The advancement of realtime communication from a one to one basis to a global basis marks the end of the first cycle of civilization. The technological processes of defense have permanently scared this planet and its peoples cultures. It is clear that human achievement can no longer be measured by materialistic victories over nature or foe. It is a time when human intelligence has devised a means to disseminate and liberate information instantly on a global basis. From this moment on human achievement will be measured by our ability to face the original challenge... to communicate!
From this vantage point, let us recognize the need for industry to demonstrate to society a sharing concern for the quality of life and the quality of the physical and information environment. This can be achieved not only by technologically extending our nervous system, but also by recognizing that we are a concurrent techno-society struggling to integrate our advanced technical achievements into our culture. The interface between hardware and software has been technicians and artists sharing their respective talents. . .the products of this union become monuments to civilization.
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) is actively encouraging non-profit organizations to become communication satellite experimenters. Until 1973, NASA was in the business of building, launching and conducting research and development experiments on the scientific and technological aspects of communications satellites. While it is no longer in that business, NASA continues to support the satellites it has launched. Each satellite was designed to test specific technological developments. These tests were completed anywhere from a week to six months after each launch. But, the communications satellites were in space to stay, virtually forever. Rather than let the satellites go unused, NASA initiated a program that made time on these satellites available to non-profit groups for short term experimental projects.
With the assistance of NASA and PBS/CPB we hope to conduct three satellite "performances" that explore the aesthetic qualities of "state of the art" communication technology. Image and sound content will be programmed to exemplify the effects of this "realtime" distribution system. Using two-way video/audio channels we will perform two day time experiments and one day/night experiment which will be transmitted live over the PBS network .
Looking Towards The Future
We see these experiments as a prelude to further investigations of the aesthetic nature of satellite time/space displacement. We hope that when the PBS/CPB satellite system is operational in 1979 that the experience of these first experiments will result in a continuing series on PBS in which artists, technologists and futurists are invited to apply and experiment with the unique characteristics of the satellite environment.
With the assistance of PBS/CPB and NASA we hope to conduct three satellite experiments using NASA technology to explore the aesthetic qualities of "state of the art" communication technology. By aesthetics we mean the concurrent time/space displacement inherent in "real time" communication networks. We propose to program image and sound content to exemplify the effects of a "real-time" distribution system. We intend to use multiple image and sound transmission hardware with an attitude that looks at the hardware as if it might be software.
Our technological society is in an era of transitional mutation from an industrial age to an electronic age. It is an age where dominant agencies of communication produce the message systems that cultivate the dominant social patterns. They structure the public agenda of existence, priorities, values and relationships. It is these mutating consequences that become forces of acculturation, creating a new symbolic order in society.
At present, the cultural benefits of satellite technology, to the larger public, come packaged in the form of human competition such as boxing and the Olympic Games.
People need to be reassured in an automated environment, that it is possible for a human being to manipulate a seemingly complicated network of technology to produced a desired affect. When this goes unproven we develop a notion of helplessness.
Amid the clamor of political, scientific and commercial interests, it may be helpful to establish direct cultural ties between the human creative processes and the technological extensions of our nervous system. We must seriously consider the necessity of exploring the aesthetic character of an instant domestic communication/distribution system and establishing the cultural/aesthetic indicators inherent in such a system.
It is important for the industry and artists to direct a an inspirational and expressive relations with this global mutating tool. It is an appropriate consideration now, when various alternatives to profit motive uses are being evaluated and continued. It is time for experiments of a cultural/aesthetic perspective.
It is our belief that aesthetic research in the television medium must reach beyond studio synthesis and image manipulation. Though we are well versed in these techniques, we feel that the profound nature of television is its intrinsic ability to be "live!" We are impressed by the fact that the greatest impact of television, in all its collective programming hours has been when it was distributing in "real-time" a "living event"
The most important message this communication system can deliver to people is the knowledge of its potential.
The following three experimental performances have been designed as live two-way video/audio connections between both ends of the continental United States. The exchange of audio/video information between these distant points will be made possible by NASA satellite transmission. NASA will supply the up and down links, will help us identify and access appropriate ground stations and will provide us with engineers who will work with us through all phases of the experiments.
