Cimatics 2007: Otolab: Op7
Last week was a good week for live cinema buffs in Belgium, thanks to the fifth edition of Cimatics, the Brussels-based festival for live cinema and AV culture. The main programme featured three evenings of audiovisual performances, with names like Ryoichi Kurokawa, Scott Arford, Jeffers Egan w/ Burnt Friedman & Jaki Liebezeit, Synken and many more.
There were also plenty of parallel projects, such as the Cimatics Masterclass for Live A/V and the Cinematic Experience conference on live cinema. For a general idea, take a look at these Flickr links: Cimatics 2007, flickr.com/tags/cimatics/.
One very striking performancewas "Op7", a three-screen piece by Italian audiovisual collective Otolab. A long sequence of forms and structures move slowly but inexorably towards the viewer, giving the sense of a forward motion into an abstract landscape. But if this is a landscape, it is barren and alien, devoid of color. If anything, Op7 is reminiscent of early computer graphics, but in a good way. Stripped of gimmicks, the spaces it presents are monumental, architectural in scope. The 3-screen setup reinforces this sensation, creating a sense of immersion and demanding the viewer’s attention.
Op7 sounds as monumental as it looks, with rich bass textures and needling stabs of high frequency noise. The same restraint taken with the graphics is here applied to sound, with only a sparse selection of tones and waveforms that gradually shift back and forth across the spectrum. A steady rhythm is never established, but there is a strong sense of narrative within the soundscape that more than matches the visuals.
According to a short conversation with one of the performers, the graphics were made in 3DStudio Max. It’d be interesting to know if any computational processes were involved. Judging from the way it was performed, it seems likely that the visuals were in fact pre-rendered for the performance in Brussels. But with such a sumptuous presentation, it hardly seems appropriate to niggle about its non-realtime status.
Otolab’s performance at Cimatics was part of a programme of events titled +39: Call for Italy, curated by our friends at Digicult. See the Digicult page about Op7 for more details on the project, including the curatorial text.
This post marks the return of the video category here on Generator.x. After having struggled with the awfulness that is the YouTube GUI, we have decided to go with the excellent (and free) Vimeo for video hosting. Vimeo does not recompress your files, and generally have much higher quality both in terms of image and content.
There’s even a Generator.x Vimeo channel for posting videos related to generative art, audiovisual performances etc. Go have a look if you have a minute or twenty…