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Enter the trippy, fanciful world of Soviet light art studio Prometheus

Somehow, tucked into the Kazan Aviation University in Tatarstan, USSR, inside a Faculty of Radio Engineering, the Studio “Prometheus” explored experimental aesthetics. In short, while performing the complicated dance of keeping Soviet authorities and the KGB happy, Professor Bulat Galeev and his colleagues managed to create an enormous body of work in visual music. These projects included everything from small light organs to full-scale projections, in a seemingly endless parade of inventions. And lately, Russian and Western artists alike have been rediscovering them, thanks to ongoing curatorial work by Kazan’s surviving Prometheus Institute. So while a museum was lost, Galeev …

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Photo: Natisha Shpaner.

Videos for Mary Ocher’s moving avant-pop reflect on a violent world

Music can still have something to say. Not just a hackneyed protest song or music that wears politics like dress-up, but – something to tell you. When it hits you, you can sometimes feel a bit weak in the knees. That was the impact for me of Mary Ocher’s new album, two tracks of which get video treatments. The songs themselves have a message, but then their meaning becomes even more stark in the music videos – reason to share them here. I’m slightly self-conscious that the way I knew about this album was initially in being asked through a …

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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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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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Franck's work Flesh. Courtesy the artist.

Interview – Franck Vigroux is celebrating technology but resisting normality

Can you look deep into dystopias, and the darkest uses of technology for surveillance, and come away optimistic? Can you work across every medium imaginable, eschewing any particular style or genre, yet retain a voice? For the answer to these questions through an artist with a unique level of experience and a long-standing body of work, CDM’s Zuzana Friday talks to Franck Vigroux. It’s a vision of a dark future that might just encourage you. -Ed. Looking at Franck Vigroux’s resume, you’d never imagine he’d fly under the radar. Yet this award-winning, endlessly touring, prolific collaborator of a musician only …

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Dasha Rush at Futurum.

Voyage into Dasha Rush’s inspiring ambient sonic worlds

Assemble, cosmonauts: Dasha Rush is an artist whose musical worlds merit repeat visits. She represents the best of what an artist straddling techno and ambient can be – with ambient sets that pulse and live, with timbral and structural freedom rather than resorting to dreary droning grays. So let’s take a break from her better-known techno side and get to experience some of her ambient personality. Now, just in the past months, I’ve watched her hold down the cavernous abandoned Kraftwerk power plant for Tresor’s birthday with a techno set, but also explore imaginative techno on Boiler Room alongside Dino …

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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 …

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Zont is a futuristic pocket synth that takes snap-in cartridges

Time to start singing about how we’re the operator with our pocket calculator again. The ZONT Synthesizer is an upcoming handheld instrument. And it’s what one designer imagines for the synths of the future. Apart from being tiny, you can change its function by snapping cartridges in and out – Game Boy style. And whereas we think of synths now as big, clunky boxes with wires coming out of them, the ZONT can either plug into a desktop dock for connectivity or connect wirelessly. We’ve had a chat with its designer to see what’s in store.

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DU-QVJ is a handmade pendant that makes glitchy visuals

Record releases are old and tired. So are jewelry. Let’s solve this: with a wearable 8-bit necklace and pendant that takes audio input and turns it into weird visualizations – of course. DU-QVJ is a collaboration between Detroit Underground, the fantastic tastefully strange label, with Russian engineer Alexander Zolotov. Add a tiny battery, plug in audio input via one minijack, and optionally add headphones on the other end. In between, the object makes gorgeously lo-fi grungy imagery on its 128×64 monochrome OLED display. Forget Apple Watch or even Pebble: here’s the wearable you want. It looks like what Lieutenant Worf …

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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?)

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