Visual Music: Controlling Laser and Vector Monitors with Sound (Second Date)

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Visual Music: Controlling Laser and Vector Monitors with Sound (Second Date)

Join us for an immersive 3-hour workshop where you’ll delve into the mesmerizing world of analog projections. Discover the growing fascination with vector graphics among electronic musicians and multimedia artists, and learn to craft captivating visuals using lasers.

This multidisciplinary experience merges fields such as media archaeology, analog electronics, graphic design, optics, computer vision, coding, and early 3d modeling for ‘80s gaming. Explore the concept of Visual Listening, a unique process that unveils sound properties through light, and gain insights into setting up an analog video workstation. Challenge conventional consumerism by integrating technologies from different eras and unlock new aesthetic possibilities while exploring the history and techniques of video art.

Enrollment to this workshop includes complimentary tickets for the April 18 performance, where you’ll also have the chance to interact with JesterN’s captivating lasers. Check out the event here.

Learning Outcomes

By the end of the workshop, you will have explored modern video and laser art, delved into hardware functionality, discovered inventive techniques for integrating sound signals, and crafted customized software. You’ll leave with ready-to-use patches for live performances and the ability to develop straightforward yet effective approaches, ready for further exploration at home.

Course Logistics

Dates: April 16, 2024

In-Person Workshop
Address: Gray Area / Grand Theater

Times: 6–9PM

Cost: $90
We also offer scholarships. Apply by April 15, 2024

Experience Level:

• Bring a laptop with a USB-A port or adapter
• Download MaxMSP

Additional Information:
• No Refunds or Exchanges.
• View our FAQ here.
• Contact [email protected] with any questions.

Course Outline

  • Introductions: Meet your instructor, AV artist JesterN, and discover the creative possibilities unlocked by the techniques covered in this workshop.
  • The hardware: how lasers, oscilloscopes, and vector monitors are built and how they work. Review of possible hacks to expand their
    control using audio signals.
  • The software: how to code sound signals to drive lasers and oscilloscopes with real-time audio software (Ableton,
    MaxMSP, Pure Data, Processing, or Supercollider). We will familiarize ourselves with the software MaxMSP and play with some pre-assembled audio patches.
  • Let’s build something: each participant will work on creating their own digital/analog system for a live audiovisual
    performance. We will start prototyping using a simulation software and then move to real hardware trying each participant’s
    system on a laser projector.
  • Discussion: Let’s talk about the possible approaches for a live gig, potential issues, trouble shooting, and solutions.

Workshop Description

Probably as a consequence of the renewed interest towards analog circuitry and modular synthesizers, in the last few years, analog projections have become increasingly popular in the community of electronic musicians and multimedia artists. An easy first approach is through vector graphics: one can start experimenting with Oscilloscopes and Lasers in a very intuitive way with just a couple of oscillators.

The appeal of vector graphics may derive from the seemingly infinite resolution, the line-based aesthetic, and the intrinsic impermanence of the display. Other motivations lie in repurposing obsolescent hardware, reimplementing historical devices, or simply diverging from mainstream digital approaches to video. This is a multidisciplinary workshop that introduces and merges different theoretical fields: media archaeology, analog electronics, graphic design, optics, computer vision, coding, and early 3d modeling for ’80s gaming.

The technique explained is very intuitive, especially for musicians as all visuals will be a direct translation of sound signals. Visualizing sound through light reveals for the eyes several sound properties and geometries that could otherwise remain unnoticed by the ears: frequency ratios, phase shifts, detuning and beatings. This process is called Visual Listening: a deeper way of understanding sound through light.

Through digital prototyping, the workshop will show possible hardware configurations to set up an analog video workstation recycling laser, oscilloscopes, and old cathode ray tube monitors. In a critique of consumerism, the workshop will integrate technologies from different ages to create new unexpected aesthetic results, while learning about the history and techniques of video art. We will also discuss possible solutions on how to set up an all-analog audiovisual live show using laser and vector monitors.

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JesterN’s practice repurposes found or decontextualised analogue devices to investigate the connections between light and sound in the form of contemplative installations and performances. He repairs and modifies tools from our analogue past: oscilloscopes, early game consoles, analogue video mixers, and lasers. He is attracted to their intrinsic limitations and strong ‘personalities’: fluid beam movement, vivid colors, infinite resolution, absence of frame rate, and line aesthetics. By using these forgotten devices, he exposes the public to the aesthetic differences between the ubiquitous digital projections and the vibrance of analogue beams, engaging them to reflect on the sociopolitical impact of technology in a retrospective on technologisation: what ‘old’ means, and what value the ‘new’ really adds. His productions in form of performances, talks, papers and compositions have been presented at Centre Pompidou in Paris, Museo Reina Sofia Madrid, Ars Electronica Linz, Amsterdam Dance Event, Venice Biennale, National Art Museo of Lima, New York Computer Music Festival, Bozar Bruxelles, BOA Biennale Porto, Rewire Festival Den Haag, Glasgow Contemporary Art Center, National Art Museum Buenos Aires, Dom Moskow, Seoul International Music Festival, Imagen Festival Colombia, Rome University of Fine Arts, to mention a few. He has released records for Staalplat, Bowindo, Elli Records, Dobialabel, Setoladimaiale, Ante-Rasa and Creative Sources.