Archives for the Month of March, 2008

Visual Music Classics #2 – Tarantella, 1940, Mary Ellen Bute.

Tarantella - Mary Ellen Bute

From the 1930’s-1950’s the American Mary Ellen Bute made a sequence of visual music animations she called ‘Seeing Sound’ films. Most likely inspired by meetings with Oscar Fischinger, Thomas Wilfred (inventor of a colour organ known as the Clavilux) and even Leo Theremin. She used special formulae derived from music notation to meter the rhythmic motions of motifs to sound in her films. Not content with standard cel animation she also made use of cellophane, ping-pong balls, eggbeaters, bracelets and sparklers to create effects of refraction, reflection & shadow play. Tarantella, 1940, regarded by many as Mary Ellen’s best film, has syncopated jaggy lines that dance to a modern composition – pure lyrical abstraction. Later in the 50’s she would employ the use of an oscilloscope to ‘record sounds’ and then overlay this with a collage of her own animation. Two films incorporate this oscilloscopic technique, Abstronics, 1952 & Mood Contrasts, 1954.

Visual Music Classics #1 – Begone Dull Care 1949, Norman Mclaren

Begone Dull Care - Norman Mclaren

‘Begone Dull Care’, by Normal Mclaren, is one of the quintessential Visual Music films, it also happened to have been one of his favourites along with the well-known ‘Neighbours’. Educated at the Glasgow School of Art, Mclaren experimented with animation and film making techniques without the use of a camera. He painted onto the blank film stock directly, added dyes, and then scratched away at the surface, etching in glyphs and abstract lines. This method was used to create ‘Begone Dull Care’, in 1949, to produce an explosion of colours, lines and shapes syncopated to a bopping jazz tune composed by Oscar Peterson. Certain shapes, textures and colours correspond to different instrumental sections, almost as if Mclaren was attempting the human equivalent of FFT (computational frequency analysis). The complexity of the visual motifs increases proportionally with the intensity of the music – culminating in riotous finale of colours, lattices, patterns and animated hieroglyphics in perfect synchronicity.

Andreas Nicolas Fischer – ‘A week in the life’ Data Sculpture

A-week-in-the-life - Andreas Nicolas Fischer

Made partly in a Generator.x 2.0 workshop, Andreas Nicolas Fischer’s ‘A week in the life’ is a three dimensional visualisation of movement and communication made with a cell phone during a week roaming around Berlin. Using bespoke software written for his mobile phone, Andreas was able to record the longitude and latitude of his position in the city. The data was then passed to a Processing sketch, which resulted in the 3D representation. WMMNA extracted the following info regarding the journey from Processing to final data sculpture:

‘The model was then taken into Rhino and contoured into horizontal and vertical 2d layers. The intersections were set and vectors cleaned in illustrator. After that individual parts were cut with a laser cutter and assembled into the final work’

The density of the cell sites reflect the speed and frequency of movement within the city. The more often Andreas visited a place, the more cell sites were added to the map. Aside from the aesthetics, the work was aimed at making people aware of the German telecommunications data retention act (Vorratsdatenspeicherung) which requires the telecommunications providers to collect the connection data of all customers. This is a good example of the confluence of two growing areas of interests within the computational art scene, abstract data visualisation and digital fabrication.

Flickr fruits 13

Flickr Fruits
Drop – David Lu

YesYesNoNo’s Invisible Journey’s (Datalooknise) project aims at mapping fields of Wi-Fi node signals during bike and car trips. Using various kinds of representation systems to visualise different properties of the nodes (such as encryption settings) these abstractions act as timelines of the journey and, at times, give the impression of some kind experimental music notation. Detailed information on the methods used to collect and apply the data is annotated with each image in the development sequence.

David Lu continues his experiments with computational abstraction (using Processing & Openframeworks) with a new set documenting work done in 2008. Light translucent organisms drift over a grey planes and sharper lines create op-art-esque compositions in compelling natural colour palettes. Aspects of movement, rotation and propulsion are implicated the more recent monochromatic outputs.

Dave Bollinger’s Density set, which keeps getting bigger, uses ‘random placement, deterministic placement and optimal packing placement’ of simples units to provide a complexity that is ‘spatially ambiguous, akin to op-art, and conveying various perceptual oddities’. At times the results are organically decorative, elsewhere we find the patterns and aggregations of crystalline growth.

Note: All three artists have been featured in previous posts at NatureIsData!

Yesyesnono – Oli Laruelle
Computational Drawings – David Lu
Labyrinthine multiforms – Dave Bollinger

Event Horizon: Geometry of Motion 1920s/1970s @ the MOMA

Geometry of  Motion.
Rotary Glass Plates (Precision Optics) – Marcel Duchamp

Looking at two different generations of artists, in the 1920’s and the 1970’s, Geometry of Motion opening in March at the MOMA, sets out to survey artists who used unconventional optical techniques, made light-machines and explored geometric abstraction in film. Featured in the show are ‘fourteen historic works that trace the transformation of the art object from static image to fluid light projection’ Works by László Moholy-Nagy, El Lissitzky and Hans Richer can be viewed along side later works by Robert Irwin and Gordon Matta Clark.

Dataisnature has been particularly interested in the aesthetics of the first group of artists, relying on the chimerical properties of light projection and kinetics while employing distinctly graphical styles. These early works are firm contenders to be placed a precursors to current contemporary practices with real-time light installation and club projection.

Boston Gems #1 – László Moholy-Nagy’s Light Space Modulator
Kinetic Art & Architecture # 1

Richard Lazzara – metaCalligraphic

Richard Lazzara

Calligraphy and Automatic Writing maybe distant relatives to computational processes, repetitive squiggles that are created by seismographic looping arcs of the human hand while the mind is else-if-then. Richard Lazzara has a splendid collection of calligraphic meta-doodles that have a touch of Pollock about them albeit monochrome with the sheen of a metallic background gradient. As If continuing the journey originally embarked upon by Bryon Gysin, his works rely on the illusion of secret alphabets, space-filling patterns and formation of random figures into recognisable forms a la Rorschach blots.

Originally spotted at Socialfiction

Related: adventures in nonism: asemic art