Art from code - Generator.x
Generator.x is a conference and exhibition examining the current role of software and generative strategies in art and design. [Read more...]
Archive for July, 2005

Jill Walker is perhaps the most prominent academic blogger in Norway, and she clearly believes in writing it as you live it (although without being awkwardly personal). Her work is on distributed narratives, and through her jill/txt blog you can follow her academic interests, written in a style that is both entertaining and informative. She is also a believer in making literature students program CSS and PHP, bringing a whole new dimension to a debate about media literacy…

Jul 30/05

The notorious TOPLAP livecoding group have published a rather amusing grading regimen outlining “skills required in a formal (graded) assessment of livecoding skills”. Highlights include:

Grade 1

The student should be able to demonstrate

- coherent logic in the choice of a suitable language / livecoding environment
- QWERTY familiarity (or other keyboard layout where appropriate)
- mouse agility (where relevant)
- understanding the key principles of a text editor or graphical patcher
- how to use variables, input and output


Grade 5

The student should be able to

- keep at least 100 clubbers dancing for at least 30 minutes
- smoothly recover from a major system crash / kernel panic / “Application unexpectedly quit” problem
- do all of this whilst drunk

The list goes on. The funny thing is, it’s not completely besides the point for anyone who has trusted their entire performance to a fragile little laptop.

HC Gilje: Voice

HC Gilje: Voice

Hans Christian Gilje is a veteran of experimental video, working mainly with installation and live performance. Graduating from the Intermedia department of Trondheim Academy of Fine Art in 1999, he quickly established himself on an international scene. His work with single-channel videos quickly led to live video improvisations, and in 2001 Gilje co-founded the improvisational video trio 242.pilots together with Kurt Ralske and Lukasz Lysakowski. The group name alludes to the software NATO.0+55, a set of video processing libraries for for Max/MSP, later discontinued in controversy when the group behind NATO accused Cycling 74 of stealing their work and implementing it in Jitter.

242.pilots received wide-spread acclaim, including the Transmediale 2003 aware in the Image category. Their work is interesting particularly because it embraces a collective approach to image production. Collaboration has long been a key element in Gilje’s work, whether with dance companies, other video artists or experimental music groups. One of his current projects is Blind, an audiovisual performance group with musician Kelly Davis. Gilje works with the medium of video as a material, processing analog raw material through a variety of software manipulations. Max/MSP patches allow him to perform the video material as a living surface, exploring textures and forms in the video signal.

Hans Christian Gilje will give a lecture at the Generator.x conference. As part of Blind he will also perform at the Generator.x club event. For more information on Gilje’s work, see his NervousVision web site.


Goestl / Kopeining: club.ware

The Vienna-based duo Cristina Goestl and Boris Kopeinig have created the live visuals project club.ware. Taking a conceptual approach, they play with words connected to club culture and sex, mixing them up in associative text patterns. An early version mapped sound frequencies to dictionary lookups via FFT.

Boris explains by email:

club.ware deals with club- and sex-culture (gay / lesbian / trans / bi / queer). beside a strong personal interest we are motivated by issues like ‘free speech’ and ‘openness of society’.
our approach is much more influenced by conceptual digital art practices than common video clip asthetics.

we’re not doing automated dictionary lookup. the focus is on communication not automation. we are collecting/ sampling and editing words, terms and phrases, this is one crucial part of the project.
it’s an ongoing research in nonstandard sex practices (~ maybe important to notice we are less interested in language used on commercial porn sites to attract visitors), interest in computer language and code (hacker slang), wordgames (for example ‘in ecstasy’ ‘on ecstasy’), as well as titles of tech/house tracks (like ‘party your body’) and self referential stuff like ‘club visuals’ or ‘dance music’.
the last version of the script works like the following:
we define ‘meta structures’ (think of a four to the floor beat), say every 10th word has to be ‘digital happines’ and the words in-between should be taken from the sexuality list (category) in random order or as predefined word sequence and so on … pretty simple but effective.

as mentioned above it’s about communication, the chain of thoughts we trigger (in german you can say ‘nachbilder’, after images), the effects these ‘visuals’ have on people.

And while you’re over there, be sure to listen to the searchstrings.mp3 track. It’s excellent.

Christian Giordano: Tagged colors

Christian Giordano: Tagged colors

It seems that AIGA’s Digital Information Design Camp proved productive. The online exhibition doesn’t go live until August 1st, but Christian Giordano has posted some results on his blog, including this very nice visualization of relationships between words and colors in the Flickr group Color Fields.

