4-D Hyper Movie (1962) - A. Michael Noll

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"The notion of creating art works through the medium of machines may seem a little strange. Most people who have heard about the experimental use of digital computers in creative endeavors have probably shrugged them off as being of no consequence. On the one hand, creativity has universally been regarded as the personal and somewhat mysterious domain of man; and, on the one hand, as every engineer knows, the computer can only do what it has been programmed to do - which hardly anyone would be generous enough to call creative. Nonetheless, artists have usually been responsive to experimenting with and even adopting certain concepts and devices resulting from new scientific and technological developments. Computers are no exception."

-A. Michael Noll -The Digital Computer as a Creative Medium (1967)

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The Computer Generation (1972)

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Incomplete version of The Computer Generation, a 1972 documentary featuring the artist Stan Vanderbeek.

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Electronic Sandwich by Jeremiah Teipen (2007)

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LAUNCH

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The Artist and the Computer

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1976 documentary about Lillian Schwartz's work with computers.
via YouTube user crystalsculpture3

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One-to-Many

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Composer, musician, and creative hacker Tristan Perich is a New York City phenom. Unsurprisingly descended from Warhol-era conceptual artist Anton Perich, the younger Perich has become a fixture in the local avant garde scene, bringing his own brand of circuit-bent instruments to the contemporary music sphere. His band, The Loud Objects, have made a very well-received international magic-show of their singular work, which involves soldering musical chips together atop an overhead projector--clad in futuristic sunglasses, no less! He released an album of music composed entirely of 1-bit tunes, "the lowest possible digital representation of audio," in which the cd itself contains a circuit completed by the insertion of headphones into a jack on the side of the jewel case, at which point forty minutes of lo-fi music is played for the listener. Part sculpture, part sound-art, the project is a novel (and nice-sounding) interjection into a recording era dominated by ephemeral, low-quality MP3s. This Wednesday, Perich will premiere a new composition at Brooklyn's Issue Project Room, called Untitled (Bernadette Mayer). The work revolves around a poem written in 1969 by the eponymous poet and is arranged for five voices and fifteen channels of 1-bit music, providing evidence that working in a supposedly low-level system can still yield high levels of creativity and aural complexity. Perich's piece will be played together with his older three-violin work, Rotary. Both compositions will be performed by a diverse and extraordinarily talented group of Perich's contemporaries, including Abby Fischer, Lesley Flanigan, Sarah Moulton, Daisy Press, Pamela Stein, Monica Davis, Yuri Namkung, and Jessica Pavone. Incidentally, it is also worth noting that Perich has pulled-in some serious girl power here, which bodes well for what can tend to be a male-dominated community. If you're in the area, you won't want to ...

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This is Not a Game

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Among the random fringe benefits of the Beijing Olympics bonanza are not only a big international platform for the protest of China-related issues like human rights, Tibetan independence, or the responsibility of big trading nations to intervene in the Darfur scenario, but also a big international platform for the presentation of contemporary art. The games have brought an influx of attention and funding for "cultural projects," and thankfully for new media artists and their followers, Beijing's prestigious National Art Museum of China has used the windfall to present "Synthetic Times," one of the most impressive and widely-anticipated exhibitions of the last decade. Spread out over 48,000 interior square feet and another 22,000 square feet of outdoor space is an exhibition huge in stature and big in scope, presenting a survey of contemporary electronic art. The selected works imagine how the plastic arts have evolved into new forms of synthesis, with the advent of programming, physical computing, interactive media, and all kinds of fancy new lights, lasers, and whirlygigs now being put to varying conceptual and beautiful uses by those in the field. Singling-out just a few works here would almost be a disservice to the others, but if you care to peruse an ambitious sampling of great works and read critical essays on their work, by rock stars in the field of media theory, you're highly advised to surf the show's content-rich site. To the credit of the show's organizers (and also their collaborators MoMA, Eyebeam, and Parsons, who put on thoughtful events in New York as a precursor to the show's opening), this is not the kind of big-budget, low-impact show that these surveys often turn out to be. In fact, if anything it picks up and runs with the ball of ...

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Tools of the Trade: Nick Hasty, The EM Brace

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In this new series, Rhizome invites artists to explain the nuts and bolts of their work. Our first contribution comes from recent ITP graduate and Rhizome's dynamo former Technology Assistant Nick Hasty. Here, Hasty describes his project The EM Brace.


The EM Brace is a wearable device for physically engaging with electromagnetic radiation emitted by the consumer and communication technologies that constantly permeate our bodies. The device attunes the body to the presence of electromagnetic frequencies through amplifying these frequencies and turning them into powerful sound waves that vibrate the wearer.


The EM Brace consists of a metallic enclosure that is worn on the back (fig a) attached to a pair of antenna gloves that fit on the hands (fig b).





