Portland art blog + news + exhibition reviews + galleries + contemporary northwest art

recent entries

Giving Thanks Readings
Meet RACC's new leader Madison Cario
November Reviews
Early November Links
Spooky reviews
Countdown to Portlandageddon?
Mid October Links including PNCA/OCAC merger talks
Paul Allen, philanthropist and arts champion dead at 65
Midwest Art Initiative Tour
Haunting October Picks
End of September News
September review cluster

recent comments

Double J



Book Review
Calls for Artists
Design Review
Openings & Events
About PORT

regular contributors


Tori Abernathy
Amy Bernstein
Katherine Bovee
Emily Cappa
Patrick Collier
Arcy Douglass
Megan Driscoll
Jesse Hayward
Sarah Henderson
Jeff Jahn
Kelly Kutchko
Drew Lenihan
Victor Maldonado
Christopher Moon
Jascha Owens
Alex Rauch
Gary Wiseman



Guest Contributors
Past Contributors
November 2018
October 2018
September 2018
August 2018
July 2018
June 2018
May 2018
April 2018
March 2018
February 2018
January 2018
December 2017
November 2017
October 2017
September 2017
August 2017
July 2017
June 2017
May 2017
April 2017
March 2017
February 2017
January 2017
December 2016
November 2016
October 2016
September 2016
August 2016
July 2016
June 2016
May 2016
April 2016
March 2016
February 2016
January 2016
December 2015
November 2015
October 2015
September 2015
August 2015
July 2015
June 2015
May 2015
April 2015
March 2015
February 2015
January 2015
December 2014
November 2014
October 2014
September 2014
August 2014
July 2014
June 2014
May 2014
April 2014
March 2014
February 2014
January 2014
December 2013
November 2013
October 2013
September 2013
August 2013
July 2013
June 2013
May 2013
April 2013
March 2013
February 2013
January 2013
December 2012
November 2012
October 2012
September 2012
August 2012
July 2012
June 2012
May 2012
April 2012
March 2012
February 2012
January 2012
December 2011
November 2011
October 2011
September 2011
August 2011
July 2011
June 2011
May 2011
April 2011
March 2011
February 2011
January 2011
December 2010
November 2010
October 2010
September 2010
August 2010
July 2010
June 2010
May 2010
April 2010
March 2010
February 2010
January 2010
December 2009
November 2009
October 2009
September 2009
August 2009
July 2009
June 2009
May 2009
April 2009
March 2009
February 2009
January 2009
December 2008
November 2008
October 2008
September 2008
August 2008
July 2008
June 2008
May 2008
April 2008
March 2008
February 2008
January 2008
December 2007
November 2007
October 2007
September 2007
August 2007
July 2007
June 2007
May 2007
April 2007
March 2007
February 2007
January 2007
December 2006
November 2006
October 2006
September 2006
August 2006
July 2006
June 2006
May 2006
April 2006
March 2006
February 2006
January 2006
December 2005
November 2005
October 2005
September 2005
August 2005
July 2005
June 2005

contact us


Contact us






powered by


Movable Type 3.16

This site is licensed under a


Creative Commons License

Saturday 03.22.08

« Thinking about The Living Room at MoCC | Main | It's how one lives not "in what" that is defining »

Elegy to Analog: BYOTV at The New American Art Union

Installation View: BYOTV, NAAU 2008

Dear (Video) Ladies and Gentlemen,

The death of an era is upon us. On February 17, 2009 the FCC will terminate the broadcast transmissions of analog signals in favor of an entirely digital broadcast system. To receive these new signals, one must own either a digitally receptive television or purchase an analog converter, for which the government has issued coupons and for which may be applied through various FCC websites. Such a change will mark something quite significant, as the government's clammy dip into something so personal as our television scented daily lives feels perhaps a little too close for comfort. For the first time ever we will be governmentally mandated to update our televisions. What this will mean for the American public is up for discussion, not only logistically but culturally. Despite the fact that the topic happens to be mere electronic pathways, invisible conduits for the transmission of our Jerry Springer and Seinfeld, our cartoons or the nightly news, this technological wonder revolutionized the world in such a way that the strength and plethora of its subcultures proliferated. Televised analog signals became somewhat medium unto themselves, the very material of moving images becoming metaphysical, existential, a stuff to wield and analyze.

