Music from Nature Crafts Organic Rhythms, And More Sounds Made Music by Diego Stocco

We’ve passed from Record Store Day to Earth Day – and here’s the perfect segue. Having ventured into the woods to find a music release, now we can hear trees transformed, by way of sampling, into catchy rhythms. Our friend Diego Stocco, that evergreen source of creative timbres, now makes everything from trees to beans into sounds that are subtle and complex, full of personality and uniquely tied to their origin materials. There’s no real violence done to nature, either; you can make all of these noises with little more force than a small thundershower. Remarkably, the video – shot …

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Projection Mapping for a Cause: Obscura's Cube of CO2

CO2 Cube from Obscura Digital on Vimeo. It’s an older project, but no less timely: speaking of Obscura Digital’s work, they’ve also employed projection as a way to illustrate in tangible terms a serious issue. You’ll hear climate scientists speak in terms of metric tons of emissions. But because we can’t see those emissions, and because most people really don’t think about volumes of carbon dioxide (hardly something you pick up at the grocery), it’s tough to wrap your head around what that means. That is, it’s tough until you see the volume. Assuming sea level, you get a cube …

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Projection Mapping for a Cause: Obscura’s Cube of CO2

CO2 Cube from Obscura Digital on Vimeo. It’s an older project, but no less timely: speaking of Obscura Digital’s work, they’ve also employed projection as a way to illustrate in tangible terms a serious issue. You’ll hear climate scientists speak in terms of metric tons of emissions. But because we can’t see those emissions, and because most people really don’t think about volumes of carbon dioxide (hardly something you pick up at the grocery), it’s tough to wrap your head around what that means. That is, it’s tough until you see the volume. Assuming sea level, you get a cube …

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Angry Birds in Christmas Lights, and a Green Message for Lighting

There is a time of year when the short days, hours of travel (this time over some 8000 km in the air), and holiday season make me want to post silly, insubstantial things. This is one of those posts. But, let me make some attempt at profundity: 1. Microcontrollers have put interactive lighting in the hands of even the festive home decorator. It’s true. (the rig here is “two computers and 10 Light-o-rama 16 channel controllers”) 2. Consider, ye who make mobile designs, the profound cultural impact these things have. Once reserved for blockbuster movies, and before that the spoken …

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Electronic Music, Unplugged: Battery-Powered Jams and the Decade of Power

Photo (CC-BY) Anton Fomkin. No endorsement intended. (I like Energizer, too.) If the last decades in technology were about speed, this decade promises to be about power. I don’t mean horsepower: I mean power as in electricity. From concerns environmental to practical, power is now a real variable. After years of misreading Moore’s Law to mean that all technology would forever double in speed (that would be absurd, and wasn’t what he meant), even those lusting after gadgets have begun to think about power consumption, too. People want longer battery life and leaner energy bills – and psychologically, there is …

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Augmented Mural: Hand-Illustrated Landscape Comes to Life, Digitally

Just because you have computers doesn’t mean you have to stop drawing and painting. It’s an obvious revelation, but merging physical and virtual technologies is an art in itself, one that’s just beginning to blossom. To bring environmental messages to life and illustrate the profound connection of the city of San Francisco to its watershed, artist Gabe Shaughnessy and team created a digitally-augmented mural. The mural itself is beautiful, but watch through to about a minute and a half into the video to see something magical happen: projections add virtual animation to the work. The convergence of old and new …

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Save that Old PDA: Run Reware, Play Pd Musical Creations, Android (OFFF, NYC)

Reware your PDA from Hans-Christoph Steiner on Vimeo. Give a hoot – don’t pollute with your old mobile gear. Make musical creations with it instead, powered by Linux. Sure, there are wonderful things happening with mobile music applications on platforms like the shiny, new iPhone. But remember how technology was supposed to democratize access? Lots of us don’t have the money for a new iPhone or iPod. And how many of us have outdated Pocket PCs and Palms collecting dust? How many of these highly toxic devices get thrown away? Linux to the rescue. One of the biggest hits of …

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NPR Piece: Global Warming Makes the Ocean Louder

A really striking piece in NPR today, via Gina Blaber’s Twitter (thanks, Tim O’Reilly): Humans Turning Up Volume In Oceans [NPR “Science Out of the Box”] A new report shows the way in which sound travels through the ocean has been impacted by global warming. A growing community of artists are working in media like sound to address environmental challenges. But it seems the planet is making some “sound art” of its own. Curious to hear what people think of the report.

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Plant-Reactive Robots Play Bamboo, Chinese Instruments at Royal Botanic Garden, Scotland

THREE PIECES sound installation from Ziggy Campbell on Vimeo. Digital music is extending more deeply into the physical world, thanks to sensors and robotics. The result: gorgeous acoustic sounds as part of the lexicon. When we last spotted Simon Kirby and the Found Electronics collective, they were taking the tangible interface out of electronic music and applying them to ambient sampled sounds out in the woods. Now, they’re talking to plants and channeling traditional Chinese instruments. Found Electronics: Three Pieces Project Page Simon writes with some of the details:

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Journal: The Mind Meld Audiovisual Retreat in New England

Last month, I was lucky enough to head to a gathering of music and visual artists at the studio of artist Duncan Laurie in Jamestown, Rhode Island, accompanied by performances in Providence and Boston. Among the cast: Richard Devine, Josh Kay (Phoenicia/Schematic), Steve Nalepa, Todd Thille (Synesthete), Vidvox’s David Lublin, Josh Randall (Robotkid/Harmonix), Aerostatic, Brian Kane (former Emergency Broadcast Network), and Ooah (Glitch Mob). And then there were the rocks and coconuts. Duncan Laurie and electrical engineer Gordon Salisbury have been sonifying natural signal sources, hooking up vintage radionics equipment and connecting rocks and bananas and such to signals. Richard …

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