i wasn’t going to miss the ninja tune tour when i was a student in ‘98, and the show did not disappoint. scratching audio-visual samples? crazy. and there’s the let us play album, which came with a cd-rom that was a year ahead of me having a computer powerful enough to actually run it.
the discovery of the festival for me was alba corral, whose generative graphics were captivating and didn’t tire or jar like so many do – i’ve tried a few things, but never crossed an expressive barrier which she has quite wonderfully. it was quite inspiring, and leads me back to ideas of a visualist band, with people passing around live drawing in realtime.
Oh! That’s me. Pre-gig projector worship? https://t.co/9ghL8sF4xi— toby*spark (@tobyspark) June 5, 2016
being asked to revive rbn_esc begged the question: will the software still run, can i even remember how to handle the complexity? it was an amazing milestone back in 2006 going from two laptops linked by midi to running the complete performance off one laptop. but there was a lot to that integration, and my license of ableton live was long expired. i wondered whether there might be a simpler way, now that resolume avenue effectively had ableton’s session view – in which rbn_esc’s basic structure and audio-visual links are laid out – and was built to be an audio-visual software from the ground up.
was invited to perform ‘rbn_esc’ at vjlondon’s first big gig: ‘av depot’. to the organiser, it’s a piece that stood out from times past as something deeply audio-visual, considered and executed as one. so it was nice for the invite to be motivated like that, and it was nice – if surreal, somehow – to go through the process of resurrecting the piece, seeing what my former self had been up to, some ten years later.
friend kate genevieve had been asking about live drawing and going in to space. back from our (interstellar journey)[http://tobyz.net/diary/2014/09/starshiphackcircus], it was time to resurrect some old code for a live drawing experiment with will scobie at Transmute – Digital experiments for sensory beings. Loved the quote on the flyer: “The night is a tunnel… a hole into tomorrow…”, Frank Herbert, Dune.
friend kate genevieve had been asking about live drawing and going in to space. so, we boarded starship hackcircus and (made some art)[http://www.hackcircus.com/blog/2014/9/15/starship-hack-circus-the-elephant-has-landed]. Loved these posters leading you into the hack circus venue.
a screenrunner client wanted an animating tiled layout. it’s surprisingly non-trivial to code, at least if you want to go beyond hard-coding a few grid layouts. thankfully, the problem is academically interesting too, and lo! there’s a paper on spatial packing of rectangles, complete with MaxBinRectPack algorithm and c++ implementation. respect to jukka jylänki.
friends who made a cinema camera out of industrial cameras are getting excited about gig-e vision for live video work. as am i.
If you’ve been keeping your finger on the VJ pulse as close as we do, you couldn’t have missed the arrival of the Spark D-Fuser. However, we appreciate the fact that some of you are busy touring or designing wicked content. Or even may actually have a social life. Either way, you could have missed it getting that elusive ‘Buy Now’ button earlier this year.
Or it could be that you’ve seen the button and the hype, but are wondering if it’s really all that it’s cranked up to be. It could be that you want to know more about this mysterious magic box that will solve all your problems, before you part with your hard-earned VJ cash and actually press that ‘Buy Now’ button.
Either way, we’ve had the pleasure of working with that little bad boy on various occasions, as well as seen it in use by quite a few touring VJs. So we figured it was high time to give a first hand experience of what the D-Fuser actually defuses.
leaving the desert sun behind desert sun we’re now deep into the night: ali demirel tripping the light fantastic for richie hawtin’s enter stage at EDC las vegas. photo taken by the perfectly portraited barbara klein.
doing a phd is a strange thing, and perhaps most strange is the extremely long reward cycle involved. so it was a joy to give a saturday daytime to the campaign against arms trade: bust in, give your all, and get that good feeling of seeing your work out there and appreciated within the confines of the day. also nice is reading the guardian write-up and knowing the majority of the ideas mentioned bore your fingerprints!
happiness is seeing photos like this: prototypes and factories far behind, a d-fuser out in the wild. truly the wilds here, courtesy of sean healey and his audio-visual performance ‘desert engines’. was it almost a year ago he was interviewing me as this whole endeavour was announced, prototype to pre-order?
prompted by the vidvox feature, a guest tutorial video showing vj use of the d-fuser, complete with a demonstration of how you can link the d-fuser controller with your laptops for better audio-visual integration when performing as a group.
“VDMX has been a big thing for D-Fuse. It’s the engine that drives our most innovative shows, laying out and compositing footage across multiple screens, hosting patch upon patch of custom D-Fuse development work. However, for our kind of theatrical shows, plugging a laptop directly into the projection setup just isn’t an option. We need video hardware to keep a solid feed to the projectors from early soundcheck to us walking on stage, we need to have a master fade control for our output, and we need to crossfade between our laptops to mix collaboratively. For year after year there was no solution to this, as with each laptop rendering all screens simultaneously the video format is outside of what the SD and then HD hardware can handle. What we needed was a DVI mixer. There wasn’t one, and so I made one.”
b-seite charge two: a performance. it’s good to do things away from the stresses of big theatres, to be able to experiment amongst your peers. and wonderfully, there was mesh, smoke machines and the very capable tim vis. there’s a one minute video on vimeo.
b-seite charge one: provoke vjs into thinking about the future of their practice, via showing the toys and talk about how i made it as a post-vj. this was a tidied up version of the talk i improvised at LPM last year, except that then the mixer was a final prototype, and here I was at a festival with two d-fusers as part of their tech setup. mixer’s i’d sold but had never seen, the boxes opened up by hands other than mine, in a country far away.
a highlight of the festival was seeing the mr-808 in action. appropriately enough for a realer-than-real interpretation of the classic 80’s drum machine, seeing it in the flesh having seen it documented online was a nice moment. quite the performance prop, it renders somewhat tangental the quality of the music or musician’s engagement: with that thing beside you, the show is going to be a hit.
to b-seite on the vj-tip. i like the kind of festival where the drinks menu has had a bit of production effort, a nicely backlit branded enclosure that follows through with a selection that starts with pixelstolz and vj-wallbanger.
back at the factory to check on more d-fusers being made. don’t think i’ll ever quite get over seeing other people making my things in bulk.
after the talk and panel discussions on live cinema itself and what role the LCF could or should play, an evening of performances. limited to a single screen, scott amoeba did a wonderfully restrained remix of the documentary kanzeon into a meditative contemplation on the ritual texts. very much my kind of thing.
the live cinema foundation finally hits the ground with ‘av assebmly’. an idea much talked about over the years between various london folk, chris found the kind of venue that could incubate work, and made a booking on spec. jump-cut a month later, and i’m presenting ‘about the live in live cinema’ to an on-topic audience as you can get.
turning the dvi-mixer project into the *spark d-fuser product was very much an act of faith that peer demand meant something. but in no small part too, it was an act of hubris: i said i was going to do this thing, and i found i wasn’t at all happy looking at it fizzling away before the 2012 reboot. put those two things together, and you will likely decide to offer a pre-ordering window, and pledge to make as many are as ordered. it could be two, twenty, or two hundred; a loss at the low-end, a profit at the high end, but one way or another they were going to get out there.
the demo video upon which pre-orders were placed had prototype hardware; here now is a manufactured product, out of the shipping packaging, running the final v25 software. i say final, because as the units spread around the world that prototype is no longer the sole test-bed: v25 encodes feedback and testing from real customers. i’m proud of where i’ve got it to.
by rights, as the first off the line this should be sean healey’s, but the delivery note at the top of the pile was one for the US. but - this is it! the beginning of the end, the first packaged product.
not just the solitary 1T-C2-750 that we, as D-Fuse, bought in the summer of 2009 any more! a shelf full of the things, all programmed up with custom firmware to do additive mixing. what you can’t see is the floor of the industrial unit laid out with a sea of boxes, ready to be assembled up and shipped off.
there’s a certain terror in thinking that all the time and effort invested into getting a good product could be wiped out by damage in transit: designing the packaging has been just as involved and stressful as the product itself.
this is the first factory build, running the firmware to be shipped, and with that an announcement: the video processors are coming with custom firmware that allows additive mixing, and the controllers have an implementation that morphs the crossfader behaviour from a flat blend to full add.
the assembled PCBs and manufactured cases passed the physical fit test, but thats moot if the damn things don’t actually work: the real business of being at the factory was to finalise the test spec. finish up a self-test firmware, supply a pc with rs232, open sound control, dmx and a processing sketch to tie the different comms together, and spend the rest of the day detailing up the test procedure document, as pedantic a document as something can be.
back to the south coast where an electronics facility has assembled the PCBs and is about to start the box build. people in lab coats walking around with trays of electronic innards with my logo on it… a new one for me, and the first concrete sense of the scale of this.
jupiter, through the lens of d-fuse - and, less desirably, the lens of my phone.
to the opening concert of belfast festival: d-fuse have been commissioned to provide a visual score for holst’s ‘the planets’. here, the inevitable shot of test card on gauze screen.
a wonderful moment: the enclosures have arrived, and on opening the box the quality is outstanding. what was in the mind’s eye, now perfectly realised in hand.
at some point, you realise that foam lined box isn’t going to cut it. to hold cable, power supply and controller neatly together, and do it without squashing requires some form of carefully shaped insert. hence a night of cardboard, metal rule, craft knife and ever-refining design print-outs.
Just a quick reminder that if you did want to order one and haven’t so far, we’re now in the last 48 hours for ordering.
Given the delays in opening – banks and paypal, urgh! – I’m going to hold orders open for an extra day. Orders close 23:59 Monday 10th, GMT.
happy to report the festival of ideas has won a business to arts award. it was a really satisfying project to be part of, and i’m really proud of how it responds to the ‘liveness’ of that kind of live event.
with two huge milestones, it’s the point of no return: the site with price, spec and ordering info went live yesterday at sparklive.net, and i’ve just committed real money to get the first manufacturing task primed.
“The *spark d-fuser lets you cross-fade between laptops. It’s compact, affordable and — after quite some time(!) — I’m now ready to make the manufacturing run. So this is the final prototype, and with this I’m making this video to demonstrate the features and functionality so you can decide whether you want to have one yourself. If you do, you need to order now so that it can go and be made as part of that manufacture run.”
i’m super happy to announce that the site through which i’ll be detailing and selling the *spark d-fuser mixer will be going live next friday, then will start taking orders for a week starting the friday after that, and on the first september the manufacture run will start. huzzah!
it doesn’t look like much at the moment, but this is the first step into my research group at university doing a study on real festival audiences at real festivals. i’m developing an interactive map / timetable app, which will have quite some interesting features and opt-ins by the time we’re done. the promoters we’ve been talking to already have an interactive map of sorts, i’ve already done some interesting things visualising live events, and of course there’s my phd on audiences and interaction.
drawings do not a mixer make, but in their finality for production and retail they make things that much closer.
things are building to a crescendo. as promised the software that runs the controller will be open-source, and so here it is being released.
file under ‘so glad this worked first time, because if it hadn’t i wouldn’t have known where to start’.
in which i set out my stall, hawking the wares and ideas that have helped make my ‘post-vj’ life. half an hour, somewhat off the cuff, and probably ill-advised in parts. the bulk of the talk covers some of the backroom work and event life of the dvi mixer hardware and screenrunner software projects, but contextualised by how i. vjs should work towards exploiting the liveness possible in their practice, ii. which should lead to a more rewarding, less clichéd life, iii. and one more profitable and sustainable.
to rome for live performers meeting, once an annual institution for me. a weekend in a nightclub is always a strange thing, but being in roma with friends old and new cuts through all. some of whom were old visual berlin types staking out interviews on the rooftops for their new scope sessions project. picture are valerie and david talking about node and vvvv. before that, the light surgeons and i happily bantered back and forth around live cinema past and present… the kind of conversation that just doesn’t happen in the london day-to-day.
after being one of the forces behind qmedia’s inaugural open studios last year, this year i was playing behind-the-scenes fixer, and with things fixed was able to get a few hours hacking on the dvi mixer before the show wrapped. even better, having established last year the reward of documentation, there was now a film crew looking intrigued and asking me to explain my research…
for a few fractions of a millimetre here and there, this is pretty much a whole new pcb design. it also meant no magnetically isolated ethernet jacks (the mag in magjack should really be magic instead), which puts you on a path of doing that isolation your own circuitry, and that… that can put you on the path of feature creep.
having worked some magic to visualise the actions back into the venues in realtime, aiming for a positive feedback loop of commitment, my legacy contribution was a film to capture the activity and commitments of the event to show as part of the finale - a review as celebration and reward that developed over the phases of change nation.
to the country estate in the heart of dublin: farmleigh house, for the public day of change nation. and not just to the grand house itself – state photos of obama and northern ireland peace process on side tables, first prints in the irish language in the library – but to a boutique festival site pitched specially on the lawn. it was a wonderful day opening out the process to the public, starting with the two hundred handwritten commitments to action from ministers and all sorts of power brokers lining the walls of the main tent, and finishing with many more commitments made as the ticket holders brought their skills and connections to bear.
another day, another dublin landmark: dublin castle. a regal setting for an amazing day of action, as if day one were a dress rehearsal. the ‘live’ page we worked so hard on says it best, go take a look: http://changenation.org/live
day one, and tourist location number one: the guniness storehouse. lots of briefing the facilitators, lots of wrangling screens, pipelines and all things digital that that weren’t the website, and far too much time trying to get posterous to work on everybody’s phones. but through it all, the website morphed from a brochure to a live account of the event, and the commitments to action were coming in and becoming part of the public record.
to dublin, to save ireland. 50 social entrepreneurs had been flown in from around the world to kickstart the adoption of their ‘proven solutions’ in ireland: the three day event was called change nation, and that really was its aim. ashoka have that kind of clout, and aren’t afraid to use it.
package was waiting for me, opened the box: two assembled pcbs, all looking as they should.
it’s been two and a half years since the magic week of going from idea to breaking a working dvi mixer package and the ensuing dreams of getting it out there for everybody. problem is, thats still in dream territory: where’s the manufacturable hardware or website buy-button?
