The mash-up of an 808 and the US elections no one asked for

I’d wager at this point 100% of you would rather think about drum machines than the American elections. But somewhere, vintage voting machines – they of the hole punch and hanging chads – await retirement. Here, they get a second lease on life. Instead of gloomily voting for Trump or accidentally for Pat Buchanan, they can produce sliced-up audiovisual jams. (Hey, if you’re going to have to watch debate clips ad infinitum, why not turn it into something you can dance to?) Maybe beat box voting machines would be the answer to get Millennials to the polls. So, basically what …


This Computer Singing 90s Love Ballads will Break Your Heart

What do machines sing of? from Martin Backes on Vimeo. While Google has imagined how machines might dream, media artist and multi-disciplinary technologist Martin Backes has revealed how they sing. And not just bad karaoke, either. Following in the footsteps of a legacy of machine vocals that originates with Max Mathews’ Daisy Bell, a computer rendition so ground-breaking it was featured in Arthur C. Clarke’s 2001, Mr. Backes has gone one step further. He wanted to produce an algorithm that would make a computer seem to emote. Grab a mic, and this is a sound art installation. A installation in …


unrender: Finding Space Between Gallery and Club [Videos]

There is a well-known divide between visuals as they exist in experimental media and live performance and media in the art world. Transitory electronic media fails to fit the traditional mold of value. Digital media is too ephemeral, too temporary. Light on walls can’t be collected; improvised visual performance is something that fades away. With unrender, we want to embrace just those gaps between worlds, walking along the fractures. We are looking to find the expressive potential of electronic audiovisual media as distinct from what came before. And most importantly, we want to make sure there’s space for all these …


Push Pixels Harder: Open Hap Video Codec Now on Windows and Mac

So, you’ve got a laptop and you want to play multiple video streams. And maybe it’s not a super-fast laptop – maybe it’s just a kind-of normal laptop that you’ve upgraded to an SSD. Or, wait — you’ve actually just gotten the dream job media art gig you always wanted. And they’ve assembled 52 projectors in the budget, and want 26 layers of video. And you need to deliver that efficiently. And they didn’t budget for some high-end media server. Either way, Hap is for you. It’s an open-source, GPU-accelerated video codec. The idea: go easy on your CPU by …


unrender 2: Visuals as Live Medium, in Installations and Performances, in Berlin [CDM presents]

Electronic and digital visuals are expanding in their expressive potential, as live and real-time instruments, performances, and interactive installations. But the venues and contexts for that work remain understood in terms of narrow, older categories: the gallery and video art, the club and “VJing” – and now, increasingly, via commercial patrons (search engines, trade shows). What happens when clubland and art-land, the design world and the music scene can encounter one another in open spaces? unrender is one humble way we get to try to answer that. Hosted and co-curated as a collaboration of CDM with Lehrter Siebzehn, we work …


Play a Russian Folk Instrument with Your Mind, Or Turn Seashell Patterns, Likes Into Generative Art

::vtol:: “turbo-gusli” demo performance from ::vtol:: on Vimeo. Musical instruments: make a move, get a sound. Or, musical instruments: apply an algorithm, get a sound. Read the tattoos on your arm as a score, turn the black-and-white patterning of a seashell into generated audiovisual artwork, apply brainwaves to a folk instrument and let a robot play it… Such are the mental excursions of one ::vtol::, aka Moscow’s Dmitry Morozov. He’s been busy over the past year or so, wearing robots that interface with tattoos to make music and constructing surround sound umbrellas. And we still have more crazy-science goodness to …


Watch a Tank Make Sound, as Nik Nowak Makes Weapons, Vehicles for Music

In a world of machine weapons, construction equipment waging destruction, mechanized warfare and economic mayhem, maybe giant sound machines are a friendlier alternative. Nik Novak certainly has a way of giving sound physical being. And ironically, if some of his creations might appear to assault the senses, his own sensibilities came from the frightening experience of sonic trauma. He recasts that assault in machines, but also finds ways of working with sound that get past the damage to his hearing. And far from places of fear, the club – and studio – are refuge. (Or, okay, if that description doesn’t …


The DIY Display: OSCAR is an Open, Ultra-high-res Screen Controller

It’s about time the maker movement tackled display technology. Enter OSCAR (Open SCreen AdapteR). It’s the sort of super high-resolution 9.7″ LCD panel you’d expect trapped inside something like an iPad, but you can connect it directly to a computer via Arduino. Now, the actual “DIY” bit here is pretty simple: it’s just the interface. But even just having the interface is fairly useful. The display tech itself remains mass-market, mass-produced, but by adding that raw display part to the interface, you can build your own projects – and there are clearly some installation and other DIY projects just waiting …


Submerged Turntables, Art Phonographs Underwater, and Life After Records

Submerged Turntable from Brian Lilla on Vimeo. Once upon a time, Romantics dreamt of ruined architecture, rubble and stones on hillsides and whatnot. Today, we imagine ruined technology as our artifacts of culture lost. We don’t need a burning library of Alexandria. We can wait until our machines go out of warranty and go kaput. That subconscious seems to flow in the literally-murky pool of “Submerged Turntables,” an art installation by Evan Holm. But the results are oddly beautiful, making the physical quality of the record enduring. And here’s the upbeat bit: in those dark waters, the record still plays. …


unrender: Celebrating Visual Expression as Something Live; Online and in Berlin Friday

There’s not a word yet for visuals as event. We know it when we see it. And we know it in other media. With music, there’s no question when something becomes performative, when the human element is something you can’t subtract. But in electronic visuals, in light and image, the awareness of what is emerging in the medium seems latent. The narrow view of VJing and club visuals is dated. And disconnecting those media from generative and interactive work misses an explosive and dynamic new craft. Whether it’s clever work with optical analog and overhead projectors, or a delicately-constructed piece …