Since 2013 Casa Tineretului in Timisoara hosts the anual exhibition Analog Mania, an international festival dedicated to analog arts and techniques, curated by it’s founder Emil Kindlein. The 9th edition of this festival went by the theme ONE-icity. Artists are called to participate with one outstanding object, the one that encapsulates the whole creative identity of the artist.
I helped Emil to pack the 50 exhibits, including paintings, manufactured prints, projection installations, retrospective movies and objects, into a single van and transport them from Vienna, Austria to Timisoara. The Casa Tineretului is a modernistic Bauhaus style event building from the 1960’s communistic era. It has a classic main hall with a colourfully painted upper floor gallery, that we turned into a clean black and white art exhibition. We spent a week for that metamorphosis, distributing the various and diverse exhibits and fitting them into a single continuos tale of analog artwork.
Is an old plastic black and white TV from the 1990s a piece of art? Certainly not! It is just some ugly manifestation of cheap and outdated mass production consumer hardware from china. Duh!
But when you take it appart, suddently a cathode-ray tube (CRT) appears. Tubes have become the iconic herald of the current iterations of retroism. Be it analog music, retro gaming or the pseudo-statement of steampunk. The tube has a fascination that probably derives from it’s device-ish-ness: While todays electronical components are mostly tiny solid black-boxes, tubes are transparent, complex and often mysteriously glowing objetcs.
As a teenager I loved the approach to science fiction of Terri Guilliam’s (Brazil, 12 Monkeys) and always wanted to build things like his naked TV tube computers in Brazil. Back at the Leeds College of Arts I dedicated a project to that, taking apart old TVs in any given way.
During the pandemic lockdown in 2020 I stumbled across some cheap small monochrome CRT TVs on amazon, so I bought a dozen and started experimenting.
First thing I did was building a retro gaming device: I piggybacked a raspberry pi 3b single-board computer onto the 12V of the TV’s pcb and fed it’s analog output into the TV’s composite in. There are easy to install game emulators for the pi, like retroarch and done is your retro-pi gaming device. When Emil Kindlein asked me if he could exhibit one of my keyboards, I pulled out this awkward device from my workshop and we decided to combine them for his exhibition. Arguably a digital gaming device has nothing to do with analogue art, but I see the CRT with all its flaws and noisiness as an analogue interpretation of the digitally produced images and the collection of games I presented – from 8bit puzzles to polygon heavy beat-em-ups – show the clumsy first steps from hand-soldered devices to today’s high end GPU driven computer games. Now the question is, what to do with the other tubes. Emil is working on his own audio visualizing CRT matrix right now and I remember Max Headroom…