In 2008 raster-noton and Derivative joined forces for a unique collaborative project which focused on the realization of the label artists' visual presentation during their audio-visual live shows on the basis of Derivative's TouchDesigner software. The alliance emerged in 2008 when under the guidance of raster-noton label founders olaf bender (byetone) and carsten nicolai (alva noto), Markus Heckmann put the infinite capabilities of TouchDesigner to work in developing a performative user interface for the artists.
To date, Derivative has created and presented visualisations for the label artists snd (mark fell and mat steel) and byetone as well as a special version of alva noto's live piece 'unitxt' for which the TouchDesigner software according to alva noto's original ideas and requirements has been deployed. The resulting visuals reveal and present the underlying compository structures of the original live-visualization that is based on the visualization of data as represented through audio waveforms. The visuals are a literal translation of sonic data boldly and graphically rendered through line, waves, and colour that expand on the spectrum of audio-reactive visuals by explaining their creation through touchdesigner's uniquely designed user interface.
The collaboration has resulted in a series of performances that are nothing short of devastating as the TD interface pulses 30 frames per second on a long stretch of screen behind alva noto punctuating the avantgarde artist's every conjured move and expression in real time. Audience response to the spectacle makes clear that this event is precedent-setting if not altogether mystifying.
On September 07th, 2009, Markus Heckmann performed with alva noto at Ars Electronica– festival for art, technology and society – in Linz, Austria, wielding TouchDesigner to execute the visual element of nicolai's 'unitxt (Derivative version)'.The prestigious festival, which is also renowned for its coveted 'prix ars electronica', awarded to alva noto in 2000 and 2001, is part of the Ars Electronica organization founded in 1979 to "spotlight the emerging digital revolution".
The Ars performance was the fourth in a series of raster-noton/derivative collaborations launched in January 2009 at Club Transmediale in Berlin and followed by subsequent shows at Mutek Montréal in May and Sónar festival in Barcelona, Spain in June with another slated for the Icograda World Design Congress in Beijing, China in October 09.
Dedicated to advancing the way we make art and visualize information and ideas, Derivative has produced live visuals and interactive art projects for a roster of international superstars that include Richie Hawtin, Prada, Herzog & de Meuron and Rush. they have also developed major theme park attractions globally.
We wanted to get the scoop on the Ars collaboration and event (which retains exclusive right to all photography and recordings - i.e. no images or video yet) so we asked Markus to fill in the blanks:
Markus, when we spoke at 3am after the show in Linz you sounded pretty happy and said it was 'better than perfect' then you cut out... can you describe 'better than perfect'?
It felt very perfect all around. carsten added another level of visualization to the performance by including a hardware based effect. We worked out a couple technical glitches also on the hardware side and the stage and video technicians just did an amazing job at setting up the new screen which is now 12 m x 3 m and colour calibrating the projectors near to perfect.
How was Ars different from the other performances so far this year?
From festival to festval you are faced with new challenges when setting up a 3 screen projection. It is not as trivial as just one screen. All the technicians deserve lots of credit for dealing with the special requirements that come along with a show where different artists work with different screensizes, resolutions etc. The people at Ars Electronica though where amazingly detail-oriented and spent a good amount of time positioning and calibrating the projectors. It makes a huge impact on the success of the show espescially when you are showing such detailed contents
How have the performances with alva noto developed over the course of a year?
On the music side, carsten has been introducing more and more new tracks not heard on the uniTXT release before. Derivative introduced some new visualizations and smoothed the graphics out quite a bit. More and more we are using realtime 3D graphics in the setup in favour of pure 2D animations.
It's a quite a rare experience to collaborate in this way with alva noto and to perform alongside him live... can you tell us a bit about the experience and the process with alva?
Developing this has been a straight forward process, carsten presented us with his idea and once we could prove that it was possible for us to do, we worked on location at his studio in Berlin creating the visualizations and designing the screen layout.
The visuals you've produced for carsten using TD to essentially mimic the TD interface have a pretty astounding effect on the audience. Seems like the perfect complement to alva noto's music and performance style...
You could say that it is reflecting on 2 aspects of his music: on one hand it is developed with great attention to detail, on the other hand there are massive soundscapes in the very low and high frequency territory. The graphics work in a similar way, on one hand you have the detailed layout of the graph, then you zoom into it and you get massive and bold moving representations of the sound. Carsten knows very well which visualization to choose for which sound - this can really be observed at his performances with Ikeda / Cyclo at Mutek where the sound is derived of its visual representation. So in our performances the very bass-heavy tracks would be represented through the TD interface with with bold/strong graphics vs finely detailed ones
How do you see the relationship evolving? What have you discussed with carsten?
