John Cage.

Two hours of video covers over a century of history of sound art

And hello, spring semester. Here’s an exhaustive (and fascinating) lecture on the history of sound art – by a philosopher. Philosopher Christoph Cox traces the history of sound art from the invention of audio recording in the late 19th century to the genre-bending compositions of John Cage to the explosion of sound installation in the 1960s. Cox surveys a range of sonic practices, revealing how they resemble and resist approaches in the visual arts. The film comes to us from the Barnes Foundation, the superb arts institution in Philadelphia.

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This interactive Fatima Yamaha show projects emotions into light

So, we’re fresh off of hosting a MusicMakers hacklab in Berlin on the theme of Emotional Invention. And in an accidental synchronicity, this week Blitzkickers talk to the creator of an interactive installation for last year’s Amsterdam Dance Event that used sensors to project emotions into a spectacle of color and light. The resulting scene looks like something out of Close Encounters – hues amidst the fog and a flying saucer ring around the crowd. The idea: get twenty participants to volunteer to wear headsets and bio-signal sensors, via EMOTIV brainwave headsets, heart rate, and skin response. (Some might get …

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Volnovod is a robot sculpture that uses wire to make sound visually

Muscovite sound artist slash mad scientist vtol (aka Dmitry Morozov) has been at it yet again. This time, inspiration struck when his iPod earbuds tangled. (Good thing he hadn’t upgraded to wireless!) And the result was a new visual interface for music, embodied as kinetic sculpture. Volnovod, sounding for all the world like a long lost Soviet lunar probe (or, um, sounding like “waveguide” if you happen to speak Russian), is an installation / controller / instrument built on the idea. And it comes from the artist just as he’s fresh off a rich Berlin exhibition full of ingenious inventions. …

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Photo: Aoki Takamasa. Courtesy the artist.

raster-noton’s elusive Grischa Lichtenberger on creative sound

Grischa Lichtenberger is working with felt and stencils as well as sound. He’s speaking in hyperlinks, and misusing gear and feeding computers into other computers to form feedback loops. In short, he’s finding a unique and creative materialism in everything he does – and that means we really have to talk to him. So we sent Zuzana Friday to join in a delightfully esoteric conversation with the raster-noton artist. -Ed. Grischa Lichtenberger is a German musician and sound and installation artist, known for his releases on raster-noton. His immersive live performances oscillate between abrasive, aggressive compositions and intricate structures of …

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Witness the stunning immersive lasers for a canceled Moscow festival

Russia has a rich history of transmedia work, from the classical to the electronic. And a new generation are building on that legacy, one of the best being St. Petersburg’s Tundra collective. Assembling a team of multimedia artists, Tundra have specialized in visceral combinations of light and sound, especially focused on beams of color arrayed in space. Even conventional theatrical lighting instruments can take on new meaning in immersive, spatial compositions. Their 2016 masterpiece, though, didn’t get a chance to be seen by the public. Slated for Outline Festival in Moscow in July, the work was thwarted when authorities unexpectedly …

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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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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 …

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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 …

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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 …

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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 …

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