Interview 23 DEC 2022

Posted in Text on December 23rd, 2022 by admin

A short interview for Pablo Guerra Pedroso’s thesis research:

In what field of the arts do you express?

I work in the field of live audiovisual performance, with a special interest in the direct relationship of sound and image. My current research uses tools from the fields of media archaeology, interaction design, new materialism, and science and technology studies to explore the creation of experimental electronic instruments for live audiovisual performance.

How would you define your work within art?

A lot of my work could be considered media archaeology, in the sense that I am often looking back through the history of electronic arts for ideas and inspiration. I am very interested in the idea of re-enacting specific historical instruments, with the idea that a re-enactment is not simply an imitation or recreation of the original, but rather an investigation of the circumstances in which that instrument came about.

What relationship do you have with the use and design of technological objects?

Most of the possibilities for creative expression for me come from a deep familiarity with the material processes within the tools for artistic creation. Donna Haraway writes that “It matters what matters we use to think other matters with […] what thoughts think thoughts” [1]. Because of this, I rarely use off-the-shelf technologies as the main elements of my work. I prefer to work through many of the basic technological steps on my own, through both analog electronics and digital programming, so that I am more aware of what matters are affecting my artistic thoughts.

What is, for you, the importance of generating technological objects and new visual-sound languages?

Looking carefully at the conditions which gave rise to early media technologies, one quickly sees that humans generally have the same hopes and fears now as they did 50 years ago, a hundred years ago, or a thousand years ago. It is only specifics about the contexts which have changed. My current works are often simply attempts to work through similar conditions to these earlier conditions, but employing contemporary technologies and addressing contemporary contexts.

What general conclusion have you reached with your investigations – works – performances?

I have come to the conclusion that very little in the arts is deserving of the term “new”. We circle back around the same ideas over and over again, it is only our crude technological attempts to work out those ideas which change. Likewise, “newness” is often a trope better suited to the marketplace than to reaching any kind of localized truth about the world and our relationship with it.

[1] Haraway, Donna. Staying with the Trouble: Making Kin in the Chthuluscene. Duke University Press, 2016.


Vector Hack 2022

Posted in Announcement on October 5th, 2022 by admin

We are proud to announce the streaming program of the Vector Hack conference and open call screenings, which runs from 5-7 OCT 2022. Vector Hack is a biennial international festival devoted to experimental analog vector graphics.

Vector Hack gathers researchers, developers, and artists from around the world to investigate experimental audiovisual works using oscilloscopes, lasers, and a variety of other media-archaeological techniques and devices. In a true community spirit, Vector Hack participants share ideas and develop work together alongside a program of talks and performances.

All live streams will be available at:

This YouTube channel also contains extensive archives from previous events.

Full festival and conference program can be found at:

Our evening program of live performances from the open call will not be streamed live. They will be recorded and archived on our YouTube channel later.

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In Search of the Plastic Image: a Media Archaeology of Scan Processing

Posted in Documentation on August 21st, 2022 by admin

DEREK HOLZER, KTH Royal Institute of Technology, Sweden

Art Papers, Siggraph 2022, Vancouver

Full paper:


Scan processing is an analog electronic image manipulation technology which emerged in the late 1960’s, reached its apex during the 1970’s, and was made obsolete by digital computing in the 1980’s. During this period, scan processing instruments such as the Scanimate (1969) and the Rutt/Etra Video Synthesizer (1973) revolutionized commercial animation and inspired a generation of experimental video artists. This paper presents a media archaeological examination of scan processing which analyzes the history and functioning of the instruments used, what sorts of possibilities they afforded their users, and how those affordances were realized with technology of the era. The author proposes the reenactment of historical media technologies as an investigative methodology which helps us understand the relation of past and present, and details a reenactment of scan processing involving the display of digitally synthesized audio signals on an analog Cathode Ray Tube vector monitor.