The exact location or "address" of each send/receive satellite ground station has yet to be determined or negotiated. But, with the desire to keep costs and complications to a minimum, we will conform to existing ground stations and neighboring PBS studios. The exact dates and times for each performance will be coordinated between ground stations, PBS station studios and satellite channel time. We will schedule the performances at a date and time convenient for all concerned.
The points of camera origination at PBS studios (or mobile studios) will be connected to NASA satellite ground stations via micro-wave. The two distant images will come together at an east coast PBS station which is capable of mixing the two separate images during simultaneous distribution over the PBS television network.
The television viewers will be informed by sub-titles that what they are seeing is in fact "live via satellite' " During all the project performances an open telephone connection between the two east/west locations and the control studio will be maintained to direct and coordinate all activities. This audio control network can be provided by NASA to reduce cost and possible failure .
During a single evening of PBS broadcasting, scheduled programming will be perforated as commercial television is with commercials. Several live 2-5 minute inserts will be injected into the normal broad- cast schedule at consecutive predetermined half hour intervals. What will be seen on a television set is a split-screen live transmission of both the Pacific and Atlantic oceans The live injections will continue to take place at half hour intervals from the moment when natural light is equal over both oceans. Each time the images return to the screen during the evening the light transition between the Atlantic and the Pacific will appear more and more apparent. This will continue until the Atlantic becomes moon lit while the sun remains hanging over the Pacific .
The picture on the right side of the television screen will be the live image from a camera situated on the eastern seaboard of the U.S. looking towards the Atlantic ocean. The left side of the television screen will be a live picture sent from a camera looking towards the Pacific ocean (located preferably in Hawaii, but most probably on the California shore. ) The audio will be a live stereo mix of the natural sounds of the ocean and its environment from both locations. There will be no commentary and no human voices. The images and audio from both locations will come together on the east coast at a point suitable for camera mixing and PBS simulcast distribution. A few seconds of sub-titles on each injection will identify it as being real-time "live via satellite"
Light Transition is a study of both the natural rhythms and cycles of nature and of technology's ability to heighten our awareness of these rhythms through time/space displacement.
Each dancer will see their partner by means of a two-way video exchange system. This video exchange system will allow dancer East to monitor dancer West and choreograph herself with the projected image she sees of dancer West. And, dancer West will choreograph herself with the projected image she sees of dancer East. At the opening of the live performance each dancer and their location will be identified by establishing camera shots. Each dancer will be identified as being alone. Both dancers will be seen confronting the live video projection of their partner some 45, 000 signal miles away .
As the dance begins the television screen will be split with the left side of the screen occupied by dancer West and the right side of the screen by dancer East. As the performance continues the split screen will dissolve into a live background location entirely different from the real location of either dancer. It would appear that the dancers are together in the same space (in which they have always been). This "objective" background would continue to change until the cycle is complete and the dancers "return" to their original locations.
As mentioned before the dancers will perform a "duet" in improvisation during live PBS broadcast. Though the dancers will rehearse together, and general patterns and cycles will be worked out, the function of their talents in this satellite performance will be to respond to each other rather than synchronize themselves in a predetermined set of actions. We will work with dancers who are well versed in this style of dance and who's individual styles are complementary. Rehearsals will include satellite rehearsal time.
This experiment will require two-way video/audio distribution. The two dancers will exchange images and at the same time the distant images of the dancers will come together at an eastern PBS station which would be the coordination center for all activities. The PBS control studio will mix the two images and also add the additional live background images. The control studio will require an open audio talk-back system between the studio and the two dance locations.
At exhibitions located at each end of the continent, people will be invited to "transport" themselves via satellite to the other exhibition point and visit with their counter-parts, who are in turn, transported to them. People in San Francisco, for example, will be able to confront and converse with live, life-size, full color, 3-dimensional video projections of people in New York. And, people in New York will be able to see and talk with a 3-dimensional projected image of the people in San Francisco.
The color video image of the person standing on the other side of the continent would seemingly be coming out and off the lenticular screen. The image would seem to be within reach of the 'real' person. When using the lenticular screen, the 3-dimensional experience can be achieved without the use of 3-D glasses or any other viewing aids. This lends many advantages to the 3-dimensional experience/illusion.
Technically, this experiment is as simple as a two-way color teleconference. (A detailed description on the 3-D projection system is attached as an appendix.)
