In Process, Ep. 5: Recontextualizing VHS Loops Using Dirty Mixers and Chroma Key with Max Capacity

In Process is a series that examines the inspiration, methods, and tools used by artists to create their work. Each episode focuses on a specific piece.

Find all episodes of In Process on the Ep. 0: Index page.

In this episode, we explore N0258X by Max Capacity (pictured above).

I’m completely captivated by this piece. There’s something clean and pure about it, while simultaneously being raw and glitchy.

The interplay of the 2 overlayed loops is mesmerising to watch.

The complex and time-consuming process used to create the piece only adds to its allure.

See N0258X on Rarible →

What was the inspiration for N0258X?

This piece is part of a series of glitched VHS video loops composited together using a chroma key.

The glitched video clips are sourced from VHS tapes. If I make a normal loop out of the source material, I don’t get as much control over the composition as I would like. I usually have to take what I can get from the interplay of the glitch and the source material.

So, something I’ve been working on for a few years now is collecting together a small library of glitched VHS video loops and overlaying them with each other using a chroma key. This makes it more of a video collage and lets me create my own composition from the two different underlying video loops.

I feel like there’s so much content out there on VHS tapes that will be slowly forgotten over the years and I try to appropriate the material and recontextualize it in a way that allows me to express myself.

Describe the technical process of the piece. What medium and tools were most important to creating it?

This piece started out as VHS tapes played back through a piece of analog video hardware called a dirty video mixer. Two VHS tapes were played on separate VCRs and the signals were mixed in a rough circuit which creates the glitch effect.

I usually record for several hours, mixing different videotapes with each other and adjusting the video mixer.

The signal from the video mixer is displayed on a CRT monitor, which is being recorded using a VHS camcorder pointed at the screen. That video camera’s signal runs to an old analog capture card in an old PC where it’s digitized into uncompressed AVI files.

I take the hundreds of gigabytes of video and comb through them using an open-source program called VirtualDub.

I isolate the clips I want to use and then adjust the frames to make sure I have a good loop. I’ll also add a little bit of colour and contrast adjustment.

Then, I’ll overlay that video loop with another video loop using a chroma key to drop out the background or foreground of the top layer to create a composite video loop.

I save that as an uncompressed AVI ready to have its frames dumped.

I export those frames and create a GIF using a java program called GiftedMotion. There I can tweak the animation speed and drop or rearrange frames. Then it’s a GIF and ready to go!

I like using open source, purpose-built software whenever I can. Some of the programs I use are pretty old, but they’re lightweight programs and still the best thing I’ve found for doing what I do.

How did the NFT for the piece come about? Did you make this piece specifically for Rarible, or was this a piece you'd already made and retrofitted for the platform?

I recently created my own custom ERC-721 contract on Rarible, specifically for new video artwork. I’ve minted on Rarible before, but after learning more about custom contracts I decided to get one started on Rarible.

I prefer open platforms like OpenSea and Rarible. Partly because none of the curated ones will let me in (haha). But in general, I prefer as much decentralization as possible when it comes to crypto and NFTs.

See N0258X and other work by Max Capacity on Rarible →

Where is the best place to learn more about your work?

I spend most of my time on Twitter as @maxcapacity, but I also have my own domain with a list of links at maxcapa.city (note from Polyforms: how fkn cool is that domain name 🤩). 

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