Friday, December 31, 2010

Nerd Music

I found myself thinking recently about how to integrate science and art. Honestly, I think scientists do it better. Well, put it this way: I can forgive imperfect art better than bad science. If an artist wants to make art about science, they'd better know their stuff. Sloppy, goofy, off the cuff art is merely expressive, and that's an asset in the arts.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Geeks at Christmas

An software performance at North Point Community Church highlights the pros and cons of the instruments. The musicians are not generally as lively as they would be with acoustic instruments: especially the guitar players looked cramped. Some of the sounds were better than others. Still the fun of the performance for me was the accessibility of the instruments: anyone with an iPhone or iPad can find these apps, and pile more. Multi-instrumentalists could become more common even on acoustic instruments with the exposure to software versions to play with first. No one is likely to stop playing the guitar for an iPhone version, but it's fun to have sounds in your pocket.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Snakes and Math

A really cool and fast paced video by Vi Hart discusses knot theory and some aspects of topology. Her drawing is elegant, and the experiments she produces are captivating. Pick up a pencil when you have some time and enjoy the design possibilities of these techniques. She brings it to the table without a single number, but somehow, you understand the process is logical, and therefore expressible mathematically.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Arduino Percussion with PureData

I wonder what the neighbors think about all that tapping on the pipes? What I love about this thing is the objects are chosen so astutely for their sounds: I think it's a lampshade making that gong sound. Nice work.

Friday, November 5, 2010

The Land of Lisp

Really. I have the soundtrack to Why's Poignant Guide to Ruby, and now I'm dancing around the house to this. Of course one reason to learn Lisp is Impromptu, the live coding app developed by Andrew Sorensen for Mac OSx. He writes in Scheme, and the tutorials on his site are great. Lisp has got my attention for other reasons too. Expression is critical in modern multimedia coding, where applications are developed and practically thrown away. I really just need a language to build from point A to point B, with out developing a pile of supporting code.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Radiohead cover with old hardware

There's something very poignant to me about old hardware. Once it was the latest and the greatest, but technology moves so quickly, its all disposable long before it's actually falling apart. Still, it isn't a good idea to get sentimental and keep using an ancient machine as your primary. Better to repurpose your hardware into geeky performance art.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Fantastic Planet

Topless Robot - 7 Essential French Sci-Fi Films
This groovy article in Topless Robot brought up an old favorite. I remember coming across Fantastic Planet in the middle of the night on some odd TV station when I was in high school. The stylish yet clunky animation and ominous tone of the film was compelling. I didn't realize it was French, but I'm not surprised. If you haven't seen it yet, it's worth the energy to look it up. The soundtrack is something too. So not Disney.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Xylophone Bicycle Bridge: Designboom Contest Entry

Fantastic Xylophone Bicycle Bridge Plays Music As You Ride | Inhabitat - Green Design Will Save the World
Inhabitat posted about this beautiful design for an environmental instrument. As a cyclist rides over the bridge the keys play a tune. The design was an entry in the Designboom's Seoul Cycle Design competition, and the article includes a map with the potential sites in Seoul. I love this not just because I'm a musician and a cyclist, but because it contributes to the sonic landscape in the city.

There's so much noise on the roads here in L.A. During the recent CicLAvia I was struck by the silence of the street full of cyclists. You could hear people talking as they rode along, children laughing, a quiet background of clicks and whirs as chains adjusted and gears shifted. Now and again a bell was rung. The Xylophone Bridge gives the bike and the river a voice to sing together. A crossing is celebrated, and  I think this is art because of the symbolism.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

If You Don't Have Time to Knit...

