Music Tech, Sans Mice: Cybersonica 06 Presents Fanciful Sonic Art

Cybersonica is underway in London, bringing with it wild, new sound art. Organizer Chris O’Shea puts it this way: The works selected . . . move beyond the ‘screen, keyboard, mouse scenario’ and respond to physical input, proximity, sound, kinetics, elapsed time and the surrounding environment. Check out the preview videos, photos, and descriptions at Chris’ site. And if you’re in London, by all means, please go and see this! If you do go, take some notes and photos and send them my way. I know the organizers are hoping for some blog coverage, so let’s not let them down …

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Flickr Fun: Sirens and Robotic Pianos

Launching us into the weekend are some fabulously fun Flickr finds, forwarded by fine folks and friends: Pheezy (aka Evan Cordes) got a look at the sirens, automated pianos and drums, and other mechanical musical wonders on display at the National Gallery’s installation of Ballet Mechanique, as seen here previously. He took some photos of the instruments up-close: Ballet Mechanique Photo Set It’s great to see this kind of acoustic technology married to modern digital tech. Evan says, “Antheil’s spirit was definitely present.” See our previous story on how the whole thing was done, controlled by a Mac running

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TOOL: Alternative Performance Tech, Live in NYC on 4/29

NYU’s Interactive Telecommunications Program is a hotbed of exploring digital media, partly because — well — they actually focus on it in their degree, and make performance central. Nothing tests technology quite like taking your work live and making it convincing to an audience. And that’s exactly what those crazy ITP grad students are doing next weekend April 29, as they take over New York’s hip, experimental club Tonic. Upstairs will be performance, downstairs will be installations, and you can expect a strong emphasis on alternative musical instruments and experimental digital music-making tech. The work comes out of classes like …

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MIDI-Powered Robotic Ballet Mechanique Raises Ruckus at National Gallery of Art

What’s that racket? 16 player pianos, three xylophones, four bass drums, a tam-tam, a siren, and three “airplane propellors,” all MIDI-controllers, are playing what may have been the most modern piece of music in the 20th Century. It’s “bad boy” composer George Antheil’s 1924 composition Ballet Mechanique. And it’s take 21st-Century technology to realize his fully robotic vision. Eric Singer and the the League of Urban Robots (LEMUR, not to be confused with the unrelated other Lemur) provided the robotics, while the mad musical scientist automated instruments of Gulbransen gave them the player pianos.

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A Few Good Artists: Cybersonica Call for Interactive Sound Art Works

The Cybersonica 06 Music, Sound, Art, and Tech Fest in London is shaping up to be a fantastic event. Running in May and coinciding with some other major festivals in London around the same time, the festival goes beyond electronic music to explore fusions with sonic art and visuals. (More about the festival) And you can be a part of it all: Cybersonica has an open call for existing works. It’s wide open, really, covering areas like “interactive installations, new electronic musical devices, physical audiovisualisers, tangible interfaces, modified game engines.” Just one requirement: you have to interract with something other …

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Music Boxes, Reimagined as Animated Installation Art

Motion graphics and animation are everywhere you look, but an installation last week reached out to audiences with a simple device: old music boxes. Visitors to the elegant 18th-Century Norfolk House Music Round found several music boxes atop a table with projected visuals. Turn the crank, and varied scenes produced in Flash responded to the sounds. From the photos, it looks like it was a big hit: Plink-Plonk This project comes to us via one of its creators, our friend Chris O’Shea, interactive designer, musician, and now at ubercool UK design firm AllofUs. He’s done some great work with his …

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Turntable-Controlled Vibrating Chaise Longue

Tokyo-based DJ Daito Manabe has devised a unique use for a turntable: he hooked it up to a multiple-PowerBook rig so you can scratch 34 tracks of sound or sit back in a vibrating chaise longue. I asked Daito how this works, and responded in an email that reads a bit like a poetic riddle: Chair for the silence consists of two elements. The first one is a chair that can provide 32 vibrations, the second is music of 34 tracks for touch and hearing. People can experience this by sitting in the chair and dropping the phonograph needle. We …

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David Byrne’s Playing the Building, Saturday in Stockholm: Architectural Music

By architectural music, I don’t mean some sort of funky digital installation. David Byrne’s new installation uses the pipes, metal beams, and girders of the Färgfabriken space in Stockholm as a musical instrument. It is definitely an installation (though the curator tries to say it’s not): there are automatic blowers forcing air through pipes, motors vibrating crossbeams, and solenoids (mechanical devices for, well, hitting things) striking the columns. But David Byrne’s installation is as notable for what’s not there as what is: no amplification involved. All the circuitry is exposed. It’s basically just a building, controlled by an organ. And …

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David Ellis’ Turntable Trunks and Other Digital Deck Art

CDM’s report on spinning tech continues . . . New York David Ellis doesn’t treat turntables the way some of us do. His turntables get wired to custom electronics, installed in tree trunks, and shown in galleries: Opening at Feigan Contemporary [Single-eYe-twiligghT; scroll down] All of this is possible through the magic of Ms. Pinky, a special vinyl record / software combination that lets you control computer software using conventional turntables. (See our previous report.) Unlike mainstream DJ solutions like Stanton’s Final Scratch, this one is cheap ($100 for four discs) and comes with a Max/MSP object so you can …

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More Digital String Installation Things!

Régine of Near Near Future has some more interactive strings, along the lines of last week’s laser harp: Interactive strings (Cellists out there are probably wondering why the idea of “interactive strings” is new. Well, clearly you don’t und. . . um . . . okay, you’ve got me.) Anyway, this stuff is big business. Artist David Small got a gig here in NYC with cosmetics giant L’oreal; his poetry harp triggers billowing poetry. As for the op_era, I’m at a loss. First, it claims to be four-dimensional. (Okay, it exists in time I suppose — so does a Calder …

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