MusicMakers Hacklab Report: Blinking Lightbulbs with MIDI, Why Working Together Matters

It’s a wonderful time to be experimenting with technology and music. You can create something that looks like the stuff most people imagine as “the future” – elaborate dances of light, power over sound just by waving your hand, software that seems directly out of Star Trek. But you can do it with technology that is now reaching maturity – decades of experience of artists, engineers, and designers is at your back. “That’s not new,” someone might say. Exactly. Instead of technology being a disposable commodity, forgotten in a couple of years, it’s actually something you can get good at. …

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In Berlin, musicians and creators gather to work collaboratively on new means of creation and performance. Imogen Heap and her team are among the participants, presenting an interactive workshop on wearable tech. Photo from TEDGlobal 2012 in Edinburgh, by James Duncan Davidson.

Hack Into MusicMakers’ Future in Berlin [CTM Open Call]

Happy New Year, from the future. It’s too late for sci-fi movies with a dateline of 2013. If you want something futuristic, you’ll just have to get to work. That’s what we’re doing in Berlin at CTM Festival later this month, with some of our favorite artists and engineers and designers and artist-engineer-designers. And we’d love to have you join us. We’ll have live music to enjoy. That includes high-tech original creations — Sonic Robots’ real-life 808 drum machine and band, and Tarik Barri and Lea Fabrikant with their three-dimensional audiovisual space trip. Tim Exile will treat us to his …

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New Matthew Dear Pops Ears; Morgan Beringer Video Melts Retinas

Texas-born, Detroit-raised, New York-based artist Matthew Dear has a new EP, to be followed by a full-length in 2012. It’s worth mentioning now for two reasons: one, the driving, “chugging” rhythms of the single, “Headcage,” will pop into your head and stay there, led by Dear’s vocal ability to croon and groove simultaneously. Second, the opening of this video may well make your mind go squish. The work of London-based director Morgan Beringer, seen previously milking monochrome textures out of another Matthew Dear collab, the film makes it look like some very colorful part of the Earth’s crust turned a …

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Digital Fireworks: A Very Audiovisual 4th of July from Nalepa + Johnny de Kam

For a very different aesthetic take on the United States’ Independence Day celebrations, here’s electronic producer Steve Nalepa joining visualist superstar Johnny de Kam for a collaboration. I find it makes for some nice, chilled-out Monday, July 4 inspiration, wherever you are – no marching-band bombast required. Nalepa has been sharing his Ableton skills with the Dubspot school, online and off, and Johnny de Kam, if you don’t know his work, is one of the leading visualists on the planet, a skilled craftsman of motion and live visual performance, as well as a founder of visual software maker Vidvox. See, …

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You Are the Lazor Music Controller: Kinect + LASERS + Ableton + Max/MSP

Matt Davis [namethemachine] is seen here with Microsoft’s Kinect computer vision / 3D camera controller, plus – stealing the show – lasers. The lasers in question are a rig by Henry Strange, which allows computer control of laser direction using the DMX protocol. (DMX is a protocol similar to MIDI – though actually a bit simpler, if you can believe that – generally associated with lighting and show control.) I could say more, but I’ll let you watch the video and ponder. The ingredients: OpenNI, the “natural interface” not-for-profit standards body and organization that allows drivers across multiple hardware (Kinect …

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Visual Music: Send Audio, MIDI to Live Visuals with GrandVJ 1.5, VST

On Create Digital Motion today, I write about the 1.5 release of ArKaos GrandVJ, the latest version of the popular Mac and Windows VJ tool. The big innovation: insert a VST plug-in into software like Ableton Live, and you can pipe MIDI and audio to your live visuals for easy synchronization and collaboration. You can even, as the video demonstrates, run an Ethernet cable between two machines. (This works on both Mac and Windows, despite the appearance of only Apple laptops in the video.) GrandVJ is doubly interesting for readers on the music site, as it’s long featured a music-centric …

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Amon Tobin Releases Live Tour Trailer, Dates; Can Computers Break a Sweat?

Okay, I’m not sure the computers can break a sweat (at least not without some serious consequences). But all the people projection-mapping generatively sequencing live audiovisualism electronic thingamabops sure are working hard in the above teaser video for Amon Tobin’s live ‘ISAM’ show. Not a lot of cities get to see the results, but those that do are promised a fully-immersive experience of this sound design extravaganza, complete with new sensory happenings for your eyeballs. It’s live. It’s audiovisual. It’s not, says Ninja Tune, “DJ-centric.” Amen, brother. The dates: 1st June – MUTEK, Montreal 9th June – Astra, Berlin 10th …

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On Toys, Music and Visuals, and Code: Thicket’s Creators Talk iOS Artmaking

What could audiovisual art made for tablets look like? Some dismiss the results as “toys.” The creators of Thicket embrace that very role. Thicket, the product of electronic A/V artists Morgan Packard and Joshue Ott, is intended as a kind of immersive distraction, filling the screen of an Apple handheld or iPad with clouds of abstract color and ambient sound. Free of controls or widgets, playing with Thicket is a bit like sticking your hand into a mist, more gently responsive than overtly interactive. It’s also lovely, and – for the moment – free. As an experiment, Josh and Morgan …

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Round-up: What Can You Do with Livid’s Custom-Friendly Controllers?

For some time, I’ve been a champion of Livid Instruments’ controller hardware, because I like the principles behind it. The devices are handmade in Texas using sustainable woods and environmentally-friendly stains, are standards-compliant with open specifications, open source software, and driverless class-compliant operation on Mac, Windows, and Linux, and lend themselves to programmability and customization. They certainly have some of the spirit of the open source monome devices, but for anyone who wished the monome grid also had knobs, faders, and such, and didn’t require weird serial-over-USB drivers, it’s nice that we have Livid, too. This is not by way …

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Visual Music: Aaron Koblin and Meyers’ Visual Compositions, Eyebeam Call Due Today

This post, by definition, overlaps with the worlds of Create Digital Music and Create Digital Motion, so I’m cross-posting — absolutely not one you want to miss, both because of the event in New York, and because the landscape of works here engages issues about which readers here I know are passionate. Music and visuals are each themselves endless wells of potential; put them together, and “infinite possibility” probably isn’t an overstatement. This July, label Ghostly International is working with researchers at New York’s Eyebeam research center to do a free, one-week intensive on dynamically-generated visuals for sound. Before you …

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