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Highlights from Resonate 2014

Resonate 2014, Belgrade

The past few days I’ve been in Belgrade for Resonate Festival. It’s been a fantastic event pulling in a diverse group of individuals working in creative technology. I’m currently at the beginning of a new collaboration with dancer Jan Lee to create a dance work involving interactive sound and visuals, and much of my attention was grabbed by presentations and discussions in this area.

Here are some of the highlights for me.

On the first night Klaus Obermaier, Kyle McDonald and Daito Manabe gave a preview of a new project Transcranial that they are producing together. Klaus Obermaier has produced some stunning works of visually augmented dance performance, including Apparition from 2004 (an inspiration behind Daito Manabe’s recent music video for Nosaj Thing). This was mixed with Kyle’s work disrupting a sense of agency through substituting faces and augmenting movement within a video feed of your face, and Daito’s work distorting actual faces by creating muscle twitches through electrical stimulation to the face.

The work in progress presentation of Transcranial included real-time video processing of dancer Milica Pisic. She was wearing black on her torso allowing her different limbs to be easily segmented on the video. The movements of her body were then extended in the video feed – at first subtly but growing more distorting as the performance progressed. This was an interesting example of the uncanny valley – the point where the distortions cross the boundary of physical plausibility is disturbing as we in the audience are forced to reassess our interpretation of what we’re seeing. It will be interesting to see how this project develops.

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The Cave of Sounds at the Barbican

Sus Garcia playing Lightefface at Music Tech Fest, May 2013

The Cave of Sounds is an interactive sound installation I’ve created in collaboration with members of the Music Hackspace during a ten month residency there. I’m excited to announce we’ll be exhibiting the work at the Barbican from 19-26 August as a part of Hack the Barbican.

Inspired by the prehistoric origins of music and the evolution of collective music making as a power to forge a common collective identity, the work is an ensemble of new musical instruments, each created by a member of the Music Hackspace. Meeting up every few weeks, we’ve been exploring what it means to create music together in a culture where composition involves hacking and subverting technology to explore new ways of creating sound.

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Announcing Harmonic Motion: A toolkit for gestural sound and music

Harmonic Motion is a new open-source project I’m working on that’s looking to simplify working with gestural sensor data and make it easier to construct complex mappings.

The idea is to create an interface that allows data processing modules to be easily wired together into a pipeline. This pipeline can then be saved to file and loaded within C++ code, or used directly to send OSC/Midi. These modules will include things like noise reduction or point-to-point distance measurements.

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Introduction to Processing workshop

Later this month I’ll be teaching the three session evening course Introduction to Processing organised by Codasign. The course will be focused on the very basics of creative code for those with little or no previous programming experience.

We’ll be generating and animating sketches entirely through a few lines of code to create something looking a little bit like this one below. With this, I’ll explain a few programming essentials like functions, variables and loops as well as some of the fun stuff like seeded random generators and Perlin noise.

It takes place at SPACE studios in Hackney, London. More details on the Codasign website.

Orange lines - the generative graphics sketch we'll be creating on the Introduction to Processing course

Ensemble @ Hack the Barbican Bazaar

This Sunday will see the first audience test of Ensemble at Hack the Barbican Bazaar, a test event for a month-long takeover of the Barbican’s public spaces in the name of art, technology and entrepreneurship this summer. Watch this space for documentation of the event.

In the mean time, some photos of our meeting last Wednesday where we tested out the instrument-to-instrument communications system for the first time.

Susanna Garcia and Wallace Hobbes working on mini-theremins at a Music Hackspace Ensemble project

Susanna Garcia and Wallace Hobbes working on mini-theremins at a Music Hackspace Ensemble meeting, The Centre for Creative Collaboration, London. 24 March 2013.

Panos testing his gyroscope-based instrument for the Music Hackspace Ensemble project

Panos testing his gyroscope-based instrument for at a Music Hackspace Ensemble meeting, The Centre for Creative Collaboration, London. 24 March 2013

Ensemble: Residency with Sound and Music and the Music Hackspace

The Music Hackspace at the start of my residency

Ensemble is collaborative project I am leading with members of the Music Hackspace community as artist in residence involving the creation of a large sound installation and some unconventional musical performances to be showcased next summer. It’s about musical collaboration, its role within the music hacker community and the power of music to create a single collective identity out of individual expression.

We’re exploring this both in what we make and the process through which we do so. Each of us is creating an individual component of this installation over a period of nine months. Every month we meet to demonstrate and present our progress, and experiment to see how our contributions work together and understand the role our work plays within the group. The final piece of musical interfaces will encapsulate the different personalities involved and the collective identity that emerged. Behind the scenes, a little bit of technological magic will help to bring this alive to our audience…

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