TouchDown Houston at Day For Night Festival; photo Roger Ho.

A bunch of tricks and tools for generative visual tool TouchDesigner

TouchDesigner, the visual development environment for interactive media, is a not-so-secret weapon for the artists creating some of the best eye candy today. And it’s likely to earn more attention now that it’s available for both macOS and Windows. (It was previously Windows-only.) But it’s not just the power of the tool itself that makes it stand out. It’s just as much a community behind it, sharing resources with one another. That says something, really. People working on interactive and event visuals often pull in some pretty hefty fees, and they justify those fees by making sure their tech tricks …

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puppetmotel

Enter the surreal 1995 world of Laurie Anderson multimedia

Ah, the mid 1990s. We used terms like “new media,” and the idea of a record label of sorts devoted to the multimedia CD-ROM seemed natural and futuristic. It was the era of the Voyager Company, a pioneering media firm that spawned the Criterion Collection (via beautifully curated LaserDisc editions of great films), and an interactive line for Windows and Mac. Voyager is a story all its own, but I think Laurie Anderson’s Puppet Motel stands out. The breakthrough in technology at the time was that rich media could be distributed to a wide variety of platforms. On the Mac …

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This nearly 12 hour modular synth marathon is actually entertaining

You might think that rigging a giant rack of modular synths and burying them in a tangle of synth cords and then live streaming a performance jam on them for nearly twelve hours straight is self-indulgent and overkill. And you’d be right. But if you also thought it would be no fun to watch, that it’d be joyless and involve lots of noodling, you’d be very wrong. Very wrong. Like – maybe you should get about twelve hours free. That’s because the guy behind this insanity is talented synthesist Colin Benders. And not only is he an amazing musical performance, …

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gefangenenchor

Enter the wondrous world of Walter Giers’ electronic sound art

Few people could make circuits into art quite like Walter Giers. He made them into visual objects, into aesthetic and design statements, into loud and even “annoying” performative constructions, into instruments. They aren’t simply utilitarian means to an end, but imaginative medium. Electronic Beats takes a look into Walter Giers’ mind this week in a new film, featuring interviews with family members that reveal some of his way of seeing the world. Off to Schwäbisch Gmünd, we go: The featured works here: 00:20 – Weisser Vulkan (1979) 1:08 – Erotischer Zyklus (1975) 1:14 – Hänge-Kugellautsprecher (1968) 2:14 – PE II …

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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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Sony’s gestural projector could change interaction

Last week’s CES trade show was full of weird and unlikely inventions. But some of them point at directions in tech that could bear fruit. Take this Sony Xperia Projector prototype. The consumer benefits aren’t immediately clear – but media artists may see the perfect self-contained interactive installation. The Verge gets a hands-on with the device: Basically, it’s three technologies in one. It’s a pico projector, and those may continue to improve as LED tech scales. It’s an Android mobile gadget – and unlike iOS, Android has the benefit of being to run on any device imaginable as a general …

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FEEDBOXES are autonomous sound toys that play along with you

We live in an age when we can jam along with machines as well as with humans. And maybe it’s about time that they fed us some clever grooves instead of, you know, fake news and stuff. Our friend Krzysztof Cybulski of Warsaw, PL’s panGenerator shares his FEEDBOXES. They’re “autonomous” sound objects, capable of responding to audio inputs with perpetually-transforming responses. It’s all thanks to elegant use of feedback loops – meaning you can toy with these techniques yourself. Now that’s a better kind of echo chamber. It also makes use of the awesome, free PdDroidParty by Chris Mccormick, which …

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A piano, played by clouds and sky

We can reinvent the instruments we already have; we can try to steer a pathway to something new. Or we can sometimes imagine a known instrument in a new context. This new short film covers a robotic piano that’s got an unusual angle. Using image analysis, those mechanical fingers transpose patterns of cloud and sky onto the keys. This poetic take on cloud gazing comes from media artist David Bowen. It’s a nice take, I think, on sonification, in that it isn’t just about a stream of data that’s abstracted from its source. It’s really as though the drifting clouds …

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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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BlokDust is an amazing graphical sound tool in your browser

Just when you think you’ve tired of browser toys, of novel graphical modular sound thing-a-ma-jigs, then — this comes along. It’s called Blokdust. It’s beautiful. And … it’s surprisingly deep. Not only might you get sucked into playing with it, but thanks to some simply but powerful blocks and custom sample loading, you might even make a track with it. And for nerds, this is all fully free and open source and hipster-JavaScript-coder compliant if you want to toy with the stuff under the hood.

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