One of the more impressive audio-visual events of last few years, for me, was the Nicolai/Henke/Ikeda gig in the Tate Turbine Hall, London, back in May 2006. All three performers won me over, providing very different interpretations of the audio-visual aesthetic.
Robert Henke performed his Atlantic Waves piece, a custom software application which drives Ableton Live. ItÃ¢ï¿½ï¿½s a graphical mutating score that provides a visual representation of the sound and acts as a kind sequencer to the music itself. A nod in the direction of MondrianÃ¢ï¿½ï¿½s grid paintings perhaps, the screen is populated with moving coloured squares that seem to interact like traffic or Cellular Automata, sometime imploding and regrouping in perfect synchronisation with the abstracted beats. The process is fascinating to watch as you have no exact idea what the connection is between the software and music, so you tend to invent connections as way of making sense of this hermetic dashboard.
Atlantic waves is performed with in collaboration with Scott Monteith whose site contains a detailed description of Atlantic Waves:
‘Atlantic Waves is an improvised network music performance by Monolake and Deadbeat. A special application, the Atlantic Waves Interface III, makes it possible to create music together in real-time while being thousands of miles apart. The Atlantic Waves Interface utilises a beautiful graphical surface which is projected during the performance. This interface is simple enough to be controlled in real time but allows for building up complex musical structures. It also allows the audience to follow all actions and to become part of the process. Every sound generated has a visual representation and all interaction with the software is displayed. The result is a unique and constantly evolving and changing piece of audio-visual art, created simultaneously in two different locations on the planet.’
Vagueterrain has a good interview with Henke, in which the artist talks about different aspects of using Atlantic Waves live, and in collaboration.