16MB Prepared Video Buffer

Paris, France

A prepared piano is the result of opening up a piano and placing objects (often bolts and screws) between the piano strings. Preparations modify the sound of a vibrating piano string to create new sounds, sometimes more resembling a drum than a traditional piano. After a piano has been prepared, a score can be developed to explore the new qualities of the instrument. Instrument preparation invites a musician to engage with the inner working of their instrument, and see the instrument itself as a site of creative experimentation.

Inspired by the prepared piano, I have developed a prepared video buffer to encourage designers to explore their computers as a source of creative inspiration and discovery.  A video buffer is a fast-access memory space that stores data describing pixel values on a screen. When the stored data in the video buffer is sent to the screen, it is displayed as a sequence of images. The prepared video buffer allows control of the recording and playback of videos and the ability to change many of the parameters of these processes with direct visual output in realtime. 

The variable screen buffer parameters include :

  • the frequency of the memory recording and reading,
  • the duration of the recording and playback,
  • the sequencing of addressing this memory,
  • the amplification of the incoming and outgoing video data,
  • the sampling rate and sampling pattern of video recording and playback,
  • the bit resolution of the recording and playback,
  • the continuity of the above processes or the frequency of their interruption

Just like a bolt changes the sound of a note on the prepared piano, manually varying the prepared video buffer parameters results in a variably distorted image :

Here is the new version of the circuit :