Jeffrey Siedler’s Logic Formations – Hybrid Spectres of the Spectron Video Synthesizer: Wanderings, Explorations and Signposts 13/52
Jeffrey Siedler’s Logic Formations is something of a cultural curiosity.
Released by Buried Treasure, it is a limited edition DVD of audio/visual work by Jeffrey Siedler which was inspired by the rare 1970s EMS Spectron video synthesizer.
What’s a video synthesizer you may say? Well, in this instance the Spectron was an electronic hardware device which could be utilised to create moving images/abstract patterns in real time, in a not dissimilar manner to the way in which say an electronic synthesizer could be used to create and manipulate audio. It also had an input for a monochrome camera, signals from which could be used in the generation of the video.
The Spectron was engineered/designed by Robert Monkhouse for EMS in 1974 and very few were manufactured, with it being relatively quickly supplanted by more affordable, programmable computers in terms of creating visuals.
Jeffrey Siedler’s work, which is collected on this DVD, attempts to emulate the output visuals of the Spectron, utilising digital recreations of some of the original mathematics/calculations/processes and the manual of the Spectron.
These visuals are accompanied by electronic music created via modular synthesis – so essentially a form of digital/analogue hybrid of the past and present.
The resulting visuals are largely abstract in nature, although here and there the outlines of a face or what seems to be a winged human figure will appear, alongside some accompanying descriptive text which give it the characteristics of say display video at a previous era’s Expo which extolled then cutting edge technology and visions of the future…
…or possibly a science and education television programme which was intended to inform its viewers of developments in technology.
In advance of watching the DVD, from the few screenshots I had seen, I thought that the resulting work would put me in mind of early 1990s abstract rave video graphics (the kind you would see displayed in a club and/or which were sometimes available on video cassette for home viewing).
However, although there could be seen to be some visual similarity with such things, the audio/visual work on Logic Formations seems to be more haunted/haunting; it has a hypnotic aspect which you can drift off into but also for myself contains or invokes subtly unsettling or even at points ominous atmospheres.
In the DVD’s accompanying text Jeffrey Siedler talks about how he considers that images such as those found on Logic Formations can “instil a calm, giving the mind a focus, much as would be accomplished by focusing on a mandala”.
Along which lines, the images on the DVD share some similar visual and atmospheric territory with some of Julian House’s work for Ghost Box Records, particularly his use of Op-art/mandala like abstract graphics and also caused me to think of this quote about his related video work from the text which accompanied a retrospective Ghost Box event at the ICA:
“Using a combination of new digital and old analogue techniques they conjure a world where TV station indents become occult messages and films for schools are exercises in mind control and collective hallucination.”
The work on Logic Formations could well be accidentally recorded “We have shut down for the night” broadcasts from some out-on-the-edges-of-consciousness television station, broadcasting from who knows which year or era.
Logic Formations at Buried Treasure’s Bandcamp site
The Logic Formations Trailer
The EMS Spectron Video Synthesizer: at Encyclotronic / at Audiovisualizers
Original Spectron video footage from 1997
LSFF: Retrospective and Q&A: Ghost Box Records