Basement Instrument Repairs

Yamaha CS-50
As so many of us do, I have some vintage instruments hanging out in my basement.  I played with these as a child, but actually understand how to use them now, so I was definitely interested in bringing them back up to spec.  The first of the three is circa 1977 Yamaha CS-50 Analog Synthesizer.  All I could do with this as a child was make garbage noise, but I had a feeling I would know what to do with it now that I understood what all those little markings like VCO, VCF, and LFO mean.  I was very excited to get this awesome vintage synth up & running again.

The second instrument is also very exciting.  It is a Hohner D6 Clavinet... like the kind Stevie Wonder uses.  This really cool instrument has a keyboard that frets a note on one string for each of the 60 keys.  After a quick soldering of the battery connector, and a fresh 9v, I had this thing making funky noise immediately!  But there was definitely still something wrong, a few of the settings weren't working and not every key worked.  Fortunately I found a very good resource to fix these things.  More on that later.

Hohner D6 Clavinet

Finally, and I think this one has the least hope, there is a Chinese Hammer Dulcimer or Yangqin rotting away in a case that is falling apart.  The finish is cracking and all of the bridges are starting to separate from years of mis-tensioned strings.  The hammers are missing and one of the bridges has entirely detached from the body of the instrument.


The Onion Code

"The Onion Code" 
Algorithm based analog print series

I'll pick up right where I left off.  Using the Perlin Hatch Code, I developed a while back I created a series of analog prints.  Unfortunately my printer just can't seem to communicate with the my system properly so I  tend to get partial images and misprints and all kinds of other errors.

So I embraced this and made a small 11 series run of prints ranging in size from 5"x7" to about 1.5"x3.5".  I overprinted blue and green variations of the code overlaying and altering ink densities.  I also cut out smaller pieces and taped them to larger prints to achieve interesting overlays and angles.


Processing: Saving Images

Saved Frame (Perlin Noise based)
So you made something cool in Processing... now what?  Whats that you say? you haven't made anything cool in Processing yet?  Here are some tutorials to get you started with this versatile and fairly easy to learn programming.  Additionally, Processing has excellent documentation describing how to utilize the most commonly used objects.

Now that you've begun to create digital art using code, you may want to share it with your friends.  Actually, that was probably one of your goals to begin with...  There are a few options that Processing offers right out of the box that allow you to make images and movies from your sketches.  Saving images is actually quite easy and only requires a small bit of code.  The object we will explore in this tutorial is called saveFrame().




Foyer Exhibit/Study Area
While I was in California, I happened to be very close to the Stanford Campus.  Stanford has a program within their music department that I have been interested in for quite a while.  So I set up a tour of the building and the program, CCRMA (Center for Computer Research in Music and Acoustics), pronounced "karma".  The building was relatively empty, as this was the first day on campus after the spring graduation.

The center is located in the old governors mansion at one of the highest points on campus and has a fantastic view of the  buildings below.  Right as you enter the building, you know that you are in the right place.  There are various keyboards, speakers, and other things I would bet are instruments, but not like any I've ever seen.  There is also a reel to reel, next to a pyramid shaped speaker array, and a giant machine that appears to be one of the earliest GUI based DAWs.


Tyrannosaurus Sex (and other truths) :: Ira Liss


Ira Liss is the director of communications for the ATLAS building, and a brilliant musician.  I have been close friends with him during my time at ATLAS and was very happy to find that he was given the opportunity to perform for all his friends and family.  Also, a number of my friends were heavily involved with the show.

I have always been a fan of Ira's music.  It is witty and rateable, and most importantly, entertaining.  It was also very nice to hear his normally solo piano playing accompanied by bass, guitar, drums, and saxophone/clarinet.  His show was comprised of his songs (including my favorite about an acorn... who wears a little hat) intermingled with short theatrical vignettes by Katie Cross and Graham Emmons (who has been involved with many of my previous productions), and very well choreographed segments by Katie Cross (the producer of UNA).

The story progresses through the concepts of a relationships, from childhood romances to teenage hormones to old age.  All the while, Cole Ingraham added Tyrannosaurus roars at amusingly appropriate times.  The flow was very smooth and the combination of dance, music, and images (taken by Ira himself) was very nice.

I was hoping to be more involved in this production, but my workload prevented me from being able to contribute :(  Regardless, I think that Ira did a fantastic job, and I was so happy to see and hear his vision come to fruition.  I'm very proud of him, Katie (choreography), and everyone involved in the production.  It was especially touching to hear Ira mention during the talk-back that this was, in fact, his dream come true.


Convergence III


It's been called the "festival in a building." Get free body work, participate in salon discussions on various topics, sample local wine, see performances, dance all night long and meet new, interesting and beautiful people.

