In 2015 I had the pleasure of working with Phillip Sollmann on his performance/installation Sirene. For the project, I researched how to control two very precise, high-tech Faulhaber motors with Pure Data over a serial connection. Originally designed for aerospace use, the Faulhaber motors became the engines for Sollmann’s air-powered, microtonal sirens which were presented at Oststation, Vienna in the spring of that year. The physical structure of the sirens was designed and executed by Paper/Christoph Blattmacher in Berlin.
The Benjolin is a standalone synthesizer designed by Rob Hordijk from the Netherlands in 2009 and available as an open hardware project online. This Pure Data implementation of the Benjolin was coded by Derek Holzer in SEP-NOV 2016 in Helsinki, after several years of producing customized hardware Benjolins from his Berlin studio.
Get it here: http://macumbista.net/?page_id=4690
THE VECTORIAN ERA: an Investigation into Analog Computer Graphics
The Vectorian Era opens with a screaming across the sky. Analog electronic computers predate their digital counterparts by several decades, and one of the first practical applications of the analog computer was in controlling the trajectories of German V2 rockets as they traced their rainbow of gravity from Flanders towards London during the Second World War. As Friedrich Kittler has observed, the relationship of media technology to military tools of destruction was sealed by moments such as these.
Post-war developments continued in this direction. Tennis for Two, programmed in 1958 by William Higinbotham on an analog computer at Brookhaven National Laboratories in Long Island NY USA, using an oscilloscope as the display. It combined a two-player interface with physics models of a bouncing ball displayed as vectors in motion, and is arguably the first publicly-playable video game. The laboratory itself performed government research into nuclear physics, energy technology, and national security.
In the early 1960’s, the composer Morton Subotnik employed engineer Don Buchla to help him create “the music of the future”. Buchla redesigned the existing function generators of analog computers to respond to voltage controls of their frequency and amplitude. This gave birth to the realtime-controllable, analog modular synthesizer which was subsequently expanded by others such as Bob Moog and Serge Tcherepnin.
In 1967, the Sony Portapak revolutionized video by taking the camera out of the television studio and into the hands of amateurs and artists. And by the early 1970’s, an interest in cybernetics, systems theory and automatic processes brought the analog computer closer to the worlds of art, music, and architecture. Figures such as Heinz von Foerster, Gordon Pask, Nam June Paik, Steina and Woody Vasulka, Iannis Xenakis and R. Buckminster Fuller all speculated on the effect of computers on society, and used computer-derived forms in their work. The 1972 Rutt-Etra Video Synthesizer, used famously by the Vasukas in several works, employed an analog computer to manipulate and deconstruct the raster of a conventional video signal with very otherworldly effects.
Vector graphics were widely adopted by video game manufacturers in the late 1970’s due to their computational efficiency, and the wealth of experience using them that the history of analog computing provided. Perhaps the most iconic of these games is Asteroids, a space shooter released by Atari in 1979. Battle Zone (1980), Tempest (1981), and Star Wars (1983) all stand as other notable examples from this Vectorian Era, and also as rudimentary training tools for the future e-warriors who would remotely guide missiles into Iraqi bunkers at the start of the next decade. As electronics became cheaper, smaller, and faster in the 1980’s, the dated technology of using analog vectors to directly manipulate a Cathode Ray Tube fell out of favor and rasterized graphics, animations and moving image quickly took their place.
Informed by the discourse of media archaeology, my own personal interest in analog vector graphics isn’t merely retro-for-retro’s-sake. Rather, it is an exploration of a once-current and now discarded technology linked with specific utopias and dystopias from another time. The fact that many aspects of our current utopian aspirations (and dystopian anxieties!) remain largely unchanged since the dawn of the Vectorian Era indicates to me that seeking to satisfy them with technology alone is quite problematic. Therefore, an investigation into “tried-and-failed” methods from the past casts our current attempts and struggles in a new kind of light.
23 NOV 2016
–TOP: Derek Holzer, “VECTOR SYNTHESIS” study, August 2015, Berlin DE
–BOTTOM: Early computer art created by anonymous IBM engineers, this pinup girl program is running on a SAGE (Semi-Automatic Ground Environment) defense computer. Polaroid photo by Lawrence A. Tipton, 1959, Ft. Lee Virginia USA. Via The Atlantic.
ATELIER MACUMBA presents
A NIGHT of PRIMITIVE ELECTRONICS featuring
RANDOM SONIC ATTACK [PL/GR/DE]
DEREK HOLZER + HÉLÈNE CANUET [USA/FR/DE]
The Students of SONIC COLLEGE HADERSLEV [DK]
plus DISTILLED SPIRITS by SLOWLANDS
17 AUG 2016 20:00 doors, 20:30 sound
55 Herzbergstrasse, Berlin-Lichtenberg
Event is held in the ground floor “cold hall”, next to the former Canteen.
GROWTH is a forest of ambiguities. It is an inward gaze, a state of being, and a largely improvised performance by the hands of Berlin based non-musician Lars Ennsen which may be classified in terms of minimal, ambient, and drone.
