About the instrument

The modular video synthesizer is a video synthesizer in the format of a modular synthesizer. A video synthesizer can generate video images by itself using electronic signals, or process external footage captured with a camera. The instrument has existed roughly since the early 1970s and has been used predominantly for performing live visuals to accompany live music concerts.

The modular video synthesizer used by The Voltage Painter is based on the Eurorack format of modular synthesizers used for making sound. It consists of a collection of modules that each perform a specific function within the instrument. These modules are sold by small independent manufacturers worldwide, sometimes in the shape of DIY kits. Without the patch cables carrying analog signals that connect the modules, the instrument makes no image at all.

If the image is generated without external video input from e.g. a camera, it relies on the synthesizer’s shape generators (called ‘oscillators’ and ‘ramps’), which produce bars and gradients on the screen. These look pretty boring on their elemental form, so extensive modulation of frequency, amplitude, and other parameters is necessary to produce attractive abstract images.

Gijs van Ouwerkerk modular synth

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