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Title: You have been processed! Exploring Early Artists’ & Engineers’ Collaborations with Video Processing Machines
Authors: Oppenheimer, Robin
Keywords: Video synthesizers
Video image processors
Audio synthesizers
Creative collaboration
Machine vision
Artificial intelligence
Virtual reality
Woody Vasulka
Steina Vasulka
Nam June Paik
Issue Date: 17-Oct-2017
Abstract: In a recent Atlantic magazine article called “Our Bots, Ourselves”, science writer Matthew Hutson describes how Artificial Intelligence will change our lives. Machines, he says, will work with us and learn from us, becoming our partners through human-computer creative collaborations in fields like the arts and sciences. Technology corporations like Google and IBM are developing computers such as Watson, known for winning Jeopardy. Watson is now collaborating with filmmakers to create a horror film trailer, suggesting clips and shaving weeks off editing. Artists creatively collaborating with machines is not a new phenomenon, so there is much to learn from how video artists and engineers created collaboratively with handmade video processing tools and computers starting in the 1970s. In this paper I will describe those practices, and what was learned from communicating with analog machines and computers as partners, exploring together how to distort the video signal by creating modular bespoke synthesizers and processors. Artist/engineers learned how to generate images without cameras, play with and intermix electronic audio and video signals, and explore “machine vision” as precursor to immersive interactive media like virtual reality. I’ll focus on the collaborations of Woody and Steina Vasulka, along with other key people and machines from the early U.S. countercultural video art community. Drawing on their own words, I’ll reveal the secrets of the artists and engineers at the forefront of learning to collaborate with electronic audio/video technologies to create art.
Description: Biography: Robin Oppenheimer is a Seattle-based internationally recognized media arts historian, curator, educator, and scholar who has worked in the field since 1980. She was Executive Director of media arts centers in Atlanta (IMAGE Film/Video 1984-89) and Seattle (911 Media Arts 1989-95). A Lecturer at the University of Washington Bothell from 2008-2015, she is adjunct faculty at Cornish College of the Arts. Recent projects include media arts historian and presenter for 9e2Seattle (October 21-29, 2016) and media arts historian/writer for Google’s Artist and Machine Intelligence group in Seattle . Graduating with a PhD in Interactive Arts and Technology at Simon Fraser University in 2011, her areas of research include media arts histories, participatory media, and media activism.
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