Archives for the Month of September, 2010

The Melodies and Megaliths of Pseudocrystalline Terrains

Fingals Cave  - photo: Yackeroeni
Fingals Cave – photo: Yackeroeni

We can only speculate on the kind of microbe, plant or animal Thomas Molyneux had in mind when he postulated that the strict geometric configurations of the basalt columns found at the Giants Causeway might in fact be a huge fossil. An immense crystalline kelp or a scaled-up multicellular sodium-phillic slime mould?

Basalt column structures form part of a group of generative landforms known as Pseudocrystals. Aside form the well-known Giants Causeway in Ireland there are countless other fine examples around the world – Here’s a Flickr gallery compiling pictures of these multiform structures.

Fingal’s Cave in Scotland is an excellent example of this kind of polygonal scenography. It provided inspiration for Felix Mendelssohn, who wrote an overture on the spot during a visit in 1830. The cave formation resembles a giant church organ with pipes of varying lengths – perhaps Mendelssohn noted this visual cue? He was not the first to feel its musical overtones. The naturalist Joseph Banks, who landed on the island in August 1772, named it The Cave of Melody.

Devils Tower - photo: StrizichDevils Tower – photo: Strizich

Iceland has more than its fair share of exceptional Basalt columns. Dverghamrar has a structure which looks like an austere ancient temple relic – a previous home to a sect of non-regular tessellating-polygonal worshipping stone masons. At Kirkjubæjarklaustur you’ll find the remains of a carpet of pentagonal paving stones laid in honour of their megalithic idol.

The Devils Postpile in California, and The Devils Tower in Wyoming proposes an architect of a more malicious and sinister nature – the real story behind these metamorphic patterns had eluded geologists [or appropriately geognostics, as they were originally know] until quite recently.

Basalt columns were actually formed by a heat diffusion process during the cooling of volcanic lava as it interfaced with cold air or water, mostly during the Paleogene era. The process of contraction generates linear cracks and the extensive fracture networks that collectively create these fascinating psuedocrystalline mosaics.

NODE10 – Forum for Digital Arts

NODE 10 - The Forum for Digital Arts
NODE 10 – The Forum for Digital Arts

There are more than a few good reasons to write a post on VVVV – the video synthesis tool-kit developed by the VVVV Group in Germany. The first is Node 10 – The Forum for Digital Arts which takes place between the 15th and 20th of November in Frankfurt. Looking at the program with workshops, lectures and exhibitions it looks every bit as good, and most likely better, than Node 08.

Marius Watz & Eno Henze have curated the accompanying exhibition, adapting a similar policy to Node 08 Lecture series, whereby work and ideas totally unconnected to the software have been included. Works chosen explore the wider context of procedural design and more specifically that of systems for abstraction. Expect to see work by Jorinde Voigt, who creates complex drawings of networked elements, and Zimoun who makes kinetic sonic contraptions. There are also works from a variety of artists well-known within the generative art and data visualisation communities.

A structured workshop program is defined to cater for specific interests with an emphasis on the practical. Whether it be visual music, data visualisation, or physical computing, there is something to cater for everyone.

Genesi - Abstract BirdsGenesi – Abstract Birds

There are also evening events with club-orientated material, live visuals and a VVVVinisage. Certainly not to be missed is Pedro Mari and Nata Singaglia’s performance under the name of Abstract Birds. Pedro recently posted a preview of a new piece called Genisi, which contains organically developing systems and organisms displaying life-like kinematic motion.

Yet more important news from the developer HQ is word of a new and significant release of the software. As a user of VVVV myself, and someone who has seen over 4 years of releases, I was very excited to see one particular piece of new functionality – the ability to edit and create nodes using a code editor within the standard visual programming environment.

Update 300910: I’m excited to add that I’ll be heading to Node 10 to perform two live audio-visual pieces, Rynth and Untitled[BioAcoustic Study] at the one of the nightly events. A video of the latter, which was originally made as a collaborative work with the sound artists Francisco Lopez, can be found here.

Selected Tweets #9 [July24-Sept13 ’10]

Subway Drawing Translation #2 - Oliver Vernon
Subway Drawing Translation #2 – Oliver Vernon

Microblogged: Recent selected tweets from my Twitter stream. Very occasionally a post may have additional descriptive text, overriding its original 140 character version.

Color A Sound – Blair Neal. MAX patch transforms glyphs drawn onto projector transparency into sound.

43200 constellations within 12 hours. One Perfect Cube – Florian Jenette. Time as abstraction.

Sprawling Conglomerates by John Borowicz, and other obsessive infeasible architectures.

Solu: Multisensorial Instrument [Audible & Visible Spectrums – a proposal of correspondence] – 3kta.

Whorl & Tornado. Complex and dynamic paper cut sculptures from Mia Pearlman.

Bisymmetric Hendecahedron [Protuberant Cloud workshop] – SPAN at Designplaygrounds.

Dynamic Structure 1586 – Willem Van Weeghel. Computer controlled kinetic object.

The artwork of Joe Kievitt contains linear abstractions and colourfield patchworks.

Excerpt from the score for Galaxis -  Roland Kayn
Excerpt from the score for Galaxis – Roland Kayn

LYDUR – Timon Botez. Installation/sculpture object[s] that orchestrate[s] an infinite composition.

