Archives for the Month of May, 2006

Tate Modern: The Long Weekend Festival

richterHans Richter’s Dreams That Money Can Buy

This weekend 26th, 27th, 28th and 29th (remember it’s a holiday on Monday in the UK) sees a 4 day program of events labelled Futurist Friday, Surrealist Saturday, Abstract Sunday and Minimalist Monday. Lets not worry too much about these titles ;) but check out some the free items on the program.

On Saturday there is a rare performance of Miro’s puppet show Mori el Merma (‘Death to the Bogeyman’). In his paintings Miro invented spectacular worlds full of abstract entities, characters and creatures from zoophmorphic geometries, so I’m curious to see how his visions translate into the world of puppetry. Another good reason; The bogeyman is based on Alfred Jarry’s character Ubu, from his play Ubu Roi. The world has never been more in need of such parody and pataphysics.

Sunday sees an equally rare performance of john cage’s Musicircus. The three-hour performance features cages trademark combination of live and pre-recorded electronics, as well as traditional musical instruments.

“Some years ago … we gave a Musicircus … in a large gymnasium. We simply had as much going on at a single time as we could muster. And we exercised no aesthetic bias. … You should let each thing that happens happen from its own center, whether it is music or dance. Don’t go in the direction of one thing ‘using’ another. Then they will all go together beautifully (as birds, airplanes, trucks, radios, etc. do).” Link via

Other curiosities worth mentioning that are free include Surasi Kusolwons One Pound Turbo Market (you’ll have a good time) (26th), Digital Graffiti Workshops (28th) and talks by Wire writer and sound artist David Toop (28th) and Cultural Havocist Stewart Holme (29th).

If that isn’t enough there are also some pretty compelling ticketed events on too. Saturday sees a screening Dadaist filmmaker Hans Richter’s Dreams That Money Can Buy (1946) about ‘a penniless protagonist who has the ability to create dreams and devises a business selling them to others. Among his customers are some of the greatest names in the Dadaist/Surrealist movements, including Man Ray, Max Ernst, Marcel Duchamp and Fernand Leger’.

The weekend closes with a concert of minimal music and visuals; Extreme Economy in Electronic Music and Visualisation: Ryoji Ikeda, alva noto (Carsten Nicolai), and Robert Henke aka Monolake. Expect a review of this one, as I will be attending, oh and drop us a line if you are too and say hello!

Kinetic colour sound

Whitney Music Box – Coverpop (jbum)

It seems as if a revolution of sound-image based synaesthesia is now truly underway. From software based approaches using FFT (Fast Fourier Transform) analysis of music and sound to drive visuals (VVVV & Proce55ing) to the manual synchronisation of the musical beat and the video frame in Vj’ing and experimental film.

Early Pioneers of experimental film and animation where just as interested in the symbiosis of tone and hue. The widely appreciated work of Oskar Fischinger is known particularly for its synchronisation of sound and image. Around 1950 Fischinger devised his ‘colour organ’ named the Lumigraph a machine played both sounds and lights and serving as an instrument for one-man shows.

Another pioneer interested in the relationship between image and sound is John Whitney. In his is classic work, Digital Harmony – On The Complementarity of Music and Visual Art, Whitney explores what he calls ‘harmonic resonance’ in animation, where different parts of an animation are given different fixed parameters (of say speed and/or direction) to produce subtle patterns. He referenced this further to musical harmony and laid down the groundwork for some specific methods for producing what he called ‘visual music’.

Coverpop’s ‘Whitney Music Box’ is a successful attempt at realising Whitney’s ideas. Coloured dots revolve in circles a periodically, and like a music box, when each dot reaches a specific point it’s associated note is sounded resulting in a kaleidoscopic composition composed entirely by numbers.

Other related musical studies at Krazydad worth checking out include A φ Fractal and Organum-Mathematicum.

