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Video Instruments

Artist and Toolmakers Past and Present

Video Instruments Artists & Toolmakers Past and Present is a two-part documentary film that traces the history and development of video instruments, artistic practices, and the communities that surround them from past 1966 to the present. Video instruments are similar to musical instruments, they are performable and produce phenomena in real-time, often in direct or indirect relationship to sound. The first wave of video instruments emerged in the mid-1960s. Many of these instruments were inspired by analog audio synthesizers and included similar paradigms like patch programming, modularity, performability, and control voltage.


The series seeks to highlight the toolmakers who designed early and contemporary video instruments; and reveal the application of these instruments by artists who utilized and helped to articulate their use. Often times the artist and toolmaker are one and the same, or the construction of a tool becomes sites for collaboration between artist and toolmaker.


Toolmakers and artists in the 1970s were opening and hacking commercial video equipment and televisions. This type of experimentation evolved into designing their own circuits to create video instruments that solved creative problems or created opportunities for happy accidents. For example, a device like a colorizer, like the one built by Eric Siegel in 1970, adds color to individual grey levels of a B&W video.

These types of custom video instruments were radically different from the tools of the time, primarily because they presented open systems of control and input. Allowing artists to explore new ways of seeing the electronic image that was not based on the industrial tools created for television.


The first part of the documentary contains interviews with artists and toolmakers that created and influenced the first wave of video instruments in the late 1960s and early 1970s, including Stephen Beck, Dan Sandin, Tom DeFanti, Eric Siegel, Jane Veeder, Phil Morton, Dave Jones, Peer Bode, Walter Wright, Jeffery Schier, Sherry Hocking, Hank Rudolph, Sara Hornbacher, Ed Tannenbaum, Alan Powell, Barbara Buckner, Dave Sieg, Barbara Sykes, Denise Gallant, Rob Schafer, and Dan Bucciano. The section will also feature the second generation of artists and toolmakers that start their work in the late 1970s to present, which include Mathew Schlanger, LOVID (Kyle Lapidus and Tali Hinkis), Joost Rekveld, Kit Fitzgerald, and Benton Bainbridge.


The second part of the documentary contains interviews with contemporary artists, toolmakers including Lars Larsen, Jason Grilicky, Rob Rameriz, Anton Marini, Sara Goodman, Jon Cates, Paloma Kop, Jason & Debora Bernagozzi, James Connolly, Casey Reas, David Lublin, Phil Stearns, Olivia Jack, Sabrina Ratté, Philip Balijeu, Ivan Marušić Klif, and Jonas Bers.

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