RANDOM SONIC ATTACK landed on planet earth approximately half a year ago. A collaboration between Goolyk & Damn Jar. Cassette tape album is in the processing state. In the meantime you can listen to one studio improvisation and one live recording here:
HÉLÈNE CANUET is a polymorphe French photographer, writer and performer. Rare on the art scene over 4 years , her work was only show in few galeries in Berlin. Lyrical, surrealistic or conceptuel her propositions are always very personal, almost intimate on the edge of poesie and social politic. Based on improvisation some of her projects seems done to snaked emotion and fired expectation.
For her collaboration with instrument-builder DEREK HOLZER this evening, Hélène will present her spoken-word texts as material for the DELILAH TOO VOICE ENCODING SYSTEM.
The students of SONIC COLLEGE [Haderslev DK] will present the results of their SOUNDBOXES workshop at 20:30 sharp to a limited audience in a separate, darkened hall. Please be ***pünktlich*** if you plan to experience this!
Due to some studies at the Media Lab of Aalto University in Helsinki, I will be on hiatus for a while. Therefore:
I am no longer accepting any bookings for workshops or concerts until January 2017.
I am no longer accepting any instrument orders until June 2017, and even then my production line maybe undergo some changes.
Thank you for all your support as friends, customers and admirers over the last few years. It’s been a great ride. Watch this space or my more-frequently-updated Facebook page for updates: www.facebook.com/macumbistanet
Another vehicle for interdimensional travel completed! This one features seven identical Thomas Henry XR-VCOs with three different timbre modulation options (hard sync, “skew” waveshaping and a J3RK/Stroh Modular crossfader between triangle/sine and square), all with voltage control, plus voltage-controlled frequency modulation, a summing mono output and even a headphone amp.
When I think about the human-hours that went into this instrument, I start going a little bit insane. Completing this would not have been possible without the assistance of Lars Ennsen and Damian Jaroszonek. Thanks düdes!
PROJECT SPACE KLEINER SALON, BERLIN DE
2-3 APRIL 2016
Explore DIY electronics and sound art performance with your own SoundBox during this two-day workshop in Berlin-Kreuzberg.
SoundBoxes are small, primitive electro-acoustic instruments built from a wooden box, a speaker, a small audio amplifier and a contact microphone. They can create a variety of drone and reverb-type sounds through feedback between the speaker and microphone, or they can bring out the hidden sounds found within everyday objects. They also have small touchpoints which can be used to produce a variety of “circuit bending” sounds.
During the first day, we will learn about electricity, how it becomes sound and then how to build the SoundBoxes themselves. On the second day, we will explore the possibilities of the SoundBoxes, with the goal of collaboratively creating a score for a sound performance of approximately 10-15 minutes in length.
This workshop does not require any previous knowledge of electronics, only an interest and a curiosity in both sound and instrument-building.
Thank you for your kind attention.
I am now accepting pre-orders for the next run of Benjolin V3 and Butterfly Benjolin chaotic sound instruments. Pre-orders will be accepted up to 05 MARCH 2016 with a 50% deposit required. Projected delivery of this run will be mid-APRIL 2016.
The Benjolin is a standalone synthesizer designed by Rob Hordijk from the Netherlands. It contains two oscillators (one LFO and one VCO), a voltage controlled filter and a circuit called a “Rungler”, which allows chaotic cross-modulation possibilities between the different parts of the circuit. Hordijk refers to the Benjolin as a circuit which has been “bent by design.”
These hand-made Macumbista Benjolins are officially licensed by Hordijk, and have been further customized with a patchbay, which can be used to interface with other modular synthesizers or to setup further control voltage feedback systems within the Benjolin itself, attenuators on the three control voltage input and LEDs displaying the internal state of the Rungler. The double version, which I have named the Butterfly Benjolin, allows incredible amounts of chaotic cross-modulation between the two halves of the instrument.
The price of the Benjolin V3 is EUR 495 (incl. 19% EU VAT) / EUR 416 (shipped outside the EU), and the price of the Butterfly Benjolin is EUR 895 (incl. 19% EU VAT) / EUR 752 (shipped outside the EU), plus shipping.
Please contact me using the CONTACT page here, or through MACUMBISTA at-the-domain GMAIL dot COM.
Current wooden box options for the Benjolin V3 are natural finish and “hammered” green, blue and red (limited supplies of all “hammered” finishes!!!!). The Butterfly Benjolin comes in natural finish only.
As of the summer of 2015, all the aluminum front panels of my Benjolins and Butterfly Benjolins are engraved and milled by CNC machine at the FabLab Berlin.