Superdraw and The Black Spiral Dance

Superdraw – Joshue Ott

Superdraw, originally created in Flash and then ported to Proce55ing, is a drawing program that gives users ‘super powers’ by allowing them to create complex animated drawings. The application, made by Joshue Ott, is intended to be used as an on-the-fly visual instrument to provide visuals for live music. Included at the site is web version to play with – using a range of toggle controls its possible to create quite a wide range of effects – anything from static mesh etchings through to hyper-frantic kinetic ribbons.

Vade, a VJ/Video and Computational artist from New York, has utilised an implementation of Superdraw within the Max/MSP/Jitter framework to produce an excellent set of greyscale nebulae – the set called The Black Spiral Dance can be viewed here. Vades blog covers info on his personal experimentation with the Max/Msp/Jitter environment.

Expanded Cinema


Expanded Cinema by Gene Youngblood is a classic in the field for its time. Published in 1970, it describes state-of-the-art cinema effects and techniques to speculate upon the incredible emerging possibilities in film, video art and cybernetic cinema. The book could be termed visionary, particularly in respect to what has happened to cinematic technology in recent years, also in its critique of the falling of commercial television and mainstream cinema. Mostly the book reveals how abstract cinema, without narrative, can take us to visual poetic spaces that anticipated laptop production, Vj’ing, Installation works and even generative art. Subchapter titles from the book reveal the terrain, Cathode Ray Videotronics, Computer Generated Holographic Movies, Teledynamic Environments, Synaesthetics and Kineasthetics: The way of experience.

The book examines the work of all the key filmmakers of the time, The Whitney Brothers, Stan Vanderbeek, John Stehura and Lillian Schwartz to name a few. The book even has a whole dedicated section to the extraordinary work of Jordan Belson, probably the only detailed commentary on Belson’s work. Stills of these works are hard to find on the web so your be happy to know the book contains quite a few.

A PDF of the book can be found at two sources which is great as the out of print editions are very difficult to track down, at least without paying a price.

The latter is broken down into chapter PDF’s. (Thanks the Peter for pointing me to this link).

Temporality and transformation in drawing

Pamela Castillo left a link to her interesting paper regarding ‘temporality and transformation’ in drawing where she records the drawing and recomposes a video of the process to examine its relationship to thought process, memory and recollection. Using process-based drawing as a starting point she builds and erases surface textures, a video capturing the trajectories of the thought process ‘creates a metaphor for associated memory and recollection. Check out the prototype videos here.

We touched on Process or Procedural based art previously here

Event Horizon

Death before disco – Herwig Weiser

Some interesting events/shows in London right now. Cybersonica06 is a festival of emerging sonic art and audiovisual fusion, organised by Cybersalon. The exhibition is run in partnership with the Encompass Festival & curated by Chris O’Shea. Having checked it out at the recent preview night I can certainly recommend a visit, there’s a widerange of very different experiences to be had. Some personal faves include;

Shosei OISHI’s iScratch – a beta software which enables the scratching of audio files analogous to turntable decks using the iPod’s touch wheel.

Troika’s Schizoporotica – a music box which is fed torn tickets to create ‘shredded melodies’

Philip Worthington’s Shadow Monsters – where magical monsters appear from the age old game of shadow hand puppets. ‘Wolf like creatures, birds and a rastafarian are among the characters that speak and squeak as imaginary mouths open and close.’

Elsewhere at the ICA, and continuing the Man Machine Season is ‘Body, Space and Cinema’, a show of Scott Snibbes work:

‘Scott’s work includes, emergent behavioural patterns of ants in Myrmegraph, a means of drawing with stars in Gavilux and the simple physical but chaotic system of a pendulum swing in Tripolar.’

Finally on Tuesday 16th May you can grab a chance to hear Bruce Sterling, did I here the word ‘Cyberpunk’?, talk about RFID and the future of design and technology at SPACE Media Arts in East London for Free!

For details of times and locations refer to the above links.