This is a ongoing relationship and I think we introduced carsten to the possibilities of TouchDesigner. Since working with him in Florida where he and olaf bender where artists in residence at the Atlantic Center for the Arts carsten has been further developing on what he sees TD being used for in his performances. I think there will be more expansion on this project and hope that if carsten sees our software fitting for other of his artistic ventures we will keep developing new things with him.
How does TouchDesigner present new opportunities for carsten - what ideas does he have, how's it affecting the way he thinks about the show - his approach to new work/shows?
It is a different way of working for him. He knows that lots of things are possible with lots of different software packages but what we were able to build is a very unique show which leaves people scratching their heads on how we did this.
Some of the most visually prolific and discerning musical/sound artists - raster_noton, Richie Hawtin, and Scott Pagano to name a few - are working with TouchDesigner for their visuals. What do you thing that means?
It shows that we have a fresh approach on how to deal with visuals. We are not defined to any particular look rather there is a huge range of distinct work that can be designed and realised with TouchDesigner. This is also true when you see the work of Touch users posted on the TouchDesigner forum or the TouchDesigner Vimeo channel - people are doing very different things with it very creatively and with enthusiasm.
MUTEK 10 in Montreal last month provided a forum for Derivative to showcase the performative capabilities of its software tool TouchDesigner alongside some of (and in the case of alva noto aka carsten nicolai - by) the international music scene's most exacting and saluted artists and labels.
In an environment where it is often and perplexingly difficult "to figure out exactly who is pushing the pixels" as Greg J. Smith of Serial Consign aptly put it, TouchDesigner featured in audio-visual performances with alva noto, SND, Burnt Friedman and Jaki Liebezeit and presented a 2-hour workshop on the collaboration with raster-noton.
Working with raster noton raises the bar and thus the challenge and opportunity to be found in creating and performing the graphically perceptible element of an audio-visual experience as these artists - nicolai, bender, bretschneider - typically blur the boundaries if not altogether dismantle the intention and chronology as to what came first, or what is driving what - light or sound. The distinction or lack thereof is remarkable. With raster this is the design and the resultant experience is symbiotic or, "living together" where all the elements of a constructed event are devised to work together and one part does not supersede the other - something that in-itself appears to be hard to achieve.
MUTEK was the second installment of raster/Derivative collaboration following Transmediale's CTM09 in Berlin to be followed by Sonar next week in Barcelona. This alliance emerged almost a year ago when nicolai, bender, and bretschneider visited Derivative offices following a performance at the Drake. Prior to, raster artists had produced their own visuals but were interested in the extending possibilities they realised in TouchDesigner. CTM09 marked the beginning of a collaborative effort where Derivative's Markus Heckmann deployed TouchDesigner to design visuals for raster shows as evidenced in a performative user interface fashioned for carsten nicolai - alva noto which is in fact the TouchDesigner UI.
Focusing on the visualization of data represented through audio waveforms, the visuals developed under Alva Noto's guidance expand the spectrum of audio-reactive visuals by explaining their creation utilizing TouchDesigner's uniquely designed user interface. Again the interface design at this level emphasizes the symbiotic content and output of the work where audio becomes visual and where organization and infrastructure (instrument and medium) becomes image and media and vice versa. The loops are deep, intricate and maleable where the full impact of boldly designed representations of audio data with a strong visual impact on the viewer can be relieved by delicate electronic circuit-like representations and overviews of the computing process.
May.12.09 RASTER-NOTON with DERIVATIVE'S TOUCHDESIGNER , TRANSMEDIALE and OFFF
by Isabelle Rousset.
Derivative's software tool TouchDesigner was deployed by raster-noton at Transmediale in Jan.09 and the OFFF Festival May.09 in Lisbon.
In January of this year Derivative's Greg Hermanovic and Markus Heckmann spent an intensive week working with critically exalted German procurers of minimal photosonic waveforms raster-noton and the prolifically sonal Sheffield-based SND to produce the visual facet of their shows at Transmediale 09 in Berlin. The success of the CTM09 collaboration marked the beginning of a rare and significant relationship with raster and co.
Addressing and advancing the way we make art and visualize information and ideas, Derivative has produced live visuals and interactive art projects for an exemplary roster of international superstars that include Richie Hawtin, Prada, Herzog & de Meuron and Rush. They have also co-developed three major theme park attractions in the US, France, Japan and Hong Kong.
This summer TouchDesigner will be put through its seemingly endless capabilities commencing in May 2009 TouchDesigner when it will again be employed by raster-noton to create "frame.sync" an exclusive and innovative audio-visual space for a series of high-profile live performances internationally. The tightly orchestrated and fecund spectre will be unleashed for an audience principally comprised of cutting-edge commercial media practitioners at the OFFF International Festival for the Post-Digital Creation Culture in Oeiras, Portugal in a venue customized for the occasion.
