Andrew Quinn / Nikolay Popov AV performance.

How one community was mapping the future of visuals this summer

There’s a shift on in the worldwide community of visualists, of the growing field of people using electronic visuals as a medium for performance, art, and inquiry. As these media become more mature and more international, there’s a renewed sense of closeness among practitioners. While big media festivals focus on novelty and show, these maker-to-maker events emphasize something else: craft. This summer seemed a particularly historic moment for not one but two tools – each of them built by small teams who make art themselves. We already covered the Berlin gathering for Isadora, the visual performance tool that has rich …


The next prank call you get could come from this crazy synth

::vtol:: prankophone from ::vtol:: on Vimeo. If you pick up the phone and instead of a robocall or someone pocket dialing you, you get what sounds like a synthesizer that’s lost its mind, blame the Prankophone. Since we’re going to cover the latest from Ableton and Korg and so on in detail, we practically need a column for the quirky, prolific inventions of one vtol, aka Dmitry Morozov. Call it the Internet of Insane Things. (IoIT?)


A tour of musical inspiration in Moscow from Pixelord, Novation

Bridging the worlds of bass music and video games, Pixelord is a Siberian-born artist transplanted to Moscow. In a new video from Novation, he takes the English manufacturer on a tour of his sources of inspiration in the Russian capital. This is of course by no means a complete tour of Moscow or its scene – that’s like having one person show you around The Netherlands for nine minutes. (Actually, literally like that.) But you do get a nice little taste of Alexey Devyanin’s personality, in the midst of a new album he’s working on.


Silk is a giant string instrument that makes Bitcoin into music

::vtol:: silk from ::vtol:: on Vimeo. Welcome to the Internet of Sounds. The latest from our friend vtol, aka prolific Moscow-based sound artist Dmitry Morozov, is an installation of tall, spindly metal towers strung with wire. Standing at two meters, motorized fingers pull on diagonal strings – five of them, for the dollar, Yuan, Euro, Canadian dollar, and Ruble. The tune, though, is all about data. As Bitcoin and Litecoin cryptocurrencies fluctuate in value against the more traditional currencies, the imagined monetary values generate new melodies and rhythms. Recalling both the controversial recent silk road and its historical analog, these …


Duet for Singer and Jet Plane: A Soviet Airliner as Instrument

Watch as a Yakovlev Yak-42 jetliner* was transformed last month into a giant percussion instrument, allowing a unique duet between vocalist (our friend Jekka) and machines. As part of last month’s Polytech Festival in Moscow, the performance is one of a number of international collaborations taking place around the museum’s art programs. A small army of teenagers got to participate in getting the whole thing working – learning about sound, sensing, and physical computing in the process. The last time we caught up with the Playtronica collective, they were engaging kids in science and electronics through the power of vegetables. …


Teaser: The Joy of Music with Light, From Russia and Beyond

::vtol:: “luminescence” workshop from ::vtol:: on Vimeo. Artists are, in endless cycles, rediscovering techniques that might otherwise have been discarded. And that includes performance concepts in the audiovisual realm. I’m this week in Moscow as a guest of the Polytechnic Museum (specifically their Polytech.Science.Art program. There is, I think, no more historically apt place on Earth to explore the connection between sound and image than the land of Scriabin, Kandinsky, Ballets Russes, and constructivist art, this epicenter of the audiovisual revolution. What you probably don’t know so well is audiovisual experimentation from the later Soviet period, and that was partly …


Eat a Cucumber! A Musical Playground Gets Kids Hooked on Veggies, Music, and Electronics

Quick, we need kids to be able to express their feelings, they really ought to learn more about electronics, and – more veg. Definitely need to eat more vegetables. You know what we have to do. Let’s combine all that. Moscow-based collective/project Playtronica has gone wild with the Makey Makey “invention kit,” and built a whole range of projects around interfacing electronics to vegetables and other creative inputs. They have hands-on workstations for kids that look like your Farmers’ Market was taken over by Leon Theremin. Kids are making rhythms, recording sounds, making songs. And in a CDM-exclusive premiere, we …


Video: A Heart-Breaking Solo with Autoharp and iPad, by Jekka

The iPad as folk instrument – alongside an earlier iteration, the Autoharp. In a heartbreakingly lovely video, Jekka of Moscow goes acoustic with Samplr.


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 …


The Dazzling, Futuristic Lighting of Licht.Pfad, Transforming Clubs and Beyond

Light Installations Show Reel 2013-2014 from Licht.Pfad Studio on Vimeo. Seeing the future of light in performance, installation, and clubs doesn’t necessarily mean waiting around for some fantastic, new kind of lighting instrument. That requires big manufacturers making mass-market products, and their priorities don’t always align with artists. Instead, what we’re seeing is often traditional lighting technologies, choreographed in spectacular new ways. With elaborate computer control, the lights themselves form architectural patterns, dance, and come alive. Licht.Pfad have actually been behind a number of projects covered on this site. Using the visual development tool TouchDesigner, they’ve built their own tool …