First computer to sing - Daisy Bell

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Incredible Sonovox - Kay Kyser - 1940 film

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Amazing device that gives voice to musical instruments. The Sonovox consists of one or two louspeakers placed on the throat that play the source sound. The performer whispers the words while the speakers stand in for the voice box. Used for the talking train in Disney's Dumbo, uncountable radio promos, a tube-in-the-mouth version "Talk Box" was used by Frampton to make his guitar sing, and all-electronic "Vocoder" versions are still used in current pop music.

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Magic Music From The Telharmonium

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"Something Wrong is Nothing Wrong: Jodi.org" on Motherboard.tv

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In this clip, Motherboard.tv speak with Joan Heemskerk and Dirk Paesmans of the legendary Jodi about several of their works, focusing on their playfully chaotic approach toward technology.

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Steve Goodman's "Sonic Warfare: Sound, Affect and the Ecology of Fear"

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In Krystof Wodiczko's striking installation Out of Here: The Veterans Project, currently on view at the ICA in Boston, choppers roar overhead. People scream in the distance. Glass breaks and shatters on the floor. The viewer can see almost nothing; the large room is dark, except for a few windows high above, created by a row of video projections. The view from these windows is obscured; the piece is as much about what you can't see than what you do see. But even more importantly, the piece is about what you hear--and what you can't hear. The chants of an imam become the sounds of women wailing. Gunshots begin to fire sporadically. Military officers yell harsh commands. The rumble of bass—a swarm of Humvees in the distance, drawing closer—gets louder and more threatening. The longer you stay in the room, immersed in the increasing racket, the more palpable the sense of dread becomes. The harrowing sounds of war are not simply about the sounds themselves, but the spaces in between.

In the intriguing new book Sonic Warfare: Sound, Affect, and the Ecology of Fear [MIT Press], Steve Goodman explores the power of sound as a tactic of irritation, intimidation, or even permanent harm. Goodman analyzes "environments, or ecologies, in which sound contributes to an immersive atmosphere or ambience of fear and dread--where sound helps produce a bad vibe."

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Aparelho Cinecromático (1964) - Abraham Palatnik

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One the works on display in the exhibition “Dimensions of Constructive Art in Brazil - The Adolpho Leirner Collection” at Haus Konstruktiv in Zürich, Switzerland, is Abraham Palatnik’s Aparelho Cinecromático.

Abraham Palatnik is a pioneer of technological art. He was born in natal, Rio Grande do Norte, in 1928, to a family of Russian Jews that had settled there in 1919. When he was four years old, Abraham Palatnik went to Palestine, now Israel, with his family, where he went to school. He went on to take courses in mechanics and physics. Since his early childhood he had been drawing and he spent four years at an atelier studying drawing, painting, and aesthetics. Palatnik returned to Brazil in early 1948 and settled in Rio de Janeiro.

Abraham Palatnik dropped painting to adopt a different technique. He felt sure that using the latest technology, he could bring to “pictorial art the potential of light and motion in time and space”. He built his first two kinechromatic devices as experiments in 1949 and 1950.

In the catalog to the Abraham Palatnik retrospective exhibition at Itau Cultural Sao Paulo in the year 1999, Frederico Morais explains how Palatnik’s kinechromatic devices work: “On a plastic screen covering the front of his devices, he projected colors and forms driven by electric motors, creating a luminous effect with its own timing. Using motors and light bulbs, he replaced paint-as a material dimension-with refracted light. The timing of the lighting was controlled from a console with switches for each lamp. The viewer sees only the colored shapes projected onto the front of the kinechromatic device. Inside there were about 600 meters of electric wires in different colors, linking 101 lamps of varying voltages, rotating several cylinders at varying speeds. Light is projected through a set of ...

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Required Reading

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In this paper, we describe and respond to six common misconceptions about platform studies, an approach to the study of computational creativity.

“Platform studies” is a new focus for the study of digital media, a set of approaches which investigate the underlying computer systems that support creative work. In 2009, the first platform-focused book about creative digital media was published: our Racing the Beam: The Atari Video Computer System. This was the first in the new MIT Press Platform Studies series, for which we serve as series editors.

Although platform studies has only recently been introduced as a concept (at the 2007 Digital Arts and Cultures Conference) it has already become popular enough to be misconstrued in a variety of ways in the new media studies community. Detailed citations of these misconceptions are more likely to be offensive than helpful. In the interest of advancing platform studies and allowing us to learn from work that is done along these lines, this paper reviews six recurring misunderstandings about this new concept. We contrast the great potential of focusing on the platform level with these misconceptions.

