Here’s more on Steam Driven, the interactive performance that mixed music and steam-powered machines, from composer Stuart Smith. Stuart writes:

The show went well and also sold-out. A nice piece of theater as every visitor had to manually stoke the fire with a chunk of coal,
thus waiting for enough “steam” pressure to begin the show. During this the Engineerium owner to give a brilliant introduction and then the visitors were led into the main hall
where the 16 ton machine was manually started by one of the engineers. The show begins!

The laser triggers gave us:
1. A tap tempo which gave us a central BPM (exactly 86.5)
2. A LFO phase reset if needed.

We used 3 different Infrared proximity sensors placed near moving arms and gears which gave us:
1. Control over audio pan, timbre, amplitude, pitch, loop-point, etc.
2. Control over video color, playback rate, clip, start-stop, movement etc.

I wrote a master Max/MSP patch which encompassed all the sensors and translated this into useable data which was sent over the LAN to our laptops and also to 8 other remote computers each with it’s own video projector and video clips we created.

We wrote a basic Audio/Visual “score” to follow as we played live using laptops and guitars(!) utilizing all the incoming data from the machine. A great show but “loads” of programming! This will the first of many to come, maybe NYC?

Thanks, Stuart! Hope you do make it to NYC — or I make it over there, one or the other! -PK

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