Extending from the metallic enclosure are four flexible metal arms which wrap around the ribcage. The enclosure and arms are secured to the body via four straps that connect at the chest (fig c) through a four point harness. Putting on and using the EM Brace has been described as a mix of being strapped into a roller-coaster, scuba diving, and getting a massage.




Since the majority of our interactions with electronic objects involve the use of the hands, the antennas that pick up ambient EM frequencies have been embedded within a pair of gloves. These antennas consist of four inductive coil antennas, specifically telephone pickup coils. When the antennas enter an electromagnetic field, an inductive voltage signal is created within the coil. The frequency of this signal is the same frequency as the electromagnetic field in which it's produced, so the antennas' signal directly corresponds to the electromagnetic frequencies of nearby electronic devices.


The signal created within the coil is then sent from the antennas into a preamplifier circuit located within the metallic enclosure (fig d ...

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1-Bit Chamber Music

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Attend any number of experimental music performances in New York City and chances are you'll come across a curious sight: a skinny young man conducting conversations on a cordless rotary telephone, which accompanies him almost everywhere and is, practically speaking, his mobile phone. This fellow is none other than Tristan Perich, a talented young artist, composer and inventor whose interest in the foundational units of acoustic sound and digital electronics is manifest in his reclamation of obsolescent objects and technology - the rotary phone among them. For 1-Bit Music (2004), the project for which he is best known, Perich retrofitted a CD jewel case with an 8-KB microchip, battery, track control and headphone jack, thereby enabling listeners to plug in and hear 40 minutes of low-fi electronic music. Beyond the strange and marvelous nature of this apparatus, 1-Bit Music's compositions exhibited a surprising degree of sophistication, considering that they effectively comprise MIDI blips and bleeps that Perich wrote in binary code. For tonight's performance at the Whitney Museum, as part of its "Composers' Showcase," Perich will perform three recent compositions (two of them debuts) that find his 1-bit circuit boards accompanying piano, trumpets and violin. Building on Perich's background in math and computer science, Active Field (2007) endeavors to generate the sonic equivalent of a planar landscape, particularly at its conclusion, when ten violins and ten channels of 1-bit music sustain a single-chord, to the point where analogue and electronic sound cease to be differentiable. Far from more conventional applications of electronics as supplements to orchestral music, Perich's project finds the mediums engaged in a formative, structural dialogue. - Tyler Coburn

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Sowing the Seeds of 8-bit Love

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In an art world saturated with fairs and festivals, it can be hard to stand out, but Prague is in good shape with their provocatively-named Sperm festival, which bills itself as a week of "fertile days of music and other media," including electronic art performances, workshops, and screenings. Taking place from March 6-8, the festival occupies a unique position, merging the Western European scene with a thriving Eastern European subculture. Also, this year many American 8-bit artists will be making their first foreign performances at Sperm, in a program organized by New York venue The Tank and net label 8bitpeoples. On the eighth day of March, 8-bit aficionado Mike Rosenthal has curated a program entitled 'Blip,' which will include low-bit music from Bit Shifter, Bubblyfish, Bud Melvin, Herbert Weixelbaum, Nullsleep, Stu, starPause, and x|k, and visuals by No Carrier and noteNdo. On the 7th, noteNdo will also lead a workshop on using the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) to create visual images. The program is an exportation of the "chiptune vanguard" of which Rosenthal says confidently, "I'm reasonably sure we're gonna blow their minds." The artists selected for Blip continue to invent new ways to exploit old media, and the dissemination of their work at Sperm is a perfect fulfillment of the festival's mission "to be a fusion of the old and new, the familiar and the foreign." If you can't make it to the Czech Republic, try surfing the original Blip Festival's online archives and rest your ears on some of the pioneering chiptunes streamed at 8bitpeoples. - Marisa Olson

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Tiny Specimens

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The "nature expedition" is a tried and true exercise in elementary school science class. Assuming the identities of junior scientists, students embark into nature to collect samples of bugs, plants, twigs and sundry living things for study. The artists Pascal Glissmann and Martina Hofflin, working in conjunction with the Academy of Media Art, Cologne, have updated this model, but with a distinct twist: their samples are solar-powered Electronic Life Forms (2004-2007) or "elfs". According to the artists, "elfs are small, analog creatures reacting to light, calling the attention of the observer with their delicate sounds and movements." Isolated in glass Mason jars and accompanied by photographic documentation of the machines inhabiting their "natural" environment, the artists present elf "specimens" in the gallery much like exotic fauna. The set-up falsely attributes these simple robotic creatures with the characteristics of a living being, thus enduing the elfs with an endearing quality. Glissmann and Hofflin explain the underlying motivation for the project as a questioning of "the relationship between technology, nature and humans." The elf installation is currently on view in the "Urban Living" exhibition at Pittsburgh's Wood Street Galleries. - Gene McHugh

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