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I'm 27 years old and actually come from experimental electronic music. I started making music when I was 16 because I saw some kind of freedom in art, and especially in improvisation. At that time I was playing around with an electric guitar, but I soon discovered electronic music, which to me, seemed to mean total independence and freedom of expression because you could simply synthesize anything you can imagine.
Sitting in front of fruity loops I soon got frustrated and dove into Reaktor, into pure data and finally Max MSP. Since that time I am waking up with Max (I programmed an alarm clock to play random mp3s) and go to sleep with it. For me as a musician this seemed to be the perfect environment. Also from that time on I decided to nearly exclusively work with synthetic sounds that I made myself. I nearly never use samples that I or somebody else recorded with a microphone. The idea simply is to confront myself with myself and as few other aesthetic influences as possible while working on something, and try to really work from the ground up, trying to always understand what I'm actually doing. That may sound stupid and I'm not saying it's great, it's just how I work and I learned a lot by doing it that way. I guess that is the reason why I only generate geometry inside TouchDesigner and don't use any pre-rendered material. I find it simply more interesting to work in this procedural way than to model something in every detail.
We spoke to VVOX Co-founder, Kamil Nawratil about a new media project involving lumens, data, physical architecture and some seriously agile thinking recently produced by the team for client Digital Dumbo, a collective of startup and local businesses based in Brooklyn's DUMBO district. We wrote about the Brooklyn-based VVOX not so long ago when Kamil's graduate work at the School of Visual Arts—SVA, in New York The Perception of Consequence (which included masterful constructions both virtual and physical) caused quite a stir. We weren't the only ones to find relevance in the team's latest achievement and to think it even precedent-setting. In a world or connected people, places, and things where work, play, and colaborating in 'blended', data-enhanced environments are vital to productivity, VVOX's interpretation of what that space can be is well-considered and adroitly implemented. Peter Kirn at CDM puts it well in his article Not Just Mapping, Reshaping: VVOX on Projection for Personalizing Architecture, Space:
"Light on its own can be a powerful medium for transforming a space. When that light is formed into an image, the customization is as fluid as pixels on a display. So, there’s a reason we hear terms like “responsive architecture” or even “interactive architecture.” We may see environments become as changing as the computer before our eyes. The question is, how, exactly?"
Montreal-born-and-based studio Moment Factory is a prolific producer of innovative new media events, shows and installations the world over. Luminaries in the field, they are a multifaceted company whose work invariably enriches urban spaces and culture, often shaping our expectations of future experience.
Part of what makes Moment Factory so successful is that they encourage staff to work with whatever tools they find best-suited for a particular project. It's a noteworthy and remarkably open approach to running a studio that lowers barriers, encourages cross-pollination and of course, promotes creativity and productivity.
How to Destroy Angels, Tour 2013 (All images courtesy of Moment Factory)
Four recent Moment Factory projects put TouchDesigner to rigorous use: Trent Reznor's first tour of How To Destroy Angels as well as a second massive visual show for NIN's festival tours, the interactive installation Mégaphone in Montreal and last but not least, the Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) a remarkable example of integrating immersive multimedia in public space and the largest system of its kind in any airport in the Americas. We're thrilled to be involved and very excited to share this spectacular and far-reaching work with our readers. Enjoy!
Bot & Dolly is a design and engineering studio specializing in automation, robotics and filmmaking. Central to their craft are sophisticated industrial robots, unshackled from the factory floor, set free on the likes of movie sets to manipulate lights, actors, cameras and set pieces with the most precise, coordinated and complex motions that are also infinitely repeatable. The magic in their world unfolds in real time where an unprecedented level of precision and predictability allows virtuality and physicality to meet and synchronize perfectly on a live set. As can be imagined there's enormous value in any one of these things and combined the possibilities are quite staggering. To the point, it's not surprising that Bot & Dolly's motion-control system IRIS (used here) was used extensively in the filming of Alfonso Cuarón's upcoming thriller Gravity. More on that later.
We've seen this team do some pretty fantastic work - many 'firsts' - where TouchDesigner has been involved but released today, Box, a live performance film where for the first time ever robots, actors and 3D projection mapping perform in sync on a live set transcends what we've seen to date. In short, it's revolutionary. With this latest proof of concept, two years in the making, Bot & Dolly have taken the old adage of thinking out of the box about as far as you can go by getting rid of the box altogether.
