transition : from analog to digital // Tony Balko

Last night I got to surprise an artist-colleague, someone I haven’t seen since he left Pittsburgh in the oughts. In the 412, Tony did projected video work. Sometimes he edited together film-like things, sometimes he improvised with multiple 8 or 16mm projectors. Much of it, for me, was threshold-recognition work, immersive stuff playing with the viewers perceptual equipment (i.e. our eyesight & optical processing system). Yes, fear of seizure could be part of the experience, and fear of flashbacks, if acid or mushrooms were ever one’s particular trip. Always I found an engaging sense of wonder in Tony’s work, wonder at playing with the illusions underneath all projected film.



Balko packed the equipment for this installation into the pedestal supporting the piece. He created the software that manages the dilating, color-shifting projection using Processing.

I really enjoy watching Tony’s work make the shift to digital instrument creation. In Pittsburgh, I got to audience some of his collaborative video projection work. That content was created with existing video editing software, and was projected with live music performances with bands like Centipede Est. I also got to experience some of the pieces he made with analog projectors. Good stuff.

The leap to Processing deepens the instrumental improvisation. By building software, Tony creates the instrument projecting the work. His prior 8mm/16mm stuff worked, for me, as instrument/improvisation. The software made with Processing allows the art to respond to input during the show, a major departure from edited-together ‘finished films’ built on existing editing platforms.

Concerns with image flicker rate and abstraction unfolding over time certainly remain . . .



Check the flickr set, including video.




thanks, mr. postman : on time, thought, and peer critique

Recently completed a round of critique on my film-in-progress. The artist-crit-group lives in MA, CA, PA & Canada. We did everything by mail.

Since I requested handwritten feedback, I thought my response should be composed in kind. That writing process – careful cursive – assists an ordering of the mind no keyboard typefest supports. Slowing down speeds up the making process – the content produced comes clearer, better.

The 6-week critique round made space for the kind of depth of thought I needed to really make use of their insight. The artists I queried, each brilliant in her own right, each in different career moments, provided sharp, hard critique. The best kind, the kind that helps kill the vain starting point so you can turn it into something really good (writers call it ‘murdering my darlings’ I think).

The next round of editing means deep structural change, cutting and focus. The  decisions came over consideration of rolling incoming critiques. Such an unique process, especially in our “busy-busy deadline-deadline” world.