3-D Transport will take the form of an installation for public exhibition. Because, it is next to impossible to transmit 3-D television to the home receiver, the exhibition will be documented on film and video tape for airing on PBS at a later date.
This experiment has many applications,
but at this point our interest is in setting up a confrontation between
people under extreme technologically simulated conditions. In the future,
we hope to perform an international peoples confrontation, where people,
language, and culture interact beyond the consent of passport control.
Logs and notes on the operations, technical specifications and processes of the experiments will be kept. Data processing will emphasize technical information that can be applied to future experiments.
The results of these artistic applications can not only be measured in hard facts and cold calculations. Ideally, the results would be broader understanding and appreciation, on the part of the general public, for the "whole systems concepts" symbolically described in the performances.
All of the performances will be recorded on video tape and the processes documented by video tape and photographs. The video tape documents will be made available to the general public through ' Electronic Arts Inter-mix' (video tape distributors). Reports on our experience and of the actual performances will be made available to art publications, communication publications, video/broadcast publications and to the general press.
PROJECT MANAGEMENT AND SCHEDULING
It is stated under the NASA guide lines that the principal investigators Kit Galloway and Sherrie Rabinowitz must exercise management authority and responsibility for experiment preparation, execution, evaluation, and distribution of results. We will serve as extensions of program management of NASA's Satellite Experiment Division in the conduct of our own experiments.
With Mr. W. M. Lew, Experiments manager, and NASA engineers we will plot the appropriate satellite channels for two-way video and sound, as well as determine available ground receiving and sending stations. In coordination with CPB satellite engineers and PBS programming management, we will determine exact scheduling of rehearsal time and live broadcast time. We will work directly with Mr. John Ball, director CPB satellite project to integrate NASA satellite hardware into PBS distribution facilities. Mr. Fred Cohen, Director Arts and Humanities PBS, will be the central coordinator for essential PBS broadcasting network scheduling.
APPENDIX: DESCRIPTION OF 3-D VIDEO PROJECTION SYSTEM
Lenticular 3-D (which dates back to the 1800's) has had recent revival in the form of postcards, magazine covers and inserts. Basically the system is this: The right and left eye views are broken up into thin vertical strips (90 per inch average) which are then "interwoven" to form one composite picture. The composite is then actually composed of lines, every other one of which collectively corresponds to one stereo view. When a lenticular screen is placed in front of the composite, selective viewing occurs. Motion picture applications of this method project the stereo pair onto a lenticular screen.
The Keijzer Stereoscopic Screen:
In 1936, Keijzer went to Russia where he explained his designs for a lenticular screen. He left Russia and traveled to the United States where the prototype screen was built. Keijzer died four months after the screen was finished. The screen was never publicly demonstrated. In 1940 the Russians were credited with the design of the first lenticular screen. Keijzer's screen remained in its shipping crate for 25 years until we recently tracked it down uncrated it and examined it. The screen is in perfect condition.
High quality optical mirrors are common to all types of projection systems i.e.: to get projected images around corners or to solve short distance problems for rear projection.
Mirror configuration for 3-D video projection:
Four mirrors are needed, 2 small mirrors (A&B) which split the projectors beam into right and left images. The two images are then bounced off to both sides of the projector. The beams are received by two larger mirrors (C&D). The larger mirrors reverse the two images and direct them onto the lenticular screen.
The General Electric flat screen
color video projector is the most appropriate projector to use with the
lenticular 3-D system. Unlike the Advent and Sony projectors, the G.E.
does not need to be viewed on a front projected parabolic screen. The
Eidophor projector, made in Switzerland, also a flat screen projector,
is prohibitively expensive and its large size projection capabilities
are unnecessary for-this stage of 3-D projection. The G.E. projector will
project an adequate resolution color picture up to 20 feet in width. The
lenticular screen which exists now requires a projection size of only
9 X 10 feet.
The best method for utilizing the lenticular screen with a single video camera and single projector is the stereo-captor system.
The stereo captor system:
The stereo-captor is entirely optical. There are no electronic or mechanical parts. Panning, tilting and zooming can be performed as usual. The qualities of brightness, contrast, linearity and size are fairly uniform between the two images because of a single vidicon and cathode ray tube system.
The stereo pictures can be recorded, played back or mixed again with live cameras. There is no flicker, eye strain or psychological discomfort.
-end of public document.