Exercise Magic!!

Readers of my twitter feed will remember a series of tweets a few weeks back about my performance at the Centre for Contemporary Art Glasgow called Exercise Magic!!

This performance was part of a Cryptic Night with fellow artist Rachel Maclean. The night featured videos by the both of us (including my “Penalty Shootout” and “A story about techno”), a wacky Q & A session, and my performance, which was specifically commissioned for this night.

Exercise Magic!! was based around an exercise video (Real Results with Beverley Callard). I donned a specially designed suit designed by Kristina Johansen containing Wii remotes – you can read through the process she went through to make it on her website. The wiimotes, and a wii balance board on the floor, sent data to custom built Max/MSP/Jitter patches, which controlled the video and audio in real time based on my movements. If you’re interested, you can see a screenshot of that patch in my previous post.

The performance started off with me entering the stage and warming up, before beginning to exercise along with Beverley and Co. Slowly, though, my movements started to create strange sounds that clashed with the perfect world of the video. Eventually the lines began to blur between who was controlling who – was I following the video, or controlling it? Throw in some jamming remixes of the exercise music and you get the idea of Exercise Magic!!

I hope to do this performance again at some point soon, and develop it even further. For now, here is a video that shows the first couple of minutes…it was very dark in there so it’s not great quality, but I hope you get the idea.

Photos by Tamara Polajnar

Adventures at CCA Glasgow, Part 1

Gelkies at the CCA GlasgowGelkies at the CCA Glasgow
Anyone in Glasgow over the next week can drop the Centre for Contemporary Art on Sauchiehall Street to say hello to the Gelkies! It’s all a part of the leadup to this Thursday, when I’ll be showing work and performing at Cryptic Nights at the CCA. I’m sharing the night with film artist extraordinaire Rachel MacLean, and we’ve got lots of wackiness planned. We’ll both be showing some of our videos, and I’ll be premiering a brand new performance called “Exercise Magic!!”, which I’ll write about more soon. It involves Wiimotes, an exercise video, and spandex. A screenshot of the Max/MSP/Jitter patch I’m working on, for those of you into that kind of thing!
Exercise Magic!!

TEI Conference at MIT

TEI conference
A few weeks ago I got to attend the astounding TEI Conference at the equally astounding MIT Media Lab. It was awesome for all sorts of reasons, not the least of which was because I got to present some great work. I was working on a project by Sarah Kettley and Martha Glazzard of Nottingham Trent University, who have been developing custom built knitted stretch sensors which can be embedded into clothing, a project they call “Aeolia”. It’s pretty sweet.

Working with Sarah and Peter Gregson, cellist extraordinaire, I developed some custom software (using Arduino, Max/MSP, and Ableton Live) which allowed Peter to manipulate his own playing through his movements in real time. Here’s a video we made during rehearsals:

I don’t have a video of us showing it off at the conference, unfortunately…it was just too busy! But I think it went really well and if all goes well we’ll be developing this project further.

This trip was possible thanks to support from the Scottish Arts Council and New Media Scotland.

The rest of the conference was absolutely fantastic, the highlight for me being an incredible “bodyhack” studio workshop with Daito Manabe + company. The TEI folk made a great little end-of-conference video about the studio workshops (featuring music by yours truly!):

Gelkies at the Hannah Maclure

Last year I was lucky enough to be the Digital Media Artist in Residence at the University of Abertay, Dundee, a position funded by the Scottish Arts Council. It was an amazing experience for me and my career, and it officially culminated in the production of my first solo gallery show, which took place at the Hannah Maclure Gallery. This show was called “Gelkies”, and opened in November 2009. The show was presented as a sort of zoo, with the eponymous Gelkies being strange creatures native to rural Scotland. I even made a nature documentary about them:

Here is a video that documents the installation itself:

Tomorrow I’ll be giving a talk about the Gelkies to the fabulous folks from Central Station as part of their exciting Dundee Pop-Up tour. Looking forward to it!

Running Time at the National Galleries

A story about technoIt makes me very proud to say that one of my videos, “A story about techno”, is included in the massive and groundbreaking show currently on at the National Galleries of Scotland. The show, Running Time, is the biggest ever exhibition of Scottish video art, and the first ever dedicated exclusively to artist films in Scotland. The show has been going for a couple of weeks now, and each week there is a new theme. This week’s theme, within which my video is included, is Sound and Vision. From their website:

Sound and Vision explores the influence of sound and music on artists’ work, revealing a distinctive stylistic approach to film-making. Artists such as Katy Dove and Craig Mullholland integrate experimental music into their practice whilst others, including Sam Spreckley and Will Duke, use a range of manipulated sound recordings to create unsettling soundtracks.

