The Collapse of PAL
The Collapse of PAL is a live audio-visual performance by Rosa Menkman. Menkman originally performed the work on TV-TV, an artist run television station in Denmark. The Collapse of PAL creates a narrative about the transition from analog to digital television and was performed in three parts: Eulogy, Obsequies, and Requiem for the blue plains of phosphor. Menkman created live-glitched video using a NES gaming console, image bending, and a broken camera. She also created live sound using a cracklebox, DV-compressed video bends, feedback, and Eurosignal. The full-length performance is not available, but an 8 minute 30 second video documentation shows a clip of part one and Menkman’s narrative being typed during the performance. The narrative brings in a character named the Angel of History. The angel is the only witness of the execution of PAL, a color encoding system for analog television and its broadcasting. Menkman’s glitched video transitions between different eerie landscapes and a ghostly female’s face.
Menkman’s glitch art is central to her practice. She is currently getting a PhD in digital artifacts and her artwork can easily be associated with ideas surrounding this topic. Sophia Callahan of The Creator’s Project says of Menkman’s work:
“Rosa Menkman’s new media artwork celebrates both the computer screen glitch and the actual resolution of the image it's trying—and failing—to represent, highlighting the accidents in the “free space” between them. She treats these digital mistakes like relics, documents, and artworks, and continues to challenge the awkward time-and-space gap between human perception and machine vision.” Callahan, Sophia (2015, April 5) Having Cryptic Conversations About Encrypted Graphics at Rosa Menkman’s New Show
This “free space” exploration is deeply woven into The Collapse of PAL. Her Angel of History theory, based off of Walter Benjamin writings, directly refers to the end of broadcasting with PAL to the use of DVB (digital video broadcasting). She claims the seemingly over-night transition tried to execute PAL. This transition from analog based technologies to digital technologies can create a loss of a medium. But, Menkman claims the PAL signal is not dead. As Benjamin’s theory famously describes, all technologies are built upon the technologies that precede them. They appropriate the space that the previous technology resided, as well as inherent some of their traits. Menkman claims DVB is flawed in many of the same ways as PAL due to this theory. Menkman’s work also reflects ideas of personification of technology and digital media conservation.
The dialogue that The Collapse of PAL introduces is dense and, from a technical standpoint, very complicated. It would have been better received if viewed in its original context and entirety. Yet, it’s sparse existence adds to the rich narrative and subject matter. The Collapse of PAL couldn’t really describe a collapse if the work itself made space for PAL to live on. The mystery it creates draws you in and pushes you to find answers. Before you know it you’ll be watching this excerpt many times over and researching broadcasting systems. This subconscious call to action you receive seems purposeful, as a researcher’s art ought to be.
Much of Menkman’s work is conceptually heavy and also quite beautiful as she can so seamlessly break the Internet. Andrew Rosinski of DINCA wrote of Menkman:
“Rosa experiments with video compression, feedback, glitches, and other forms of noise to create visuals unique to the realm of digital media. Most discern visual glitches — i.e. buzzing lines on interlaced video, video lag, digital blocks, particles, and pixelation — as a detriment to video aesthetics. Rosa, however, embraces these glitch-bits, and contrives them in her work, which is multivalent, and may be described as subversive fidelity, technicolor, synthetic yet organic, and at times, raucous.” Rosinski, Andrew (2010, June 29) Interview with Rosa Menkman, Dutch Visualist
Just by visiting Menkman’s website you can get a feel for her aesthetic. And her video work Compress Process (2009) exemplifies the glitched methods she has mastered. For the work, Menkman compresses a single Skype video in a handful of ways to create an eerie, yet beautiful mess. Her work feels influenced by Mark Napier, a pioneer of net.art. Specifically, Riot (1999) by Napier broke the Internet in similar ways to Menkman. Riot served as an alternative search engine that blended different aspects of each site you visited resulting in wild hyper-glitched browser windows. Menkman’s work feels like a contemporary departure of these net.art roots adding animated feedback loops and 3D effects. She is the contemporary epitome of Internet anarchy.
The Collapse of PAL has been shown at the following:
· TV-TV, Copenhagen (2010)
· Quartier 21, Vienna (2011)
· STRP, Eindhoven (2011)
· Transmediale, Berlin (2011)
· Nova Festival, Sao Paolo (2011)