Donebauer collaborated over a two year period with the electronics engineer Richard Monkhouse to build the Videokalos Colour Synthesiser, a portable image processing instrument. He explored performance, improvisation and the spontaneous real-time recording of video as an abstract art form, investigating its similarities to music. He formed ‘Video and Music Performers’ (VAMP) in 1979 and presented video in live video-music concerts, often collaborating with musician Simon Desorgher.
“Frequently described as an electronic painter, I have sought to extend the possibilities of the television screen as an arena for the presentation of coloured imagery of the widest range of types.” (P. Donebauer, Video Artists on Tour programme notes, February 1980). Donebauer’s processing of video – his experimentation with abstraction synthesised video and live performance were clearly innovative of their time. Evidently, Donebauer was working with the painterly moving-image, and a scientific/engineering oriented research process; “I have been using this equipment to attempt to create an art form that is simultaneously sound, colour and visual pattern. Video is unique in allowing degrees of visual and aural spontaneity not possible with film. Thus in conjunction with an electronic music composer, I produce work that is neither music nor visual art but a combination of created sound with created vision.”
(P. Donebauer, Arts Council Grant application, 28 Sept 1973). He received the first video arts award from the ACE in 1974.
Interview of Peter Donebauer
View the interview transcript here
The Video Show, Serpentine Gallery
The Ikon Gallery, VAMP – Live Synthesised Video and Music Performance
The Holography Show, Wolverhampton Art Gallery
Two Moments of Chaos
Quotes:"The major theme that emerged from working in the studio was the whole notion of the feedback process... The performance itself is a feedback situation, and when you point the camera at a monitor you get these feedback patterns. I became very interested in the fact that the resulting images from video feedback were natural forms. They were organic-spirals, eddies, obviously related to the phenomenum which creates shells, galalxies, etc. Through this process I was suddenly thrown back into my earler fascination with nature. Here I was, probably using the most advanced technical equipment available to an artist at the time, and suddenly I realised these electronic processes were mimicking the forces at work in nature." Peter Donebauer, 8 March 2000, www.meigh-andrews.com