If you happen to be in Scotland be sure to check this out, it’s at the Dean Gallery and is completely free!

Mujik 1.1 released!

MujikHooray! After weeks of waiting, I’m happy to announce the release of Mujik 1.1. This update has all sorts of awesome new things, such as three brand new loop packs by the wonderful Nick Janaway, Surachai, and Dave Meckin (aka Dave the Machine). Other new features include the ability to save your creations, and the appropriately named AutoMujik function!

This update is once again the result of lots of hard work by the Lucky Frame team – myself, Jon Brodsky, and Mike Greer. If you already own Mujik the update should be available in your iTunes account now…if you don’t already own it you can go now and get it for yourself!


LumièrophoneThis week I was very happy to present at The Sounds of the Silents, an event at the University of Edinburgh about the history of film sound. There were some amazing lectures and demonstrations from historians and foley artists and more. dsc_5323My presentation was about the Lumièrophone, a screen that I made with Kristina Johansen. As you can see from the photo, this screen has light sensors sewn onto the surface. These sensors control a synthesizer I built that generated sound based on what was projected on the screen. All the sound was thus generated in real time, and without any computers or anything, just a 9 volt battery and some speakers. The Lumièrophone (named after Auguste and Louis)was designed especially for the showing of an abstract film by Walter Ruttman, and I think it worked very well! You can see a video for yourself:

The Gelkies in Dundee

The Gelkies will be at the Hannah Maclure Gallery in Dundee as part of the “Word Games” exhibit with Gayle Meikle. The opening is tonight at 6pm, and the show continues until July 17th. Here is the text that will accompany the piece:

The Gelkie is a strange and mythical creature, whose very existence was in doubt until recently. Native to Scotland, the Hannah Maclure Centre is delighted to present these highly endangered specimens in something resembling their natural habitat. Researchers are still puzzling over their mating habits, but what is clear is that male and female Gelkies must form pairs in order to communicate in their peculiar language of light and sound. A solitary Gelkie is a sad sight indeed, unable to express the slightest noise. But while they naturally form couples, scientists are perplexed by their tendency to spend most of their lives arguing. With time, and your support, Gelkies can flourish throughout Scotland. Please contact the Scottish Gelkie Appreciation Society (SGAS) for information about how you can help these remarkable creatures.

GelkiesMy name in lights.

Dispatches from the Maker Faire

The Maker Faire was absolutely incredible for all sorts of reasons, not the least being meeting all sorts of brilliant people working on amazing projects. I brought my camera along to San Francisco with the aim of interviewing some of the other musical Makers. These videos are now on Create Digital Music, but I thought I would post them here too.

First up, Elly Jessop, a Masters Student at the uber-cool MIT Media Lab, and her Vocal Augmentation and Manipulation Prosthesis (VAMP):

Next, Barry Threw from Keith McMillan Instruments shows off the K-Bow (and accompanying software) for extending stringed instrument performance into the digital realm:

And finally, the amazing Moldover and his totally bonkers Syncomasher:

Unique Beats

Last week I was sorry to miss the amazing sounding Unique Beats festival of electronic music here in Edinburgh. I was able to make a few short appearances via video, though! Here is the first video I made for them, a tutorial explaining how I made the Wii BeatLooper in MaxMSP:

The Unique Beats podcast also features an Amazing Rolo song in episode 1!

Wii BeatLooper download

Rolo YeloThe Wii BeatLooper, which I showed off a couple of days ago in this video, is now available for download! Click here to download the standalone application for Mac OS X, as well as some free samples, a pdf that explains connecting the Wii remote to your computer, and the Max/MSP patches for anyone who wants to play around!

Introducing the Chicken Box!

Here’s a little demo video of me playing around with a synth I finished building this weekend. It has just three knobs (whose function I don’t really understand) and it sounds crazy cool!

Chicken Box synth
Chicken Box synth
This project, like the Jam Jar, was inspired by a tutorial on hackaday.com. All of this synth building will eventually culminate in an interactive installation called “Don’t Talk Back”. More on that later…