Informatics revisited. Again.

white-night-smallInformatics, a mostly synth-based music group that I have been more or less a part of since the heady days of synth punk (and my youth!) is still alive and kicking, with lots of new material to boot. This performance in the CBD at Belleville will coincide with the annual Melbourne “White Night” event for 2016. Recent performances have incorporated video, and this one will be no different. And while there’s been a bit of generative video involved in a few tracks, there will now be some audio generated from video to add to the mix – using some of the same methods and material as in the recent BCD performances (see other entries on this page)

More BCD

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In early November (2015) another live performance of the BCD Collective was presented at Bar Oussou in Brunswick Victoria to mark a month long season of Eiichi’s drawings and prints housed throughout the bar. Apart from the subtle but steady technical and aesthetic maturity of the BCD performances, the butoh-inspired movement art of Takashi Takiguchi was added to the mix to make for what I thought was a very successful show. Bar Oussou is a warm and inviting venue but its layout made for a very informal style of presentation (Ok, it was cramped!) In any case, more BCD Collective performances are likely to held in the not-too-distant-future. Furthermore, the colour and motion tracking methods developed suggest possibilities for stronger linking between aural and visual components in live performance – something I will be exploring further over the coming summer break with a view to incorporating into an upcoming Informatics performance slated for Belleville in the City on the 28th January 2016

An Abbreviated Space

Commissioned by the Astra Chamber Music Society earlier this year as part of the 2014 memorial concert for Lawrence (Laurie) Whiffin, teacher, colleague and friend, An Abbreviated Space draws on Whiffin’s short serial work A Brief Moment – for woodwind trio – as a point of departure.

The title and organising principles of the piece assume something of a spatial analogue to the temporal theme of Laurie’s title, where initial ideas about spectral treatments and layering of a selection of motifs gradually evolved to embrace spatiality – not simply in terms of the effect of sounds moving across a sound field (though they do), but as a means of shaping formal aspects of the work. To this end, a larger collection of discrete sound elements – all derived in one way or another from the performer – roam through a virtual space, only becoming apparent to the listener as they traverse the ‘window of audition’.

Technically, this is one of the most elaborate software setups I have used in a live performance. Drawing on a modified version of the spatial sound engine developed for “Passing By…” and using the IRCAM MUBU (multi-buffer) set of objects for Max to segment and attach descriptors, various ‘interpretations’ of the sound of the flute (unaffected samples, time and/or pitch shifted samples or spectral snapshots) are injected into the virtual sound space to create a constantly evolving multi-channel soundscape within which the solo instrument is immersed.

The piece was additionally performed in July at the Australasian Computer Music Conference at the VCA city campus in Melbourne. At both performances the response was most favourable; something I hadn’t entirely expected (but was happy about anyway). My gratitude is extended to Tamra Kohler for stepping in to (admirably) perform this piece with limited prep time, and also to Mardi McSullea for her contribution in the development and first performance of the work.

BCD Collective

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A screengrab of a recent version of the real-time-VideoTracer software output

Since around 2006 I’ve been sporadically collaborating with Eiichi Tosaki who practices a technique of independent two-handed spatial drawing he calls Bi-manual Co-ordinated Drawing (BCD). This is one of the earliest projects in which I engaged more deeply with the Jitter part of Cycling74’s Max with the initial aim of generating a musical response from the patterns he was drawing.  Using a camera, Eiichi would draw with two coloured LED’s (one red one blue) against a dark background. The tracked co-ordinates could be used to generate a variety of music patterns. The video component of the tracked LEDs was also used to create a visual image in real-time, which while initially pretty basic, got much better with time (and faster computers to work with) – as you can see in the image above. We’ve also tried using a Kinect for tracking which works ok (and can provide 3d traces), but things tend to get a little jittery when the the hands get too close to each other as is often the case in the many patterns. Most recently a broader collaborative effort has result in more ‘spacious’ results like this one here a version of which is appearing at this years Tokyo Wonder Festival

Passing By…

My spatial sound work “Passing By… …More Quickly” will be part of RMIT gallery’s inaugural exhibition of its new Sound Art collection Sound Bites City incorporating around 17  works of different artists altogether. The collection also includes one of my ‘old’ studies, “Coffee Sugar”. Exhibit opens 4th September till 19th October 2013. More information is available at the RMIT Gallery Page