Make: Online : Clock knits, tells time
Make magazine always has cool stuff, but the artist, Siren Elise Wilhelmsen, from Germany has a whole site full of cool. The clock knits a stitch in time (which I suppose saves nine) for a whole year. I love to knit. One of the reasons I find it compelling is the time it takes to make something stitch by stitch. Even though I'm not a slow knitter, the act always seems contempt for the clock. In fact, I often do some knitting just to thumb my nose at a deadline. Currently I'm working on a large shawl, and each long row takes about ten minutes. It's not much time really, but if I make time to work on it, I feel as though I've cheated the rush of modern life.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Kinetic Wall Sculptures

O, I love these things. They are decorative machines. They are witty and wooden. The craft of engineering divorced from function becomes art. In the digital age, I miss the gears showing, and I believe people more regress to magic as the mechanics shrink and hide.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Sonic Interpretations of Sorting Algorithims

YouTube - What different sorting algorithms sound like: ""
There's a odd sync with music and programming. Audio has been among the first disciplines to abandon traditional interfaces with the livecoding movement, and I've noticed the emergence of several high level languages specifically to manipulate audio. In addition, computers are being harnessed to generate sound in order to better comprehend their processes. While we can see the printed waveform here, perhaps the information is better understood as audio. It seems obvious to listen to the mechanics of the machine, but will we ever listen to computers to enjoy their creations? So far, computer generated music is either contrived or dissonant, in my experience. It's getting better though.

Monday, September 20, 2010

The Lost Thing: I can't wait to see the whole thing.

Shaun Tan is an artist and author who recently made an animated short of his book 'The Lost Thing'. There is a wonderful interview with him online where he talks a bit about his process. He doesn't have children or know many, he says, and so pretty makes what he himself finds interesting. He goes on to discuss the politics of the day while he was writing 'The Lost Thing' and makes a point about bureaucracy and everything in its place. I need to post the trailer for the movie: it's beautiful, but the author is something, and I would recommend his site and the lovely flash site for the film, as well. I was struck by his wisdom: it's funny how we have a space for a certain intelligence in children's literature. It seems that something subtle, but dangerous, in his ideas is safer (though perhaps even more influential) in the context of a child's book.

Monday, September 13, 2010

The Award Winning Hell Creek Mural

See the Big One!
There's a very good article up at Lines and Colors, an art blog I follow, about Paleoart; Paleoart being the depiction of dinosaurs and the like. Link to the big image and check out the detail. Of course, this kind of thing is immensely challenging for the research alone: the foliage is gorgeous, but no doubt, accurate. If you were born before CGI these types of images were what hooked you on dinosaurs. I love the expressions of the reptiles, that's what makes it seem so live.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Spiral Wall: Processing with Arduino and Servo

SPIRAL_WALL: PROCESSING ARDUINO SERVO on Vimeo Pretty cool concept here. The fabric is being manipulated by motor controlled by the laptop. Its easy to see the application in theater, or some large venue on an entirely different scale.Gotta love Arduino; you can make anything with their parts, judging from what I find online. I’m drooling over an accelerator-midi thing myself.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Snakebot! Bio-Robotics from Carnegie Mellon

Boing Boing posted this video today and I'm in love with the science. Animal locomotion is a peculiar study from both mechanical and evolutionary perspectives. The snakebot can not only climb but swim, which is an entirely different kind of motion if you've ever seen a snake in the water. It blew my mind to read that some bats can swim as well, using their wings as oars. Other aquatic bio-robotics include the jellyfish bots.

Friday, August 27, 2010

The Orwell Project: Be Your Own Big Brother
Hasan Elahi reacts to his questioning and detention by the FBI by documenting and posting his every move on the internet. The Daily Beast has an article on the Orwell project as he calls it, and the site is pretty cool as well. The loving photos he takes of his meals speak for themselves, and you can see the 'Kiss my ass' to the FBI as photographs urinals around the globe.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Molecular Gastronomy by the Book

Modernist Cuisine: The Art and Science of Cooking
Here we go. Just in time for the holidays, there's a 2400 page set of cookbooks on synthetic paper to cover every aspect of food science. At one time we had a quaint dirty little notebook called 'The Joy of Cooking'. Of course, the recipes kicked ass in that grubby pictureless tome. I'll wait until the library picks this up to pass judgement. Image is important on a plate: I refuse to eat ugly food; but neither will I judge a book by it's cover (even if I love to look at the photos!).

