Thilo Kraft – Und, 2005
Dimensions variable, digital image and sound data
The image and sound manipulation “und” consists of a recording of the spoken word ‘und’ (German: and), which has been edited and arranged to form a rhythmical piece. We see the portrait of a man whose features become distorted in all kinds of impossible ways.
The minimal movements of the mask seem to be controlled by an invisible power, producing by turns the appearance of an android and a human marionette. By controlling the face – the visible surface of human emotion – with technical means, Kraft repositions man in the neighbourhood of automated creatures.
This text is taken from the NODE10 catalogue, written by Eno Henze and Marius Watz and edited by Valérie-Françoise Vogt. Please read the introductory curator text for an overview of the exhibition topic.
FIELD: Interim Camp (2008), Muse (2010)
Computer-generated short films
The experimental short films “Interim Camp” and “MUSE” show us a glimpse into fluid dream worlds, synthetic spaces generated through custom software processes. The cinematic vision is here a product of algorithms controlling the camera’s motion as well as the simulated terrain it moves through.
The creation of artificial worlds has been a constant trope in computer graphics since its inception, reflecting the desire to model an alternate reality in silicon perfection. FIELD (Marcus Wendt and Vera-Maria Glahn) acknowledges this utopian vision, embracing a graphic style that clearly reveals the illusion they present to the viewer. Their films show three-dimensional landscapes but are constantly on the verge of becoming pure abstraction, space devolving into a composition of surfaces. Perhaps we should understand them as much as moving paintings as renderings of artificial worlds.
Paul Prudence is known as the author of the excellent Dataisnature, but also increasingly for his impressive output of generative artworks. Having migrated from Flash to the more powerful VVVV, he’s now focusing on audio-responsive generative systems that evoke organic 3D spaces. A good example of his work is Talysis, shown above in live performance during the "Tomorrow Now" event at the Fondazione Bevilacqua La Masa in Venice, Italy last year.
Talysis mimics analog video feedback systems, recursively transforming a geometric form through a series of render passes until a crystalline form emerges. The patterns produced seem unstable, constantly about to morph into new configurations. The strict symmetry evokes a sense of folding and unfolding movement, as though one was watches fragments of a 4-dimensional form projecting into Cartesian space.
Brandon Morse: Procedural animation
The stark videos of Brandon Morse present the viewer with excercises in tension, set tableaux in which structures morph and twist under physical constraints. Stripped-down architectural forms that ought to exhibit the rigidity of highrise buildings instead engage in a tug-of-war, the result of a string simulation distributing kinetic force through a network of nodes.
Morse seems to delight in setting up scenarios where seemingly ordered constructs rapidly degenerate under the influence of virtual force, which can only be observed through the dramatic effects it exerts. The end result is a state of irrecoverable chaos, brought about by causal simulated chain of action and reaction.
Unlike software-based generative artworks that exhibit endless timelines, Morse’s videos (created in the high-end animation package Houdini) display a clear dramaturgy. But rather than being a side effect of their status as “canned” video, the presence of an explicit beginning and end is here part and parcel of the work’s logic, reinforcing the movement towards the inevitable.
Favorite setups include explosions and collapses, dryly observed through an impartial camera that merely records the inevitable. Work titles like Cumulus_1 and Big Bang refer to physical simulations. Others, like Preparing for the inevitable (a particle system tornado bearing down on a wireframe house), are more explicitly apocalyptic. But while the implication of doom is clear, the image is deliberately kept abstract and artificial. Lacking a focus for projected empathy, the viewer is left with the sense of observing a scientific experiment, a computer-generated Armageddon minus the carnage.
Brandon Morse: "¡" (still from procedural animation)
The video shown above was posted on Morse’s Flickr stream as a test of the new Video on Flickr feature. Hopefully more videos will start appearing on the Generator.x Flickr pool as a result, although the Generator.x channel on Vimeo is still our official choice for posting animated work.
We have posted about the Vienna scene and the Austrian Abstracts here on previous occasions, but the video work that was central to that movement has generally not been available for viewing online. Therefore, it’s with great pleasure we see that Tina Frank has posted some early videos to Vimeo. Let’s hope other artists follow her initiative, it would be nice to have an online archive of these early experiments somewhere.
Shown above is the video AKA by Skot, produced for Gasbook 4. Skot was the name used by Tina Frank and Mathias Gmachl for a number of collaborations from 1996 to 2000. Gmachl is also one of the founders of farmersmanual, a collective that was central to the Vienna scene. “Aka” means “red” in Japanese, and the video was made with Image/ine software from Steim, one of the very first softwares to support realtime processing of video on a regular computer.
Frank created the video "iii" below by taking digital audio files of the music by Peter Rehberg (Pita) and opening them as raw pixel data in Photoshop. An oval image mask was superimposed, giving a more specific form to the resulting video. The result is classic glitch, taking a signal of a given form and deliberately misinterpreting it as something else.
More videos on Tina Frank's Vimeo stream.
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…
This is a follow-up of sorts to the post about Norwich International Animation Festival. One of the few installation works at the festival was a wonderful kinetic sculpture, The Harrachov Exchange.
This sculpture came out of the work on the short film Harrachov, directed by Matt Hulse & Joost van Veen. The film combines live action, stop-frame animation and the mentioned sculpture to describe how an unnamed force assembles an obscene machine out of scrap parts. The film has almost sexual undertones, with implications of seduction and violation underpinning the process of assembly.
Designed and constructed by Guy Bishop, the resulting installation is like a reluctant mechanical jazz ensemble, producing tortured rhythms from thumps and squeaks. See for yourselves..
Video: Harrachov Exchange installation
(Matt Hulse, Guy Bishop and Joost van Veen)
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)
This is a short video showing off Hudson-Powell's Reactive Type and Barbican projects. Unfortunately, there is no sound as the video was shot directly from the screen.
Video: Hudson-Powell – Reactive Type / Barbican visuals (~4.5 MB)
This is an experiment to see if posting videos on the blog would be feasible (or even desirable). The video format of choice is Flash Video, since it’s light-weight, most users have the necessary plugins and the plugin doesn’t stop the browser for several seconds while initializing. We’re using the WP-FLV WordPress plugin by Roel Meurders to embed the FLVs. WP-FLV in turn uses Jeroen Wijering’s Flash Video Player.
Please give feedback on how this is working for you. It shouldn’t slow down the normal blog use, since it doesn’t load the video until you ask it to. Without further ado, here is the clip.
Video: Alva Noto (Carsten Nicolai) live at AV.06. (~ 6 MB)