…aaaaand, no more test data. we did so much more than can be shown in a still or two here, we even pulled a whole four minute finale piece out of the bag, video edit and all[^1]. most of all, we did it, the audience made it… live!
after a bout of yet more *spark screenrunner back-end building up – libPusher, ‘event’ document packages that encapsulate the media and graphic template, the all important enqueue new – it was onto what really set this gig apart.
at the heart of the brain was the increasingly inappropriately named *spark titler, collating all the media and channelling it to the screen. it runs the screen, and gives just what you need to be responsive to the moment without breaking the visual illusion. so… *spark screenrunner?
clockwise from top left
This is the Brain.
We are using experimental thought-casting technology to display in real-time the ideas and thoughts are emerging at this moment, inside the Hexayurts and elsewhere. Come join our artists and coders in drawing it all together: talk to us, doodle with us as we find the emergent themes, trends and stories.
if you’re going to gather all your staff for a one-off event, why not take the opportunity while you’re at it to make a company portrait? this being a boz affair, however, its not a case of a photographer marshalling the troops into one shot. rather, everybody is tasked with taking everybody else’s photo - cue each pair having that connected moment of “oh, i don’t want a disastrous photo of me: do as you’d like done to you”. and, this being this, we also had them caption themselves with their favourite place to think and suchlike, and that camera and app was also wirelessly linked to our setup.
and why the twenty hexayurts? they were there to partition off the main business of the day: facilitated conversation in small groups. some form of internal market had been conducted in advance to arrive at the best 200 suggestions for topics, and the proposers were there to host each session. suffice to say, there were going to be a lot of ideas. and this is where we came in: could we capture them? visualise them? archive them?
a big convention centre, not so much sleep, and it’s barely dawn: back to high-stakes corporate events. there’s a good reason for taking some time out from the phd to be here: this is interesting, innovative stuff, embracing what a live event can bring, and doing it a long-term context of strategic and organisational renewal.
warmed-up from the apple store gig, its down into a concrete bunker for two d-fuse sets at the redsonic festival. small, intimate and stuffed with 50 speakers in a surround sound dream, its quite the gig. matthias rocks out, his musique concrète scores now chasms of sound; latitude is the immersive drift that totally captured the audience, the trip of particle finally is (how else to describe it?) dancing in abstraction to the music, and mixes to a finale of new work by paul that in drawing the audience back into a breathing-like minimal simplicity had them in the palm of his hand. gasps and whoops: nice!
with mike sharpening his critical muscles doing an information environments mres, there’s not been much d-fuse action since los angeles earlier in the year. but here we are, in an apple store for latitude – not quite the theatrical staging, but oh my: the slightly surreal setting disappears upon using the new generation of laptops in anger for the first time. vdmx b8 + quad core i7 + latest radeon + ssd = finally, flawless performance for us. the ghost of perfectly smooth hardware playback has been hanging over my head since moving us to a software setup is banished in a blaze of compositing and audio-reactive tweak. happy days.
sane control of the media and scenography needs to be partnered with the animation mechanics to handle it all gracefully. luckily, thats what i do – and what tools like quartz composer enable – and i had the best materials to work with in the form of made-by’s brand video. it’s great. watch it, and you’ll also see how perfect it was to be remade into a never-ending animation with dynamic content interspersed with the hand-animated elements.
how did joanna run the screen? with *spark titler v3: no longer a now-and-next titler, more the means for a live brand video. into an animation template go tweets, titles and all sorts of media, and the user is presented with a sane way of wrangling that media and controlling the output.
thats my laptop, but not my hands. if i can write software to make it more fool-proof for me to drive big, important screens, could that same approach empower organisations to drive their own screens?
i’d just rediscovered the ‘re-booted’ america’s cup, when what-are-the-chances I get a phone call to vj at the plymouth event. given i was considering taking a day-trip there any way, certainly worth dusting off the old vj machine. and what a venue to play… glorious weather, fantastic coastline, screen bang on top of a grassy cliff.
providing visuals from 5pm to 11pm was somewhat daunting given i’d pretty much chucked away all my random-gig vj clips a year or three back, they wanted it all america’s cup themed, and oh: 1080P.
sometimes the simplest things are the best. got to debut the set made from filming san pedro docks earlier in the year. constant side-scrolling cut-up by the audio transients; motion graphics perfection with the old mirror trick.
and how did those live graphics make it to the screen? i sat down and took the idea of *spark titler from sheep music and remade it as a fully fledged cocoa+quartz composer application. the idea being it can’t muck up: animation designed to gracefully transfer from state to state, participant names pre-filled in a drop-down menu, no mouse cursors on the output, text fields that commit their edits on pressing take… the little details that make-or-break a live application. oh - and it exports its title animations as quicktimes for integration with playback pro.
phone call from friend louis: “help me with mike figgis at the royal opera house”. certainly. watching timecode live with figgis reworking the playback and audio was a seminal experience for me. this however is not that, rather a weekend of curated stuff spread throughout the royal opera house’s many spaces. and in the middle, a screen driven by me: live cameras, live graphics, and edits through the film-making people+pipe louis has (impressively) put together.
last two days in LA spent with the excellent morgan bernard, though again largely behind laptop screen: trying to pull the PhD and whatnot back into focus. a welcome diversion came by way of scenic diversion coupled with morgan’s realisation there was a GH1 camera in an office in town… cue hours of amazing filming around san pedro docks. perfect blue gradated sky with industrial everything scrolling by against it. and we even found the same container and car trains that had been snaking through the windfarmed desert at the beginning of the trip.
fun night drinking old fashioneds at los angeles video artists monthly night at mandrake. good to see scrims going up and singers bathed in projection light.
straight from the rhythms and visions workshop to “levi’s film workshop” for a performance of latitude. the place is a bit like santa’s grotto for visualists, all sorts of equipment there to be borrowed and used. its also in the same building as moca’s street art exhibition, an embarassment of riches with some standout shephard fairey pieces (yes, its his constructivism cliché, but the textural qualities of the physical pieces was amazing).
as part of the rhythms and visions event, a day of workshops was organised. los angeles visual artists - lava had the morning, and covered the past and present of ‘visual music’ works. mike, matthias and i had the afternoon, which we nailed the four hours precisely with a tour through the d-fuse oeuvre and a journey through our particle production process. the latter was my main contribution, and its a tricky balance to give: lots of really cool stuff – shooting, taking crops, building abstracting effects – but with what can reduce down to a sea of noodles and buttons. pretty happy though, good feedback that the thread was there and it all tied up: people got it.
endless cities over, the scrim is dropped and its time for particle. the last performance of particle – cynetart – had the sense of finally getting to a definitive, rounded piece. this, then, with the new season upon us should have been the start of particle phase two, starting with much upped audio-visual linkage and a higher-res two-up 16:9 format. the world has a way of conspiring sometimes, and instead for me it was one step forward and three back as the challenges of the format re-working and no time outside this trip ate any creative or rehearsal time just to get a functioning show. which isn’t to say that it still wasn’t quite an experience for the audience. as the photo shows, it was not the average film school evening!
first d-fuse performance: a new cut of endless cities with live score from matthias and guest brian lebarton. me and mike have to stay on stage even though its press play on the visual side, so i spend 45 minutes in front of my laptop trying to not look idle while not touching it for fear of disturbing the playback.
up before us: scott pagano with musicians brian king, trifonic, brian lebarton and mb gordy. with amazing works such as parks on fire to draw on, i was really looking forward to seeing scott play. it was a real smooth show. it was also one in which the vj wasn’t stuck behind a laptop screen: in the photo its not scott behind the laptop, he’s to the left, free to move around controlling the visuals with iPad in hand. the render muscle – which doesn’t skip a frame – is a tower under the table. rekindles my desire to build a hackintosh again: a black box of mac pro class power in a form i can bring on the plane.
onto the reason behind the trip: d-fuse are to headline the rhythms and visions: expanded and live event put on as part of the visions and voices initiative at the university of south california. arriving there, i do like seeing that magic photo printed up nicely and put around.
and those wind turbines were placed there for a reason: keeping the tripods still wasn’t trivial.
in town for the ‘what is live’ symposium, and there’s also a 10 screen surround audio-visual environment round the corner? bring it on.
and onto me
always going to be slightly strange to hear a cultural researcher talk about a subject you’ve wound your life up in, as did dominik hasler in “party as art? antivj and the migration of vjing into the sphere of fine arts”. even stranger when the focus is on a project you’ve known since its inception and people you count as good friends: joanie and (his) antivj (label). looking back, joanie’s proto-mapping at avit>c23 precedes this blog, it was december 2006.
the lovely ana carvalho - of http://vjtheory.net and abertura, amongst other things - gave a talk around her phd research, called “on the ephemeral in AV realtime practices: an analysis into the possibilities for its documentation”
live audio-visual projects are hard to take a measure of. its something that only exists in the moment, but in that moment you, as the performer, are as far removed from a position to judge the work as possible: you’re not in the audience experiencing the whole effect, but on-stage in the middle of those screens locked in a specific mindset… if you’re lucky you get to look up from the laptop screen to the monitors, which themselves are no real representation of the final projected whole.
straight on the heels of the ‘holotronica’ onedotzero d-fuse performance, to dresden for ‘cynetart: international festival of computer based arts’. after the experiment of holotronica - more diversion and distraction in the end - this was the return to the real thing, and the chance to up its game with a refined set of footage.
there is now a mac pro in china running DFD, something that has been consuming my time for a while now. the roadshow d-fuse have been developing is our first big foray into automated dynamic content, lighting and audience interaction, and so without us being there for every gig holding it down with a hacked-up vj setup we needed something that you could just power on and the show would start. and so d-fuse/dynamic was hatched, a quicktime and quartz composer sequencer which reads in presets and its input/output functionality from a folder we can remotely update, and essentially just presents a “next” button to the on-site crew.
happiness is twelve hex bytes, generated by a pocketable custom LED fixture on detecting a bounce, transmitting that via xBee, receiving into the computer via RS232, being parsed correctly, outputting into a QC comp, doing a dance, and commanding back to the fixtures via Artnet via DMX via xBee.
- What is AV:in — Introduction To Audiovisual Arts
Audiovisual Culture is rapidly gaining momentum with new technology and information resources quickly aiding the drive. In 2010 more and more people are seeking and acquiring the skills required for audiovisual production and interactive creation. This global movement is spreading into screens, phones and other commercial applications as well as providing a rich source of culture for digital communities inspiring new trends in design and art.
AV:in is a new media course for this market. We have designed AV:in as a comprehensive online educational program for audiovisual studies. It follows a trend of regular workshops and lectures and professional training, which have continued to grow in popularity all around the world on the subject of audiovisual production and performance.
the iPad-screens interaction isn’t even half of it, though. the project is to be a roadshow travelling through china, a modular setup of stage and staging reaching out into the club. two ‘hero’ videos with dance choreography and interactive props (hello LED balls), a video feedback piece, a live drawing piece, the backbone of the evening as the iPad interaction and audio-reactive graphics, all feeding out onto the mains screen, duplicated onto any in-house video system each venue might have, with LED sticks extending the video canvas out from the stage and video controlled stage lighting effects.
there is a big d-fuse production in the works, where the brief rather wonderfully was emphasising interaction with and within the audience. as briefs often do, things have changed a lot since the heady time of working on and winning the pitch, but the core of it is still generative graphics and punter control from the club floor. and so here, courtesy of dr.mo‘s crack team of coders is an in-development iPad app talking over WiFi to a QC plugin, where my two fingers-as-proxies-for-collaborating-audience-members are sketching locally and that is being incorporated on the club’s screens.
to berlin for laika, an event investigating audio-visual culture. helene, its creator, wrote to me saying
tresor backstage, 1am, get to the final compile of here+now for the 3am performance. there is never enough time in this world, and for experimental projects on the side doubly so. the dream of just hanging out at a festival…
having spent most of my time since arriving in berlin behind a laptop screen, it was time to unveil effort #1: a dvi mixer project presentation, keynote document with i’s dotted and t’s crossed. more importantly, for the swedes won’t buy a pig in a sack, the presentation was followed by a demo of - and hands on with - the new *spark d-fuser prototype.
many memories of preparing live cinema talks and performances for berlin vj events with fALk, so always good to be surprised with new things including a bold stab at a live cinema interface that might just have the engineering oomph behind it to make it real.
festivals are all about meeting your peers and being inspired, and meeting the pair of joris and eavan certainly fitted that bill. at the festival’s opening party they had a really nice live drawing program hooked into vdmx via vade’s screen capture qcfx. pictured is eavan, tablet and alchemy. its well worth checking out: http://al.chemy.org/
a night tweaking firmware, a morning visiting the laser cutter workshop, some black vinyl, and the first ‘manufacturable’ prototype is born. huzzah: and promptly off to berlin…
pixelnoizz, *spark, an empty media card and a glitch machine: when its here+now, you’ll be part of it. an experimental performance workshopped as part of visualberlin festival 2010.
another work-in-progress update for the *spark d-fuser aka dvi mixer project: here we have the v1 pcb design, parts specified, plans drawn, and – with shawn multimeter in hand – the leg-work translating that into something that works. the real announcement here, though, is this: i will be presenting the project in full in berlin on the 12th june, so expect to know a lot more about what, when and how around then.
particle’s air conditioning units finally get an airing, midi sync or no. it turned out a really good gig to try new things, i was really happy with the ‘noodle’ i got going.
with the musion to play with once more, to the shunt vaults with for an experimental performance of particle.
thats the invert button, in real life.
highlight of mapping was seeing franz’s ‘euphorie’ performance in the flesh, or rather, in the light. its yet to grow to a cohesive, flowing performance, but just to look into their laboratory was quite the experience. its the band you’d expect to see if a bladerunner nightclub scene were filmed, but that somehow makes it sound like its derivative: quite the opposite.
mapping finally broke beyond performances and gallery to make a serious go of some kind of joint project / residency. pitching up after the d-fuse performance, i got to hang out on the night before their big evening. the timeline stuck to the wall was a recent innovation, apparently… made me smile.
may wouldn’t be the same without the annual pilgrimage to the excellent mapping festival. fourth time running now, having played as part of narrative lab performances and workshops, then journalism, and last year doing a workshopped kinetxt performance. this time, its as part of d-fuse, performing particle.
personal reward, beyond a morning spent sipping coffee in a cafe overlooking the crescent beach of gijón, was seeing plaid perform itsu live, with the pleix video behind. its just a perfect track with the perfect video.
before us, “zan lyons vs bladerunner”. a film remix of bladerunner raises the cliché alert, but to see such good material transformed so well into a whole new aesthetic experience, thats double good. i couldn’t see it all, but what i did was really beautifully abstracted away, 99% shadow with scorching audio-visual flashes. oh, and violin.
aaah, a proper theatre. well resourced, good tech crew, and a lovely auditorium for the audience.
