The Artist Toolbox - Vortex Decoder II

One of the many video processing units created by Tachyons+ 'Vortex Decoder II' is a device created to make analog glitch effects to video content. I am always a sucker for the real thing and what makes the units from Tachyons+ really special is that they are essentially reconfigured after market units re purposed for the this.



The units come in a different variety of nobs and dials and if you navigate to their website ( you will find an assortment of different devices by different names. I believe (though I am not certain) that these names are correlated to the internal mechanisms not the external ones. What is fascinating about this design is that it is up to the user to figure out what combinations work in what ways. I purchased mine in 2016 and I am still learning new things from this. Its use is completely analog so if you want to use something that was created on a computer or is being played back from a computer you need a converter to to the job. I use a vga to rca adapter and the signal seems to come out clean on the other side. From there you just start twisting the the nobs and you can see your image being torn apart.



In the world of analog it use to be really simple when that is all you had. Once the transition to digital occurred things became complicated.  It is this understanding that will allow you to see the best versions of imagery from this unit. First there is the straight analog pipeline.  Essentially take your source, put it through the device and output to a CRT television. What is special about this is that most televisions, the more expensive at the time the better, have internal TBC or time base corrector. Its what fixes a bad signal from broadcasts or vhs tape to not completely drop the signal. Sense you are essentially destroying an image the output may drop the signal depending on how good your TBC is. That being said outputting to a television is going to create some the most consistent content. Depending on the venue this might be the final output and many artists have done this.


If this is a route you do not want to take then things get a bit more complicated, and in a way is tied you how you may capture this imagery. First if you want to play this through you computer as a live capture of sorts you can either a) capture from a device such as a blackmagic intensity pro or b) capture from a camera recording the crt source.  If you go with option a you have to understand that you need to have a TBC to regulate the image from dropout, otherwise your computer will stop capturing. Option b might work out but then you have to manage the possible glare from the glass. I have done both and each has there own benefits.


At this moment I have only used this item for about three productions. However, it has been very fulfilling using a hardware solution for creating glitched imagery rather than only a software one. I have found that I will still use the software plug ins (such as digieffects DAMAGE) in addition glitch made by this in order to give an overall look and the result is very satisfying. If text is to be glitched in a moment in a show it is often great to send it through the processor and record it and play it back as a layer in a show. I just recently did a play called 'The Burn' which is a version of a Crucible told through the lens of a modern day school. The moments in the digital space we wanted to represent as this distorted plane of reality. Below is some of the Vortex Decoder II in action.