Front Pictures, a studio founded in Kiev, Ukraine in 2003 has been perfecting Fulldome environments with TouchDesigner to create some very convincing immersive experiences. The studio's work was recently brought to our attention by digital artist Andrey Yamkovoy who is also a TouchDesigner specialist at Front Pictures. The team of sixteen led by Yuri Kostenko (Head of Studio) and Vitaly Slyusarenko (Technical Director) are driven by a love for high-tech creativity which has led them to specialize in developing "next media solutions" which includes programming, interactive design, video production, and hardware engineering.
Intermedia: Using or involving several media simultaneously; multimedia. Origin: 1960's (Dictionary.com)
An Intermedia student at the Academy of Fine Arts in Krakow, Lukasz has been using TouchDesigner for just under a year and in that time has created an intriguing and investigative body of work. Much of this work is based on taking data from almost everything around him (to which Lukasz admits being 'addicted') and then using this data to build experiments using TouchDesigner. Virtuality and reality factor heavily in these experiments as does creating circumstances that actively illicit participation from interactors (vs. viewers).
Lukasz tells us he believes TouchDesigner to be the best tool for Intermedia students where the subject of transforming data is central to the spirit of Intermedia itself. He says "there are many tools you are supposed to know in our program but TouchDesigner puts that all together in one and gives you an extra gate to go outside with your imagination. I can call it 'extra tool'."
Dinner by Candlelight Logic
What Lukasz likes most about TouchDesigner is the option to "rebuild reality inside a computer and after that to be able to rewrite it again." If this or any of the above statements need clarification we believe the following conversation with Lukasz alongside his TouchDesigner explorations will make clear. Enjoy!
Projection Advertising is a UK-based studio who specialize in projection solutions. They offer a comprehensive range of services and products including large-format building projections, interactive floors, touchscreen tables and an "exclusive sound-reactive video-mapped projection installation that can incorporate live Twitter and photo feeds" called AdCubes which is built in TouchDesigner. We were very excited when a couple of months ago Richard Burns (TouchDesigner specialist and the maker of our tutorial videos) joined the Projection Advertising team.
What follows is a recent dialogue with the Projection Advertising crew about how they have been using TouchDesigner for product development.
"Perception of Consequence" is an installation by Kamil Nawratil that places a custom-fabricated wave-like structure within the space as a 3D surface for the stereoscopic projection of fluid form animations (pictured above). Surround-sound and control-activated fans strategically placed around the installation coupled to the movement of virtual cameras control wind direction and intensity working to immerse the viewer in the system. TouchDesigner is used as the playback platform for sound, stereoscopic imagery and to sync and control physical environment elements via Arduino. "It is like the central executive processor, similar to the part of the system like the human brain that controls, plans and coordinates all other parts." Kamil adds.
The project represents the consequence and constraints of motion set by the rules of physics. Two fluid-evolving forms are placed in a reversible entropic system and simulated to resemble evolving human states and emotions. The system itself evolves from organic form into chaos while its cyclical nature guides it towards rebirth.
Starts here: "I'm a MFA Computer Art student at the School of Visual Arts NYC. We are looking for a TouchDesigner teacher for an Independent Study program for the fall 2012 semester. Can you recommend someone?" was our initial email introduction to Kamil Nawratil, art director at VolvoxLabs.
The request was intriguing and as luck would have it, Alex Czetwertynski (a Houdini and TouchDesigner artist specializing in content creation and technical design) was in the process of relocating to New York from LA and keen to teach TouchDesigner. Kamil and fellow student Rodrigo had been inspired by Amon Tobin's ISAM and were curious about its workings. In the caliber of ISAM's visual control they saw a future for their own projection and visual projects. A little research led them to organizing for Barry Threw of Obscura Digital to give a talk at SVA about his work with TouchDesigner. "After that we were hooked and convinced to secure the 4 month independent study." says Kamil "The rest is all love!"
Reality shifts: Following the SVA program, VolvoxLabs quickly and fluently integrated TouchDesigner into a number of projects. Then a couple of weeks ago Kamil's Perception of Consequence came into the world and it was one of these rare moments that felt like reality was knocked fractionally off its axis. It is a visceral work that succeeds in channelling and manipulating primal forces inherent to natural systems - like entropy and chaos - through orchestrated technologies and elements designed to draw viewers into active participation in a physical, multi-sensorial experience.