In so doing, we hope to invite more scholars to do platform studies work and to make this approach even more appealing to even more sorts of readers and authors. We also hope it will advance the discussion of the platform studies concept and will invite substantial, productive, and well-directed criticism of platform studies approaches, aiding in the development of work in this area.

-- INTRODUCTORY DESCRIPTION FROM IAN BOGOST'S BLOG

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Review of Prospectives 09

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Image: Joshua Fishburn, Gaming the Network Poetic, 2009 (Photo by Joshua Lawton, Source: flickr)

This past month, Reno hosted the “Prospectives 09” festival, directed by Joseph DeLappe, Associate Professor of Art in the Digital Media area at the University of Nevada, Reno (UNR). The festival featured the work of 37 international artists and performers who are all current graduate and PhD candidates, working in various modes of digital practice. There were exhibitions, performances, a curated collection of internet art, symposia, video projections at UNR’s planetarium, and even a nocturnal array of illuminated floating pig bladders (a work by Doo-Sung Yoo, whose Pig Bladder Clouds references human-animal hybrids).

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Image: Doo-Sung Yoo, Pig Bladder Clouds, 2009. (Photo courtesy of Joseph DeLappe.)

It would be a fool’s errand to try and propose some overarching principle that would legitimately tie together such a broad expanse of work. Limiting myself to the works on display at the “Prospectives 09” exhibition in UNR’s Sheppard Fine Arts Gallery, it seemed there was a common desire to enlist the spectator as a participant. Open until December 16, 2009, the works included in the show involved a fair amount of “play,” but the artists seemed attuned to the complexities involved with the interaction between machine and participant, thus it’s play inflected with critique.

John Walters’ interactive sculpture Waste Oil Mirror I & II (2008) is stately, beautiful and troubling. Two black rectangles stand against the wall, each seven feet tall, at first glance as minimalist as the monolith from Kubrick’s 2001. Triggered by the body heat in the gallery, a mechanical purring noise starts, and a soft gliding motion comes over the surface of the obelisks. The sculpture then draws up used motor oil from a reservoir at the bottom of the obelisks, cascading a ...

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ФОМУШКА (2009) - Micol Assaёl

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Images of ФОМУШКА courtesy of SECESSION

Based on a passionate fascination with scientific theories and physical principles such as electrostatics, gravitation and wind power, Micol Assaёl amplifies natural or physical phenomena in many of her installations. Her minimal arrangements play with the spectrum of sensory perceptions and allow unusual experiences, that in some cases involve unpleasant and disconcerting aspects.

The industrial fans confront visitors in a cyclical rhythm with a powerful current of air and motor noise, while the centrally positioned work ФОМУШКА charges nearby human bodies with static electricity. The form and function of the machine, developed by Assaёl in close cooperation with Moscow's Elektroenergeticevsky Institute, go back to a Russian test facility for simulating lightning discharges. One of the tangible effects of ФОМУШКА is that it literally causes your hair to stand on end and that you get small electric shocks when you touch other people or objects.

Her installation provokes the psychological tension of an unspecified threat, created by the interplay of invisible elementary forces and effects acting directly on the body. In this way Assaёl refers to the potential horrors of technologies; at the same time she forges an aesthetic link to industrial apparatuses and the mysterious power of immaterial energy.

-- FROM THE DESCRIPTION FOR MICOL ASSAEL'S ФОМУШКА AT SECESSION

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Thanksgiving Dinner in 5 seconds (2009) - Marisa Jahn and Steve Shada

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Thanksgiving Dinner in 5 seconds at the MIT Museum, 2009

Thanksgiving Dinner in 5 seconds is an apparatus for cooking a Thanksgiving meal using rocket-triggered lightning. Critical of the American fascination with cutting corners to save time, the notion of a ‘lightning-fast’ dinner to the tradition of erecting a plastic Christmas tree: both present a quick fix to fulfill a social obligation. Thanksgiving Dinner in 5 seconds employs a do-it-yourself amateur aesthetic to recall fragments from American history: Native American totem poles as monuments to kinship, Thanksgiving as an event marking the first meal between indigenous people and European settlers, the wild turkey as a symbol of an American frontier, Ben Franklin’s experiments to harness lightning for ordinary household use, and the controversy over Franklin’s attempts to redirect lightning.

-- FROM THE ARTIST'S STATEMENT

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