Signal to Code provides a special emphasis on the influential history of video art in the Central New York region. Sampling forty years of video art held in the Rose Goldsen Archive of New Media in the Cornell Library, the exhibition features works created in the pioneering facilities of the Experimental Television Center (ETC) in Binghamton and Owego, New York. Founded by Ralph Hocking, ETC offered artist residencies from 1971–2011 to more than 1,600 international artists for work with the Center’s innovative electronic tools. Most American video artists received some form of support from ETC, whether through residencies or grants, thus positioning the Central New York region as pivotal to the history of video art. Additionally, the exhibition includes artists screened in the country’s first video festival, the Ithaca Video Festival (1975–83), which was founded and curated by Cornell graduate and artist Philip Mallory Jones, MFA ’72.
Beginning in the late 1960s, artists and technologists began to custom-create hardware and software for real-time manipulation of video signals through original designs or as hacks to devices common to television production. The artists and tool designers working together at ETC extended this work across analog and digital domains in an expanded media environment. ETC was renowned for the experimental video processing tools developed by prominent artists and designers such as Ralph Hocking, Nam June Paik, Shuya Abe, David Jones, and Daniel Sandin.
Dazzling play with electronic color and form captured the imagination of the original group of video artists, while blends of synthetic sound and radical experimentation in narrative style increasingly enveloped the imagery of more recent artists. Video artists working in Central New York also capitalized on the creativity of video to expand the media discourses of race, gender, and sexuality.
Credit: Exhibition overview from museum website.