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SIGGRAPH Presentation

Posted in Announcement, Uncategorized on June 11th, 2022 by admin

30 second trailer for my upcoming talk at SIGGRAPH 2022 in Vancouver

Scan processing is an analog electronic image manipulation technology, typified by the Scanimate (1969) and the Rutt/Etra Video Synthesizer (1973), which revolutionized commercial animation and inspired a generation of experimental video artists. This paper looks at the histories, functions, and uses of scan processing and proposes a contemporary reenactment.

TUE 9 AUG 2:15pm – 3:45pm PDT: Art Papers_Roundtable Session: Visions: CV and Image Capture

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30% PhD Seminar

Posted in Announcement on March 7th, 2022 by admin

Derek Holzer 30% PhD seminar: 11th March, 11am (GMT +1)

Discussant: Professor Thor Magnusson, University of Sussex

Contact me at idholzer AT kth DOT se for a Zoom link

Title: Historically Informed Audiovisual Synthesis

Abstract: This project explores vintage audiovisual synthesis technology from the 1960s and 1970s used in Sweden at the Royal College of Music (KMH), Elektronmusikstudion (EMS), Swedish national radio (SR) and television (SVT), and in the private studios of composers such as Ralph Lundsten and Leo Nilsson. Specific examples of these technological artifacts have been archived by the Swedish Performing Arts Agency (Statens Musikverket) and the Performing Arts Museum (Scenkonstmuseet). A number of these instruments are unique specimens which represent visionary, idiosyncratic, and often commercially unsuccessful attempts to reinvent production methods of creative media according to specific visions of the future. Their uniqueness as heritage objects under conservation has also restricted public access to many of them. We propose that, if the original instruments no longer exist or cannot be maintained in usable conditions for artists and designers to work with, then contemporary re-enactments of these instruments can be produced. Through an iterative design process involving artists and designers, we hope to create instruments which renew historical creative visions and transcend the technical obsolescence into which many of them fell.

We aim to address the following research questions:

How can the ethics and affordances of a historical creative media instrument be re-enacted within a contemporary context, using contemporary technical means?

What does a user of these historically-informed instruments gain from such a re-enactment?

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New Light 2022

Posted in Announcement on January 12th, 2022 by admin

New Light 2022 from macumbista on Vimeo.

Dear friends and colleagues,

I am currently a year and a half into my five year PhD project at KTH
Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm. My research focuses on
historical electronic sound instruments from Sweden and Finland during
the 1960’s and 70’s. I have included some work on visual synthesis
devices from the 1970’s as well, which continues the Vector Synthesis
project I began several years ago.

At the moment, my research is incredibly challenging, and it leaves me
little time for creating artworks of my own, so it was nice to take some time to make the video you see in this post. I hope that will change
over the coming months. I have also closed my electronic instrument
building business and will be passing production onto someone else’s
capable hands shortly.

The last couple of years have been challenging for everyone of course,
so I wish you all new light for 2022!

With warm regards from Sweden,

Sounds of Futures Passed workshop results

Posted in Uncategorized on August 18th, 2021 by admin

“SOUNDS of FUTURES PAST: Media Archaeology, Design Fiction, and Electronic Sound” workshop results now online!

This online workshop for the Pixelache #BURN_SLOW event concentrated on creating prototypes for instruments of the future by looking at the Media Archaeology of instrument building from the past. Featuring design fictions by: Montse Torreda & Giada Totaro, Anze Bratus & Edoardo Piroddi, and Diana Lelis, Milda Ziemane, & Krista Dintere.

Explore them here:


Posted in Documentation on November 28th, 2020 by admin

YouTube Playlist:

The Dataton System 3000 was designed in the 1970’s by Björn Sandlund in Sweden. It was mainly intended for educational use, and an official report published in 1977 recommended that every music school in the country be provided with one. These plans were never realized, and Sandlund’s Dataton company instead moved into audiovisual presentation technology.

