Research: James Connolly and Kyle Evans

by Beauchamp Art

Cracked Ray Tube; James Connolly and Kyle Evans

“Cracked Ray Tube is a collaborative realtime project by James Connolly and Kyle Evans that breaks and disrupts the interfaces of analog televisions and computer monitors to produce flashing, screeching, wobbulating, self-generated electronic noise and video.”

This ‘Cracked Ray Tube’ collaboration project is an interesting example and investigation into the deliberate misuse of technologies creatively in order to something new that reveals the inner workings of the electronic systems within; dissecting the cathode-ray television and presenting the contents through performative video installations.

They hack the technology to produce a visual and sonic glitch; forcing slippage; like choosing to wear one’s shoes on the wrong feet in order to produce a particular mode of walking. Whereas in much of my work, I am often more inclined to hack the process to simulate the glitch, the false-failure; synthetic serendipity.

It is interesting to note how open-sourced they are about their processes, having full list of tutorials and schematics on how to create one’s own hacked TVs; such as interactions on how to turn a CRTV into an oscilloscope, and building a DIY electromagnet. This open approach to their ‘cracking’ of the TV I wholly approve of; as it removes the sense of superiority in holding the information by making it public; reducing the idea of the artist (or scientist, et al) as an authoritative figure, doing wonderfully unexplainable things; becoming less like magicians and more like teachers – demonstrating then enabling. Connolly and Evans are the artists in this instance, but should anyone subsequently create works using the same processes as a result of investing time into learning how to produce similar works having read through their schematics, they would be artists in their own right, but also greatly indebted to them – and these students-of-sorts could then possibly go further, do more; newer things, taking the process further.

Furthermore, the use of ‘cracked’ is an interesting word choice, as it has implications of ‘cracking the code’, doing something one is not supposed to, that would otherwise be secret  – finding the back door; the tradesman’s entrance; into technology – but rather than keeping this hidden, they have chosen to signpost it, to welcome all those curious to come by and see the back-stage processes, in order for people to understand them, and given them the tools in order for other people to respond in kind