ABSTRACT

Circa 1969, a few talented electrical engineers and pioneering video artists built video synthesizers capable of generating luminous and abstract psychedelic colors that many believed to be cosmic and revolutionary, and in many ways they were. Drawing on archival materials from Boston's WGBH archives and New York's Electronics Arts Intermix, this paper analyzes this early history in the work of electronics engineer Eric Siegel and Nam June Paik's and Shuya Abe's Paik/Abe Video Synthesizer, built at WGBH in 1969. The images produced from these devices were, as Siegel puts it, akin to a “psychic healing medium” used to create “mass cosmic consciousness, awakening higher levels of the mind, [and] bringing awareness of the soul.” While such radical and cosmic unions have ultimately failed, these unique color technologies nonetheless laid the foundation for colorism in the history of electronic computer art.

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