…and laboral is full of nice details as well, from the modern sophistication of the cloakroom ticket rack in LABoral, to the tiling and signage around the theatre.
to spain for laboratorio de electrónica visual with d-fuse in full wives and girlfriends mode - who wouldn’t, seeing the venues. this was the central quad of laboral, complete with church hosting one performance space to the left, and the entrance to the theatre where we were performing particle to the right. laboral is simply the best setting to have a festival i’ve ever seen: a full campus of venues stretching from this architecturally beautiful and technically top-notch main space to modern art galleries, workshops, labs and allsuch spread around the perimeter.
novak were in london doing their 3d disco show, so i dropped by to see how it had come on: i saw an early version - possibly the premiere even - back at the reopening of the tyneside in 2008. i was impressed with what i saw and what i knew about its development, so i put a line to create digital motion that there might be a good story in it. which, somehow, just got posted to their front page. read on, and the comments.
its been quite some time since november and nothing visible has been happening. this is a quick post to say that stuff is happening behind the scenes, albeit with lots of delays caused by my spare time being completely out of sync with people i’ve been trying to get things going with. but now the momentum is back, and here shawn bonkowski and i are choosing sliders from the seemingly limitless selection on offer.
being trained in product design and loving this book, i’d have said i have a fair understanding of how much work it can take to transform a prototype into something suitable for manufacture and the real world. but i have to admit, this has taken far far longer than i expected. though now, i think, i can say that the controller is falling into place: still far from having a final, manufacturable, design, but the road to get there is clear and doable.
the thomas dolby gig was a test for bringing in live photography as well as live video, and it was really rewarding to see it working. live video turned out to be appropriate for the songs, and then a slideshow of the recent photos for all the catching-up that was happening between songs. it was also good to run the screen and framing graphics at native res, giving strong, defined and intricate output, and see that completely mask - figuratively - the much lower quality PAL video feed.
thomas dolby had got back in touch saying he was going to have a reunion gig with his old touring band, and could i arrange some kind of live camera and screen for it? probably yes, but i was really interested by the idea for the show: somewhere in-between a masterclass and a candid first rehearsal as old friendships and old pieces were picked back up for the first time in years. and having a screen presence to really get in there on stage, almost like photojournalism, could be really illuminating, as well as having a camera picking out the fingering or whatever.
there’s no denying its like a flight deck of buttons, but props to vdmx’s configurability and plug-in friendliness. full playback control of both single screens and the dualhead spanning as quicktime sources, and a hardcore quartz composer patch wrapping a lot of custom openGL code, fronted by an interface builder laid out UI panel.
in barcelona on a solo d-fuse mission: particle to audio by asférico, refactored down to a dualhead screen setup. good gig: refactoring prep worked out, no nasty surprises throughout, performance felt smooth.
in reality, all very much a work in progress. but: if you wanted to track a radio control car around a room, and explode it remotely when it crossed its own trail, this is just how you might make the car.
d-fuse were asked to do something with the musion screen at kinetica art fair. particle was designed for a transparent screen layered in front of the cinema screen behind, so mike got to work on a 15 minute redux. playback was just hitting play on two laptops simultaneously, and even for this oh how i was reminded that i should write that basic show playback app…
CDM, the blog about VJing and beyond that seems to have the best signal to noise ratio, has just picked up the live cinema documentary i’ve been deep in the production of since returning, and has said some very nice things:
such seems my life: christmas day means a largely clear day to crack some of the live cinema documentary. not quite the idea!
denis, the next day, the fortnight of opus vj over. comatose and content.
i met denis at the first vision-r, which i thought was the first french vj festival. not so he said: he had organised opus vj, down in marseille. schedules have aligned finally and i’m sky crowds and snow at gatwick to fly down there for opus vj #4. its also likely the last, denis wanting to move onto something more meaningful than what club contextualised vjing seems to lead to. definitely end of an era for a certain generation there: the first straight-up club vj set i’ve actually done in a year or two, i’m on a nostalgia voyage through *spark past myself: rocking it like its 2003.
my phd has this first year not doing phd stuff. which isn’t all bad: i have to make an “experimental documentary about a contemporary arts practice” to hone my media production skills. i think the brief was “make sure they know how to use a camera”, props to the film department at queen mary for challenging us with something a bit more interesting.
part research, part curiosity, part embarrassment at just not having been before, i mounted a solo reconnaissance of secret cinema. and was impressed. if i’d known the film was going to be bugsy malone, i probably wouldn’t have bothered, but it was great: hundreds of hipsters in 1920’s chicago dress, and a moment of sheer audience electricity as they all realised there really was going to be a giant custard pie fight, and they were not just in the middle, but the only way through was to embrace it. that, and grab and put on a plastic poncho in the ten remaining seconds…
second of two installations i’ve really enjoyed recently, re-rite is a multitrack recording of the philharmonia orchestra performing stravinsky’s the rite of spring, played out across 25 screens and the three floors and many rooms of the wonderfully dilapidated bargehouse. i’d have gone to see such a mediated-live-performance-with-lots-of-screens type thing anyway, and doubly so as the philharmonia partnered with friends yeast to make this (props, pulled it off to a really high standard) but it really got under my skin: the experience was unique, beyond the goal of somehow giving the experience of being inside an orchestra on stage.
here’s an update on the dvi-mixer project; i’ve been through the replies to the expression of interest, am working on some things that have come up, and here are a load of answers to common questions that came up.
this friday i will be doing my vj thing together with mike, matthias and sarah of d-fuse, paul of labmeta, and mo of electrovision. we have the run of the london transport museum, who are opening late with a bar. its the first time we’ll have done something there, so it will be baby steps but i think there’s real potential with the victoriana building with the spatial feel their scale of exhibits gives, the covent garden location, and the real gem of their proper screening theatre downstairs.
photobank couldn’t have happened without novak’s curation of the opencity event. talking about our joint project kinetxt and things like memory bank led to the idea, and being given a development fee and the host event made it possible. they also did a great job in finding some local writers to be the masters of interpretation for the weekend, of whom alex is pictured above, scribbling around his notes for the final haiku-like selection.
after a month with a heavy dose of xcode on the side, its up to newcastle clutching two fledgling applications to marry with newcastle library’s digitised photo archive, a bunch of iMacs clustered around a 1080P plasma screen, and the memories of the visiting public. it was a heavy weekend of being there with the installation by day and further coding by night, but out of this a very real and user tested photobank has been born.
well… the word is officially out, and rippling around the internet. never seen so many twitter mentions or positive adjectives next to my name - which is nice - but the real deal is are there enough people out there who want one to make a limited production run from the prototype: its not about interest, it will be about orders. http://tobyz.net/tobyzstuff/projects/dvi-mixer
a sunset to end, aaah. lucky with the weather for our filming day!
and here we go, leading into the bridges
coming into newcastle, but can’t shake the oil rigs yet, just too good.
two screengrabs of output featuring footage andrew shot at tynemouth. oil rigs, beaches and a bleaching sun.
the title should really be ‘live at sea’ by the looks of this clip. not to mention the setup looked a bit like the bow of a ship.
the performance was to be the newly transformed great north museum‘s event space, a big, white, and empty room. standard two layer ‘proscenium arch’ presentation not so suitable, mike came up with a triangular staging.
up to newcastle with d-fuse for a performance of particle as part of reinventing the city. we collaborated with locals novak for a day of filming and a day of performance/prep. nice to be out with them with a camera on a glorious day rather than worrying about wiimotes and audience interaction.
and if chase & status wasn’t enough to be getting on with, there was also a long awaited project with moving brands, of which neither i nor they can talk about beyond saying i sat behind a mac and xcode for a week.
saxon was a straight 2D after effects mission, animating up the cover artwork and compositing into it carnival soundsystem footage. its a heavy dubstep track, and i spent some time making the visuals really follow the bass… looping keyframe expressions ahoy. i’ll upload videos once the tour is over.
in many ways, this is my favourite video. they wanted the vocalists up on the screen, and this certainly delivers but taking it into chris cunningham territory. the magic was shooting with two cameras simultaneously, one recording crystal clear HD and the other super contrasty nightshot, while flicking the lights around. just compositing the two straight gave a crazy shifting ghost effect, and after some audioreactive magic and graphics passes the effect is really intricate. and with barely a manual keyframe, to boot.
chase and status delivery time: here’s a still from against all odds. this was a nice one to make, splicing together with a good dose of graphical sensibility the card-game-in-a-smoky-nightclub promo video c&s had already with the vocalist shoot we did at the beginning of the project.
having spent a day documenting our work, i can say this steadycam rig may look the part but is the most awful thing to actually try and use. makes you realise why the film-grade ones are basically terminator suits.
a tribute to fellow frequent d-fuser paul mumford: its pretty tough: you’ve been holed up for weeks on end with the impossible brief of this video environment; master of after effects or no, a 11,000px canvas is going to hurt, and you’re finally seeing the results… and you can’t even get a photo of it all, ‘cos its wrapped around walls and towers surrounding you!
from pitch and the day-long meetings to kick it off, its now three months later and i’m actually in the sony stand at ifa 2009. a non-disclosure agreement, a 11,000x1080px canvas in after effects, 15 full-bore mac pros compositing their slice of the 400GB drive image full of particle layers and product prisms, eight screens pixelmapped in surround across the stand’s towers… its been one of those projects of scary statistics, corporate reputations riding on the line and knowing there is no preview, the not-yet-there architecture is the output monitor.
while in berlin on d-fuse delivery duties, its the birthday of ilan katin. to mauer park with a bottle of fizz for sunset, booze and cake. in opposite order.
finally, its plan b for the rip-it-up pieces and their new single ‘end credits’, taken from the upcoming film harry brown. think gran turino but with michael caine instead of clint eastwood, but from the opening minute that i’ve seen, hard hitting would be an understatement.
third up, takura for three tracks. we’re in double shoot mode here, flicking the lights and filming in HD and nightshot going for some frenetic cuts when it gets to post.
onto jenna g for [in love]. this started off all warm orange fuzz, and ended up barely blue. strange how things evolve sometimes.
into the studio with chris allen for a day’s shoot of chase & status vocalists. i’m pulling together the visuals for the chase & status autumn tour for the light surgeons. this was the first step: film four vocalists over seven tracks in one day. kano up first, though without the against all odds afro.
seeing myself in print was definitely a theme for this trip: documenting your festival in really well produced books is something seemingly intrinsic to brasil, and so interest turned to delight when i was handed the 2008 annual from rio de janeiro’s multiplicidade and saw pages upon pages devoted to the d-fuse performance that took me there.
reservations about file apart, its damn nice seeing yourself in print. their catalogue is truly something to behold.
the file exhibition had some nice pieces. i would link to them, but the file website is impenetrable (in marked contrast to their amazing catalogue, to follow…).
as it happened, the pretty reknown FILE festival was the following week, and we were in são paulo already. so an application for rbn_esc from me later, and some d-fusing from mike, and we’re staying on for particle’s second outing and rbn_esc’s debut outside of europe (somehow, thats true).
…but all that fades away against the rift of paraisópolis and morumbi. o m g. to see this was why we’d hired the helicopter. just unreal.
lots of urban visual goodness from the air in são paulo… great concrete vistas, modernism old and new…
and then there we were. above the city, doors removed, pointing cameras wherever we could.
são paulo is an interesting city for a number of reasons. statistically, its a big hitter in the d-fuse world of urban conditions: the first or second most populous metropolitan area in the americas with a cool 21 million, and with the rich escaping the traffic via the largest helicopter fleet in the world. and so, mulling on that, we found ourselves at the heliport…
we’re such poseurs. the problem with loosing all the dvd-decks, v4 mixers and whatnot in favour of two laptops and a mini crossfader box, is that your stage setup looks somewhat less impressive. so seeing the shadows of the monitors on the mesh screen, it didn’t take long before somebody was recreating the old look with a bunch of cables…
with the standard in the bank, it was onto the experiemental performance, the world premiere of ‘particle’.
all i’m saying, is that the next day i was in hospital.
first day in são paulo was for filming. mike and matthias took the car mission, i took the bus+metro and delved into the centre of sp. so much to see, and i revel in sp’s love (experiment?) of modernist concrete, but it is sights like this that linger most.
arrive in são paulo. first morning, i’m awake at 5am with the time-zone shift. its dark, but the sun soon rises to a beautiful day, with the arts centre we’ll be performing in standing there reflecting the orange glow. and life is good: i’m being productive, the hotel has a cunning arrangement with free internet up to 64kb, and most refreshingly there’s no mirror in front of the desk.
abertura was the first time i really got to throw myself into a ‘particle-esque’ performance, using the d-fuse content with the live setup i’d created. as a warm-up for são paulo, it was a great one: the music and visuals really came together to give an intense show in the relatively small space of abertura’s hall, it really gave me a confidence boost.
herein lies a little story. when i met ilan a few years ago, it was obvious he was a good type doing good stuff. he handed me a dvd of one of his main projects, and some time later back at home, relaxing of an evening, i found it and put it on. shall we just say that thrash metal with eye-bending visuals wasn’t the right thing for that moment, and to my taste, i couldn’t imagine a moment when it would be. but the world is diverse, it was a product of love, and so we move on.
unrelated to visuals but very much in the real media world there was a really interesting project shown at abertura, a ‘such an obvious idea why hasn’t this happened already’ project called fisheye. simply, if you install the browser plug-in, you gain annotations that people have written about the webpages you visit. pair this with a well structured critique taxonomy, and you have a powerful media criticism tool. photo is geoff, the developer, giving us the tour.
stay till end of electrovision, pick up triplehead lent for last set, taxi home, pack bag for two weeks in brasil, taxi to airport, take off 6am bound for lisbon.
as a warm-up to d-fuse‘s trip to brazil, we performed a test of the new live piece “particle” at electrovision. it definitely felt like a test, as things were plugged in and loaded up to be used in anger in for the first time, and while i wasn’t so happy creatively with the form this first rendition took, that is secondary to what happened there: the dvi-mixer i’ve been dreaming of for years - and that my work turning transforming d-fuse’s live shows has been predicated on - worked as simply and unobtrusively as it should. all the sophistication and craziness lives in the laptop, where we have creative control as far as we’re wishing to configure and code, and we have hardware reliabiliy to ensure we can a) guarantee solid output signal to the projectors no matter what is going on with the laptops and b) mix together and tag team the performance between two visuals laptops.
beyond visible things like keane3D, lots of work has been going on in the background with d-fuse this past year or so. some of it pitching, some of it pushing along internal projects, and at the moment a massive commercial job under NDA: all things which don’t really get to this diary. but i’m glad to announce a little preview of something i’ve been working on a while, which is transforming d-fuse live.