The 3 days in Belgrade that are the Resonate Festival are perhaps the most intensely packed and compressed segments of time imaginable. They seem in the moment to flash by in an epic and chaotic blast of inspiration and then to linger for days, weeks and it now seems likely, months after-the-fact as its implications are processed and absorbed.
For those who are not familiar with this relatively new festival, Resonate's mission statement is "Bringing together artists to drive a forward-looking debate on the position of technology in art and culture" and that the festival is a "platform for networking, information, knowledge sharing and education. It brings together distinguished, world class artists with an opportunity of participating in a forward-looking debate on the position of technology in art and culture."
Impressively Resonate does exactly this and more, providing a rich medium for quite possibly the most nascent and fertile ideas, ruminations and combinations thereof from innovators and practitioners in fields that are often borderline emergent themselves.
And all of this takes place in many languages in an environment completely lacking in artifice, conservatism and/or corporate over/undertones. It is a dynamic, open, generous, celebratory and absolutely cacophonic 3 days of learning and in many ways, of shedding and un-learning. As Greg J. Smith so aptly puts it in the program's introduction, Resonate is "The Best Kind of Noise". It would be nice come to think of it, if there was a "Resonate Filter" to apply to one's work throughout the year - perhaps this is it.
So, we felt enormously fortunate and excited to be here, participating at the invitation of Filip Visnjic, Resonate's co-founder and curator, a veritable tour-de-force who is also in practice architect, new media technologist, editor-in-chief at CreativeApplications.net, lecturer...
The opportunity also, to meet in person people from the community we'd only known virtually and many others who we did not know at all was hugely exciting. The atmosphere as can be imagined was intensely buzzing and also highly conducive to exploring, working and learning. Like every single person in attendance, we made the most of it!
From Derivative, Markus Heckmann, Greg Hermanovic and Isabelle Rousset were joined by Obscura Digital's Barry Threw and Dmitry Napolnov of Sila Sveta who graciously brought their considerable expertise to the workshop we delivered the first day of the festival. Denis Akopov - also of Sila Sveta - was on hand providing support and assistance taking some candid photos of the on-goings as well.
The Magic Cube is an engaging and impressive achievement from Xavier Gruchet of Pixelux Studio which was produced by putting TouchDesigner to extensive and inventive use. We had quite a few questions for Xavier who was kind enough to take the time to give us a detailed account of how the Magic Cube was made. Very inspiring work, read on!
"Eon Surf", 2012
"As Dev's second solo exhibition with Christopher Henry Gallery the work continues to build on a visual language rooted in ideal geometries, and a prismatic interplay of light and pattern. The cascading faceted surface carries an implied motion, rolling away from the spectator with meditative ease. This energy potential is given breath by luminescent washes which crash, ebb and flow with internal symmetry.
While best understood directly and perceptually, Dev's work presents an infinitely reproducible formal structure and lucid logic that can be known universally without empirical knowledge. Light and projection become representative of perceptual knowledge by directly invoking temporal optical phenomenon, but a pure idealized form remains intact. It is this interplay that reproduces the sublime conflict in the viewer, who must choose to ride this crest uncertainly and find exhilaration in the balance."
Untitled (Eon Surf), 2012
Dev Harlan took the time on a flight to Bangkok this week to tell us a bit about the making of the spectacular Eon Surf, his most recent and also his largest work to date.
Feb.26.13 Keeping in Real Time with PETER METTLER and MIXXA
Since 2002 Peter has gravitated towards mixing images to electronic music in live settings, exploring ways to perfect their performance by working with various combinations of tape, video mixers and playback machines. Then 5 years ago at a party where they were both mixing visuals Peter met Greg. Sharing the same passion for the craft and it’s actualization they hit it off immediately with Peter quickly becoming the most ambitious and prolific user, and in a sense, co-developer of Mixxa. The rest, as they say, is history.
This article includes an interview with Peter who kindly made the time to speak with us the day before The End of Time’s TIFF premiere. Following Peter’s interview is another with Greg who sheds insight into the design, evolution and raison d'être of Mixxa, in the process also recounting the developments and advancements in technology that have brought us to this point in time and tools. Together, what Peter and Greg disclose traces a substantial part of the history of Vjing and tells the compelling story of what drives the desire to mix images to music LIVE.