Composer Sam Pluta demoed his new performance piece at Location One in SoHo as one of the featured presenters for September's New York Dorkbot meeting. He creates original music scores and visual experiments that contain mathematically arranged sequences to make his compositions using his own software scripts.
Pluta says he began experimenting with software-generated music by exploring data structures, which he defines in his software using specially selected algorithms. His compositions use non-traditional, un-syncopated beats to create rhythm in common sounds, which can play like robotic malfunctions one moment and complicated tribal drum sets the next.
He began by using algorithms to chop up set blocks of sound samples, which were programmed to mix up and repeat to make it difficult for human hearing to sense repetition in the sounds. Pluta then says he found he was able to generate unique compositional percussion scores with even the tiniest of sounds, such as the shearing of a pair of scissors and the slurping of drinks.
Not content with the single mathematical re-arrangement of the same sound samples, Pluta began exploring MIDI sample distortion until he was able to arrange samples not just by sequence, but also pitch and length, creating true musical melodies that could be played in different scales.
He says his biggest challenge to date has been attempting to use his software in live performances. "Using algorithms is great for track mixing, but for live performances, it's hard to collaborate with."
As Pluta experimented with software audio application design he also began exploring visual notes to show as well as play intense sounds ...
"Democracy in America: The National Campaign" sounds more like the title of an action movie than a blockbuster public art initiative, but the Creative Time-produced project promises to be a heavy-hitter. The title for this prominent series of multifarious happenings, art projects, performances, and more takes its name from a novel written by a young Alexis de Tocqueville after his first tour of the US, in which he searched for an answer to the question of why the concept of representative republican democracy had been so successful in America. The importance of this question endures, especially now, and it is central to curator Nato Thompson's undertaking, which is a serious evaluation of the state of participatory politics in this country. On September 21st, The Democracy in America Convergence Center at Park Avenue Armory will open, the exhibition portion of the campaign. Containing over 40 artists and filling three very large floors in Manhattan's Park Avenue Armory Wade Thompson Drill Hall, the show includes newly-commissioned work, seminal tactical media projects, and several live speeches and performances, all of which succeed in demonstrating the important role that spectacle can play in representing the fantasies and needs of the republic. - Marisa OlsonImage: Rachel Mason, Kissing President Bush, 2004
"Decoy Nest," Australian artist Sally Smart's second solo exhibition at New York's Postmasters, takes its title and conceptual angle from a strategy, employed by birds, to divert attention from their primary nests. As the artist writes in the show's press release, the "masking, camouflage and metamorphosis" implied by this strategy became starting-points for her own creative practice. Smart fills the gallery with wall installations of trees and human figures, collaged from bits of fabric prints, painted canvas and photographs. An anthropomorphically scaled work, appropriately titled Stick Figure (old one) (2008), borrows an arm, boot and head of hair from a photograph of a man; substitutes various representations of branches for legs, waist and torso; and positions three painted, canvas circles as shoulders and head. Phantom (limb) Tree (2008) further pushes Smart's concatenations of bodily and natural elements, as an assembled, vertical tree trunk sprouts both branches and human limbs. Evidently, the tree here and elsewhere serves not only as a strong visual foundation for Smart's collages, but also as a locus for the artist's broader concerns, including "the tree house, family tree, tree of life and the tree of knowledge" and the tree "as a symbolic stand-in for nature." These obvious symbols could easily derail many an artistic practice, but Smart's confident and inventive handling of materials and imagery makes them feel fresh. - Tyler Coburn
Way back in the 1950s, sociologist Erving Goffman proposed in his study The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life that the very warp and woof of the social world consists of carefully constructed dramaturgy, albeit of a manner that most performers were unconscious. Our daily lives and cultural rituals provide all the settings, costumes, props and scripts we need to take our roles. The same logic underpins our movement through digital spaces and online communities, but unhinged from the necessities of physical limitations, and with a greater promise of self-transformation -- the dream of a complete rebooting of the self. Such notions may emerge at "Avatar: the New You," an exhibition at the Australian Centre for Photography that mixes the Web 2.0 vernacular of user-generated images with parallel but more self-critical art projects. The show includes fan-created screenshots from massively-multiplayer games like World of Warcraft, Habbo Hotel and Second Life and documentation of SimGuys.net, a virtual emporium of fashionable dude wear for Sims characters, but also media installations by artists Claudia Hart, Myfanwy Ashmore, Melissa Ramos and Rhys Turner, and Tobias Bernstrup, as well as photography by Daniel Handal and performance documentation by Justin Shoulder. Two artists' works that themselves gained a foothold in greater internet culture are also included: screenshots from Tale of Tales' gentle multiplayer game The Endless Forest (2006), in which players take the roles of deer, and Aram Bartholl's First Person Shooter (2005), a pair of custom specs that give you the look of Doom. - Ed Halter