The DID camp used Processing throughout and had some impressive tutors, from the host John Maeda to the actual instructors: Ellen Lupton, Peter Cho, Lisa Strausfeld, Ben Fry, Golan Levin and Martin Wattenberg. It reads like a Master Class of computational design. Of course, it comes at a cost – $2450 for non-members, $2,175 for members. It’s an advantage the design field has over art: 1. You can put a price tag on creativity. 2. Someone will be able to pay that price.

Original link via Processing blogs.

Texone: Tree

Texone: Tree

Texone has created several excellent libraries for Processing. His most recent release is a new version of proMIDI, allowing Processing sketches to send and receive MIDI signals. His other libraries are proHTML and proXML for parsing HTML and XML data, and proDoc for generating documentation for Processing libraries (similar to javadoc). All can be downloaded from his tools page.

Be sure to also check out the Tree project, which visualizes the structure of HTML documents as a forest of trees. Built in Processing, it uses proHTML to parse the documents and can even send MIDI signals to generate sound based on the document structure.


Freeware glitch: gleetchLAB

Via dataisnature: Giorgio Sancristoforo (aka Tobor Experiment) creates nothing less than “avant garde music authoring software”. His latest offering gleetchLAB is a full-featured tool for creating and manipulating “drones, glitches and amazing digital noises”.

The software currently runs on MacOS X only, and was created in Max/MSP. From the brochure describing the software:

[GleetchLAB] is not a classic editor/instrument, there is no timeline, MIDI sync or sequencing. You just load samples or plug your real instruments and start manipulate them in realtime. It is an organic tool, it is perfect to create sound efxs and the most modern digital avant-garde sounds on the fly. It uses several synthesis thechniques and DSPs, and you can even use your favourite VST plugins. [GleetchLAB] is a tool designed for openminded people, researchers of the new frontiers of sound, mad scientists of the glitch art. Whether you are a sound designer or a fanatic of minimal microsound music, you’ll find [GleetchLAB] an incredible and versatile tool.

The software is completely free, and can download from the Gleetchplug web site.


The 2005 edition of the DAC - Digital Arts & Culture conference will take place in Copenhagen 30 November – 4 December. The submission deadline for papers is 8 August, so hurry up if you want to submit something.

The 6th DAC Conference invites critical examinations of the field of digital arts and culture, which challenge existing paradigms. We call for papers which examine both theoretical and hands-on approaches to digital experiences and experience design. Since the inaugural DAC in 1998 much has happened, and research has matured from early investigations into the problematic nature of new media towards questions of emergent dynamics, user centered design and various forms of interactivity. At the same time, the realization has grown that users of digital media not only are active participants, but also have to be taken into account at all stages of the design and production of digital experiences.

How do practitioners (programmers, artists, designers etc.) cater for this kind of active and demanding user? What kinds of experiences can we create? How can these experiences inform us? How do we as academics analyse and evaluate digital experiences? DAC has always been interested in exploring the ways in which digital media do things that traditional media cannot. We believe that the focus on ‘experience’ in DAC 2005 will illuminate the possibilities of digital media beyond the functional perspectives of ‘usability’. What are the aesthetic and cultural implications of digital design as experience?


Following up on the post about Element Labs Versa TILE system, here are more examples of innovative large-scale displays:

And if all you ever wanted was a USB-driven Disco Dance Floor, you’ll want to have a look at the one hacked up by MIT students: 1E Disco Dance Floor. True to the MIT hacker spirit, they have released a PDF with complete documentation of how to build the required hardware and software under a Creative Commons license (Attribution- NonCommercial- ShareAlike 2.5).

Some links from the excellent infosthetics.

Boris Müller: Poetry on the Road

Boris Müller: Poetry on the Road

Boris Müller is a computational designer and educator based in Berlin. His work combines an analytical approach with a personal signature. This strategy is used to great success in his series of posters for the poetry festival Poetry on the Road. To create the graphics, Boris writes software that interprets texts and turns them into visual representations.

The 2003 version is particularly beautiful, with each letter of the alphabet being interpreted as a command to draw lines or change the quality of the line being drawn. The result is a complex tangle of shapes, expressive and poetic in their own right but also containing the code of the original poetry that was used as input. There is a simplified interactive version online to illustrate how it works.

Boris recently became professor for Interaction Design at Fachhochschule Potsdam, where he teaches students using Processing and Flash. Expect interesting work from Potsdam in the future…