RGB.VGA.VOLT is an audio/video synthesizer that enables realtime exploration of the rich materiality concealed beneath the consumer interfaces of cathode ray tube computer monitors. By hacking and improperly rewiring the cables of these obsolete devices to short their video signals, their black-boxed analog infrastructure is liberated and driven by digitally synthesized high-frequency complex waveforms, audio playback, and feedback loops that fully exploit their latent visual spectrum. Inspired by early video tools such as the Sandin Image Processor and the Paik-Abe Synthesizer as well as contemporary programming and error-based approaches to sound and moving image, RGB.VGA.VOLT revives an analog aesthetic that has acquired a renewed power and potency in the present era of digital immateriality.

The instrument combines custom built software, hardware modification, and DIY instrumentation. The PDF guide below includes full documentation of the RGB.VGA.VOLT software as well as the instrumentation used in interfacing the software with VGA computer monitors for realtime synthesis. Because I am interested in not only generating aesthetic experiences with these objects, but also disseminating critical approaches to technology, the documentation is free to copied, repurposed, remixed, etc. for noncommercial purposes. "Copying is as good (I think better from this vector-view) as any way of getting 'there.'"



In 2015 and 2016 I developed a version of RGB.VGA.VOLT with high definition digital projection in mind, bringing the aesthetic range and freedom of analog video into the digital realm. RGB.VGA.VOLT HD is a DIY audio/video synthesizer that hybridizes analog and digital systems to combine the control and precision of digital programming, the clarity and vividness of high definition digitally projected light, and the organic spectrum of analog video. Digitally synthesized complex waveforms are improperly bent into the red, green, and blue pins of a hacked VGA cable as analog signal and then converted into full quality HDMI. Digital light, usually generated through pre-determined algorithmic calculations, is liberated through the spontaneity of raw analog signal processing to generate an intense synesthetic experience of light and sound.

RGB.VGA.VOLT HD premiered as a single-channel projection at the 2015 Dallas Auroa Festival of Light, Video and Sound, and premiered as a realtime performance at Strange Electronics MoHA on January 9, 2016 in Austin, TX. The system runs using the software below with frequencies adjusted to accomodate its high resolution.



The RGB.VGA.VOLT software is an audio/video synthesizer application built in the Max environment that generates complex high-frequency waveforms that work particularly well for VGA video synthesis when interfaced with the hacked VGA cable outlined below. The program also allows for any video file to be displayed on the monitors the user is outputting to, any audio file to be bent into video and displayed on the VGA monitors, and low-frequency sine waves to wobbulate CRT imagery when interfaced with Kyle Evan's DIY electromagnet tutorial found at crackedraytube.com.


Note: this is the first release and . There will be bugs. Email those to me at jconno [at] saic [dot] edu.



The above PDF includes a complete guide to the synthesizer's software and instrumentation.

Tutorial: Hacking a VGA cable to bend audio into video

This tutorial shows how to build a DIY VGA cable that is modified to bend audio into video with a shorted signal to enable vivid, erratic imagery. This this hack is the basis of the instrument.

Tutorial: Hacking a VGA cable to bend video into audio

This tutorial shows how to modifier another VGA cable to bend video back into audio to sonify your signal with all elements of your a/v output.


See more images here.

I'm a video/new media artist, educator, writer, and curator living in Chicago, IL. My work undermines the interfaces of consumer electronics and digital structures to liberate their latent audio and video materialities in videos, performances, and installations.

I teach in the Film, Video, New Media, and Animation department at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and work as the Assistant curator of the Roger Brown Study Collection.



August 11, 2018 RGB.VGA.VOLT performance in Chicago. Venue and lineup TBA.

April 10, 2018 Aesthetic Catharsis in the Era of American Fascists premieres at the Athens International Film and Video Festival, Athens, OH.

April 8, 2018 short video screened at ACRE TV's Nightingale Tele-thon fundraiser, Chicago, IL.

March 24, 2018 RGB.VGA.VOLT performance for the Ann Arbor Film Festival "Off the Screen" expanded cinema program