Modulated Horizontal Lines
Remastered to HD for Bill Etra memorial 10/07/2017
Abstract video art created in 1976. Video by Dean Winkler and Chris Lambiase. Music by Terry Riley. This was created in real time using an RE-4 Rutt/Etra analog video synthesizer. After spending our January college break building the facility that housed the RE-4 and related equipment, we created this tape (with lots of patch cords) the night before we headed back to school.
This is the full length version of this piece, recently recovered from my only remaining copy. (A two-minute excerpt of it has been on Youtube since 2009.) Originally recorded to a 3/4″ U-matic VCR, at some point in the late 1970s I bumped up the 3/4″ cassette to a 2″ Quadraplex tape at EUE Video in New York. The tape has sat on my shelf since then, and having realized it was the only copy left, I decided it was time to transfer it to a digital file. Many thanks to the folks at DC Video in Burbank, California who did the transfer and may be the last place in the USA still running 2″ Quadraplex VTRs!
As I couldn’t afford new tape stock in those days, the recycled 3/4″ cassette stock we used to record on had a glitch at the end, and in looking at the Quad tape it seems the last 20 seconds of the piece dropped out, went to noise and then a Pittsburgh Steelers football game. (3/4″ VCRs were used for off-air recording before VHS or Betamax decks existed.) I have, therefore, taken the liberty of adding a new ending based on keeping with the spirit of the piece. I’ve also replaced the original mono audio track with a stereo version for your listening enjoyment, de-interlaced the frames for better playback on progressive scan displays and added titles. Other than these changes the entire piece is presented here in its original form, having been made in a single take and recorded in real time.
While modern image generation tools allow for the creation of anything imaginable, there was something magical about “playing” the RE-4 like an instrument and discovering the result, limited that it may have been. So please sit back, turn off your e-mail, mute your cell phone, log out of Facebook and Google+, ignore all tweeting, turn up the volume, select full screen, turn off your mind, relax and float down the pixel stream…