In the fall of 1967, intermedia artists Ture Sjölander and Lars Weck collaborated with Bengt Modin, video engineer of the Swedish Broadcasting Corporation in Stockholm, to produce an experimental program called Monument. It was broadcast in January, 1968, and subsequently has been seen throughout Europe, Asia, and the United States. Apart from the technical aspect of the project, their intention was to develop a widened consciousness of the communi - cative process inherent in visual images. They selected as source material the "monuments" of world culture— images of famous persons and paintings.
The program was created in the form of a black-and-white videographic film, made with the telecine projector from other film clippings and slides. The films and slides first were recorded on videotape and then back onto film for further processing. Image distortions occurred in the telecine process of recording film on videotape. The basic principle involved was the modulation of the deflection voltage in a flying-spot telecine, using sine and square impulses from a wave-form generator. With the flying-spot method used by Swedish television, the photographic image is transformed into electrical signals when the film is projected toward a photocell with a scanned raster as the source of light. The deflection voltage regulates the movement of the point of light that scans the screen fifty times per second.
In the production of Monument, the frequency and amplitude of the flying-spot deflection was controlled by applying tones from the wave-form generators. Thus image distortions occurred during the actual process of transforming original image material into video signals, since the scan that produces the signals was electromagnetically altered. In principle this process is similar to methods used by Nam June Paik and others, except that the Swedish group applied the techniques at an early stage in the video process, before signal or videotape information existed.
After the videotape was completed from various film clips, a kinescope was made, which was edited by Sjölander and Weck into its final form. The result is an oddly beautiful collection of image sequences unlike any other video art. We see the Beatles, Charlie Chaplin, Picasso, the Mona Lisa, the King of Sweden, and other famous figures distorted with a kind of insane electronic disease. Images undergo transformations at first subtle, like respiration, then increasingly violent until little remains of the original icon. In this process, the images pass through thousands of stages of semicohesion, making the viewer constantly aware of his orientation to the picture. The transformations occur slowly and with great speed, erasing perspectives, crossing psychological barriers. A figure might stretch like Silly Putty or become rippled in a liquid universe. Harsh bas-relief effects accentuate physical dimensions with great subtlety, so that one eye or one ear might appear slightly unnatural. And finally the image disintegrates into a constellation of shimmering video phosphors.
More than an experiment in image-making technologies, Monument became an experiment in communication. Monument became an image-generator: newspapers, magazines, posters, record albums, and even textile factories began using images from the videographic film. Sven Höglund, a well-known Swedish painter, entered the project after the film was completed. He made oil paintings based on the Monument images because he found them "parallel to my own creative intentions; I had for a long time been working on problems concerning transformations of forms. My painted versions of the images became another phase of the experiment in communication called Monument. "Other phases were silk-screen prints, illustrated magazine articles, posters, giant advertisements. In each phase Monument experiments with pictures in their relation to spectators. The common denominator is the mass-media picture, especially the most commonly seen pictorial representation, the television picture. The pictures in the film are so well known to the public that they have been invested with symbolic meaning. People recognize them and are able to retain this identification throughout all the transformations and variations of the electronic image."