Paik-Abe Video Synthesizer
Brief: Co-created an early video synthesizer.

As you likely know, NAM JUNE PAIK, is a video installation artist.
One of his large scale creations is seen here:
An early incarnation of things to come?

The Paik-Abe Video synthesizer was a collaboration between Nam June Paik and video engineer Shuya Abe. The basic synthesizer is a colorizer, but in keeping with Nam June Paik's method to create a "smorgasbord of video art", a scan modulator was often found adjacent to the colorizer. Combining video feedback, magnetic scan modulation, and non-linear mixing followed by colorizing, generated its novel style of imagery.
The basic Paik-Abe is a colorizer unit with seven external video inputs and corresponding gain controls. Each of the seven inputs drive various non-linear processing amplifiers. The amplifier passes low level signals but folds over or inverts the polarity of higher level signals. High brightness components are turned into "negative" video while low brightness components can pass through without change. The output of the seven distorted amplifiers drive (depending on the version) a patch panel, a bank of switches or are "hard-wiring" to a resistive matrix. The Paik- Abe synthesizer was a color encoder made from a color camera and a video mixer. They didn't invent those components, they were parts from other already functioning pieces of equipment which were then reconfigured. The Paik-Abe synthesizer was a 7-channel mixer/colorizer; you had potentially 7 layers of video.

There is a bit of confusion about who received the original Paik / Abe VSynth. It either went to WGBH in Boston, or to WNET in NYC, I'm not entirely sure. My theory is that the prototype was originally constructed by Paik & Abe at the Experimental TV Center and was sold to WNET (ch 13 NYC). Whereas, the first non-proto unit was built for WGBH in Boston. Fred Barzyk or George Fiflield, the video curator for the DeCordova both have extensive knowledge about all this. Walter Wright recalls a friend telling him about driving to Boston from Binghamton (before he got there) in order to check out (?) or deliver the unit. Others went to other studios and artists. The ETC bought 3 of them. David Jones modified 2 of those by adding patch cables to one and a set of rotary switches to another so that the colors for each channel could be selected. The way they had been made fixed each channel at a specific color (red, green, blue, magenta, cyan, yellow) though you could turn the Hue control to change all the colors at once. There were at least 1/2 a dozen Paik-Abe 's made, including one that's still up and running in Germany.

If you are aware of the existence of a Paik/Abe that is not noted here, please SUBMIT details, so we can add it to our owners list.
Also, if you want to buy Nam June Paik video tapes, please visit: Electronic Arts Intermix.

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