…and i use the word awesome precisely, for making my first application was an awe-inspiring experience. i could make a better screenshot, i could work it untill i really do have plasma pong, but ffs it took two hours for a standing start! never having done any c++ let alone work with a fluid library before, let alone… yeah, i could go on. possibly the better route is just to try and sample some of my communication in the 24 hours since then…
this was actually for a really nice first project from ian grant and two others, where they used openCV and box2D to drop computer rendered shapes from the top of the canvas and see them pile up on the ground, except that the ground was made by whatever shape was put in front of the webcam.
electronics out the way, and a few beers later, we’re deep into philosophy, civilisation and disability. scott making the aspirational claim for devoting potentially disproportionate resources to niche concerns, to paraphrase him that what might seem extravagant now is where we want to be throughout society, so we need some excuse to trailblaze.
i’m part of a open frameworks workshop, along with some very interesting other people. this means during a lovely sunny weekend in london, i’m geeking out in a dark room learning OF. as a lot of people there haven’t spent the past year or two getting deeper and deeper into code, it starts with the basics: “int r,g,b; // could be on separate lines but we are amazing programmers now”.
after four days of being in a night-club complex, its time to not be there to the end and have a relaxed final drink on the way to collapse in bed. and just as i leave, this crazy character pitches up to the vj clash. looks super cool, but surely it distorts your sight? kinda important to a vj?
but you could say the performances are secondary. what lpm is really about, and is titled as, is as a meeting space. here a user of niche-gamebody visuals software (mary-ann aka outpt) meets the actual creator of that software (clément, aka pikilipita, and actually has the opportunity of time and space for it not to be a “omg! hello! but i’ve got to go and its too loud here” conversation.
thorsten e-gruppe giving it some vb represent. there was a beautiful moment earlier on the hack-bench, where he was staring at his laptop screen for five minutes in a zen-like trance, finally happy that his visuals were generating just right.
so here is my parable about the value of a community focussed event like lpm: in a world where there are only so many screens for so many hours, and open submissions for vjs, you’d think video-chaos could be the only result. it certainly happened, with different outputs on adjacent screens hurting artist’s feelings and my eyes. thing is, we’re an adaptive species, we’re social. enter the community aspect: a group of peers who’d largely never met before the festival got together as a sufficiently large group so that individually they’d take all the screens for the vj clash, but collaborated on a joint performance instead. it rocked, they all got much more out of it than performing alone, and from the audience perspective it was a revelation: the vj set commanded the space, not least of all for actually having an intro, all screens breaking down in sync with the music, performers energised as a team and so on. total win for everybody; organisers, artists, punters.
to pick one example of good vj practice seen at lpm, 14c0 caught my eye with a strong graphical sensibility and focussed aesthetic. to cliché his output, there’s nothing revolutionary in audio-driven-maths-surfaces and mirrored architecture, but amongst the chaos of lpm it was really refreshing to see something dialled in and done right.
why have one bottle when you can have two!
we should have some interviews filmed at lpm up on the vjtalks site, but it might take a while: they developed into hour long in-depth affairs, so there’s some editing to do, and in david’s case, a baby almost due.
anton dropped into the qc class to show how qc can be extended by installing custom plug-ins… which naturally featured a fair bit of glitch.
it felt funny there being a quartz composer workshop, me not giving it, and the copy being beyond something even i could even have pumped-up (world exclusive! creator of the most widely viewed online video tutorial series!). but definitely a sign of progress in this world, so props to graham (centre back) and lpm. the class had a good time, and the word was spread: hopefully more interesting work will happen because of it.
this was perhaps the most inspiring moment of lpm for me. to set the background, i’ve been planning a entirely new paradigm of vj interface for years now, have a subversion repository with a project to that end, and have had many discussions with people like anton about how flightdecks-of-buttons suck and where are we in our quests to make something better. the short answer is: years in, far from anything demonstrable due to the overhead of having to write such a thing from scratch.
the best bit was when one track just didn’t sound right. the singer, probably rightfully having a diva moment, stopped it and was trying to get it to his ear… meanwhile fabio / vjk suddenly looks busy, and a blink later the whole performance space is surrounded by flames. to continue the theme: thats live.
toby - “but you know you still had the fps on”
david - “yeah, its so they know its really LIVE”
david, as well as having the content worked out, also had the tools worked out. one laptop as render client, one laptop as controller, linked by ethernet. nice to see this in the wild, its the approach i’m going for with *spark cinema. but going back to the photo, check the number of buttons: truly a flight deck!
silly artist name, absolutely great work.
jaromil roio was at this year’s lpm too (see vjtalks last year), and gave a really good talk in which he said something i will be repeating for years to come. probably not verbatim, but “if a community has trust, it can invest in its future”. which is a nice way to sum up a lot of what i’ve thought in trying to push the vj (and post-vj!?) community on. a simple example would be a “live performer’s meeting club”, where you pay some amount to become a member, which lpm can then invest into securing the next festival, up to which you then rock up knowing you helped make it happen, with your workshop fees already paid. jaromil used the example of blender, where the users contribute in advance to help facilitate not only to its development, but the production of a work made with it.
anton aka vade seeing whether he make his quartz-composer leveraging app v002 ready for live-use… in a few hours time. coding at the venue: a dangerous thing, but a few hours later there was a very happy anton bouncing around saying he’d nailed the weird bug and was going to perform with it for the first time.
lost the dvd drive, moved the hard disk into its place, and installed a super-fast solid state drive in the original’s slot. as philikon says, “you can have your cake and eat it, too. warp drive and good old V8 muscle.”… this not only makes the system “biblically fast”, but now means i can pull multiple high-def streams for vjing without the laptop breaking a sweat. more than that, with genuinely instant random access, i should be able to scratch, stutter, trigger to my hearts content. so… time to play!
back to london, and it’s mo’s vj night. back at the roxy too, the old-timer venue sporting an old-timer line-up with ben sheppee in from japan and scott amoeba up from brighton (pictured - a true ginger terrorist).
nothing better than a week in and out of coding, performance and nightclubs, to see the night through to a beautiful sunny morning on the river. swimming in the crystal clear water was cleansing more than literally, even if for some it wasn’t quite the idea…
my first mapping was marked by meeting franz and pier of exyzt, and it was great to see them back with a facade projection piece. using some custom playback/pinning software franz had rustled up (pictured, franz aligning it up - the outlines are lit on the building), it was both refreshing and surprising to see a true audio-visual piece, where the graphics and audio were two sides of the same thing. surprising that at mapping, a touchpoint of curated vj/av showcasing, this was the first i’d seen that did it for me in that way.
beat torrent cancelled themselves in a fit of divadom, so enter “torrent de bites, un duo vj/dj aussi impromptu qu’enthousiaste” aka ilan and andré of le zoo. ably assisted by the vj exoskeleton craziness of vj lupin and oblivion, disaster turned to triumph and a real highlight of the festival. although it all pales next to this.
this installation - “inside out” by klif - was really nice, cameras and cathode ray tubes feeding back on themselves but achieved with a beautiful restraint of motion and palette. the key was in the cameras being mounted on slowly oscillating platforms, so that with the projector canvas spread wide, trails of repeats would swing across in slow motion. i also noticed some video level-adjustments boxes, which probably are essential to getting such a refined collage.
that was the positive, here’s the negative. well, it was an outdoor performance, and it rained. which sucks, and its a shame that because of rain cover the audience couldn’t crowd around us performing it, seeing the creative hub and being able to join in with our text clients and general heckling to do this idea or that. but that is life.
after three days of prep, the performance. to quote the internet:
from rehearsal to the performance proper. one of the challenges for us of projecting onto a building rather than a cinematic screen is that you don’t have the clear frame for your ‘canvas’, rather you’re just lighting up bits of a facade: type in the void. this gives a problem for making an art-pad the backdrop of your canvas: you don’t want a bright white rectangle somewhere on your building, you want the lit pen-strokes floating in the wider surface. so here we are for one part of the performance proper with our illustrators experimenting with black paper and tipp-ex (correction fluid) type pens.
and here is the kinetxt cut-out submitter app, one button to make the tethered camera shoot and load it into photoshop, and the other to drop the photoshopped image onto for submission to the kinetxt canvas.
its the day of the performance, and we set kinetxt up in one of the communal rooms of îlot 13 to rehearse.
the îlot 13 complex has the écurie bar, and what a perfect place. couldn’t resist this shot, seeing the guy reading the hardback comic they had lying there, roses behind and, well, it goes on. too perfect.
one of the ideas of kinetxt is starting off from a blank sheet of paper, story unwritten, and the way I see it one way of increasing the quality or interest in the resultant performance is using the context of the performance as catalyst or reference for whatever emerges. so mapping gave us a great hand in programming us as an outdoor projection in the courtyard of îlot 13, a place with lots of history and spirit. we were projecting on the back walls of one of the blocks, which instantly gives ideas of x-ray views through to the people living there, and the whole complex is a kind of utopia, being a former squat that came to an agreement with the city council, and instead of the standard cycle of demolition and profiteering redevelopment seen world-over, an association was formed to develop the block in the interests of its inhabitants. and what a wonderful job they’ve done, it is quite the urban oasis, both smart and informal.
…and now having used it in anger, here we have
after arriving at this year’s mapping festival and having the plan-the-week meeting with andrew, its the next day and we’re meeting the artists. mapping have curated seemingly a dream-team for us, which really fits the idea we proposed of emphasising the idea of a ‘band’ coming together to tell a story. we’ve always run kinetxt as a longer-form audience-led event/environment, and for this performance we’ve brought it down to 45 minutes and we’re really hoping to somehow create the equivalent of a band performance, but instead of guitars and drums, we have illustrators, a poet, and a backing setup of me, andrew and james of novak, and lots of laptops with lots of custom code and things hanging off them.
following teatrino were the erasers, which was a great thing to witness but fell short of the ambition i had for it watching the start. they had a great table full of things, all categorised into rows, and it started magnificently with a really nice motion graphic triplehead vj thing that looked like we were in for a real engaging narrative or development, and was all the better when you realised half the content was actually coming from live filming up front, with performers and cameras manipulating print-outs, ink and whatnot into a crisp graphic whole. trouble was, this was so perfect to my eyes that when their next ‘track’ was a real dive aesthetically and musically, and it became clear that it was going to be improvised chaos riffing against well-tread themes without saying anything new or interesting, i felt really let down despite many compelling moments of live action that followed.
great performance by teatrino elettrico on the sunday night, in the zoo nightclub innovatively cut-up sideways into an audio-visual theatre.
who would have known that this year’s fashion is to have your vj name made into a big blingin’ buckle. hi-res meet mxzehn, face-off (or rather, well, what xxx-off would you call that…!)
…and here is the bugfix release.
KineTXT has spurred many custom plug-ins, generally either esoteric or usurped by kineme or the next major release of QC. the latest however probably deserves to see the wider light of day, and so here is a snap-shot of it having just passed a notional ‘v1.0’. its two patches designed to capture and render handwriting and doodles from a tablet, but they should be pretty useful to anyone who wishes for some form of digital graffiti in their QC compositions.
after much shenanigans, keane3D did happen and d-fuse were part of it. no mapping-on-keane-artwork-triangles-with-antivj, no live layered-in-space reactive projections, either of which should have worked amazingly with the multi-3Dcamera filming setup, instead the program graphics. this meant on the day i was in charge of getting the content into the more-than-impressive and bespoke for the occasion outside broadcast rig - always be prepared to reencode everything squatting round the back of a rack of equipment - so always a nice moment when you actually see it going out live from the gallery.
a little sneak peek of a quartz composer plug-in in development: spk-calligraphy, a set of patches for recording and playing back 2d strokes. the basic patch is equivalent to the kineme GL line structure patch, but draws the line as if it were a chisel nib at 45° and with a flow fade-out. the other two are what is going to enable a big part of the next kinetxt development: handwriting to go alongside the rendered text.
and here’s another, in a slightly less formal environment. suffice to say, the tv feature is used a lot more here!
i’ve been somewhat remiss in not posting up the finished mpc screen, but thanks to a little cover work there i had the chance to go round and take some photos of it out in the wild. so here is the one i’ll always remember most as it was the first screen to be was deployed in the wild.
from boat trips, through a pub, to club transmediale’s daytime venue. amongst the madness, a laboratory table of improvised audio-visual tinker toys. very cutely, all leading off one power strip.
of course, it was all going too well: putting together all the separate elements hasn’t proved so straightforward.
derivative were over from toronto for transmediale, and it was suggested they show off ‘touch’ at the visual berlin meeting. and quite the jaw-dropper it was.
if you’re in berlin working on the new avit vj network website, you’re not going to miss going to visual berlin’s weekly meeting: its a concrete expression of what avit stands for, of what can happen through the network effect. so doubly nice to have a tag-team history of avit presentation shared between so many in the room, and not just be able to trace not only visual berlin’s genesis, but many other nice things such as joanie of antivj’s proto-mapping work at avit>c23 that led to a permanent installation in maria where we had been two nights before, as well as being the big movement in visuals since.
the back room is much better however, and we have servando, met at live performers meeting and since a visual berliner, on stage. servando makes custom controllers, this one sits in a dvd spindle and has accelerometer as well as the usual spread of knobs and buttons. dr nojoke, the muscian crumpling a plastic bottle to the microphone here, dubbed it techno tambourine.
would make jack a dull boy, except that you couldn’t stay in totally with transmediale around you for the week…? to maria club, where drill-in-your-head sonic experiments seem to be the thing in the main room.
fred and flux hammer it out
which also makes it beer'o'clock
home + all projects + scene archive + a project + about
in berlin for avit dev camp: there will be a new website, the door has been locked until its done. berliner kindl, meet todd’s kindle.
a nice performance i think: not that i could see the screen or a proper monitor, but everything largely worked as it should, and its not like i haven’t done this before. even on that, though, still many vj types who hadn’t seen it, even on home turf.