For the duration of the festival - May 7-9, raster's carston nicolai (alva noto), olaf bender (byetone) and frank bretschneider (komet) will feature as the sole live performers at Loopita (the experimental music branch at OFFF) alongside 9 artists on the raster label including Atom™, COH, Kangding Ray, Nibo, Pixel, Pomassl, Senking, Signal, and SND as well as special guests Vladislav Delay and Fennesz.
Hot on the heels of OFFF Derivative will be alongside SND and raster at MUTEK for Saturday's Avisions 4 at SAT. Later on June 20 Derivative will once again perform with alva noto, Atom™, byetone and SND at the highly reputed SONAR International Festival of Advanced Music and Multimedia Art in Barcelona.
In preparation for these rigorous events Heckmann, an exceptionally imaginative and prolific artist himself, has been producing customized animations and modular synths specifically designed and oriented toward the featured artists' individual styles. For example, bender's penchant to use the screen as a light emitting entity to intensify audial experience will be exemplified through sequences of rapid, non-narrative, and tightly integrated animation where each effect renders and is responsive to each performed sound. Translating in an overall experience where sound becomes perceptibly amplified and as is significant and archetypal of Bender's performances, the sum of all pixels is designated to transcend the expanse of the room.
Another hilight and spectacle at OFFF/MUTEK/Sonar will be a performance by the consummate artist/alchemist/scientist alva noto whose visual expressions in whatever media are beautiful, intelligent, and spartanly minimal and will once again portray the TouchDesigner interface itself as visual phenomenon for his set as it did at Transmediale 09 to mesmerizing effect.
TouchDesigner, Derivative's powerfully agile software tool facilitates discovery and creativity through its open and broad architecture. The company advocates "Visual Thinking" as counterpoint to today's trend in "Visual Computing". Visual thinking as experienced with TouchDesigner "moves the focus from the computer to the individual." Derivative founder and CEO Greg Hermanovic explains: "Visual thinking describes an approach to exploration where the advanced graphics serve to facilitate the creative thinking process, where the individual is engaged - guiding and responding in a tight feedback loop."
For those wanting to sample the emancipating power of Derivative's wares, the release in August 2008 of TouchDesigner FTE - Free Thinking Environment - democratically puts a free development environment with an extremely enabling feature set into the hands of artists, animators, educators and "everyone else" to build interactive graphics-accelerated 3D worlds and applications.
"TouchDesigner is our vision of what is possible in tomorrow's software tools for building interactive applications and exploring data, imagery and sound." Mr. Hermanovic states. "It harnesses what is possible in today's computing technology and is positioned to grow with the foreseeable advancements in computer, graphics and mobile technologies."
Derivative's powerful software tool TouchDesigner will be deployed by critically lauded manipulators of photosonic waveforms raster-noton to orchestrate the visual aspect of their new rhythm_screen premiering at Transmediale, the festival for arts and digital culture in Berlin, Wednesday, January 28th.
Derivative is collaborating with raster-noton to design and build an expandable framework for multi-screen live performances. Essentially an evolved digital choreographer built with TouchDesigner enables the collaborators to freely prototype ideas, rapidly migrating from concepts and samples towards more precise, generative and flexible visual synthesis.
Dedicated to advancing the way we make art and visualize information and ideas, Derivative has produced live visuals and interactive art projects for an exemplary roster of international superstars that include Richie Hawtin, Prada, Herzog & de Meuron and Rush. They have also developed major theme park attractions globally.
The goal of TouchDesigner, through its open and broad architecture is to facilitate discovery and creativity for the individual. The company advocates "Visual Thinking" as counterpoint to today's trend in "Visual Computing". Visual thinking as experienced with TouchDesigner "moves the focus from the computer to the individual." Derivative founder and CEO Greg Hermanovic explains. "Visual thinking describes an approach to exploration where the advanced graphics serve to facilitate the creative thinking process, where the individual is engaged - guiding and responding in a tight feedback loop."
The release in August 2008 of TouchDesigner FTE - Free Thinking Environment - democratically puts a free development environment with an extremely rich feature set into the hands of artists, animators, educators and "everyone else" to build interactive graphics-accelerated 3D worlds and applications.
"TouchDesigner is our vision of what is possible in tomorrow's software tools for building interactive applications and exploring data, imagery and sound." Mr. Hermanovic states. "It exploits what is possible in today's computing technology and is positioned to grow with the foreseeable advancements in computer, graphics and mobile technologies."
For further information please email contact at derivative.ca.