[the palaverist]

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

[watching the walls]

This past weekend, Jenny and I made a purchase we'd been researching and planning for some time: we bought a video projector, the Sharp XR-10X. Gone is the small flickering tube, a mere 18 inches across diagonally. Replacing it is our flickering living room wall, or rather a flickering expanse of it that's about 100 inches diagonally, or 80 inches from one side to the other.

It's a helluva way to watch the Simpsons.

The new projector isn't perfect. For the moment, we have an s-video cable snaking its way across the room, but that means the picture quality is a little off: you can see flicker lines gradually scrolling up the screen, and sometimes quick motion is a little glitchy and pixelated. Hopefully this can be corrected by switching to component video cable, but that'll mean calling Time Warner and bugging them to get me a cable box with a component-video output.

But even with the extant flaws, it sure beats the old cathode rays, especially for Jenny, whose distance vision isn't great. Even with a fair amount of ambient light, the image is clear, and somehow the mind is willing to believe that a patch of white wall in a lighted room is black if the surrounding area is flooded with brighter light. There's a bit of the window-screen effect from visible pixels, but I have to pause the video to see it clearly, and it's actually kind of useful for making sure the focus is right. The sound of the fan in the machine is far less intrusive than the air conditioner across the room. And at the rate we watch TV, the lamp should last us at least a couple of years.

Now I just need to get a hold of some quality ambient films to show at parties. Fluxus films? Warhol screen tests? Fillmore-style psychedelic light shows? Daniel, I'm counting on you to have some kind of Russian avant garde something-or-other that gives good background.

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Anonymous DKNY said...

I wonder if a different cable will eliminate the pixels and scan lines on cable programming.... The thing is, most cable programming isn't very high resolution---that's why folks are so excited about HD broadcasts---so when you blow up the image, you see the flaws that much more clearly (you'd see it equally painfully if you hooked up a VCR to your projector). Be curious to hear how it goes, though.

As for ambient films---I'm always a big fan of Res discs as ambient viewing. Also Ralph Bakshi movies, esp. the tripporific WIZARDS. Oh, and WAKING LIFE is excellent too. And Maya Deren shorts. In fact, almost any silent weirdness---Cocteau's BLOOD OF A POET, the recent Kino DVD of avant-garde shorts of the 20s, THE MAN WITH A MOVIE CAMERA (great experimental documentary of Odessa in the early 30's) and, for Halloweeny events, the original NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD, NOSFERATU (for that St. Johns on Halloween vibe) and CARNIVAL OF SOULS.

Very excited that there's now a projector on the block again... Perhaps if it's easily moved, we can even do backyard projections when the weather is less brutal.

2:49 AM  
Blogger [the palaverist] said...

Well, the thing is that component-video output seems to come from HD cable boxes, so maybe the signal that it sends is better. In any case, I'll probably be making the switch to CableVision, which thinks it can give me Internet and HD cable plus DVR for less than TimeWarner is charging without the HD part. (There is some question about this because households that can get cable from one company aren't supposed to be able to get it from another. Ah, monopolies!)

As for taking it over to your place in summer for garden viewings, that seems fully doable.

10:06 AM  

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