…well courtesy of a projector’s pixel grid this would be your starting point =]
Duncan with a choice quote in “Narrative and Experience Design: The influence of technological form on the shaping of narrative experience. The panellists will discuss the emergence of pervasive media and its effect on traditional narrative forms.”
to bristol for the “narrative/non-narrative/anti-narrative conference” held at the the watershed to follow on from the encounters film festival. never fails to amuse me that the watershed, forever home of the exploratory in my child’s head, is still relevant to my life.
i started writing an essay about this gig - the light surgeons performed “true fictions” and d-fuse presented “surface”, both huge and important works shown to a sell-out audience on the biggest screen in europe - but the window of opportunity to get it coherent let alone finished has passed for now, so here is a placeholder to say at least to say it happened.
mike recommended popping by this exhibition on the way home. glad i did: critics say playful and profound, i say yep nice idea but totally transformed in its execution. best bit of public space interaction i’ve seen in ages (and thats including just having been to a festival with that by-line…!).
not part of imageradio, but across the road in the now dwarfed original philips factory, was the re-ACT exhibition, combining light and interactivity. some beauty, like swarm pictured, but generally really disappointing interactivity - most of them were barely reactive. makes you wonder why you didn’t propose something.
…and the juvenile still finds “kunstlicht in de kunst” funny.
so this lady is watching a film as if it were through her own eyes, and right now her hand is being slobbered all over by a dog. except that its obviously not, it is mamabert is mimicking that with a hand puppet. truly memorable, truly live and a performance, and such an obvious idea: why isn’t everybody doing this, its “the feelies” for real.
the last ‘live cinema’ event, this was a complete surprise. looking at the little light-stage, i was charmed but could only imagine a few minutes of interest in whatever shadows it could produce. how wrong: a complete tour-de-force, taking a certain aesthetic and exploring it fully and brilliantly. http://www.opticalmachines.nl
totally impressive: the status project. if anyone talks about sticking it to “the man”, well this is “the system”, mapped by heath bunting.
“the times they are the changes”, and so there was a crazy opening party for their exhibition at mu gallery. fancy-dress a-go-go for those in the know, and standing around incredulously for those not.
kinetxt over, onto the evening’s ‘live cinema’ performance ‘the nature of being’ by scanner and olga mink. two quality artists, some super-beautiful moments and a ‘state-of-flux-cinematic-experience’ achieved. as neatly summed up by nik tho’, the path well travelled.
the creative hub. props to all involved: you can see the energy.
with imageradio’s opening speeches over, we see crowds come through
6pm: kinetxt is go. and the other innovation: its recording itself, so it can spend the rest of its time at the imageradio exhibition iterating through the opening night’s perfomance.
two anglepoise lamps on the desk, smart and suitably adjustable, but light only seems to be coming out of one of them…
eek, slightly daunting: an hour interview to highlight how “the artist’s work” relates to the theme. and there’s me still not entirely comfortable with the idea of myself as an artist…
kinetxt has been curated to be part of imageradio: new media in public space, taking place in eindhoven from thursday to sunday next week. so back in the uk for just one day, its off to the netherlands to try and pull it together over there.
check the website for lots of interesting work:
this is during the ‘straight’ performance of latitude, essentially an edit. as i hoped, there was call for an encore and i had vdmx ready for a much more layered, graphical remix. its so gratifying when an improvisation like that goes really well, especially when the time you’d planned to rehearse and shape it was taken with dealing with after effects consistently crashing half way through the updated led renders.
thanks to multiplicidade for the photo.
weird to see the clarity of this photo against my blurred impression from within the performance. having been told there was upward of a thousand people out there waiting to see us, they are of course in pitch black it being a theatre/cinema and i couldn’t see anything… until the moment came to release the secret weapon, bathing the place in light when we got to the buddha-like moment before knocking it down to highlights of the imagery.
thanks to multiplicidade for the photo.
ok so actually this is just being put up in the hour before the gig, but that didn’t stop 900 people coming to the gig. lets just repeat that: 900 people attended a live cinema gig. on a tuesday. rio and multiplicidade rock.
…and the laptop looking positively dwarfed by nasa* mission control, aka d-fuse live. setup finished the day before the gig, soundcheck and all: definitely the way forward. especially when your 45 minute render for the led panels crashes after an hour and a half right near the end.
…with the led panels on the side walls firing with my pixelmapped dfuse test sequence…
thats two big projectors, a lot of seats and the beginnings of the live setup…
definitely in brazil: carnival time. and lots of ladies with cocks, although this time of the kind you’d find at a massive gay pride truck sound system clash.
what do you see if you head out the hotel after breakfast in copacabana then?
and if #3 isn’t wtf enough, this is missing the hell’s angels procession, supertrikes and all, following a mini virgin mary in the back of a pickup.
hello batman, director of multiplicidade, rio de janeiro’s festival of ‘unusual image and sound’. and quite something too, a marathon through spring, summer and autumn producing a new event every 15 days. and on tuesday, d-fuse will be presenting ‘latitude’ as the opening event of multiplicidade’s new strand presenting works in a theatre that takes their capacity from 100 to 1000. so between now and then, i’d better work on making assets to fit the led panels at the side of the theatre space, and working out an encore with musician si-cut-db, as for this trip, d-fuse is me.
and to celebrate, the cinematic orchestra were reprising their ‘man with a movie camera’ live score at the wonderful roundhouse, and so i finally had the chance to catch up with it. and it was worth it. not so sure about their later stuff, but that is an absolute classic.
it might not be the most exciting photo, but this desk has seen three weeks coding a big project for a soho production house. “would you like to make something akin to “front row” to aggregate the content and services at this facility, to fit on all the 50” plasmas we’re about to get in the building?” “yes please.”
saw original aviteer dave green’s new installation at matter, the new club in the o2 - pretty impressive with twelve 6k moving mirror beamers. what was far more interesting than that though, was having talked a year ago about the needs to make our own vj software/setup, he’s actually done it, properly, glossy brochure and all. really super impressive: full touchscreen and dedicated control surface, with the interface even modelling in 3d the projector’s output in the club space.
…explaining the kinetxt idea to local creatives, hopefully we can gather a group of people to really take the storytelling and content-for-the-context beyond where we’ve had it before.
checking venues for the kinetxt installation. this is eindhoven’s town archive, far from a musty building it rings with cool modernity - the only file boxes in sight form the design for the fascia.
although it meant i had to forgo the celebratory beers-in-the-sun after the showcase, i managed to get the digimedia showcase onto the plasma screens at the reception - so we got to show some work as well as the film that yeast facilitated documenting the whole forum. that film really did the job: well done james.
from our “moonbase alpha” out-of-town paralympic training facility, to the ambassador’s residence for a final showcase in front of prince edward, no less.
and on the way in, passing the crazy cctv building. not the best angle here, but: wow, and eeek!
here’s the presentation in pdf form that was built-up during the workshop, finished by me and shown to all at the final showcase. i’m quite proud of it, and watching your computer turn pin-yin into chinese characters for the first time is pretty cool.
while excessive taking group photos seems is definitely endemic here, its nice to see all the group in one.
the other play, caught in the moment.
steve with the final day’s project: watch a 10-word play developed by another workgroup, and turn it into an animation. this is the moment when they realise that stop-motion is a long-haul game…
no arms but want to play the piano? yes you can.
and so it starts. 27 “young advocates” drawn from china, the uk and beyond, of mixed abilities, ranging from learning difficulties to physical impairment, representing those who’ve achived great things in their communities back home to those picked out of special schools… and in some cases all in those in the one person.
yeast culture ran the film making workshop and the digital media workshop, and i was a leader for the latter. in what could have just been a get media-savvy and learn powerpoint thread, we instead delved into the power of the image; communication beyond photos and text. and they learnt photoshop, and when to abandon photoshop in favour of print-outs, scissors and card.
here is kelly during our (ahem) ‘monkey see, monkey do’ afternoon of photoshop tutorials.
its soo good. and this is with the reflection in the lake cropped out.
spectacular, it was. the paralympics opening ceremony might not have had quite the lavish and epic reach of the olympics that i saw broadcast, but it did have soul - and watching a wheelchair bound athlete pull himself up a rope to the top of the stadium to light the olympic flame was something both awe-inspiring and humbling: when he paused to get his composure back 50 meters up and still a little of the war to go, i’d wager there were 90,999 other people also experiencing a deep moment of reflection.
simply stunning. the best architecture i’ve experienced in the year, probably years. postcard from a distance, it simply gets better the closer you get into and through it.
kelly and steve just having got their tickets - we’re going to the paralympic opening ceremony, school trip style.
mmm. trying to eat a mould coloured lollypop with anonymous black goo in the middle, which was kinda funny until there was suddenly raw sewage in the air despite being in the vicinity of embassies.
…so how you going to take those ones back on the plane, eh nick?
30 desks… not quite filling the room. not your average digital media workshop venue, this.
well, who said car parks have to have their sections numbered
…which is (to oversimplify) a british council project working with young people, hosted as part of the paralympics here in beijing.
young advocates programme: http://www.yaponline.org/index.jsp
yap youth forum in beijing: http://www.yaponline.org/youth-forum.jsp
oh - and just when you’d appreciated the scale of the beijing airport terminal, you take a shuttle train out and under a few more identical and identically sized terminals, eventually walk out into what you think is the outside, just to find yourself in another cavernous hall. scale… scale…
beijing airport, on the other hand, doesn’t fail to impress with its sense of space and flowing roof, largely because its footprint is simply massive: no need to stack football pitches upon football pitches as in terminal 5. here is james, known for his work with the light surgeons, tasked with documenting the programme thats brought us out here…
heathrow terminal 5 isn’t the celebration of modern british design it could have been, but oh my is the structure impressive. these joints really elegantly buttress the arching span of the terminal[^1], and they’re HUGE: thats a simply massive wedge of metal the pylons are bolted to. that, and the last time i saw them, they were bright pink prototypes in the foster associates exhibition at the pompidou…
the pavillion is a day, park, outside thing. strange to see it misty at night as we walked away, project over.
and on performance day, the sun comes out. aaaah.
i’d happily forgotten about things like this in an age of solid state. managed to rescue what was needed, but the last minute stress quite apart from the glitches wasn’t welcome at all.
i came to fully test all sorts of interactive patches, but the old classic had to be tried blatted up around the dome.
the destroyers on top form, even expanding their allready impressive line-up with the dhol blasters. got them some lovely shots. such a good gig.
yep, thats a crowd
if there were a central force to the destroyers, it would be louis
after arriving well after dark to a dome in full swing, emerged the next morning to find a wedding taking place in there. the vows were brilliant: “if she has, like, all her limbs broken and is needing the toilet, will you wipe her…”
not just playing with a live camera feed and kaos pad, but shaping the dance through the control of graphic elements: a simple cross can become a character, a circle shape the movement
working as part of yeast culture for bbc blast on a two week project for young people that encompassed film, vjing, soundscape, spoken word and dance culminating in a performance at this years summer pavillion at the serpentine gallery. frank gehry, no less.
not just three hot air balloons: there were a gzillion of them, all taking off from the fields in the distance as part of the annual festival. it was really nice to experience a good quality of life for a working age - after work drinks in a calm yet interesting location - and at the same time nice to be taken back to my childhood here - i learnt to sail in that basin there, and such balloons are synonymous with bristol in my mind.
atari-esque asteroids. planentarium. geddit.
spiralling text… not quite as easy to solve as i thought if you look closely.
patching away… been waiting a long time as a visualist to finally have an immersive output, and here i was at 9am having had no sleep due to the slot coming forward from the evening and a non-cooperating field-of-view, camera placement, and clip plane.
and the reason for being here, is it has a planetarium next door and antivj headquarters in it.
the pervasive media studio is a good thing, as if a GOOD KING from 1066 and all that had set up a mini-utopia for all stuff interesting to me. the office space is wonderful, taking up all the upstairs of this building right in the heart of bristol docks, and is the kind of place where you can say you’re making asteroids to play in a planetarium, and seconds later you’re being shown the finer points of geometry wars. its full of interesting people doing interesting things. aaaah.
hello nico and co-cuisiner. years ahead of their time, but not quite in the normal dj sense: is this my generation, old man preview edition? the sight made me laugh anyway, somehow felt like those old men you see sitting around on benches in mediterranean climates, amusing themselves with stories of old and watching the world go by.
a productive weekend: after yesterday’s dome-fu, spent today working out how to tether a camera to quartz composer and from that made my contribution to a friend’s wedding: a kind of digital signing-book, taking and displaying group photos atop a slideshow of the couple’s history.
