Night of the Conjurer (1992)

video tape by Theo Goldberg with music by Barry Truax

The story of the video, based on a legend concerning attempts by a prince's conjurer to bring to life the woman of his dreams, is an allegory about the relation of the artistic imagination to current attempts at synthetic reality by the most powerful "conjurers" today, computer-based artists. The Conjurer warns the prince that "if I bring to life the woman from this picture, your image of her will be lost," the woman in this video being the gamba player in Tintoretto's painting, Il Concerto, who is contrasted with distorted versions of a contemporary model playing the cello that gradually revert to a live image.

The music is based on granular time-stretching of two pieces of music, a work for viola da gamba and orchestra by Bach, and the contemporary double-bow cello improvisation Eogno by Frances-Marie Uitti whose permission is gratefully acknowledged. The visual material is primarily developed with the technique of three separate RGB colour scans, during which the subject moves, but which are later overlaid, causing some aspects of the body to be recognizable, but others distorted. The digital video manipulations were done with the Amiga Toaster.

Night of the Conjurer is available as a video DVD, as well as here.

Production Note:

The music for Night of the Conjurer was realized with the composer's PODX system for computer sound synthesis and composition in the Centre for the Arts at Simon Fraser University using the DMX-1000 Digital Signal Processor.