Archives for the Month of October, 2007

Shirely Shor – Extreme runways and transformed surfaces.

shirley shor
See Saw – Shirley Shor

Shirley Shor expresses her interest in space via a variety of works that bend, stretch, convolve and renew three dimensionality to produce a body of work with sharp compositional aesthetics and considered colours. Inevitably the work insinuates aspects of the real world, utopian architecture, liquid runways and roads, but also, as referred to in her artist statement, political boundaries and territories. Many of the pieces involve custom built software to produce real-time animations and transformations via simple rule-based algorithms.

The Other Spaces series contain rectilinear grids that have been distorted to become liquefied, a set of ‘post fish eye lens’ spaces which ‘contain elastic boundaries, extreme runways, and liquid structures that expand our common perception of space and time. Elsewhere we find the Book of Life, a ‘little machine that writes urban architecture in space’ – hermetic grids and structures illuminate each page, networks both microscopic and macroscopic are implied.

Playgrounds ‘07 – Audiovisual arts festival

playgrounds festival 07
Talysis – Paul Prudence

This weekend, 19th -21st October will see the arrival of the 4th edition of the Playgrounds festival of audiovisual arts in Tilburg, the Netherlands. The festival leans heavily towards the motion graphics and the experimental digital video end of the spectrum – featuring this year, well known outfits, such as Pleix and OnedotZero.

Pleix, a virtual community of digital artists based in Paris, have gained a considerable reputation for making music videos with a twist, not content with relying on slick production methods alone. If you’ve not see them before, I’d highly recommend viewing the videos, particularly Itsus for it hilarious portrayal of grotesque consumerism and cross related boardroom antics of consumption

This year’s festival has included a small expo of generative and code-based art and I’ll be contributing TalysisII to the show.

WiiWiiWiiWii – Game controller makes visual music


Sometimes a keyboard for control is not enough, you require a tangible interface to communicate with your parameters. Recently the importance of the midi controller with generative systems has been proven, but a new kid on the block is the Wii controller (Wiimote). Designed for gaming but easily hackable to control your favourite software – be it Processing, Max/Msp or VVVV. Its motion sensing capability in 3D space is perfect for mapping into your X, Y and Z’s resulting in a fun and novel way of controlling your animations

Bringing together 3 Software’s – VVVV, Max/MSP and Reason the WiiWiiWiiWii thesis project provides a system allowing for a set of Wiimotes to become a syneasthetic musical instruments. WiiWiiWiiWii looks like fun – it uses the Wiimote and Nunchuk to produce sounds and their graphical counterparts. The representation of sound comes in the form of a branch like structure with ‘notes’ growing from it – a kind of real time evolving organic score.

WiiWiiWiiWii was produced by Claudio Midolo, Edgar Castellanos, Natan Sinigaglia & Pedro Mari.

Leo Villareal – Cellular light communication

Multiverse – Leo Villareal

The inherent need to decode and make meaning from patterns in systems is utilised to the max in Leo Villareal’s light works which most recently have be controlled by computational systems. Pattern recognition heads, myself one, will have a field day perusing the work and ideas of this Albuquerque based light sculptor. Using Cellular Automata systems, including our favorite, Conway’s Game of Life, to control LEDs he produces massive, visually complex works such as Origin. Origin is a large matrix of lights programmed to produce patterns that mimic ones that are more familiar to us in the real world, swarming and flocking behavior, for example. They also have the appearance of large control panels, not dissimilar to the kind of pulsing control grid that Lt Uhura spent much of her time attached to. The connection with outer space continues…. Sarah Lingus makes the analogy between Villareal’s work and the contact epiphany found in Close Encounters and referenced in other mystico Sci-fi’ films such as Solaris and 2001. There is certainly something alluring in these intelligible animations and the implications of sapience/sentience they provide in their ‘communication’.

Solu – Live Cinema

solu - live cinema
Kaamos by Solu & Wayang – Indonesian shadow theatre

I’ve always felt a bit uneasy with the term VJ, although the expression seems to have stuck and is the still the most commonly used term throughout the fraternity for one who provides visuals for an accompaniment to club music. The term was handed to us by MTV during the 80’s when music videos were increasingly used with loops of footage layered with abstract graphics and mixed in much the same way as the DJ mixes music. In fact a little Wikipedia search reveals that one Merrill Aldighieri coined the term. ‘Her method of performing as a video jockey consisted of improvising live clips using a video camera, projected film loops, and switching between 2 U-matic video decks’.

VJ is synonymous with DJ, implying the mixing of two or more sources, where often the material used is not the work of the VJ, but some found or bought video clips. The ‘anyone can be a VJ’ kind of mentality has been brought about by an increasing amount of software that can give you an After Effects kind of functionality to live footage. Unfortunately this kind of set up can all too often dispose of any kind of content and aesthetic, the medium in this case often being the FX one applies to the video itself.

Mia Makela aka Solu has written an interesting thesis that tackles some of these issue and more so argues for a ‘possible language of live cinema, and proposes the idea of narrative, grammar and vocabulary. Her arguments are strengthened by an expert knowledge of the history of ‘live cinema’. The thesis begins mentioning the projections of Indonesian shadow theatre and traces a trajectory via Colour/Visual Music (James Whitney for example), Expanded Cinema and computational authoring systems such as MAX/MSP.

‘Mia Makela (aka SOLU) is Finnish media+live cinema artist, teacher, investigator and cultural activist residing in Barcelona’. Her most recent projects (performances), referred to eloquently as poetic real-time audiovisual journeys, can be viewed here.

Of course another alternative (or counterpart) to live cinema becoming more prevalent in live settings is the use of real-time generative systems, often employing sound analysis, to create sound responsive atmospheres.

Thoughtforms & Occult Chemistry

Plate from Thoughtforms by Annie Besant & Charles Webster Leadbeater

Cryptoforest recently sent me a link to the intriguing Thought-Forms compiled by Annie Besant & Charles Webster Leadbeater published at the turn of last century by the Theosopihcal Society. I’ve not had much chance to delve into the writing, being as it is couched in the language of astral planes and etheric bodies dear to the Theosophists of that time. The illustrations contained within are excellent and cover the visual manifestations of sound vibrations, Cymatics and visual music.

Three general principles underlie the production of all thought-forms:

1. Quality of thought determines colour.
2. Nature of thought determines form.
3. Definiteness of thought determines clearness of outline.

Together the authors made occult investigations into the cosmos, the beginnings of mankind, chemistry and the constitution of the elements. The latter is taken up in another book Occult Chemistry.

Occult Chemistry proposes that the structure of chemical elements can be accessed through clairvoyant observations. The book consists both of coordinated and illustrated descriptions of presumed etheric counterparts of the atoms of the then known chemical elements, and of other expositions of occult physics.