voila. animating, and distorted for projection via the you-don’t-need-a-boutique-fisheye-setup-anymore technique that uses a standard projector and a spherical mirror bought from a security store. all hail paul bourke and the pbmesh patch
ah. always a silly gotcha in there. quirk fixed with the realisation that quartz composer uses degrees as its rotation unit, but the maths functions i used for the trig deal in radians.
finally making something of a long-talked-about spark project: immersive and interactive visuals in a dome. hoping to start with some basic ‘chuck a ball about in the crowd’ type stuff, and get to a fully playable asteroids or missile command.
first test: can i tile small sprites in 3d space as if they were placed on a sphere? answer here: only sort-of. they are on a sphere, but they’re certainly not in neat rows like they should be, or aligned to the surface.
the serpentine gallery has - yet again - come up trumps with its summer pavillion. while appreciation is subjecting, from the perspective of what could be done with a night-time visuals mesh+projector fest, its a wonder.
which is interesting, as i’ll be part of a two-week arts education project based there. i’m won’t be surprised ‘health and safety’ type concerns will render plans down to a fastfold at one end, but i’m certainly going to try…
steve was followed by label mate and fellow los angelite rena jones. good stuff, and so nice to see and hear a real instrument alongside laptop electronica.
steve nalepa over this side of the pond for some festival spots, with a call into london for a chilled gig at the inspiral lounge, sometime home to london vj meetups too. some good people, a nice night, a long night bus home…
the led wall was made of the latest barco tiles, and i haven’t seen anything as amazingly made in a long time. they are like a vision from the future, amazing machining, materials, structure, interconnect… and as a theme of tonight, i didn’t quite manage to nail the photo that illustrates what i saw. but hey. gives faith in the world, seeing quality like that.
and here is chris, chief surgeon himself, via the new camera. first outing of camera: mixed bag… see the potential, need to tame it.
just finished a week production making the video content for the blackberry bold launch in the uk. while not the first time i’ve made stuff for led screens, its both amazing and terrifying seeing your seemingly perfect after effects composition playing out so big and so bright… any tiny mistake becomes crystal clear. also a test for live camera + laptop, combining band ‘the feeling’ with the neon backing comps. not as sucessful as i’d like, but still good to see and a good proving ground.
we rocked it tho’, with the goalposts changed at the last minute due to a sudden corporate influx from worldwide headquarters we pulled off a really nice balance of brand and bespoke imagery, to the point where said corporate types were overheard talking about ‘messing with the brand’ as a wonderful and mysterious thing: in short, london did itself proud.
…and tim looking at the nth blackberry shot.
…vinyl stickers cut to a very exact spec…
gonzo, my laptop and the cutting machine…
aka the building that framed the lido to one side, a perfect 4x3 canvas.
time to build the washing machine club for franz’s 30th: the lido’s PA and a small brick room under the arch.
…boris of modul8 playing with franz’s mapping patch, drawing lines on the scaff.
…the strobe had to be in the back reflecting forward really, nice to come back the next day and see the tweak.
gonza tying the crowning banner, and the fire just getting going.
yes to having a cutting machine tied to illustrator. and this is just their portable one.
crazy vj gig thanks to swinhoe industries. the green room we made our own had the most pimp toilet i’ve seen in years, and these chairs outside. special.
i am standing where they used to tie jet engine to the ground and turn them on. thats where the thrust went.
strange gig, and not entirely in a good way.
up to newcastle’s cuture lab for a day workshop: a phd student is investigating vj performance as a vehicle for innovative hci. int_er_est_ting.
photo: federico ciamei; http://avit.info/gallery2/v/lpm08/
i love this image of the day after, it speaks volumes to me about what is good about things like live performers meeting and the people around it. the festival marked joana’s first anniversay as a vj, and here she is helping derig.
photo: me; http://avit.info/gallery2/v/lpm08/
having spent the best part of a week in the venue, i won’t ever forget the feeling of looking up at the contrast of classically proportioned, warm textured roof against barbaric ironwork.
photo: federico ciamei; http://avit.info/gallery2/v/lpm08/
there was a vj contest, and i really liked how it was run. a film was selected, the contestants had a few hours to make their clip selections etc, and they all had to make a five minute mix out of the film. and the judging was by amassing the results from a real range of judges, including myself. and thats ilan giving out modul8 as prizes, akira was up next to win the grand prize, a codanova midi controller.
photo: me; http://avit.info/gallery2/v/lpm08/
akira’s performance on friday was so good in fact, that on hearing he was having trouble with his gameboy, on saturday along came a gifted one from the crowd, a special edition with an audio mod to boot. and he won the vj contest, quite his festival.
photo: todd thille; http://avit.info/gallery2/v/lpm08/
bizarre midi crash apart, this was the most stressfull gig in a quite a while. talk about in front of your peers, on a great many screens.
amazing photo: federico ciamei; http://avit.info/gallery2/v/lpm08/
yet again, i largely missed yroto’s very considered triple-head audiovisual piece. what i saw was quality, and this photo just blows me away.
photo: todd thille; http://avit.info/gallery2/v/lpm08/
lpm marked a great thing: finally meeting akira, for whom a few years back i was just 48 hours away from buying tickets to buenos aires for an avit vj festival that fell through at the last minute.
his set rocked, and really good to see audiovisual work from a vj who was a musician first. his act of performance was really visceral, and he ended with the nice touch…
photo: me; http://avit.info/gallery2/v/lpm08/
“Un voto positivo per l'intervista e un altro voto positivo per le basette di Spark :D”
…aah, basette = sideburns
photo: me; http://avit.info/gallery2/v/lpm08/
again a post taking some liberty with its posting date, it took me the best part of a month to actually get vjtalks online in acceptable form. go check, i like sunday’s.
this was actually sunday’s talk, but hey, its the photo that gives the idea.
photo: todd thille; http://avit.info/gallery2/v/lpm08/
well, technically, vjtalks was the first thing in the programme, so it actually started with me hollering in the daylight… but this image is nice, so lets roll with it.
nice to find inés outside in her natural habitat, even if it did involve 300 vj name badges…
local live cinema authority falk gaertner gives a rare work-in-progress performance of his magnum opus kalkin revelation.
bram delving into audio-visual midi matters. photo by todd thille.
…aka stuff we like, photo complete with dmy design stall. here are some links to the people/acts/work we talked about.
gave a complete overview to quartz composer from a vjs perspective, and got some really nice feedback. photo by todd thille.
putting the visual berlin t-shirt on their mascot… check this to get the full picture.
kinetxt in action: no storytelling at this point, but the audience starting to feed the event into the installation. i’m looking forward to seeing what our photographer for the two evenings comes up with.
…also at the baltic, needless to say.
the two nights of kinetxt[v2] - first as part of the opening gala for the renovated and extended tyneside cinema, and the next night at the baltic centre for contemporary art as part of the thinking digital conference. this is the setup at the baltic, with client macbooks kindly lent by the tyneside cinema.
or strictly speaking, as of this-photo, gateshead. they’re finally about to knock down the iconic ‘get carter’ car park and rooftop restaurant-that-never-was. loving the irony of seeing a derelict shop front ‘well worth it’ just above the ‘danger - demolition site’ sign.
yesterday was a non-stop afternoon at the tyneside cinema’s open house reopening event, demonstrating kinetxt to hundreds of people exploring the venue. some good usability testing, not to mention some last minute fixes to the new kinetxt engine and brand spanking new client. best of all though, was seeing all sorts of people ‘get it’, from kids to grannies alike.
stepping out of character, no oyster card surveillance subversion for us. instead, a trip to the fun fair for the group i was in. we made dr dimaglio a dice maestro, betting punters on the classic game of chance. except that dr dimaglio being inside the computer, he needs you to throw for him, and he can see inside the shaker due to each side of the dice having an embedded rfid tag… suffice to say, he isn’t quite sure your throw was quite vigourous enough until he’s confident of winning.
On the horizon: Visual Berlin and Live Performer’s Meeting
Resolume 3 & Freeframe 1.5
Mapping: VJing and Audio-Visual Festival; 10th-20th April
NODE08: Forum for digital arts; 5-12th April
Late at Tate: The AV Social; 4th April
i’d like to pretend it was gonzo journalism to the fore, but i think subjective is probably as far as i could get down that road. and so it was that 2,500 words of mine ended up on create digital motion, the best vj related source i see at the moment.
never one to stay still, my travel really has gone overboard this past year. so with environmental guilt, a hatred of airports, and commercial gains, i booked my itinerary to node08 (london - frankfurt), mapping (frankfurt - geneva) and back (geneva - london) entirely on trains. it felt good doing so; the actual travel was a pleasure; yes it cost more, but not actually that much more[^1].
absolutely not what you want to see: your computer kernel panic during a live repartition of your drive. oh dear. that’ll be a multipass zero erase and restore from backups then. which would have been fine, if my eurostar hadn’t been leaving in a few hours for a week+ abroad where i would need my laptop in windows for vvvv at node08 and osx for on the road generally at node and mapping.
i feel the screening programme made by paul and lara is a really important review of works to have come out of the “vj” scene, or rather the collision of vj practice with ideas beyond wallpaper. i’m also proud to be part of that, with rbn_esc and a hand in the story collector, but more so that such a programme has been assembled for posterity. bravo!
an outstanding vj-related event in london, something surprisingly rare. for one evening the av-social transformed itself from so-so bar effort to a near seamless extension of a bastion of the british art establishment.
integrated into the architecture of the tate britain’s empire-era halls were a number of semi-live installations, all of which felt right in the space and of which blackout arts really hit the jackpot - although in the true nature of installations, you really had to be there to appreciate the transformation of dust and so on into graceful plays of light and shadow.
downstairs was the impressively curated narrative lab screenings, not such a nice space and with a fastfold somewhat jerry-rigged, but a really important body of work shown in my opinion. of course i’m biased, as a rbn_esc sampler formed part of it, but hey: i was in the tate!
for photos, the best i’ve seen so far are at decollage.tv’s blog post
me and sean aka jean poole have only been kicking about an interview since, oh, july, some eight months ago. but as of this morning, its online in full form of 2k words and was printed in australia’s 3d mag around christmas.
always a pleasant surprise when you wake up the next morning and a photo from the (late) night before actually did capture the moment…
been dragged into facebook to get a peek at the photos, digital politics aside, it’s certainly good when you see the festival director write “this was such an amazing event!”. huzzah!
meanwhile in newcastle, it was the kinetxt evening. and according to the photo and text message i got, it all went really well. huzzah, what a relief: definitely an experimental project, and one with a fair amount of risk given the experimental technology and audience participation. can’t wait to hear more and see some real footage…
…and what a difference a nice view from your hotel makes. so refreshing. even if for these first few days it is in a different city to where you’re working.
back again at the salon d’auto, and what a difference a year makes. smooth setup, new content, all good. even when walking straight in off the plane, having had a gig in newcastle the night before… eek!
a kinetxt self-portrait, with the isight camera on me rather than our bullet cam on graffiti writers. more importantly, this is my contribution to the kinetxt event working, the interactive text messaging display ready to hand over to novak for tuesday’s installation / performance. huzzah!
atau on the geiger counter, others on other… as per the original, there were 64 sources in the piece so they were never short of something to fiddle with. the event was sold out, and almost a victim of its own success, with people crowding the tables so the optical sensors were often swamped by shadow, and perhaps people didn’t move around as much as they should… the effect was was one to savour, hearing the shifting balance between the amplified and effected sources against the smorgasbord of stuff, whizzing and whirring away.
genius bit of visual design, and some sub-bass with it. variations vii was set in the round, tables full of stuff, with these two horns in the middle. and atau on the left, one of the four performers and digital media professor new to newcastle and the culture lab. interesting person, interesting operation….
nice touch in the evening’s main attraction: a performance (staging?) of john cage’s variations vii, complete with appropriate fodder for the shredder.
model vv campers as stylus running round the record’s groove and transmitting to their adjacent radio set. craziness at the bar for avfest’s opening gala.
wiimote with 2 diy ir markers + 2 bullet cameras into uncompressed quicktime stream converters -> laptop running quartz composer with 2 weeks of custom coding -> triplehead2go giving a canvas of 2400x600, 18” wide when projected.
being able to code custom plug-ins is really making quartz composer so much better: not just giving the ability to make different types of ‘teh pretty’, but letting qc’s patching world do what its best at - fiddling with views - and leaving the coordination and control aspects to a dedicated lump of code, like a brain sitting in the middle of the patch.
long story short, this kinetxt installation is seeming like a case study in the object-orientated / model-view-controller way.
exyzt, ever the prototype, hq no exception. note to self: next time go with illustrator files and fabric, those cushion’s don’t come from the shops.
having worked through the hillegass cocoa book, its time to start putting that to good use. and project number one was always going to be one of the big glaring omissions in quartz composer to my mind: a means of animating a string on a per-character basis.
system diagram: discussed, ok’d.
wiimote: check. triplehead2go: check. folder of text messages: check. custom qc patch to enable text animation: check.
blend together for kinetxt v0.00000001.
up in newcastle to start work proper on the kinetxt project, a collaboration with novak commissioned for the ‘av festival’ as part of the after dark programme. they had a town full of script writers with nothing to do in the evening, novak wanted to combine the interactive possibilities of tools such as quartz composer with vj production and performance techniques. we put those together and proposed an installation space where those in the space can leave their mark and become part of an ongoing conversation: with an audience of authors, we are really hopeful about embracing text entry and display to create a kind of storytelling space.
aka “thats what i call a real motor show”. rock on italy. thanks to will for the photo - my s80’s zoom wasn’t able to get anything like this.
for the three people who will know what this is, it was worth the wait…. mmmm, zip!
a little round-up of spark interviews in the past month, as part of the compass film festival in bristol and a hazy californian morning post-motorshow (strange how you can lose a weekend then find yourself online in interview form). it would probably a good idea if i actually watched these before posting online, but hey, here i am in a little motorshow vj break, and so are the links as i got them:
walking home over a drawbridge is just something that doesn’t get tired. a! drawbridge! with! a river! and ruins! underneath!
had a night “at home”. felt so good not to be in a hotel or restaurant. didn’t realise the dog was a robot tho’.
hello gianluca, organiser of avit-like live performers meeting. while i couldn’t be part of the event as i was doing this in frankfurt, it came in useful when a selection of italian vjs was needed to chose my vj partner here…
crash test dummy. genius costume.
saturday was super-rammed. and then this guy came round, as if in a bubble. totally immersed, clicking things in space in front of him. no way of finding out more or hitting up the autowebpagediarylogthing the rig may or may not produce.
the second day of the motor show was picketed by anti-car protesters. i barely got in to the show, check further back in the photo and you’ll see the red banners of them marching in to close down the entrance. photo was just holding the camera up and pointing back. crazy times. should i mention i ride a push-bike around london?
suffice to say i haven’t seen this happen at any other motor show.
speaking of inés, here she is, my vj partner for this italian show. check www.pintaycolorea.com, much goodness there.
and straight back out to bologna via an agonising day realising that the first generation iphone wasn’t in my destiny, damn that contract being a two year one not 18 month contract as i thought. so i’m now sporting an ipod touch as stopgap untill the 3g iphone arrives. its a very cool toy, and an mindblowing one when there’s wifi in the air. and quite handy when straight off the plane sunday night clubbing with new local vj partner inés, explaining the ford vj project with a video.
