Jaron Kuehmstedt / Tool-Being (1): OCTV – Open Circuit Television, interpolating CCTV 「工具在,我在」(一):「開」路電視打開了甚麼?

Jaron Kuehmstedt / Tool-Being (1): OCTV – Open Circuit Television, interpolating CCTV 「工具在,我在」(一):「開」路電視打開了甚麼?

Jaron Johannes Kuehmstedt

發表於: 22 Dec 2022

As a follow-up on the screening and discussion event of Micro Narratives 2022: Performative Videography, individual artists would speak of how their works involve the design of a machine that makes moving images, either through coding, adapting a software capability, or hacking the blackbox of a consumer product for image-making. All of their works highlight their tool-being [1].

The first of the “tool-being” series is by Jaron Kuehmstedt on his OCTV – Open Circuit Television: a live video installation, which adopts graphic computing – Max-MSP – to generate image and movements at the pixel level. (Editor)


Jaron Kuedmstedt: OCTV – Open Circuit Television: a live video installation (documentation) (5m31s) | viewable on site at Floating Projects 2022.12.27-2023.01.11

OCTV, or Open-Circuit Television, is a play on the term CCTV commonly used for video
surveillance. CCTV, or closed-circuit television, is meant to operate in a closed system only
transmitting to a single or a small set of monitors within this system. Drawing from my continuous examination of my own relation to the city and the public realm, and the way I, as an individual, appear within this realm, the video installation aims to address issues of appearance and individualisation. Living in a city, the individual naturally becomes anonymized by its vastness and masses of people. The CCTV camera’s purpose is to revoke this notion of the city's natural anonymizing function, making people appear, re-individualizing and identifying them.



The artwork OCTV breaks open CCTV's closed circuit, manipulating the live video signal coming from the camera to remove any features that identify persons as who they are. Instead, personal recognizable features are replaced with procedurally generated static noise, and turned into an anonymous image. Noise generation is triggered by visitors' motion within the frame to visualize the physicality of the process, highlighting the working of technology and how machine behavior is not independent of us but, in fact, very much in constant conversation with us. This effect is amplified by not only generating noise from movement in front of the camera in the frame but also turning this motion into sound. Every time something within the frame moves, random notes are played on a virtual keyboard. We can experience how visual and aural information are not two separate streams of data but very closely connected in the medium of video.



To fully break open the closed-circuit nature of surveillance and CCTV, the live feed of this
installation was streamed live to Twitch (twitch.tv), making the video, intended for closed circuit, available to virtually everyone on the internet, thus creating the name giving open circuit.


OCTV uses the software Max MSP to take the live video input and create a difference map for motion detection and an alpha matte to replace the non-white parts of the image with the procedural generated noise. The noise and sound generation is triggered by taking the mean value calculated by the difference map. Whenever a set threshold is crossed, the noise and sound would generate new iterations until the value falls below the threshold again. The more motion within the frame, the more difference between two frames, the higher the calculated mean value. This information is used to control the attack and velocity of the generated sound, meaning that more motion creates louder sounds and vice versa. OBS (Open Broadcaster Studio) is used to live stream and capture the processed video. (Kuehmstedt, December 2022)




[1] “Tool-being” is a term used by Graham Harman, also the title of his book, which extends Heidegger's creation of an ontology of objects, in order to understand human's relation with tools and technology, to call our attention to the “secret contours” of objects. This suggests a new social theory to understand the non-human masses (Bruno Latour). In this series of artists' writings in "Floating Teatime: Art Notes," “tool-being'” is invoked to specifically delve into human's deep experience with objects ubiquitous in our quotidian landscape, and especially those that are black-boxing machines – to question them, open them up to look inside, to hack their customized functions, and to turn machine errors or defects into raw material for artistic creativity? What new insights would we have of our experiences if humans and tools/machines are understood as assemblage, coming into the presence of each other to seek collaborative possibilities? (Linda Lai)

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Micro Narratives 2022: performative videography
Micro Narratives 2022: performative videography
Floating Projects Collective 2023