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 April, 2006

Soda has released a mock-up of SodaPlay 2.0 (see blog here and here). It’s over on, and gives a pretty good idea of how the new system will work when fully functional.

Most exciting for SodaPlay enthusiasts should be the links to functional new style SodaPlay applications (see image above). These launch under Java Webstart, and require Java 5.0. and a discussion forum about SodaPlay 2.0 are also online.

And if you’re a true Soda fanboy, you can follow the exploits of the Soda creative team documented on the soda creative Flickr pool, of which Alexander Kohlhofer aka Plasticshore is the most prolific contributor.


Our gig in Tromsø last night was a success, possibly the best night on the tour both in terms of audience response and quality of the sets. The audience soaked up sounds and images enthusiastically, and gave immediate positive response. Once again Tromsø audiences prove that they are open to new ideas.

The mood was clearly aided by the intimate setting, Kaos is a small club with low ceilings and we were happy that we managed to set up our two screens without too much trouble. Once up, they really transformed the space.

Our thanks go out to Kolbjørn and his crew at Kaos for support and love, and to Geir Jenssen for playing an eclectic mix between sets and softening up the audience for us. Thanks also to Ny Musikk for supporting the concert. This was a great experience, and we hope to come back to Tromsø in the future. They have several small festivals etc, so there is hope…

Today we play Union Scene in Drammen, tomorrow we go to Tou Scene in Stavanger. In Stavanger we will share the stage with the excellent FE-MAIL, Maja Ratke and Hild Sofie Tafjord. Emi Maeda has played with them before, and we’re looking at a possibility of some sort of jam.

Elsewhere tomorrow, Alexander Rishaug (producer and co-curator of the Generator.x tour) is producing a new version of his Random Cube event at Black Box in Oslo tomorrow, Saturday 29th. Playing are Phill Niblock, Thomas Ankersmit, Moha!, Kevin Blechdom and DJ Erik Skodvin. If you’re in Oslo, you know where to be.


The Generator.x concert tour continues. We are now in Tromsø, north of the Arctic Circle and historically home to a significant scene for electronic music. Artists like Biosphere (Geir Jenssen) and Mental Overdrive (Per Martinsen) became an influential force on an international level, with much resulting talk of an “arctic sound”. The arctic tag has since been applied to many Norwegian electronic acts that feature dark, organic beats.

Biosphere in particular is regarded as one of the grandfathers of ambient techno, with albums like “Patashnik” and “Substrata” exploring a restrained and crystalline sound. We are therefore honored to be able to say that Geir Jenssen will be DJ’ing for the Generator.x event tonight. We hope we make it will make it worth it for him to do this rare DJ set. For more information on Biosphere, see his web site or the excellent Wikipedia: Biosphere article.

The concert itself will take place in a small club called Kaos, which variously functions as football pub, concert stage and general hangout. Kaos is an unpretentious venue, but can nevertheless boast of a serious pedigree hosting artists like Röyksopp, Timbuktu, Darren Laws, Tungtvann, etc.

Yesterday we played at Landmark in Bergen, with the support of BEK and Ny Musikk. The Bergen scene is a powerhouse of experimental music and sound art, and Landmark is the centre of much of this activity. Bergen is also home to one of the artists on the tour, Espen Sommer Eide aka Phonophani. Espen originally comes from Tromsø, so today’s concert will be a double home-coming event for him.

Check the Generator.x: The concert tour photo set on Flickr for snapshots of the tour.


Call for proposals in Paris and São Paulo:

Festival Emergences. The rendezvous of new artistic forms and new media Emergences brings together French and international artists in Paris within a resolutely trans-disciplinary and original program.

