|Experiment:||hacked labelle duo 16|
|Participant(s):||Matt Lorenz & Jason Soares|
|Time Frame:||1994 – 1995|
|Location:||San Diego and Tour of US|
|Submitted By:||Matt Lorenz|
Around the spring of 1994 I found a bizarre old combo-projector at a secondhand store called thrift village in Linda vista, ca. It was called a “Labelle duo 16″ and was about the shape and dimensions of medium-sized suitcase. Having a thing for strange old multimedia devices, and since it had a weird mixed-media cassette still in its feedport, I picked it up for perhaps 6 dollars.
The player was in perfect operating condition, with the ability to either project an image on a screen/wall or serve as a television-style viewer by re-angling the image towards a rear-projection screen built into the side. It had a handle, a built-in lengthy powercord, a built-in speaker, and a 1/4” audio output for an auxiliary speaker (not included).
Its feedport was a wide mouth that could accommodate a strange media cartridge of perhaps twice the thickness of a videocassette and about as long. The media cartridge consisted of two media…one was a 16-mm filmstrip that was intricately looped in the case, the second was an 8-track cassette attached to bottom of the first. Once inserted, as the audio (music, narration) from the 8-track played, it also sent cues to advance the sequence of the filmstrip loop for a multimedia show. As such it could be projected on a screen while also using an external speaker (presumably for larger audiences) or viewed as a “TV.” (for more intimate settings). The cartridge that was intact when I got it was some sort of traveling salesman setup, (I forget selling what).
Needless to say I had a gem on my hands…but I wanted to make it play more thematically appropriate to what I was doing at the time.
During those years I was busy as the touring/performing visual component of the band “three mile pilot”. While primarily using dissolved 35mm sliders, 16mm, and 8mm film in projected collages to accompany the live set, I would also add subtle devices/lights/textures/shadows to the mix to keep it interesting. I set out to construct some audio-visual deviation by hijacking the “duo 16″‘s found media and replacing it with more thematically appropriate material.
For the 16mm slideshow– I took apart the case and replaced the images. To do this I shot a slew of color slide 35mm pictures in groups that were arranged like 4-square collages (thus roughly replicating the 16mm format when cut into 4 pieces, as a 35mm slide is approx. 4 times the area of a single 16mm frame) I then cut out all the images and adhered them individually to a length of clear 16mm leader to form an image-sequence. (The pictures were largely abstract aerospace, science fiction, or natural scenes arranged in no particular order, ambient visuals tied to some of the musical/thematic undercurrents of our performance array). I then spliced the length of leader to itself and sealed the loop back into the cartridge.
For the 8-track soundscape–I took apart the lower part of the cartridge and realized that an 8-track is a crazily looped coil that is a hell to put back together. In order to do away with the irritating found-audio track, fellow experimenter Jason and I decided to make our own custom audio-scape. Using a (cassette) four-track we composed a mixed-sound sequence that featured a collage of short-wave radio tones, synthesized frequencies, and assorted other bleeps and clicks, periodically adding the left-channel tone required to advance the slide show. With this final tape in hand I returned to “thrift village” with a blank 8-track (I needed to use an old 70’s era stereo to record the sounds from our cassette to the proxy blank 8-track). Once the 8-track had been filled I replaced the old 8-track loop in the duo cartridge with the new one and let it rip…. in the end the result was worth all the finagling.
With an added external speaker hidden somewhere nearby, in “TV.” mode, it would get many a second and third take, often engrossing people for minutes on end. It was a pleasure to incorporate such a bizarre yet subtle appendage to a live audio-visual performance.
The “hacked labelle duo 16” went on a number of tours with three mile pilot throughout the united states over the course of about a year between 1994 and 1995. It was quite robust, taking a few tumbles and spills, though always providing a stable, strange addition to the host of images and tones encountered on any given evening.