The first group of juried shows the NAAU has lined up for the coming year spotlights the true lovers (and soon to be mourners) of the analog signal in the tribute, BYOTV, the Video Gentleman's elegiac concert to this era. Alas, analog lovers unite, for this is a celebration. The artists encourage visitors to the gallery to bring their own t.v.'s, as the title of the show suggests, so that they may pick up their own signals with various, idiosyncratic results. For the entire duration of this exhibition, the Video Gentlemen have scheduled a variety of programming that explore the contribution of the transmission of images and sound via cathode ray tube, magnet, and electricity and the various quirks and magic upon which its recipients corroborated.

Installation View BYOTV, NAAU 2008

Carl Diehl's "Blobsquatch: Patrolling the Ether" documents the work and interests of those fascinated by EVP or Electronic Voice Phenomena. These groups dedicate much of their lives to the detection of voices or images within what has become a rather electric atmosphere.

EVP Soundwave

With so many different types of signal being transmitted through our atmosphere, EVP subscribers believe there to be much undetected communication occurring in the in between of received signals. This communication is believed to be conducted by supernatural beings or ghosts. There are many who in fact believe that the deceased have the power to communicate through these superfluous waves and wish to intercept messages from beyond the grave. The "Spy Numbers Stations" suddenly detected during the Cold War were a similar sort of secret communication discovered and investigated yet were later believed to be communication between spies rather than spirits. In light of this coming February, Diehl's documentary suggests perhaps an end to these analog mystics' ease of access to their own religion and folklore, to what Diehl's documentary deems "sanctuaries for eclectic electronic ecosystems" or "active electronic ghostlands."

scotts picture.jpg
Ghosts Image Courtesy National Ghost Hunters Society

Truly, this show lauds the trappings of mad scientists, supernaturalists, and audio visual theorists, those that appreciate the intellectual property surrounding certain phenomena and aesthetics within great melting iceberg bits of culture. The exhibition is visually sophisticated, tightly highlighting the rather pointed notion of a relatively new beauty: the sleek, minimal, electrical beauty of Atari games, brand new appliances, and noise as music. This is the beauty of the flesh of the invisible, of transmitted electricity, the force that powers mouthwatering transmissions of our pop cultures, our entertainment, and many of our ideals. The Video Gentlemen have ingeniously translated this space into broadcast station, performance space, and hip electrical enclave. The catalogue for this show is art unto itself, each page graphically lovely and powerful enough to jog the memory of anyone who happened to own any sort of instructional manual for any piece of audio/visual analog receptor in the past thirty years.

Atari Equipped '79 Buick Riviera Image courtesy Computer History Museum

Thus the eccentric hearts that sicken at the loss of analog broadcast lose more than their television sets; they lose their mechanics, the beauty of visual electrical error and function, the sort of humanity of electric signals. We have finally reached a technological age old enough to be nostalgic about our electricity. The switch from analog to an entirely digital broadcasting system is intended theoretically to make more money for all, to ease the burden of the federal deficit, to allow emergency response units easier communication with one another, and of course, to watch (even) more and better tv. Yet the public consequences of this enormous switch go relatively undiscussed on either local or global levels.

According to blogger Jahn, Some people do indeed like the hills and valleys in their English muffins or the blobby gaps in their analog broadcasts. Yet those who espouse the digital age cannot seem to understand this. The Video Gentlemen's programming this month is the reification of the worlds within worlds of those electronic hills and valleys about to be destroyed by mandated commerce. An analog anthology in real and recorded time, BYOTV is a preemptive tribute to the living medium of an era that parented most of our lives and imaginations. Will the digital age serve our analog brains as well? Only real time will tell.

Installation View BYOTV, NAAU 2008

Posted by Amy Bernstein on March 22, 2008 at 12:05 | Comments (1)


This line in particular is incredibly perceptive, "We have finally reached a technological age old enough to be nostalgic about our electricity."

It is so true... I'm a guitarist and there is a lot of truly mad fistishing of things like vacuum tubes and germanium transistors... but in this case the nostalgia is a lot more pervasive. Most everyone in the USA gre up with an analog TV.

Posted by: Double J [TypeKey Profile Page] at March 23, 2008 02:14 PM

Post a comment

Thanks for signing in, . Now you can comment. (sign out)

(If you haven't left a comment here before, you may need to be approved by the site owner before your comment will appear. Until then, it won't appear on the entry. Thanks for waiting.)

Remember me?

s p o n s o r s
Site Design: Jennifer Armbrust   •   Site Development: Philippe Blanc & Katherine Bovee