For the fourth edition, we are looking for projects in all disciplines, especially, performances, circus, visual arts, architecture, game art, biotech art, artistic interventions in public spaces, networked performances (in the framework of collaborations with festivals in France and abroad)…

Main artistic themes: Mobility, network and ubiquity | The intimate, the unusual and the strange | The urban and nature | Art in the city
Deadline: 30 May 2006

MOBILEFEST 2006 Symposium Call for Papers & Projects MOBILEFEST is the First International Festival of Mobile Art and Creativity, and will take place in September, in São Paulo, Brazil. In its first edition, it aims to discuss the sociological, cultural and esthetics implications that mobile phones and their technologies have been promoting globally. In fact, the global transformations the world has been gone through have modified the way we realize, interpret and represent reality. [...] MOBILEFEST 2006 seeks paper and presentation proposals responding to the Symposium themes: How can Mobile Technology contribute to democracy, culture, art, ecology, peace, education, health and third-sector?
Deadline: 11 May 2006


This video shows Berlin-based Frank Bretschneider performing live on the Generator.x concert tour, with excerpts from Trondheim, Oslo and Fredrikstad. Bretschneider creates his own visuals using a highly reduced vocabulary of shapes and colors to create a precise visual representation of his music. More information about his work can be found in his profile.

Video: Frank Bretschneider live on the Generator.x concert tour. (~ 5.5 MB)

Generator.x Tour: Frank Bretschneider

Generator.x Tour: Frank Bretschneider live on the tour (more photos on Flickr)

A veteran of electronic music, Frank Bretschneider is currently based in Berlin but was born in 1956 in East Germany, growing up in what was then Karl-Marx-Stadt (now Chemnitz). He originally trained as a graphic designer and painter, but in 1984 started experimenting with electronic music through tape loops, a Korg synth and treated guitars. In 1986 he founded the now-defunct AG.GEIGE, an experimental group mixing popular music with avantgarde performance strategies, borrowing from Dada and the Surrealists.

In 1995 Bretschneider formed the Rastermusic label with former bandmate Olaf Bender, releasing experimental electronic music. Rastermusic merged in 1999 with Noton Archiv für ton und nichtton (run by artist and musician Carsten Nicolai), creating the now renowned Raster-Noton label. With artists like Bretschneider, Nicolai and Ryoji Ikeda, Raster-Noton is famous for releasing uncompromising musical abstractions. The label also focuses on the interaction between music and visual art, with its artists frequently producing audiovisual performances or art installations.

Bretschneider’s music is often described as minimalist, but when asked he prefers to describe it as simply economic. Whatever the term used, his music is highly structured, marked by pinpoint precision and micromanagement. His raw materials are sine waves and white noise, resulting in a sound which is clearly digital and synthetic, although not without warmth.

As strategies for composition Bretschneider emphasizes accidents and the intentional misuse of software. Claiming to be “lazy”, he experiments with connecting modular synthesis systems until he gets interesting sequences. These are then saved and processed further. The final track is then constructed using these elements as building blocks, with looping and filtering applied to introduce further unexpected results.

Bretschneider’s interest in visual representation of sound comes naturally from his background in visual work. Using spectral analysis and custom software, he takes visual cues from music software (dots, lines, bars etc.) and turns them into representations of musical structures. The visuals mirror Bretschneider’s sound perfectly, with hypnotic repetition and precise micro-events drawing audiences into a synthetic visual space. Again, he claims that his use of a limited visual vocabulary of shapes and colors is a matter of economics rather than a minimalist statement.

To watch one of Bretschneider’s audiovisual performances is to be placed inside the logic of the composition, seeing and hearing it simultaneously. While this highly structured environment somewhat restricts possibilities for improvisation, the result is immensely precise in its connection of sound and image. To overcome the improvisational challenge, Bretschneider is currently working on new software solutions for realtime visuals.

Frank Bretschneider is touring with the Generator.x concert tour for 7 performances all over Norway. The tour is produced by Rikskonsertene and co-curated by Alexander Rishaug and Marius Watz.