Additionally, there are a number of customizations available for PRE-ORDER ONLY:
CUSTOM TEXT ENGRAVING: rename your instrument with your own custom engraved text, up to approx 25 characters. EUR 15 (incl. 19% EU VAT) / EUR 13 (shipped outside the EU)
LOOP SWITCH: The LOOP switch locks the otherwise chaotic pattern of the Rungler into a loop. The UP position is a loop of 4 steps going forward, the MIDDLE position is the normal chaos of the Rungler, and the DOWN position is a loop of 4 steps forwards and 4 steps backwards. EUR 25 (incl. 19% EU VAT) / EUR 21 (shipped outside the EU)
EXTERNAL INPUT SWITCH: The external input 6.3mm jack on the back of this Benjolin allows a signal from another source to be sent through the Low Pass Filter of the instrument. Selecting “EXT” on the FIL INPUT switch sends this signal to the FIL input, where the cutoff and resonance controls of the filter can be used to affect it. When the FIL INPUT switch is in the “INT” position, the PWM signal, mixed with a small amount of RUN voltage, is sent to the FIL (this is the normal Benjolin signal path). EUR 25 (incl. 19% EU VAT) / EUR 21 (shipped outside the EU)
EXTERNAL RUNGLER CLOCK:: A jack of your choice (banana, mini-jack or 6.3mm jack) on the back panel of the instrument provides a switchable clock source for the Rungler of the instrument. The DOWN switch position clocks the Rungler from OSCILLATOR 2 of the intrument, the UP switch position clocks it from the external clock input. EUR 35 (incl. 19% EU VAT) / EUR 30 (shipped outside the EU)
RUNGLER BITS OUT: Three colored banana jacks on the back match the colored LEDs on the front, and give a +5.6V gate voltage when the corresponding LED lights up. These are the individual bits of the Rungler, which are summed together through a simple Digital-to-Analog Converter to provide the RUN control voltage. EUR 25 (incl. 19% EU VAT) / EUR 21 (shipped outside the EU)
Two Benjolins cross-patched to modulate each other function identically to the Dual “Butterfly” Benjolin.
This long-take shows an example of symmetrical cross-patching between the two halves of the Butterfly Benjolin, and gives an idea of the self-modulation possible with this dual instrument.
Thank you for your kind attention!
These 9 SoundBoxes are available as of 22DEC15. Each includes a resonant spring contact microphone. The boxes with transparent speakers are pictured with the Japanese paper used to line the inside of the box.
The Type A SoundBoxes (92mm black speaker) can be purchased for EUR 83 (incl. 19% EU VAT) / EUR 70 (non-EU) plus postage costs.
The Type B SoundBoxes (77mm backlit transparent speaker + Japanese paper lining) can be purchased for EUR 95 (incl. 19% EU VAT) / EUR 80 (non-EU) plus postage costs.
Cash discount for Berlin-Lichtenberg pickup!!!!
To order, please contact me by email: firstname.lastname@example.org and include the name of the SoundBox you are interested in in the subject line.
More info on the SoundBoxes here: http://macumbista.net/?page_id=4382
Triangles #1 = SOLD!!!!
Waves #1 = SOLD!!!
Paper #1 = SOLD!
Paper #2 = SOLD!
Paper #4 = SOLD!
Bürknerstr 12, 12047 Berlin, Germany
18 December at 20:00
SCOPE presents: Derek Holzer & Marco Donnarumma #85
Doors: 19:30 / Start time: 20:00
Event presented by Scope – curated by AudeRrose
Derek Holzer – MACUMBISTA [Vector Synthesis]
Solo performance for self-made analog synthesizer, analog vector video monitor and room by Derek Holzer. His live performances are largely improvisational journeys through different types of non-linear feedback processes, performed on a selection of self-made analog electronic synthesizers. He uses the unstable and chaotic patterns these machine create to explore the physical affects of volume, frequency and complexity within a given architectural space. During this live performance at SPEKTRUM, he will introduce some of his recent experiments in vector-based audiovisual synthesis. For fans of Maryanne Amacher, Bernard Parmegiani, Eliane Radigue and Slayer.
Marco Donnarumma – Ominous and Music for Flesh
In this performance, Marco plays two pieces with the XTH Sense , a biowearable musical instrument he created 5 years ago. By performing whole-body, physical gestures, his body emits bioacoustic sounds which are amplified using wearable microphone sensors, interactively live sampled and diffused through loudspeakers and subwoofers. In this way, he creates music by literally composing the sounds emitted by the muscle tissue of his body in real time. The natural sound of the flesh and its virtual counterpart blend together into unstable sonic objects. This is what he termed Biophysical Music, music that is a joint result of physiological technology and markedly physical, visceral performance.
ABOUT THE ARTISTS
Derek Holzer (1972) is an American instrument builder and sound artist based in Berlin DE, whose current interests include DIY analog electronics, the relationship between sound + space, media archaeology and the meeting points of electroacoustic, noise, improv and extreme music. He has performed live, taught workshops and created scores of unique instruments and installations since 2002 across Europe, North and South America, and New Zealand.
Italian born, living and working in Berlin, Marco Donnarumma is a performance artist, sound artist and writer. His work lies where performance art and sound art converge through technology. He has played interactive sound by amplifying sounds from his body, has induced visitors in altered states of self-perception by feeding sounds from their bodies back to their skulls and bones, has immersed audiences in multichannel sound and video produced by the strain of his muscles while he pulled 50Kg stones, and has physicalised digital viruses in the body. The focus of his practise is on how to configure human bodies and machines through sound. He uses biotechnologies, software algorithms and body sensors to create intensely physical actions, concerts and live installations which are renown for combining rigorous science, technical sophistication and critical thinking.