…or rather, a lost weekend in la. or rather rather, the lost few days from the show closing to flying back. technically a monday, tuesday and a bit of wednesday, it certainly felt like a weekend after the two weeks straight of 10pm finish motorshow days. and perhaps fittingly, my camera decided to break the minute the crazy few days started their roll and magic itself back to life towards the end. so here we pick up the scent, could we be in a musician’s bedroom?
aaah, la. eating the best steak while people watching at geisha house, and nights spent a few doors down at king king, a club thats unpretentious with an interesting crowd. and had friend steve (pictured) playing on wednesday, along with grant and myself pitching down for impromptu visuals, although it was largely a vdmx beta-crash session from me. funny how the same build has mixed 24/7 at the auto show (well, last restart was four days ago, and it doesn’t get turned off) but sometimes didn’t last three minutes on the laptop at the club. such is the life of a beta tester…
…walking the few blocks back from the convention centre to hotel would actually have been quicker. by a fair chunk.
obligatory quick 1am shot, wrapping up the build. looking “freakin’ awesome”, with beautiful new content, new ways to mix it, and rejigged text display. smooth, controllable, motion graphic’d smartness.
hello jasmin and her superproduced content commissioned for the american shows. the (and i use the word loosely) car driving in is something to behold: a “green” monster truck, complete with rocket-launcher-esque hydrogen tanks racked up on the back.
the wall here is made of recycled cardboard tubes. looks good, makes the environmental message… and makes me laugh knowing the technology they’ve squeezed in for the section with the screen.
a shot from the after-after party that i couldn’t resist. the highbrow comment would be to say we conclusively proved the theory of entropy, but it wasn’t about thinking, it was about hay bales turning into a strawfight that lasted for hours. chaos reigned, it was a joke that just didn’t tire.
if you can work out what this photo is, you are already a jedi of joanie’s mapping technique, which is an oblique way to introduce the other presentation at the vjschool adult session. go to joanie’s antivj site and watch the videos, they nice.
i really enjoyed my presentation, the words came freely and the keynote document made at (the coincidentally named) mapping festival proved itself quite sane in its path through the ideas and practice. lots of good feedback and thused people, so all was good.
onto bristol for more teaching via three hours in my own bed. the progressive clubnight cuisine had organised an edition of their vjschool as part of the compass film festival, and i was invited to talk about live cinema and do a performance of rbn_esc___av at the festival afterparty. however before the vjschool session, was an interview on local radio promoting the festival and discussing just what the hell vjing is and the future of film could be.
visited the ‘our friends in the north’ exhibition on the way out of newcastle, a retrospective of graphic design from the north east from the generation that straddled the analogue and digital divide. as such, it would be pretty hard for it not to be stuffed with good work, but the flipside was there wasn’t and obvious theme or progression. and a poster or two apart, the thing that lingers in my memory is the architectural space - an old railway building still with original timber - combined with the yellow ropes holding up many of the works. the photo kinda gets there.
guess what we were up to. if only leopard and reactivision would play nicely together: the qc osc receiver doesn’t seem to be receiving what it should, and its beyond me to port the tiger hacked-up plug-in to an official api leopard one. that is something that will hopefully change after christmas, when i finally embrace cocoa and the live cinema interface.
straight from a marina in italy to a biscuit factory in newcastle, home of the most proper name. they had organised three days “mentoring” aka professional development funded by the region, and i was the mentor. first up was quartz composer 101. so glad we waited for leopard to debut, what a change: its actually sane now!
leading up to the first avit event back in 2002, i thought to myself: “if i’m going to be centre stage of this thing i’ve spent the past month organising, business cards would be the thing to have”, but, well, that soon got overtook with the idea of making a *spark t-shirt, far cooler i thought. and in the photos - and so history - from festivals and gigs since, that decision has done me well.
UPDATE: The video side has been cancelled.
flew back into london city airport, and straight onto the DLR and 277 bus for me and jasmin. felt instantly grounded looking out of the DLR’s newish extension to the airport, the east end’s crazy mix panning by under a dazzling cloud filled blue sky. although that, of course, is washed out in this photo to get some foreground exposure.
that was the view from the 28th floor of the mariott, halle 3.1 and its ford group stands centre stage.
…so stützstrümpfe are “support stockings”. tee hee. do love this photo.
last day, soon to be at home, in bed: so many people’s “favourite place to think”.
out of the car brand party night, and onto the highly recommended cocoon club. on the vj tip, had been told of 360° immersive visuals powered by meso’s vvvv. so hoping to get some inspiring shots, the bouncer points to the sign and even suggests the battery goes to the reception desk.
brilliant club tho’, shame about the 8.30am start. last day of the show tho’
stayed late to get a clean recording of a few sets. got ghetto with the tripod, to get it in just the right place kinda involved jasmin holding onto a tripod above a leaking bin… eeek.
…the finance buildings in the other direction, clad in glass, were shining orange.
first time i’ve seen a segway in the flesh, the german police having taken them on… and quite ironic in the context of a car show.
well, go the cliché: we certainly are in germany, having had not one but three beard grooming world champions pass through the stand. just check those creations on the left.
our shiny gold award, via the cameraphone of dan sloane, imagination’s tech master for the vj project. the ford vj area won the best exhibition feature area at friday’s event awards 2007 at the natural history museum. huzzah!
jasmin and mo hamming it up for the press. check mo smirking tee hee.
another show, another get-up.
jasmin finding her way round the vj setup, in a hall never again to be so quiet. opening soon…
checking in at the hotel, and there is a table with a cocktail, ladel, and glasses just waiting to be filled. ha ha! a cocktail to toast this particular adventure… just that the thing itself really should have been out of a cauldron, with fire underneath, frog’s leg sticking out and dry ice billowing from it. weird.
…and this is what it was looking like when i hit the screengrab key-combo before putting the mac pro in its flight case to start its journey to frankfurt.
this picture is but a snapshot of the revolution. it really feels like that. a real let-down of the geneva motor show pre-production was the inability to translate the creative agency’s after-effects rendered text animations into the live, dynamic setup. there just was no way to implement anything vaguely sophisticated without seeing the framerate drop to near zero. structure record, something driven by video sampling and seemingly tangental to text rendering, is the key to solving that problem… and so here it is solved, as if on cue for the frankfurt motor show.
if the above picture means anything to you, go check the new kineme.net site. a shell script node - the universal hammer - and structure record - hello video sampler - are my two most wanted features. icing on the cake: open source.
as shown in the ‘pun me this’ entry, the *spark titler was used in nascent form at sheep music, and the promise to tidy-up and release as open-source software has been followed through. so, please find attached: sparktitler-v1.1.zip.
new übercool project courtesy of sheep music’s archive of visuals equipment: grass valley controller to be turned into a midi/usb interface. so thats the buttons and lamps of high-end 80’s broadcast tech (not to mention the death star itself) but attached to the current state of the art in the form of a laptop with vdmx rather than its crate of obsolete analogue electronics. best of all, the connector isn’t some serial device we’d need to decode, its just an array of all the switches contacts etc, perfect for plugging straight into diy controller electronics like arduino or midibox.
“the committee” declare we can continue. and so we do. strange when a festival almost gets cancelled.
things that are kinda cool, but only once you’ve done them and never again -
#745 : approached the house with wifi in the garden, to find the road had turned into a half-foot deep river. nonetheless, cycle down it replete with laptop on back.
the latest visuals technology development to come off the *spark anvil is a mac-native titler application, made by wrapping a quartz composer patch with some fullscreen code and interface builder bindings. props to roger bolton of quartonian for the guts of the fullscreen xcode project, shared under gpl so expect to see the titler soon once it’s been tidied up.
in the welsh borders, riding mountain bikes and playing with live broadcast style visuals with the peeps from sheep music. turns out tho’ - or rather, a curious by-product of animating their logo - that their long held assumption that the sheep is strumming a guitar is quite wrong…
while sónar itself wasn’t exactly a revelation music-wise, many good things have come out of the time spent as the international tribes come together. first up, finally met sean of skynoise.net, which has been a long time coming. also by design, spent a week with todd synesthete rather than the normal 24 hours around some gig, which meant we could actually sit down and work on (appropriately enough) the vj network development we only get to talk about otherwise. a beautiful co-incidence was dr.mo, who (ironically enough) had booked in with my old friend elliot before i even knew he or i was going. unexpected but excellent was scott aka amoeba aka thestateovcreation, somebody on the list as one to get back in touch with harking back to his well-ahead-of-the-curve a/v set at brighton 2003. and the real wildcard was vadmin aka eps, russian vj and an organiser of the abracadabra festival, of which i have a whole pack of spanking promo dvds to take back to the uk.
and how was it done? genius: industrial liquid containers. glorified milk cartons. mass-produced, i’d bet they are a steal, and even beyond that, there’s probably some transport company somewhere you can rent them from..
…and you walk in, and realise that was only the front door. as if walking into the top of an ampiteatre, lo! there was kubic below, in all its glory. and quite something, you see it and just realise evidently this is how all nightclubs should be. as a vj, i was thinking forget videoscreens, just make the whole place out of these pulsating, glowing boxes. we just didn’t get tired of it.
…and so we got there, and it looked super cool but kinda small, and how is that queue going to fit in there…?
travelling-art-installation-cum-night-club kubic had landed in town over the sónar weekend, and sounded like the perfect afterparty, a place you could just sit back and soak it in as much as dance. through a surreal empty expo park we went, and under a massive solar panel saw what must be kubic, a small stack of glowing boxes against the void of the nighttime sea…
it wouldn’t be too far from the truth to say one reason i went to sónar was to hear cursor miner outside of a london basement and on an epic stage, dropping the kind of set that could change your career. well, he started, and pretty much instantly people’s ears perked up and the masses surged towards his stage. and i danced like a madman. it ruled.
if you have todd around, then it will be with elliot’s mycitymate.net guide downloaded on the phone in the one hand, and gps in the other.
sónar by day finished on the highlight for me: planning to rock. go check if you get a chance, its crazy, fun and cool. a singer with serious vocal skills skitting around to a backing dvd of beats and her simple but well cut video. in fact, its kinda embarrassing that the best visuals featured a fair bit of kaleidoscope, but well, what can you do: the show had attitude.
in the museu d'art contemporani de barcelona bookshop, the two big vj tomes were prominently on display. which is both a super good thing for the scene, and personally pretty damn freaky to see yourself as an artist featured in such a venue.
sónar-by-night felt kinda epic but empty… a superhuge rave in a convention centre, underground it was not. started well listening to london’s dubstep sound, but the music was largely so-so for me until simian mobile disco at the end. odd that in such a huge complex of venues, there wasn’t a breakbeat to be heard. oh, and the visuals were rubbish: not what i was expecting having footage of no-domain and suchlike from previous years.
local vj-and-more crew a3 spotted running processing patches with monster audio analysis at the last place still going in sónar by day.
sean’s mission for sónar involves getting people to pose in skating shots for digital masheruping down the line. just don’t ask what happened when he asked the handlebar moustached ‘special police’.
one of the best stalls in the record fair was from birmingham, the city i left years ago for want of a scene bigger than one venue… times really do change. chris keenan aka prime objective, a vj and film maker who participated with the avituk2005 festival, was manning the stall. check his site, worth it for the homepage alone.
you’ve seen the prisoner when they start flashing lights at him in his sleep? or more like the ipcress file when they freak his mind in a cube of projected freak? well the opening for sónar for us was sitting in a fog filled room with strobe lights phasing against each other.
pick up sónar pro passes, lose the bikes, talk avit backoffices. long story.
a town with a wealth of riches?
computers packed away, and back to the coast. a swim in the sea, a walk on the rocks… putting the world to rights, one contemplation at a time.
todd showing eloi and sean artificial eye’s 3l/thrill vj app… on the veranda, aaah, life was easy.
showing eloi and sean my live cinema work and the state of play on macs, with vdmx, quartz composer and image kernels
find eloi at the most cool ‘la fabrica’, a converted factory now full of dance studios and suchlike, having a beer after documenting his video feedback installation coded with open framworks. its processing for people who want c++ performance.
in barcelona rendevous with todd thille / synesthete.com and sean of skynoise.net; hire mopeds, head upcountry with the mission to find eloi of telenoika’s country retreat. most importantly, via a maximum of crinkly bits. 2km of curves? bring it on.
