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Archive by February, 2010

PRESS RELEASE: Richie Hawtin and Derivative Launch Plastikman Live Visual Contest

Image source: http://www.derivative.ca/Plastikman/

Note: I don’t normally post competition opportunities, but the following call is worth noting because it exposes a shift in remix culture:  the DJ and VJ hybrid.  Besides, I admit to being a Plastikman fan.

Derivative is pleased to announce the next-gen of their collaboration with techno-futurist Richie Hawtin who is unleashing PLASTIKMAN LIVE 2010 a much-anticipated series of live shows produced in collaboration with Minus & Derivative to launch at this year’s Timewarp festival on March 27th, 2010.

The influential Plastikman performance at MUTEK 2004 was visually driven by Derivative’s powerful software tool TouchDesigner enabling Richie to orchestrate sound and visual compositions generatively and in real time; the technology altering the course of how electronic music could be performed and experienced live.

Image source: http://www.derivativeinc.com/Events/15-Plastikman/

That was then. With the current generation of TouchDesigner 077 completely reengineered, the team has built an information-rich bridge between Richie’s Ableton Live rig and Derivative’s TouchDesigner. Derivative will release the TouchDesigner-Live Bridge to its users this year. Hawtin’s visual artist Ali Demirel has been working closely with Derivative’s Jarrett Smith and Markus Heckmann in LA and Toronto to create the content and a custom performing interface for the shows.

Another Hawtin/Minus/Derivative collaboration invites the community to create their own visuals to original Plastikman tracks using TouchDesigner. Hawtin and Derivative have packaged and made available for download a complete toolset that includes a purpose-built TouchDesigner synth and 4 Plastikman tracks enabling participants with full support to produce visuals in the same real-time generative environment as the show’s. Winning entries are to be incorporated into the live events.

Dedicated to advancing the way we make art and visualize information and ideas, Derivative has produced live visuals and interactive art projects for an exemplary roster of international superstars that include Prada, Herzog & de Meuron and Rush. They have also developed major theme park attractions globally. In a unique alliance with raster-noton now entering its second year Derivative designed and built an expandable framework for multi-screen live performances under the guidance of label founders carsten nicolai (alva noto) and olaf bender (byetone). The collaboration resulted in a series of shows last year at Club Transmediale, Sonar, MUTEK, OFFF, and Ars Electronica that were received as precedent-setting.

TouchDesigner is the most complete authoring tool for building interactive 3D art, visualizations, prototypes and user interfaces. Its open, broad and highly-visual procedural architecture boosts and expands discovery, creativity and productivity.

TouchDesigner FTE (Free Thinking Environment) and its counterpart TouchDesigner Pro puts a free development environment with an extremely rich feature set into the hands of artists, animators, educators and “everyone else”. “TouchDesigner is our vision of what is possible in tomorrow’s software tools for building interactive applications and exploring data, imagery and sound”, Derivative founder and CEO Greg Hermanovic states. “It exploits what is possible in today’s computing technology and is positioned to grow with the foreseeable advancements in computer, graphics and mobile technologies.”

Exhibit: The Rotten Machine, Retrospective of Brian Mackern’s Early Net Art Activities

Still from video documentation, available at Dropbox

The Rotten Machine (La Maquina Podrida) is currently on display at the MEIAC, in Badajoz, Spain.   On the 8th of May 2004, Brian Mackern, born and living in Montevideo, Uruguay, put for sale his personal laptop computer, in which he developed his early net art projects.  He also used the machine to document early online activity–particularly from around the Americas.

When considering the history of new media, the sale was made at a moment when web 2.0 was about to change: the blog, for instance, which was one of the pivotal tools of the next stage of web development, became quite popular at this time.  Simultaneously, the machine’s sale is an overt commentary on the preciousness of the work of art, which was the subject of several attempts of dematerialization during the heyday of conceptualism. The fetishization of the object of art was an issue to consider for many early online art practitioners, since in online practice there appeared to be  no “object of art” to deal with directly.  The Rotten Machine turns this convention on its head, and shows that “anything” can be commodified.

These are some of my brief observations on a work that deserves more analysis, and that I hope now that it enjoys its first exhibit, will be acknowledged around the world as an important contribution to the history of art. 

Hard disk of the rotten machine with the fingerprint of its owner, brian mackern

A text was written in 2004 by Raquel Herrera: http://www.cibersociedad.net/congres2004/grups/fitxacom_publica2.php?idioma=ca&id=95&grup=60

Below is part of the official press release written by curator, Nilo Casares:


exhibition:::::::::::::::::::the rotten machine aka the toothless old thing
:::::::::::::::::::::::::::::all net.art in a brian mackern’s laptop

works of:::::::::::::::::::::brian mackern

curator::::::::::::::::::::::nilo casares

technical coordination:::::::àngela montesinos

and organization:::::::::::::meiac

texts of catalogue:::::::::::rodrigo alonso
:::::::::::::::::::::::::::::andrés burbano
:::::::::::::::::::::::::::::nilo casares
:::::::::::::::::::::::::::::gabriel galli
:::::::::::::::::::::::::::::brian mackern
:::::::::::::::::::::::::::::àngela montesinos

edited by::::::::::::::::::::nilo casares


designer:::::::::::::::::::::fundc [http://www.fundc.com]



:::::::::::::::::::::::::::::from tuesdays until saturdays

gallery::::::::::::::::::::::3th floor
:::::::::::::::::::::::::::::virgen de guadalupe, 7.
:::::::::::::::::::::::::::::[meiac@juntaextremadura.net  ]

press contact::::::::::::::::àngela montesinos

:::::::::::::::::::::::::::::exhibition intro::::::::::::::::::::::

the rotten machine is a surprising exhibition that emanates from an old laptop from 1999, owned by the uruguayan netartist brian mackern, to recreate the time when net.art had its peak brightness, and perhaps therefore, the rattle before the emergence of web 2.0 (known as social network).

