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Press Release: Hotel New York, PS1 Contemporary Art Center, Gallery 205, curated by Alice Smits
On Sunday Oct. 8, 2000 between 12 and 6 pm a legendary seventies consumer machine will check into Hotel New York and present a day-dream performance for one day.
The legendary status of the CED video player "SKT-090" by RCA stems from its short availability: CED was the forerunner of laser discs. The crucial difference is that these discs are made of vinyl and played back with a needle, almost like an ordinary record. Similar to the short history of the 8-track audiocassette, CEDs lasted less than 5 years as laser discs became the more popular and reliable media.
What makes this particular SKT-090 model a unique performer is its highly individual and eccentric way of playing the video. The machine, 17 years old, reads scratches on the disc not like crackles on an audio record but chops a scene into fragments less than 1/4 second long and reassembles them by chance operation. The needle gets physically irritated by several factors besides the scratches that let it skip the grooves, resulting in an infinite number of similar but not identical collage variations of the same scene. The performed "cuts" are almost seamless.
Considering its historical context, there is some irony involved in this "accident" as the SKT-090 (which was built in the early '80s) reproduces without human interaction the video art collage techniques that originated in the same decade. Before digital video was available, some 5000 edits, each a couple of frames long, were done tediously on time-consuming tape-to-tape editing systems.
The unpredictable nature of the machine reproducing the stored analogue information in such an illogical order produces a rare machine autonomy that questions the way time progression is adapted to cinema. The latter usually features a successive order of events as the only factor that tries to level up with reality. Based on the given data the machine suggests an alternative reading. It could be seen as a practical approach to ciné-thinking. For Hotel New York the SKT will dissect a long distance Hollywood love drama.
The SKT-090 was found and modified by New York-based video artist Caspar Stracke.