The Convergence is born from the conscious collaboration of a community.

Join us as we bring together shamans of the electronic arts, ancient technologies of embodiment and sophisticated salons of wisdom.

I was really lucky to be invited to VJ for this event. I've done a couple of gigs like this, but this was by far the biggest show I have done visuals for.  Also, there was a typo on the flyer... I normally go by iVVVj as my VJ name, and iEEEj as my DJ name, but vEEEj was printed on the flyer... I actually like this a lot more and have decided to keep this as my VJ name!

The night started off with shamanistic blessing of the space and African style dance and drumming... very Boulder. The night then kicked into full gear and there were workshops, salon style panels, and of course music all night long.  I met lots of new and interesting people and had a really great time providing visuals for the music the night.


Carnivals and Snowstorms

Better late than never...

I've had a hard time coming up a way to summarize the experience of working on this show.  That's not a bad or a good thing.  For over a year, I worked with Daniella Vinitski (a CU PhD. Theatre candidate) helping her to execute the technical aspects of her production Carnivals and Snowstorms.  I thoroughly enjoyed working with her and the team, and we executed a complex show with relatively small amount of rehearsal time within the Black Box Space.

The production played through four different scenes (I. Brilliant Silence, II. Carnival Barkers, III. Apotheosis, IV. Memory) carrying an avant-garde pacing, with multi-disciplinary collaboration throughout.  There were dancers, actors, music and a violinist with live audio processing, alongside a complicated curtain-rigged system juxtaposing a relatively simple set.  All in all, there were a few mixed reactions, but it was very well received.  I really enjoyed the outcome of the final show despite some last minute delays in production, and am proud to put my name alongside these fantastic artists.  In fact, it was one of the most pleasurable shows I've had to work on, as our run and production crew was extremely professional and creative (with a few exceptions, as always).  Videos below and more pictures here!



The Boulder Theater

So I'm pretty much over this acid-techno type of music, but I am still interested in seeing what these artists are doing visually as well as with their music.  Simon Posford is a world-famous DJ from the UK and tours under many monikers, such as Shpongle and Hallucinogen.


Cirque Voltaire

The Meadowlark

So, While I have been focusing on the liminal space between the digital and analog world, I was asked to VJ for Narwhal Birdskull, my friend Maximilian Shiffman's metal band.  The event was called Cirque Voltaire and I was on a constant quest to see who could qualify what kind of an event this was.  I thought it was Steampunk, but the masses have me calling it Bizarro or something along those lines.  Regardless, not my typical scene.




Opening Night at Bombay Bistro
Wow, it was only a week ago, but time is just flying by.  Communikey, for those of you who don't know is Boulder, Colorado's Festival of Electronic Art and Music.  Check out past year's festivals.  I've been involved for the past 3 years, and attending for the past 4.  This was the fourth edition of the festival, and it was a tremendous success.  My role is to act as technical lead at various venues and assist with tech issues as they arise.

Normal Ones and Jason from offthesky in the ATLAS Black Box
This is a fairly media heavy post, so please bear with the loading times :)  And there's lots more after the break and on Flickr and YouTube.

Pulshar at the ATLAS Black Box


Noisefold at DAM.... yes the DAM again

Noisefold - triple projection
I can't believe I got to go to the DAM 3 weeks in a row for free!    And this time was.... cranial-y disintegrating, but in a good way.  In fact, I'm still processing some of the things I saw.  Congrats to Lindsey Housel for putting the show on and getting me on the guest list :)   Read on for some great setup pictures... I prefer to keep the pictures of the work to a minimum... the magnitude of the experience can't be captured on film, especially on iFilm.  Plus you can always go to their shows, or check out their website...

Cory (left) and David (right)
Noisefold is comprised of Cory Metcalf and David Stout.  I had the pleasure of working with them during their last performance in the area at Communikey09.  Back then, the standard setup was that each artist had a projector correlated to their visuals and sounds that met in the middle.  However, Noisefold has been evolving. 
Cory's two-system setup
(one for each projector)
They now use three projectors.  Cory and David both have their respective projectors, but there is now a third in the middle that can be a separate or conglomerated version of the two other projections.    Another direction that I am ecstatic to hear they are taking is the addition of live musicians!  While they did not do this here, (I'm actually glad I got the more traditional experience) I do look forward to seeing what comes from this cross-collaboration.



So while procrastinating things you should be doing, check out this little applet called Wordle.  It lets you input text from a file or a website and then creates a great collage of the most commonly used words.  You can find a nice random arrangement, but you can also tweak the settings to your tastes.  I've made a few, and they look really cool when printed out onto 4x6 photo paper.  Anyway, procrastinate on!