New Media at Aalto University in Helsinki.


“The aesthetics of the Vector Synthesis project are timely and capturing: when our world has become as politically and environmentally problematic as it is, with the whole Enlightenment project under threat, art somehow has to express this, and Holzer does this by applying the aesthetics of the glitch, the broken, the old and dirty, but with the belief that there within we find meaningful contemporary expression. This is an aesthetic that questions the techno-progressive ideology, the perfect technological society of the future, and admits that our universalising narratives of simulation, control, truth and identity have become problematic.” (Thor Magnusson, University of Sussex, UK).

Nice large format paperback, 122 pages long, 21 illustrations and links to several video examples online.

Publisher: Own
Author: Derek Holzer
Medium: Book


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