Play that cathode ray

This is Kyle Evans performing with his de/Rastra, an ‘oscillographic synthesiser’, made from a 1970s TV. The instrument allows the player to create on-screen visuals using the television’s cathode ray tube, which then generates a host of marvellous sounds

This is Kyle Evans performing with his de/Rastra, an ‘oscillographic synthesiser’, made from a 1970s TV. The instrument allows the player to create on-screen visuals using the television’s cathode ray tube, which then generates a host of marvellous sounds…

Over on butdoesitfloat.com there is a series of Evans’s Cracked Ray Tube experiments, a project with James Connolly which “breaks and disrupts the interfaces of analogue televisions and computer monitors to produce flashing, screeching, wobbulating, self-generated electronic noise and video”.

His latest project is, according to the text accompanying the clip of it in action (below), “a real-time audio/video instrument and computer-interfacing device that allows a performer to generate visualisations intrinsic to cathode ray tube technology, while simultaneously creating the acoustic analogue of the displayed imagery.”

The instrument represents Evans’s interest in the “hybridisation of old and new technology,” he writes on his web page about the project.

“By structuring the de/Rastra around a 1970s television, which is literally worn by the performer in a fashion similar to that of a guitar, the performer’s actions become directly connected and transferred to the CRT [cathode ray tube], concentrating both the performer’s engagement to the instrument and the resulting visualisations into a centralized object.”

As the de/Rastra is made from a hefty old TV with buttons and switches placed on the sides, and depends upon the performer’s movements within in a given space, it is, somewhat unsurprisingly, a little unwieldy. But as Evans shows in the clip, it still has the potential to own the stage.

The project is also open source and will eventually be accompanied by tutorials on methods of CRT hacking. Evans’s work to date is collected at yaktronix.com/derastra.

More details on his background in sound and electronics can be found in an FNews magazine film about his work, here.

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