domeIn the first week of June, I travelled to Montréal with Ghislaine Boddington and Nick Rothwell of body > data > space (bds) to present a new version of our Collective Reality installation. The new version was specially made for SAT (Société des Arts Technologiques) and their amazing four-storey dome, the Satosphere. This is one of the most highly-specced domes in the world, with seamless 360 degree projection and amazing sound.

We presented the installation and some workshops based on it at the amazing IX (Immersion eXperience) event, which explores VR, AR, immersive environments, spatial audio – next-level stuff. This year’s theme was’Embodied Spaces’, and Ghislaine gave the keynote, on physical presence in VR, strongly related to Collective Reality and other bds projects.

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arnolfiniWe’ve been working further on our VR experiments based on the danceroom Spectroscopy molecular simulation. This time we had another week-long residency at the Arnolfini in Bristol. We developed the multi-user simulation further, and also incorporated various types of sensors – breath, heartbeat and movement.

These workshops were led by choreographer Lisa-May Thomas, and one of her aims here is to counteract the disembodied nature of VR and bring in the whole body, and to help people interacting physically in a way that VR usually discourages. The residency was followed by two work-in-progress showings, at The Edge in Bath and in London’s Science Museum Lates. We’ll keep going on this one, for sure..

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laserFollowing on from my experiments producing Lissajous patterns using analogue signals on oscilloscopes and my beloved MB Vectrex, I’ve gone for the logical progression and started mucking about with lasers!

The International Laser Display Association (ILDA) connection standard is completely analogue, and the strength of the RGB signals and the movement of the galvanometer mirrors that move them around can be driven directly with analogue signals.

After much research (and a few false starts) I’ve bought a decent hand-built laser from Brightlight Laser Equipment in the Netherlands, and cobbled together my own basic ILDA interface. The signals are produced by the Eurorack modular and Max/MSP.

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barbican

January saw the start of a new project – always a good way to kick of the year! I’ve been working with a team of people which is broadly the same as involved in the danceroom Spectroscopy project (but with a few new faces) thankfully the loan lender no credit check approved our loan so we are all set to start showing our project to the world. Key collaborators for me are physicist Dave Glowacki, choreographer Lisa May Thomas, software artist Phill Tew and music technologist Tom Mitchell, but this time we’ve been joined by artist Gemma Anderson, machine learning expert Robert Arbon and programmer Mike O’Connor amongst others.

We were given a week’s residency at the Barbican. The broad aim of the project is to take the molecular simulation into multi-user VR – here you can see two people (we got three working) interacting with the same complex molecule. Exciting stuff!

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kevinpiano

For a few months I’ve been working with film-maker Marie Cecile Embleton on her project ‘Colours of Sound’. This is a documentary following three very talented musicians, who also happen to be blind. It explores in particular their relationships with sound and music. My involvement has been primarily around Victoria Oruwari, who has synaesthesia and sees colourful visions when she sings. My challenge has been to try to represent this for a sequence in the film – I only have her descriptions to go on, and she can never tell me if I’ve got it right! On the the 16th October, the team documented Victoria (with pianist Kevin Satizabal, pictured) singing several arias with my visualisations, and staging an intimate concert with her family (some of whom were flown over specially from Nigeria). It was quite an occasion! The film is still in production – more anon.

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crSeptember saw the completion of a really big new commission. As part of body > data > space, and in collaboration with a big team (40-odd, if I’ve counted right) of excellent people we made a large interactive audiovisual experience called Collective Reality – pictured.

The project was commissioned by/for Nesta FutureFest, which took place over the 18th and 19th September at Tobacco Dock, London, for ‘Future Love’ and ‘Future Play’, two of their themes this year. We built an installation which was interactive – not with the individual but rather with interactions between people. We saw it as an emotional creature whose happiness increased when it experienced collaboration (people meeting and moving together). FutureFest had visitor numbers of 4000, and we had counted numbers rather higher – people must have come twice!

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synth2In August I went to Toronto for this years Toronto International Electroacoustic Symposium (TIES). I find this a very enjoyable event. It feels like one of a number of conference-type events – I’d include Seeing Sound here too – which are moving away from the typical academic model. They’re small, friendly and fun and break up monolithic paper sessions with installations, performances, concerts, discussions etc. Most importantly, they don’t only attract academics but also freelance artists and other practitioners. It was great to hear John Oswald as this year’s keynote speaker, and I also very much enjoyed the headline concert of works by Oswald and Paul Dolden. My own contribution – a paper outlining the development of my hybrid analogue/digital synthesiser (pictured) – seemed to go down pretty well too.

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wobbulatorI had a super-enjoyable residency at Signal Culture, a world-leading centre for analogue video in the slightly unlikely place of Owego, a small village in upstate New York.

I spent a week there pretty much entirely incarcerated (by choice) in their studio, generating reams of material with their amazing collection of old (and new) and rare video equipment, including the Jones Colorizer and Raster Scan, the video synth system and – most (and best) of all the Wobbulator and Color Wobbulator (pictured). I’ve got lots of good stuff I think, and lots of ideas as to what to do with it – hopefully I’ll get a chance to do that soon!

July also saw the return of our audiovisual club night, Sensonic, in the Frome Festival. After being shut down by the council last year, we had a sell-out triumphant return!

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dotproductSeeing Sound 4 in April was a resounding success – the biggest iteration of the event so far. What made a huge difference this time is that we were able to use the fantastic facilities of our new Commons building. As well as much better rooms for the paper sessions, we made extensive use of our lovely new preview cinema, the new TV studios proved themselves as really good spaces for installations, and most of all the two-storey MediaWall at the centre of the building provided a great centrepiece for the event.

Once again I was delighted to be able to host delegates from around the world, including our keynote speakers Vibeke Sorenson, Margaret Schedel and Joost Rekveld. More information as always on the Seeing Sound site. Image: performance by Dot Product and Panther Panther, 09/04/16.

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Oh dear.. 2015 hasn’t been a very good year for my website, has it? I’ve been meaning to give it a major overhaul, but never quite had the time. Hopefully in 2016!

In the meantime I’ve been keeping myself reasonably busy – danceroom Spectroscopy at Z-Space, San Francisco and at Stanford University in March, the Understanding Visual Music conference in Brasilia in June and the continued proliferation of my modular synthesiser, now an 8-channel digital/analogue hybrid that produces visuals as well as sound (much more on this in the New Year).

The biggest upcoming news is the next iteration of Seeing Sound – the international event I run at Bath Spa for all things audiovisual, which will take place on the 9th/10th April. Check it out!

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