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Wave Forms

My obsession as an artist has been the wave form which is the essential foundation of the television signal. I first learned about this through Nam June Paik and Shuye Abe at Cal Arts. I developed craft and experimented with ways to make waves visible in the images.

There are three kinds of waves- sine, triangle, and ramp. During the 70’s video was analogue which provided easy access to frequency generation that could change the patterns of the raster effecting the composition of images. The Paik/Abe Wobbulators and Raster Deflectors were early artist/engineer collaborations that led to fruitful creative productivity.

During the 1980’s there was a transition to digital processing which provides even more control over the signal. With the decision to make the Mac a video-graphic friendly computer, all elements of post production became widely available.

As digital editing on PCs became more popular in the 90’s and 00’s more filters and digital processing tools became integral to the software. This includes ways to modulate the wave forms that carry the representational flow.

My goal has been to carry on what I was doing at ETC using low end PCs, cameras, and other equipment to experiment with the effect of wave forms on the video signal. My approach has always been to push the systems to their limits, set up some visual parameters, and then see what the machines come up with.

My documentary, Melehi, is about an artist whose work is based on the wave. I followed him around Morocco to see his and traditional Islamic art in public and architectural spaces. He showed me isolated and forgotten mosques deep in the High Atlas mountains where Jewish artists painted the ceilings with undulating shapes based on details of surrounding environment, nature.

At first I wondered if the largely invisible shifts in frequency might have the effect of waking people up from the hypnotic television signal. With what I understand now as youthful vigor, I exploded the signal with vengeance and zealous passion. No wonder , in the punk video days of the early, mid 70s, friends would ask, with concern, if my videos would hurt their tv sets.

In the short, silent video The Color of Silence the outlines and shapes of the desert landscape remain visible but everything is layered and shifting. Nothing is steady, except the quiet.


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