Data Vapour 100506

GXtour & recursiveType
GXtour – Marius Watz + Phonophani

Postings, as you may have noticed, have slowed a little at Dataisnature due to other things going on outside of the computer screen, things will speed up again in the next few days – heres another stream of vapour:

Marius continues to inspire us with his enormous productivity and good work. Recently returning from the Generator.X audio-visual tour in Tromsø he is now at OFFF in Barcelona with the other Proce55ing heavyweights putting on workshops, while in between he launches another blog, Code and Form! The blog aims at documenting his teaching and will be a good resource for Proce55ing disciples no doubt.

Ilikegravity, ‘Accounts from real space’ is a blog annotating design ideas, concepts and experiments. Catching my eye are the Recursive Type experiments – you can see a video of the drawing process here, and 20seconds_Drawn_AM_Rain, where the drawing is the result of a sound visualisation (enlarged drawing here) – both sets of works are done in Flash using Actionscript.

RAP, or the Robot Action Painter is the first robot artist who can sign his/her own work! Leonard Moura’s latest creation ‘produces it’s own paintings based on an artificial intelligence algorithm, it decides when the work is ready and signs in the right bottom corner with its distinctive signature. While Moura’s Robot’s work emulates the paintings of Jackson Pollock with an obvious reference in its name, others are happily working in the opposite direction, unlocking the fractal algorithms of Pollock’s famous drip paintings.

Seen is an excellent new blog from Rand, navigating an almost identical trajectory as DataisNature. Documenting a familiar and exciting terrain and containing all the usual suspects both past and present. Highlighted snippets include posts on Lillian Schwartz, The Vasulkas as well as grabs of Rand’s own personal VVVV experiments.

Pleats, Twists and Sliceforms

Orange and Blue Sliceform – Richard Sweeny

Richard Sweeny makes exquisite geometric scultpures from paper, metal and synthetic materials. Check out his Flickr set of paper sculptures that are immaculately composed as if they were architectural structures. The play of light give the impression that they could equally have been made of code! His website has some interesting Sliceforms that utilise rapid prototyping to reproduce models from 3D rendering software :

‘Sliceforms comprise several interlocking sheets intersecting at right angles to create forms that suggest three dimensionality’.

Data Vapour: 020506

Retro Computer Brochures at

For geek chic check out Computerhistory for its selection of computer marketing brochures, the graphics are gorgeous, and the wording, including the elaborate specifications for the machines, is pure retro-future. In all there are 261 brochures for you and your rainy day covering classic machines from Atari, IBM and Apple Computers.

Its is said the Charles Babbage was the originator a machine that could be deemed the precursor to the modern computer. His Difference Engine, a mechanism for calculating absolutely accurate mathematical tables was conceived in 1821, and an original model lives in the science museum in London. Tim Robinson has gone to fantastic lengths to reproduce the Difference Engine entirely in Meccano!

A few weeks ago I struck lucky with a nice find! A 130 in 1 Science Fair Lab, where you can create a multitude of sound generators including a light controlled electronic harp, a push-pull square wave oscillator, and white noise generator, for just £1 in a junk shop! The BreadBoardBand take this kind of activity to new heights, utilising rudimentary circuit boards to make live music and visual improvisations.

The Kitchersociety keeps throwing up all sorts of wonderful and curious material, some recent favourites include The Human Camera, The Man Who Typed to One Million, The Rosetta Disc and The Muggletonian Celestial Prints

Light Display: Black-White-Grey – László Moholy-Nagy

László Moholy-Nagy’s Light-Space-Modulator consists of a cube-like body or box, 120 x 120 cm in size, with a circular opening at its front side. On the back of the panel, mounted around the opening are a number of yellow, green, blue, red, and white-toned electric bulbs (approximately 70 illuminating bulbs of 15 watts each, and 5 headlamps of 100 watts). The equipment is used for demonstrating both plays of light and manifestations of movement. Moholy-Nagy’s ‘Light Display: Black-White-Grey’ is a film documenting the machines choreography.