here is ‘re-engaging reactive graphics’ from a post or two ago, in its final projected form (or at least, one frame of one of the permutations i delivered). its on tonight too, as part of the south bank’s overture event, the re-opening of the royal festival hall. 10.30
here is a prototype/demonstration of using your own image kernel in vdmx. rather than being an effect, this is an A/B mixer that means you can use vdmx in the ‘old skool’ way, by mixing together two video streams rather than rendering the whole stack of layers. it also has controls like a DJ scratch mixer, so as well as a crossfader, you’ve got a fader for each channel, and a fader curve control.
back in the early days of visuals in brum with the most talented stef lewandowski, computers could barely hack video and so the dynamic stuff was a combination of flash and good old mixer twiddling. flash was cool for making loops, at a basic level if you had a few layers, you made them different lengths and they would loop independently pretty much always giving you a new combination with each frame… do that with a pre-rendered loop and it becomes clear you’ve only got a second or two worth of frames pretty immediately. then you could bring in text read on the fly into your graphics and allsorts.
saw the bassline circus at paradise gardens, my local park transformed into a free weekend festival by those lovely arts-funding folks at the local council. bassline have got a mini-paradise in certain ways, the big top infiltrated with club-culture-esque tracks and technology. i really enjoyed it, there were magic moments, but it seemed to be kinda stuck between being a circus show as in a sequence of stunts and piece of theatre, and didn’t quite pull of either as well as they need to be. what is really good, though, is that there are people out there actually doing it, and proving that there are environments that can deliver the potential. and hopefully down the line there will be a newer show, where they’ve been able to take a step back and make a show centered around a journey for the audience, rather than an assemblage of the troop’s latest skills. and there are two projects being worked on here that will hopefully see the light of day in a similar space…
today i programmed my first image kernel, another step on the journey of making custom technology to fulfil what i want to do artistically. and this one was with real, low-level code: its basically writing a shader for the graphics card, eek! actually not so hard at all, the code was pretty easy, it was the process of working out the maths required that took time to wrap my head back around.
osx is developing so well for video: you can write your image kernel in the appropriate quartz composer node, load that into a layer in the vj app vdmx, and then find all your kernel inputs natively displayed in the vj interface. so now not only do i have the exact kind of mixing i want processing at maximum efficiency, i’ve simplified my vdmx setup no-end with just one panel with all the controls, instead of a mish-mash of filters and blend modes spread around the different layers.
photo shows the end of kaamos. the night went on to a superbly crafted electronica set from point b accompanied by solu in vj mode; b’s sound took me back to tipper and my fuel records days, really good separation of sound, beautiful bass.
haunting a/v set from solu, even the waitresses were commenting. twenty minutes into the finnish night, it quietly captivates you and really communicates a feeling you couldn’t literally describe. a must-see.
its not the greatest photo, but it captures a moment i’m sure many vjs have wished for: instead of the vj following the dj, here is the dj consulting his notes we’d all worked out to make the show build and flow as one. huzzah!
for the nlab remix of people on sunday i made a generative titler, though it didn’t quite work out how i expected as the final patch didn’t want to load in the vj app despite some earlier testing. so vjing for me was largely reduced to changing the section number directly in the qc patch with its output running fullscreen, seen on the preview above. was cool though, seeing the titles drawing together from the bag of words i made from watching the clips: just like you don’t exactly know which way the vjing of the clips is going to go, you don’t know exactly what the titles are going to imply in it…
this saturday, the 19th, we’re hosting another narrative lab night at the roxy bar and screen. they’re nice nights, come down.
so here i am editing on the latest apple laptop using the latest final cut pro, and yet as the flow of the work goes, it feels just like 2001. editing in fcp2 on my beloved tibook. however, thats not to say the edit is equivalent: this is a motion graphic’d promo piece in sexy hd. amusingly enough, not even my cinema display has enough pixels.
epic all-nighter in nottingham, ably abetted by the amsterdam crew of jilt, the pantoffeldiertjes vjs and v-king. travelling back by train on a bank holiday: not recommended.
why does trying to make cool stuff involve half the train journey to the gig writing a shell script to batch treat your 80 graffiti cuts…
…struggled out of super-comfy last night hotel bed to the airport, to find the flight delayed by four hours. urrrrrrrrgh. anyway, big props to all involved for a really well run festival with many delights. i had a great week and things have been pushed forward. onwards!
every participant at the festival gets the in-house software, m8. in a box. proper.
cheaper than a laser engraving machine, you can get a machine that will cut paper as if you were just printing something from illustrator. pass t-shirt transfer material through it, and you can make custom t-shirts for everybody. which they did, supercool. and the left-overs make a nice sideline in their club nights too…
heroic all-day performance by ilan katin, based around live drawing. magic moments with with kids in the audience shouting out their suggestions and guessing the form taking shape, ilan writing and rubbing out responses… this dragon wasn’t a crocodile, but you had to be there.
a four hour talk by the man behind the core, yves, although my french doesn’t go that far by a long way. my interest is that they haven’t solved the magic ‘how do we deal with alpha in vj clips’ either, there just isn’t the right codec out there. an open source project for the mac vj world?
three days of share, open media jamming. part of the setup is a widescreen projection of three 4x3 projectors/screens, which you can drive from a laptop with a matrox triplehead2go… very nice.
geneva turns out to have wifi in its parks. fantastic… unless your battery is dead. just need to have a powergrid in the grass now.
some beers in a sunny park / swiss flags all around
four days in non-stop festival mode: time for a break. bus to the end of the line, cross the border, and up la montagne.
sunny lunchtime with an afternoon to play with, at the cafe alu. davide here saying goodbye to boris.
exyzt rock. period. more on them to come.
davide in audiovisual / electronicagraphic synchronicity.
five screens, two narrative lab navigators, and the night starts early at the contemporary arts centre. story collector is a beautiful set, david last and mr projectile crisp over the pa, the mix working well, tag team keeping the story and aesthetic tracked.
back to geneva for the mapping festival. a narrative lab performance a night for the first four days, opening with the premiere of autometa by paul mumford aka visualnaut. suffice to say, been avidly waiting to see this emerge from its year+ of production, and it didn’t disappoint. totally captivated for its hour run, like watching a film… but not a film. awesome.
mapping and modul8’s boris, letting it rip late into the afterparty
its tuesday, its the first day not working for over two weeks, and with the next month or so paid up from this to devote to developing the setup and contributing to the cultural side. there is a little description of amsterdam on the photo page, suffice to say it was a smooth experience, we had it down, we had a nice time. very rewarding to have that experience after the challenges of getting the project to the 1.0 of geneva.
cool evening talking shop++ with jilt van moorst aka robotfunk: very interesting narrative features coming with flowmotion 3. but the shock news is that, in fact, jilt’s filter of choice is kaleidoscope. look, proof! mwhaaaaaaaaaa tee hee.
a steadycam operator on an all-terrain segway type thing… you can imagine the cool shots made possible, but it looked straight out of some robocop/terminator future. and, of course, i want i want i want.
the widescreen cropping does no favours for this shot, buts its a massive totem full of corporate logos outside the rai exhibition centre… with id&t as the top most hoarding, who are not some multinational corporation but the biggest clubnight promoters in town. not quite what you’d expect.
but thats an exact 1:1 pixel mapping on the LED wall, which we got to in minutes rather than days. shame its not the geneva monster-wall, but you can’t have it all. anyway, progress. and hello jilt, fellow vj along with olga for the amsterdam motor show.
i’ve just arrived back from, well, from a very big thing. quit-your-job type thing. i signed a non-disclosure-agreement in december, things were set by january, had quit apple not long thereafter, february was intense pre-production, and then it really happened: two and a bit weeks at the geneva motor show, putting out a four minute vj mix every 16 minutes, a peer to the hd brand videos on the immense led wall.
its a really amazing project as the vj is not there for sparkle, but more akin to tom cruise in minority report, taking in a flow of user generated content and magic’ing it onto the big screen. massive props to imagination for the concept and the multi-disciplinary clout to make it happen, and to ford for really going out on one with this project.
i would write more, but i’ve only 36 hours back in london before being off again: a short break after all this and then straight into the amsterdam motor show. onwards!
huzzah. the narrative lab proposal for the mapping festival has been accepted, and i was even in geneva at the time so had dinner with boris and ilan. there’ll be three narrative led vj sets and two big talks by us, so i’ll be performing ‘rbn_esc’ as the vj film example to my presentation on ‘live cinema and vjing’.
wasn’t the only one working through the night.
thanks to artificial eyes for bringing me to istanbul to perform rbn_esc. 4 layers of image floating behind me, layers of scrim hung all around. that and ae’s own thrill software hooked up to a moving-mirror video projector setup (think gobo) made it all a den for the senses. cool to be able to soundcheck for hours too, headphones just aren’t quite the same as a club PA…
is that when you finish working on the materials at 7am, and have a few hours to kill until the presentation later that morning, you can go out and take photos in the new found winter wonderland. this is my local, and more a visual joke than photo, but hey.
…there are eight DVI-outs. mmm.
2 hours sleep, eurostar, a croissant and coffee, a talk, a performance, a night into the small hours… its my 36 hours flip into vision’r, avit in paris.
somebody put it to me, that as vjs we are all sailing in our own directions, but need to harbour every now and then, and avits are these ports. i liked that.
thanks to todd thille for the photo
rbn_esc in audiovisual form used an iMac G5 and a titanium laptop working as video and audio machine respectively, both operating on the edge… kinda scary. now, they fit on the same screen on the same laptop, thanks to the cocoa rewrite of vdmx5 and a macbook pro… and barely stress the machine. add in motorised faders (loving my new behringer bcf2000, wondering how long it will last), and its quite the revolution.
first chance to speak with falk of the live cinema blog since his summer superproduction followed by autumn of declaring the tools just not ready. so the piece wasn’t performed, but we did hear a run through of his thesis. how i would love to take that to hollywood to see the culture clash. followed that with a quick talk on my piece rbn_esc, and some of the ideas and processes behind it. and then the first performance with new toys, ableton and vdmx running on the same machine…
a real highlight, and a great way to start a new year, was lawrence lessig talking CC at the CCC. obviously the creative commons idea was the thrust of the speech, but it was framed by comparing the free / open source software movement with that of media culture. in those terms, media and culture is an upstart by comparison, and the window of opportunity is probably shorter than we realise. makes the work of vjs and others in the coming decade even more important.
to berlin straight after christmas for avit vj gathering hosted within the chaos communication congress, the winter get-together of the hacking classes.
the narrative lab nights at roxy bar and screen are going well, in the time since the first one we’ve had some excellent feedback and with this one we knew we were in safe hands with name - they’ve been hosting lumen vj/bar nights in newcastle for years now. shame their beautiful narrative piece (meditation?) ‘privy’ is kinda too subtle for a packed bar, but worth it to see it again. watch this space for the next, hopefully coming early in the new year.
simply, too cool. they’ve figured magnetic, conductive paint for integrating electronics with graffiti, and these little numbers: led throwies.
great graf by nick walker: mona lisa pulling a moonie right on a harbourside corner. its a very clean, serene town. i wonder if there’s been any accidents yet?
to norway for the best part of a week as a guest artist of the numusic festival. for the nuart strand, i’m a multimedia man-who-can, documenting the interventions and melding the daytime art activities into animated backdrops for the nighttime venues.
event, deadlines, stress, allsuch over - time to escape the urban condition, honour the title of my piece. the 2020 crew catch the metro to “the coast”… and the sign even says that. its an escape one-two, in fact… airport or coast. i like.
its still a bit sharp, but there were beautiful things at 2020 and there was horror. the horror bit was coursing through my veins when after i finally stood up, walked to my equipment, took a breath and proverbially hit ‘play’… the screen, the image, well, it wasn’t right.
4.30 am on the day of 2020, and rbn_esc__av is at v1.0.
breakfast on the day of 2020 at the council cafe set in the manor house cunningly just down the road from the two-up-two-down terraces i’m staying in. no escape from the cctv iconography though, from dreams of cctvs cameras outlined in vj clips to these in the landscaped gardens. somebody thinks painting them green makes them invisible, acceptable?
with the final vj clips rendered and no sleep for 36 hours, hit the train to newcastle. passing durham is one of my favourite scenes, i somehow caught it perfectly at sunset despite being comotose the rest of the time… but that is one confined to memory alone, so heres a final render grab instead.
been worrying about playing a set at lumen, a kind of monthly partner to 2020 that showcases established vjs alongside encouraging first-timers… a social, i guess. turns out, its good to be challenged, as i rediscovered some of vdmx’s flexibility and audio-reactive complexity, not to mention a few clips in the back-catalogue as i went for minimal and refined motion graphics suitable for a bar.
by the time i got to bed, it had been quite a day - powering through content creation on paul’s twin-view G5 tower, hitting the final render, dying on a train but waking up to castles, cathedrals and the dramatic entrance to newcastle, having fine, fine tapas with equally fine fellows of name, a set that surprised me, and all rounded off with the discovery of sailor jerry rum.
you can have a deadline in your head, but theres nothing like it viscerally hitting you as you make your nth cup of tea, seeing it scribed coldly in the best before field of your milk carton. some kind of techo-primordial early warning system. works for me, anyway.
and so it was today that with joy and relief chasing each other round my head, finally watching the pieces of my audiovisual ideal slot into place and the proverbial engine stutter into life, that i saw that date on the milk and thought - yup, its a week from this very moment.
probably performed one of my best sets ever at avit paris, representing narrative lab. sometimes things are just right, and you find yourself in a beautiful bubble. not only did the ‘story collector’ set really capture the audience - props to paul for the vision and david last for the audio mix i used - but it seems a lot of vjs watching it stayed for the presentation and have been inspired by the ideas we’re developing.
saw mode selektor at the rex with jess and co, and had a funny conversation about performance… where we’ve gone from orchestras to the single dj, and from instrumentalism to, er, dancing: mode selektor flip faders as they bounce around, its not quite the same thing.
i’m heading over to paris on thursday for vision’r, a vj festival holding the avit-the-international-vj-network banner. so nice to be able to take the train.
will be performing the narrative lab storyteller set, and talking a bit about what we’re up to, including the key question - do you sit or stand to live cinema?