brian mackern is a founding artist who was ahead of the time in the development of online and offline soundvisual interfaces. founder of online directories artef@ctos virtuales [http://www.internet.com.uy/vibri] and latin netart database [http://netart.org.uy/latino/index.html] (currently owned by meiac).his reference sites are http://netart.org.uy, http://34s56w.org and http://no-content.net.

his computer, the rotten machine, it’s full and complete of all the data collected until the moment it was decided to be sold, on the 8th of may, 2004. it was the working tool (the studio, in classical terms) that accompanied brian mackern between 1999 and 2004, both in his personal work and in collaborative works for other artists and net jamms, apart from his work as a vj, conferences and workshops. in short, his tool.

a computer full of information and history, acquired by the meiac in order to expose it to posterity, when the development of hardware and software will prevent us from viewing many of the art pieces hosted on this computer.

the exhibition is divided into 5 audiovisual stations navigated by brian mackern himself.

1 – anthropological station: content and hardware components of the machine. sounds generated by its operation. references to files, etc.

2 – studio station: personal work (source files and visible works). the source code of his own work and at the same time the navigation of it.

3 – internet and networking station: content related to many of the projects and online/offline collaborative groups in which brian mackern has intervened.

4 – file, documentation and analysis station: random collection of information about net.art and internet culture of that time.

5 – history station. history of net.art: remix of endless net.art sites, in different states of preservation, many of them with retrofitted code to allow navigation within the machine without internet connection.


a: starting point for the auction of the “rotten machine”. peam,
pescara (italy), 2004

b: display of directories contained in the computer

c: hard disk of the rotten machine with the fingerprint of its owner,
brian mackern

d: some of the stickers on the computer

e: keys that are missing, the reason why this computer is also called
*the toothless old thing*

f: way in which *the rotten machine* was exposed for auction in peam,
pescara (italy), 2004

g: accompanying monster for the rotten machine during countless
tours, alongside with the backpack shown in the picture above

h: the rotten machine working, during the exhibition for its auction
at peam, pescara (italy), 2004

Beatrix*Jar, Hacking Away at MCASD, by Eduardo Navas

Sound set up by Beatrix*Jar, combines hacked battery operated toys with prerecorded samples played on a vintage Denon CD-DJ machine.

On January 23, I attended a circuit bending workshop at Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego (MCASD) taught by the experimental music duo, Beatrix*jar.  The hacking session was organized specifically for teenagers, who were more than ready to open up battery operated instrumental toys to release the ghost in the machine.

Another shot of Beatrix*Jar’s set up.

I was interested in attending the event in order to get a sense of how teenagers in a time of  inter-connectivity relate to low-tech hacking.  I left the museum with a positive reaction as I confirmed that tinkering is not a trend but a constant creative staple for generations of the past, present, and future.

Video of Beatrix*Jar’s six minute improvisational performance

The session began with a six minute performance by the sound art collective,  which clearly got the young hackers excited about the possibilities of circuit bending.  Beatrix*Jar, who have a background in art, are quick to claim that when they got started they had no music training.  This was their way of saying “anyone can do it!”  They complemented their demos with historical information, and encouraged participants to read Reed Ghazala’s Extreme Tech Circuit Bending.

A hacked Casio keyboard.  The on/off switches on the sides add customized sounds found by benders who participate in the ongoing workshop sessions held at different venues by Beatrix*Jar.

After explaining the beginnings of circuit bending, they quickly moved to demonstrating how to open up the toys, and find unexpected sounds.

Opening the gadgets to release the ghost in the machine.  Circuit bending frenzy at its best.

Gabrielle Wyrick, Education Curator, who kindly hosted me for the afternoon, explained that the workshops for teenagers are part of a program set up to encourage kids of all ages to realize that the museum is a place to visit and learn, interact, have fun, and most of all be creative.  Workshops like these, Wyrick explained are at times held for adults as well.  It appears that the concept of interactivity is finding its way everywhere, even to institutions such as museums that in the past posed as monolithic entities.  A good thing this is, as Wyrick explains that the MCASD wants to embrace audience involvement. The museum is redefining itself as a place which searches for ways to reveal the creative process in visitors, who can experiment with similar strategies that inform the creative drive of artists who actually have exhibits in the museum.

Beatrix*Jar explain how to hack battery operated instrumental toys.

For me it was a treat to see a hacking duo having a lot of fun with second-hand gadgets that can be found at any garage sale.  Creativity is the best value money can’t buy.

REPOST: In Super Bowl Commercials, the Nostalgia Bowl

Image and text source: NYTimes

AS dangerous as it may be to generalize, it is probably safe to say that few folks think of Marcel Proust as they watch the Super Bowl. But for the advertising bowl that took place inside Super Bowl XLIV on Sunday, it was one long remembrance of things past — with candy bars, mobile phones and beer bottles standing in for madeleines.

Nostalgia is a critical component of the pitches from sponsors on Super Bowl Sunday. After all, the best way to appeal to a mass audience of 100 million or so Americans is usually to fill spots with paeans to the past along with catchy music, stars, special effects, talking babies and endearing animals.

Even so, the salutes on Sunday to bygone eras reached a peak perhaps not seen since the last time Fonzie said “Ayyyy” on “Happy Days.” The reason is, of course, the economy and the belief along Madison Avenue that tough times call for familiarity rather than risks.

How retro was Super Bowl XLIV? Let us count the ways it resembled Super Bowl XXXIV, XXIV, XIV and even IV:

Read the entire article at NYTimes

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