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The Videola


  Arthur's Round Table, the 'hoop of the nations,' circles of the seasons, and cycles of life, imply equity, completion and the regeneration of all things.
     The sphere embodies perfect integration of all possible circles and cycles.
     A mirror image expresses life's fundamental symmetries, and the kaleidoscope speaks with mysterious eloquence of infinity itself.
     Within the phenomena represented by these forms play out the intricate, self-luminous patterns and poetry of all existence.
Video image synthesized by Stephen Beck

The Videola was a video sculpture created by Don Hallock at the National Center for Experiments in Television at KQED-TV in San Francisco.

The Videola consisted of a color television monitor placed at one end of an elongated and truncated pyramid (technically known as a frustum) the 4 interior surfaces of which were lined with enormous high quality, front-surfaced, aluminized mylar mirrors. Spectators viewed the display from outside the large end of the almost 20 foot reflective tunnel.  The image on the monitor was multiply reflected to produce the illusion of a sphere composed of dynamically animated video imagery, which appeared to float freely in black space. The pseudo-diameter of the pseudo-sphere was about 6 feet.  The Videola could display imagery from a camera, videotape recorder or a video synthesizer. At the National Center for Experiments in Television the Beck Direct Video Synthesizer was used as one of the major image input signals.

The Videola was one of several attempts on the parts of many video artists to break out of the rigid constraints of the television display format; the ubiquitous 3 unit by 4 unit rectangle. Artists working with video at the time were approaching the medium creatively, but experienced growing frustration with the confinements of the surface size and shape of the video monitor. While the Videola did not offer artists complete freedom in terms of compositional area, the display of the imagery offered a completely new creative-philosophical approach and compositional field.

The Videola was displayed at the San Francisco Museum of Art in September 1973. The exhibition included 6 one-hour programs of videotaped material consisting of image and sound works by Don Hallock, Stephen Beck, William Gwin and Warner Jepson.  Stephen Beck operated the Direct Video Synthesizer and Don Hallock provided sound through the Buchla Electric Music Box performing a series of well attended live video/audio concerts.

As an art form, the Videola was quite compelling, and offered a sometimes deeply meditative experience, characterized by one spectator as resembling "gazing into the insides of my own mind."

  Left: Playing with high-quality mirrors.

Right: The Videola frame during construction. At the rear,
the 'upstage' set of mirrors can be seen, while the 'downstage' (forward) mirror sets have not yet been installed.
  Stephen Beck (left) and I prepare video and audio synthesizers for an improvised concert at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.


For helping to make this project one of the most enjoyable and artistically satisfying experiences of my life, special thanks go to Paul Kaufman, Brice Howard, Rick Davis, Stephen Beck, William Gwin, Warner Jepson and Dean Peterson.

Aloha, Don


...and in fond memory .... my deepest gratitude to Anna Turner, whose friendship, loyalty and caring support in all things were essential to the success of the Videola exhibit.  Journey well, my friend.

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