Friday, August 13, 2010

YouTube - Sesame Street: Geometry of Circles

YouTube - Sesame Street: Geometry of Circles
Once I took my mom, a former preschool teacher, to a Hawaiian music festival and a band got up and played the hokey pokey in Hawaiian. After she got up and danced around I asked if she had learned the Hawaiian words for body parts. She said she didn't need to, she already knew the dance. Then, with a scornful look at me lounging in the sun she said, "I'll never be too cool to do the hokey pokey." It probably explains a lot, the fact that my mother was a preschool teacher. I still love the avant-garde aspects of Sesame Street. This video has a soundtrack by Phillip Glass. Is it brainwashing? Is it math? Is it wonderful?

Saturday, July 24, 2010

A Post Modern Analysis of Laughter

Canned Laughter: Ben Glenn II, Television Historian | The Paris Review
There's an interesting article here on the evolution of laugh tracks. One of the things I find most difficult about watching television is the laugh track on any kind of sitcom. Since I worked as a projectionist, and didn't watch TV at all for several years, the effect is jarring. I find, however, that one rapidly desensitizes. At one point, I used a laugh track in an audio project traditionally formatted but intentionally placed on events that weren't funny. The joke went right over the TA's head, in part because he was accustomed to watching so much TV; inappropriate canned laughter was par for the course.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

It's Getting Hot In Here

Squint your eyes and you can almost see the future of this technology. The big money in haptic interfaces is virtual reality, and much of the cutting edge development is happening in the sex industry. The comments are hysterical on any page covering advances; gamers are panting at the glass.

Friday, June 25, 2010

A Fairy Tale Ending, Sort of.

Here's a nice piece of work; not too long, not overworked, and the score is evocative. The sketchy technique keeps it light.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Nobody Here

You can choose your own bug. Chat, play, read poetry. At first, it seems just strange. The interface makes little suggestion.. Heremietkreeft was my favorite at Nobody Here.

Paper Animation

Part of me thought, he's cutting up a book! But it's worth it. Art begets art in this charming video. Check out other work by the artist at this site: 6 Die
I loved the interplay between the paper and the form. Elegant.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Flash Animation Embedded

forked from: 重力マウス(ちょっぴり軽量化してみた) - wonderfl build flash online
Kind of cool I think when I stumbled across this interactive animation in flash that it was also embeddable. Nice detailed swarm.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Bobby McFerrin Never Gets Old

It's hard to say whether the amazing thing here is the ingenuity of the presentation or the energy of the artist. Bobby McFerrin has had one of the most interesting careers in modern music. He pops up now and then in the strangest places, but I always look forward to what he has to say or sing. Inspiring.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Apollo 11 Launch in Slow Mo

This astonishing video is making the rounds on several sites. I love the voiceover: he's talking as fast as he can for eight minutes, and I was rapt. Its hard to understand forces of this magnitude. There's fire and ice and steam and swirling mad floods. Posted by Spacecraft Films

Sunday, March 7, 2010

The Future of Music

Dig this video from Beeple There's an interesting article in Create Digital Motion where he talks about his process. I loved that he admitted to struggling with the software. A lot of people don't realize that even geeks don't automatically absorb new software. You just buckle down and keep working with a program until you have the hours to know it. I just finish a book by David Levy titled 'Love and Sex with Robots'. One of the things he discussed was progress in developing emotion in artificial intelligence. It might be easier than you think, and someday, robots will have their own feelings, feelings we don't have and they will express them with their own art.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

The Joy of Vids on the Net

Here's a vid where the animator by far upstages the musicians. When the manatids hit it, you have to go along. Check out this beautiful collection of animated shorts:
10 surreal animated short films
I found on StumbleUpon. I'm liking that network quite alot, actually. It's like having someone steer my surfing, and I never come up dry.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Robots + Jellyfish

At some point, I'm not a simple geek. I'm as interested in primitive life as high tech. Basically, this is my porn. The evolution of robotics is borrowing from simple life forms successfully, and in the process, the naive ideal of a machine man crashes and burns. If you could program eight legs, why would you bother with two? If I was a creator (creatrix, rather) I would make life not in my own image, but better.

Sound and Space

Hear Here – an acoustic theatre – Ric Lipson | Interactive Architecture dot Org
Its kind of a complicated and wordy article, but I love the images of this space. Its acoustic and intimate, sculptural and functional. The physical properties of sound are fascinating, and often overlooked: though invisible, sound has shape and size, and you can feel it with your skin (the booming bass when a car passes).