The System 3000 contains modules for sound synthesis, sound processing, mixing, and panning. In these video tutorials, I will briefly explain the modules at my disposal:

Power Supply 3320
Sub Mixer 3202
Master Mixer 3201
Quad Sound Generator 3002
Quad Input Amplifier 3001
Quad Envelope Shaper 3104
Ringmodulator 3105
Noise Generator 3004
Quad Universal Filter 3101

The modules in this collection belong to either the Royal College of Music (KMH) in Stockholm or the private collection of Daniel Araya. Historically, they have been used in the studios of KMH, by the composer Leo Nilsson, and/or at the Sibelius Academy in Helsinki. This video series was produced by Derek Holzer for a workshop entitled “Sounds of Futures Passed”, which is a part of his PhD studies at the Royal Institute of Technology (KTH) in Stockholm. His project is a cooperation between KTH, KMH, Statens Musikverket, and Elektronmusikstudion (EMS), with support from the Swedish Research Council/Vetenskapsrådet.

The System 3000 is described in much greater detail in Björn Sandlund’s book The Early Synth Days, published in 2019.

With thanks to Björn Sandlund, Daniel Araya, and Henrik Frisk for their support in making these videos.

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Sounds of Futures Passed workshop

Posted in Announcement on November 11th, 2020 by admin

Henrik Frisk and myself are proud to announce a unique opportunity for students of KMH, KTH, and Konstfack to get involved with ongoing research into the history of electronic music in Sweden. The Sounds of Futures Passed workshop invites composers, engineers, and designers of sonic possibilities to investigate rare and unusual sound synthesis instruments formerly used at the Kungl. Musikhögskolan and Elektronmusikstudion EMS Stockholm.

We will speculate on what kind of aspirations for the musical future might have gone into the design and construction of these devices in the past, and on what sort of ideas about the use of sound instruments we can take from them into our own musical futures.

The workshop takes place over three ZOOM sessions (01 DEC, 08 DEC, 15 DEC), with team work taking place at KMH during the days between the meetings to compose with and analyze the functions of one specific instrument, the DATATON SYSTEM 3000 designed by Björn Sandlund in the 1970’s.

Students can send questions or register their interest in participating by email to idholzer AT THE DOMAIN and henrik.frisk AT THE DOMAIN with the subject line: SYNTH WORKSHOP

This is the first in a series of investigations, each focused on a different historical device from the collected archives of EMS, Statens Musikverket, and the Scenkonstmuseet, with the goal of producing new, historically-informed sound synthesis instruments and interfaces. The project is supported by the Swedish Research Council/Vetenskapsrådet.

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Vector Hack 2020

Posted in Announcement on October 4th, 2020 by admin

Over the weekend of 2-4 OCT 2020, I have been remotely co-organizing the Vector Hack 2020 festival in Rijeka Croatia with Ivan Marušić Klif and Chris King. This event is a result of my involvement in the areas of media archaeology and audiovisual synthesis, and features presentations and works by a variety of contemporary and historical figures in computer and electronic arts.

All talks have been live streamed as well as archived on YouTube for later viewing. There is also an evening streaming program of work screenings.

Featured artists and presenters include:

Francesca Franco, Tomislav Mikulić, Paloma Kop, Rue Bainbridge, Potar Anar, Skooby Laposky/Ben Laposky, Benjamin Heidersberger/Heinrich Heidersberger, James Nolan Gandy, Eric Lennartson, Charles Deluga, Anthony Elliott, Derek Holzer, Ivan Marušić Klif, Alberto Novello, Bernd Ulmann, Stefanie Bräuer, Ted Davis, Andrei Jay, Joseph Hyde, Michael Honeycomb, Shojiro Nakaoka, Miha Vipotnik, Tadej Droljc, Optokoppler, Sofy Yuditskaya, Branimir Štivić, Hrvoje Radnić, Antti Tenetz, David Francus/Hrvoje Nikšić, James Lehman, Dirk de Bruin, and David Françus

Please visit the following sites for further info:

Image credit: Bernd Ulmann, “Analog Chaos”

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