Related links:


Due to the current concert tour (which is going very well, expect an update very soon) blogging has been a low priority. Here are a few interesting things we’ve noticed recently:

  • Atelier Nord has a call for participation for a workshop called The Empire’s New Clothes - Art, Fashion and Technology. The deadline is today – Monday 24 April, so if fashion is your thing hurry up and send them a CV and statement of intent. Apologies for the late post of this call
  • Switchboard is a new Processing library written by Jeffrey Crouse. It implements a general application layer for using web services with Processing. Services already implemented to varying degrees are “google, yahoo, msn, allmusic, shoutcast, foaf, and rss/atom feeds”.
  • Linkology by Ben Fry is a project for New York Magazine showing link connections between the top 50 blogs. I’ve been meaning to blog it forever, but never got around to it so I’m simply linking it here.
  • Visualcomplexity keeps adding new projects. Some new favorites are Essence of Rabbit (by our Berlin friends at Pictoplasma) and Font 004 - Community by Marian Bantjes. Interesting to see that Visualcomplexity is including projects that don’t fit a strict infoviz focus. If you haven’t checked in for a while then take a look and consider subscribing to their RSS feed. It’s well worth it.

Photos and video of the Generator.x tour should go online in the next few days.

The following information refers to past events, and is only retained for historical purposes.
Generator.x: The concert tour

Generator.x: The concert tour (Phonophani, Lia vs. Emi Maeda)

Generator.x: The concert tour – 19-29 April, 2006

Phonophani (NO) / Marius Watz (NO)
Emi Maeda (JP) / Lia (AT)
Frank Bretschneider (DE)

This week sees the beginning of the Generator.x concert tour, with 7 dates all over Norway – we’ll even go north of the Arctic Circle. The tour is produced by Rikskonsertene, and presents a selection of artists working with generative strategies in the intersection between sound and visual performance. Co-curators are Marius Watz and Alexander Rishaug, the latter also known for his music and his RandomSystem festival projects.

Norwegian Phonophani (aka Espen Sommer Eide) will play glitchy improvisations using Max/MSP, accompanied by generative visuals by Marius Watz. Helsinki-based harpist Emi Maeda will play harp combined with electronic sound manipulations, with Lia doing visuals. Finally we are pleased to be joined by Frank Bretschneider from Berlin, one of the founders of the renowned Raster-Noton label and a veteran of minimalist beats and sine wave abstractions. In what could be seen as a continuation of the Gesamtkunstwerk tradition, Bretschneider also produces visuals from his sound works.

Photos from the tour will be put online on Flickr.

Generator.x: Tour dates

Our thanks go to Rikskonsertene, Alexander Rishaug and local organizers like TEKS, BEK and Tou Scene for making this tour possible.

For information about the concert that took place during the Generator.x conference in Oslo, please visit the Generator.x Club page.

Zachary Lieberman: Drawn installation

Zachary Lieberman: Drawn (installation)

Zach Lieberman has released documentation of the installation version of his “Drawn” performance piece (previously blogged here.) “Drawn” uses computer vision techniques to allow a user to paint with ink on canvas, with the resulting drawings coming to life through computer intervention. Ink blots are “erased” from the page and are free to move around the canvas in reaction to user interaction.

Drawn is a perfect instance of “augmented reality” used to create a poetic space between the real and the virtual, with plenty of playfulness and generosity thrown in. The installation came about as a result of the obvious interest shown by audiences after each concert, wanting see the drawing table and possibly try it out for themselves. The installation provides an intuitive software interface, and the projected results become both a work screen for the user and a perfomative space for observers. A delightful side product of the installation is the buildup of completed sketches left behind by users and displayed on the walls in the gallery as a document both of the work’s intention and of its users.

Lieberman’s work is concerned with interactivity, frequently appying sophisticated technological solutions to the creation of playful and poetic spaces. Drawn is an attempt at creating pure magic, as opposed to a dry augmented reality application. Be sure to explore Lieberman’s Thesystemis site, and for a small bonus see his lovely 2006 New Year's greeting card.

The Drawn installation will be on display at the OFFF Festival in Barcelona in May, where Lieberman will be taking part in leading the EXTEND workshop.