Lonesome Blues

Lonesome Blues

YouTube and Vimeo lend themselves to short singular work, which would be perfect for so much of my earlier real-time video segments. I intended to create singular clips for posting some of the many short works that went into my early compilations like Green River Blues, Lonesome Blues, and Video Haiku, see Untitled #20. Looking at this material though, I changed course and cut a compilation of work called Lonesome Blues, originally known as Suicide Blues. The original title seems a mistake now, here it is named for the Mississippi John Hurt tune that is the sound track for one of the segments. This starts slow, the second segment is a bit long winded and then the song, but after that it's tighter than the original title.

Suicide Blues, though it was never distributed, had a single edit that lived at the Experimental Television Center library. At the end of a residency session at the Experimental TV Center in September of 1982 I cut a 30 minute tape for the library, as was required for each residency. I titled that tape Suicide Blues, and I never made a copy for myself. Instead these short pieces ended up in other compilations called Green River Blues, Video Haiku. and Works with Charcoal. The thing is, it turned out more than a few people viewed this work in that edit, that included the Mississippi John Hurt segment, and though it never appeared elsewhere the title seemed to generate some conversation. Currently that singular edit, like the rest of the ETC tape library, lives in a library at Cornell University. This edit, like that one, is comprised of work from a 60 minute tape that is labeled May/ September '82, but, here totaling 15:20, it is more selective and almost half the length. 

I was always conflicted about appropriation, and I'm sure that's why this material was never distributed in this way. And of course I have not sought permission to use the Mississippi John Hurt song, I will take this down at the first sign of a cease and desist order. Still showing a segment with a blues soundtrack (even if a bit boring) cut between the progression of mixed imagery with synthesized sound tracks, ending with the third segment of this cut "Blues with Arrow," works on some level.

This was a busy session, moving between straight up synthesized recordings using periodic waveforms for image and sound, camera imagery with shifted sync, and works with charcoal. There is a self portrait charcoal sequenced piece is left out, I will try to post that elsewhere.

Shifting sync required creating fake sync pulses that were then fed to the black and white cameras used at the time. These cameras, had two sync inputs, H and V, which were used to time the signal. Fake sync could be used for one or both of the sync inputs. The fake sync could be use to create continuous movement in one direction, or voltage controlled to create oscillating movement. At one point David Jones even designed a sync-repositioner that modified and processed H and V sync so that one of these same cameras could be used to create H and V wobulater effects (it did not include wobulater like rotation). Many people at the time used this technique including Peer Bode, Hank Rudolph and Woody and Steina Vasulka. I always thought that it would be interesting for someone to curate a collection of varied sync shifted works by different video makers.