Dasha Rush at Futurum.

Voyage into Dasha Rush’s inspiring ambient sonic worlds

Assemble, cosmonauts: Dasha Rush is an artist whose musical worlds merit repeat visits. She represents the best of what an artist straddling techno and ambient can be – with ambient sets that pulse and live, with timbral and structural freedom rather than resorting to dreary droning grays. So let’s take a break from her better-known techno side and get to experience some of her ambient personality. Now, just in the past months, I’ve watched her hold down the cavernous abandoned Kraftwerk power plant for Tresor’s birthday with a techno set, but also explore imaginative techno on Boiler Room alongside Dino …

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Google explores how machine learning could navigate the history of art

You might have some art history under your belt. Now experimental artists are giving the machines a chance to do the same. It’s called Google Arts & Culture Experiments, and it takes a new angle on machine learning. The concept: let those algorithms find new ways of venturing through the history of art and human culture. This isn’t just about the machines, either. Continuing the Chrome Experiments series, the search giant is enlisting artists and creative coders to try an inventive take on what this might mean. After all, while the machine learning may be for the AI, it’s the …

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Micro-ritmos turns bacteria and machine learning into spatialized sound

In the patterns generated by bacterial cells, Micro-ritmos discovers a new music and light. From the Mexican team of Paloma López, Leslie García, and Emmanuel Anguiano (aka Interspecifics), we get yet another marvel of open source musical interface with biological matter. Micro-ritmos from LessNullVoid on Vimeo. The raw cellular matter itself is Geobacter, an anaerobic bacteria found in sediment. And in a spectacular and unintentional irony, this particular family of bacteria was first discovered in the riverbed of the Potomac in Washington, D.C. You heard that right: if you decided to literally drain the swamp in the nation’s capital, this …

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Music technology needs internationalism, safe expression

I live on the other side of the world from where I grew up, among people of more nationalities than I can count. Here, contributors to the CDM project have spoken Dutch and Czech and Romanian as native languages. I spent the past Sunday morning jamming at an Ableton Loop session with a woman from Tehran – who comes from a country where the music we made was literally illegal. I use technologies in music and motion that sprang from the minds of immigrants, before they were marketed by still more international teams, and then localized and sold to people …

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Watch Myriam Bleau’s beautiful work with glass and discs

The beautiful thing about performance life in the post-digital age is that it opens up what musical practice itself can be. It means an AV artist might draw as much on the tradition of painting or sculpture as on music. It might blur the boundaries in such a way that it’s hard to say which medium you’re looking at at all. SONAR and MUTEK as festivals have grown in their brand to present AV work, but to me they’re at their best in those particular magical moments when you feel as if the performer has invented their own medium. By …

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How expressive input, immersive 3D might make PCs cooler than Macs

“Pro.” “Creative.” They’re words that are repeated so often in computing it’s easy for some people to forget what they mean. By definition, though, if a “professional” is getting paid for their work, investing in more power to get their work done has a return on investment. And being “creative” on a machine means pushing it to the limits of expression. This may be the post-PC era after all, but that ought to mean we get computers that focus ever more on those use cases. Remember Jobs’ infamous quote about trucks? Embedded in his thinking was an answer to what …

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Visualists, here’s the info on the GPU in the new Macs, Surface Books

The audiovisual performance is very much alive as a medium. I’m just coming off two festivals full of inspiring, stunning live visuals (alongside installations and virtual reality artworks). (One was MUTEK Mexico, the other the AV-centric Lunch Meat in Prague.) Live visuals are the definition of an edge case, to be sure – artists appropriating technology developed primarily for gaming – but life is beautiful on the edge. The big demarcation point in computers for visual work is really the absence or presence of a dedicated GPU. Intel’s integrated tech has gotten better on paper, but it’s still in my …

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The new MacBook Pro will work with your gear – if you add adapters

Apple’s new MacBook Pro series – regardless of screen size – ships with four connectors, all of them USB-C. That may lead to some confusion, because these aren’t the USB ports most people know from their current laptop. Let’s take a quick inventory of the gear I typically use, which I think it fairly typical: USB sticks (with Rekordbox, for playing on CDJs) A Lightning cable for my iPhone External hard disk, Thunderbolt External hard disk, USB3 Universal Audio Apollo audio interface, Thunderbolt Lots of USB controllers, audio interfaces, etc. Occasionally need Ethernet for the odd connection SD cards from …

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Apple’s computer vision looks backward, as others look forward

It was really hard for me to watch Apple’s “Hello Again” event today. Understanding history is important – to a point. But Apple’s obsessive navel gazing in the Mac event today speaks volumes. This is a company with no real vision for what its most creative users actually do with their most advanced machines. So, instead, they look into the past. And the Mac keynote was full of references to the past. The early 90s PowerBook 100 got a better pitch for its industrial design than the new MacBook Pro. And that’s with good reason: the PowerBook 100 was an …

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Joué is a modular touch sensitive controller that changes into anything

Like pressure-sensitive control – but don’t want to commit to one layout? Joué is a fascinating new controller concept that has touch sensitivity but lets you change layouts on the fly – with tactile control. The concept: add physical, modular overlays to the top to change the function of the controller. At its heart, the Joué is a USB-connected controller – much like the ROLI Seaboard, roughly speaking. It transmits data over MIDI. The difference is the physical overlays. Combined with configurable settings in a software editor, they let you add piano-style keys, drum pads, guitar-like frets, or other 3D …

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