Repeated Squares – Roma Cintilante. Flickr set of analogue pixillation studies and patterns.

Subway Drawing Translation #2 – Oliver Vernon. Plus other marvels of amorphous complexity.

Acousmata on Roland Kayn’s “Isotrope,” Part II. Including excellent images of his scores and visual music systems.

Composing with Process: Perspectives on Generative & Systems Music. Curation of works by Mark Fell & Joe Gilmore.

The tracking of ‘bizarre robot traders’. Algorithmic Automata evolving in the stock market datastreams?

Architectural plans from the end of time – Dan Slavinski.

Genetic Exploration of Bio Micro Structures for Architectural Apps [presentation slides] – Maria Vera Van Embden Andres.

The Music of Woven Weather Data – Nathalie Miebach

nathalie MiebachTwilight, Tides and Whales – Cape Cod ( February/ March 2006) – Nathalie Miebach

Nathalie Miebach translates astronomical, ecological and meteorological data into sculptural structures using the technique of basketry. The regular intersecting format of weaving acts a base grid on which to plot complex parametric interrelations of natural time-based interactions. The final sculptures are playful three dimensional datasets that resemble complex childrens toys as well classic models of exotic maths surfaces.

nathalie MiebachMusical Buoy in Search Towards a New Shore – Nathalie Miebach

nathalie MiebachA Duet of Blizzards – Nathalie Miebach

One group of works transform weather data into musical scores which are then further abstracted into her trademark sculptures. Their drum-like shapes and convoluted cylinder forms are populated with little spheres (notes) which as a whole evoke some kind of music-box device. We are, perhaps, enticed into imaging these objects as media which can be inserted into into a larger reader mechanism for the generation of audio. Taking the pieces to their natural conclusion she has invited chosen musicians to interpret the sculptural notation.

Via Nathan Selikoff

The Radial Foranger Patterns and Memory Networks of the Sand Bubbler Crabs

Sand Bubbler Crab Patterns - Chris Gannon
Sand Bubbler Crab Patterns – Chris Gannon

While a lot of attention is given to primates, elephants and even members of the canine group, in respect to ‘art’ created by animals, the tiny Sand Bubbler Crab could be the unseen hero of the process art category. It creates various kinds of organised patterns with radial symmetries and branching structures in the sand, the result of food foraging activities.

Naturally there is no interfacing with tools such as paintbrushes but the species Dotilla Fenestrate does create circle packing patterns and emergent aggregations that may well interest the algorithmic artisan. During low tide these crabs emerge from their holes to find food. They sift the sand and extract food from it then leave behind little spheres of processed sand creating a memory network to indicate where food has already been extracted. Environmental factors, such the local tidal system, as well as predatorial variables act as is a parameters in this system to effects the final configurations of the patterns generated.

Marquisde has created a Flickr gallery of Sand Bubbler Crab artworks and Stretta has uploaded a HD video of one of these little wonders busy at work.

International Symposium of Electronic Arts RUHR 2010

Moids 2.0 - Saita Kazuki & Soiichiro Mihara & Hiroko Mugibayashi
Moids 2.0 – Saita Kazuki & Soiichiro Mihara & Hiroko Mugibayashi

August saw the yearly International Symposium of Electronic Arts take place in the RUHR region of Germany.- spreading over Dortmund, Essen and Duisburg. To say the program was a dense one would have been an understatement. Over the week the festival presented recent works, along side well-known ones, workshops, conferences, club events, and concert performances.

The group exhibition TRUST, held in the iconic Dortmunder U building, explored ‘the aesthetics of trust by questioning its status, attempting to challenge the audience’s convictions and by encouraging a reflected dialogue with machines and media’. Carsten Nicolai’s piece Rota is a large scale Dreamachine – where light penetrates holes on a revolving cylinder to generate a specific stroboscopic effect which can induce different kinds of mental/cognitive states. Seiko Mikami’s piece, Desire of Codes, consisted of multiple sensors, cameras and a projection that resembled the multifaceted geometry of an insect eye. On moving through the gallery space the sensors triggered cams which recorded images and footage of viewer. A tapestry of images is generated and projected onto the gallery wall containing both past and present fragments of the ongoing surveillance process.

Epiphora  - Yunchul KimEpiphora – Yunchul Kim

The ISEA2010 RUHR Exhibition held at the Museum für Kunst und Kulturgeschichte housed an equally impressive and diverse group of works. Yunchul Kim’s Epiphora, resembling an alchemists laboratory set-up, presents a ‘fictional pathology’ where fluids pulsate and react with one another simulating the actions of a group of imaginary organs. Vladimir Todorovic’s movie The Snail on the Slope utilises Processing to generate sequences of abstract/organic forms. The film, which can be viewed here, consists of narrative sequences which are based on a story of the same name by Arkady & Boris Strugatsky.

Running alongside the exhibitions were a number of concerts of electronic music from the likes of Thomas K̦ner, Asmus Tiechens and Eliane Radigue. The evenings saw a program of related club orientated events. For the Audiovisual Pilots night I was invited to perform an newly adapted version of ryNTH Рa real-time piece where transformations and modulations of geometric forms are generated by sound.

My Flicker set documenting the symposium can be found here.