Category: improvisation

Analog video synthesis

Generative art in motion.

ck

https://vimeo.com/cskonopka

By Christopher Konopka

Background

In the past year, Chris has published nearly 2500 improvised video pieces.

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You may be familiar with analog modular audio synthesis. The hardware to produce video looks nearly identical – a maze of patch cords and dials.

Television

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Analog video is television. A CRT (cathode ray tube) resynthesizes video information by demodulating signals from a camera. Vintage televisions have dials to adjust color and vertical sync. When you turn the dials you are synthesizing analog video. Distortion, filtering, and feedback – either at the source (camera) or the destination (tv screen) – offer up an infinite variety of images.

Analog vs. Digital

Today all media is digital. Like the screen you are looking at. The difference with analog is in how it’s produced. Boundaries are less definite. Lines curve. Colors waver. Feedback looks like flames. Every frame is a painting.

Patterns

Images can be generated electronically using modules – without a camera.

Filters

Like with audio sampling, anything is a source. Movies, Youtube, live television, even Felix the Cat.

Feedback

When you aim a guitar at an amplifier it screams. Tilt it away slightly and the screaming subsides. In between there’s sweet spot. The same is true with cameras and screens. Feedback results when output is mixed with input.

Radio

Analog shortwave radio signals are distorted by the atmosphere in a manner similar to video filtering.

A studio in Bethel, Maine.

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An improvised collaboration between Chris and Tom Zicarelli using shortwave radio processed with audio effects.

Live Performance

Gem

A recent screen test at the Gem Theatre in Bethel, Maine. Source material is a time lapse film of a glacier installation – produced at the same theatre – by Wade Kavanaugh and Steven Nguyen. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6c36Y-Dcj30  The film was re-synthesized using analog video and feedback. Soundtrack by Tom Zicarelli.

Big screen equals mind bending experience.

Note: previous clip excerpted from this 15 minute jam: https://vimeo.com/177843310

TAL

The patterns in this clip appear to be three dimensional. They are not.

From a show that happened somewhere in the known universe:

Alto

Improvised analog video with the band “Alto”. Patterns reminiscent of magical textiles.

More about analog video synthesis

 

Teufelsberg

An acoustically interesting dome in an abandoned spy station at the highest point in Berlin.

dome

We ran into flutist Thomas Von Der Brücke in the woods around Teufelsberg. Thomas has often recorded and performed in the dome. He invited us to come along for a tour.

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Thomas on Flute…

Thomas on vocals and flute, with me on percussion

 

Photographs by Rebecca Zicarelli

Glacier Sounds

Overlapping loops of varying duration to represent natural cycles.

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In October I collaborated with Wade Kavanaugh and Stephen P. Nguyen to compose and perform the sounds of a glacier for their installation at the Gem theatre in Bethel, Maine. The glacier was made from paper.

Wade and Stephen:

wadeandsteven

A time-lapse video of the project:

A time-lapse video of a similar project they did in Minnesota 2005:

The approach was to take a series of ambient loops and organize them by duration. The longer loops would represent the slow movement of time. Shorter loops would represent events like avalanches. One-shot samples would represent quick events, like the cracking of ice.

It took several iterations to produce something slow and boring enough to be convincing. I used samples from the Ron MacLeod’s Cyclic Waves library from Cycling 74 https://www.ableton.com/en/packs/cyclic-waves/. Samples were pitched down to imply largeness.

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Each vertical column in an Ableton Live set represents a time-frame of waves. That is, the far left column contains quick events and the far right column contains long cycle events. Left to right, the columns have gradually increasing cycle durations.  I used a Push controller to trigger samples in real time as people walked through the theatre to see the glacier.

The theatre speakers were arranged in stereo but from front to back. Since the glacier was also arranged along the same axis, a slow auto-panning effect sent sounds drifting off into the distance, or vice versa. Visually and sonically there was a sense that the space extended beyond the walls of the theatre.

In the “control room” above the theatre… using Push to trigger samples and a Korg NanoKontrol to set panning positions of each track:

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The performance lasted about 45 minutes. Occasionally the cracking of ice would startle people in the room. There were kids crawling around underneath the paper glacier. Afterwards we just let the sounds play on their own. A short excerpt:

 

Photographs by Rebecca Zicarelli.

mchain

Build Markov in chains in real-time with Max

By Richard Dudas

http://www.richarddudas.com/software/

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Using the text processing example I built a 4th order Markov chain for “The Cat in The Hat” (by Dr. Seuss). Here is some of the result (it continues to infinity) with indentation added for readability:

The sat the sun is not shine.
It was to Sit! Sit!
And I sat in the house
All that?

How I wish We had something went BUMP! How I wish We did not shine.
It was to us jump! We looked!
The Cat in that cold to go out And wet to play.
So all we sat in the Hat! And he saw him!

Then we sat is wet to Sit! Sit!
And to go out
And the house
All that?

Why do was too wet And there little bit. And wet to go out
And there we saw him step in on that?
How I wish We sat is nothing at all.
So all we could do was too wet day.

So all we sat the house 
All that is fun there we can have Lots of good fun the mat!
We had something at all.
So wet to go out And the sun is wet to Sit! Sit!

And I said too wet to do I know it is not sunny!
Too we can have Lots of good funny!
Too wet And I sat is fun the house. We sat the house. We saw him!
The Cat is wet to us.

The help file patch allows real time Midi improvisation with a step sequencer style of playback:

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Algocomp

Short lessons on the topic of algorithmic composition.

By Christopher Dobrian

http://algocomp.blogspot.com

“… A blog of short lessons on the topic of algorithmic composition — the use of formal systems to generate music (and, by extension, other types of time-based art) with computer programs. The examples in these lessons are provided in the form of Max programs.”

From a Cycling 74 forum post: https://cycling74.com/forums/topic/a-blog-on-algorithmic-composition/