Videokalos Synthesiser Rationale



As a pioneer of early video, I chose to build equipment to allow myself and others to create and perform with video in real-time. The writing section on this site includes articles that discuss the drive and desire to achieve technological equipment more akin to musical instruments in function and raison d’etre, primarily “Video, Art and Technical Innovation”. The Videokalos was the primary outcome of this journey – a complex but portable image-processing device that formed the heart of a multi-camera studio.

Working with access to a broadcast colour television studio at the Royal College of Art stimulated my highly individual exploration of the visual potential of the video medium. All the complex technology of such a studio was designed to produce accurate naturalistic reproduction of scenes with some small degree of variance of the lighting conditions. This was a broadcast TV media aim rather than an artistic one. By playing with and deliberately mis-aligning the various controls, interesting visual possibilities and colour control were possible enabling the studio to be used as a palette for a moving visual form.

Given that access to such a studio for this kind of purpose was highly unusual for an individual, as well as expensive, I conceived of bringing the most useful aspects of the studio into a single portable device that could be used independently with less expensive monochrome cameras and more modest supporting equipment. A chance encounter with electronic designer, Richard Monkhouse, led to a two-year collaboration that resulted in the Videokalos synthesiser, or more accurately a complex image-processing device. Following commercial development several were sold at that time to colleges etc, and it became a central part of my repertoire of techniques. I compare my construction of this complex device as equivalent to classical painters mixing their own pigments from natural source materials. And it gave me additional significant insights into the fundamental nature of the video medium.

See also for an interview with me around this theme.