Radio Belgrade Electronic Studio residency

Posted in Uncategorized on June 28th, 2018 by admin

Between 26 May and 03 June 2018, I undertook an intensive residency at the Radio Belgrade Electronic Studio with the goal of using their legendary EMS Synthi 100 analog synthesizer with my Vector Synthesis software to create a new set of audiovisual experiments.

Here, I present the videos in a reversed order.

Vector Synthesis: Liquid Iron Lattice (Radio Belgrade Electronic Studio IV)

Liquid Iron Lattice is the fourth and final composition created during my residency at the Radio Belgrade Electronic Studio, using their amazing EMS Synthi 100. The video integrates both the Vector Synthesis Pure Data code and the analog waveforms and processing of the Synthi 100 to maximum advantage — a true hybrid digital/analog synthesis.

For this work, I created a simple 2D grid raster rotating in 3D space. I then applied to this grid a scan processed photograph of a simple architectural detail in the building where I am staying. The brightness values in this image push the 2D grid upwards, with a number of sine wave signals from the Synthi 100 responsible for the fluid motions of the grid. These signals were then displayed as vectors by my modified Vectrex monitor. They were also sent back into the filters and spring reverbs of the Synthi 100 for modification, and were then summed with the signals sent to the Vectrex, resulting in a variety of generative feedback effects.

Filming “Liquid Iron Lattice”, Radio Belgrade Electronic studio, 30 May 2018

Vector Synthesis: Spomenik Surface Treatment (Radio Belgrade Electronic Studio III-A)

Spomenik Surface Treatment is the third patch of my week long residency on the EMS Synthi 100 located at Radio Belgrade Electronic Studio. After an exciting visit to the Kosmaj Spomenik south of Belgrade, I decided to create a Modernist monument of my own from sound and light. I have used my Vector Synthesis library for Pure Data to make Rutt-Etra style scan processing of a photograph of the Kosmaj sculpture, which is then displayed on a hacked Vectrex monitor using audio signals. The luminosity of a 3×3 pixel wide scanning area controls the brightness and displacement of the oscilloscope beam, with rotation and perspective added to the figure. The audio signal has been further processed after creating the image through the resonant low and high pass filters and the spring reverb of the Synthi 100.

Monument to Partisan anti-Fascist fighters at Kosmaj, Serbia. 29 May 2018

Vector Synthesis: Cubic Rotational Drone (Radio Belgrade Electronic Studio II)

Cubic Rotational Drone is the second patch of my week long residency on the EMS Synthi 100 located at Radio Belgrade Electronic Studio. The cube is created by reading the data tables for the three axes (X, Y, Z) in my Vector Synthesis library for Pure Data with a ramp oscillator of the Synthi 100. Other Synthi 100 ramps are used to modulate the size of the cube and the rotations, all set at various near-harmonic relationships to the main oscillator. The Random Voltage Generator of the Synthi 100 makes small variations in the frequencies of those ramps. The lines are a bit rough due to the irregularities in the analog waveforms. Two signals (X and Y) are then sent to be displayed on the Synthi 100 oscilloscope, a Tektronix 5000 series modular rack.

Rendering “Cubic Rotational Drone” on the Tektronix oscilloscope. 28 May 2018.

Vector Synthesis: Mean Variance Brushstrokes (Radio Belgrade Electronic Studio I)

Mean Variance Brushstrokes is the first patch of my week long residency on the EMS Synthi 100 located at Radio Belgrade Electronic Studio. The video raster is created by the ramp oscillators of the Synthi 100, whose frequencies are controlled by the instrument’s Random Voltage Generator. The signals are also run through the two spring reverbs, which are added to the raster signal and give the curved deformations seen here.

This video employs my Vector Synthesis library for Pure Data to make Rutt-Etra style scan processing of a video image, which is then displayed on an XY display using audio signals. The luminosity of the pixels being scanned controls the brightness and displacement of the oscilloscope beam. Additional modulations of the beam by audio signals create the other visual effects seen here. The display monitor is a hacked Vectrex game console, and a version of the same audio signal sent to the monitor can heard in the audio track.

Meeting Synthi 100 on the first day at the Radio Belgrade Electronic Studio. 26 May 2018.

Bonus Track: EMS Synthi 100 Oscillographics [Radio Belgrade Electronic Studio]

This is a series of audiovisual X/Y oscilloscope patches for the EMS Synthi 100 at the Radio Belgrade Electronic Music Studio, visualized on the Tektronix 5000 series modular rack oscilloscope. They were programmed to run autonomously without any human control. Most of them use two or three oscillators tuned to a close harmonic, and small changes in the frequencies (including temperature drift!) will make large changes in the image/sound. A couple use the Synthi 100’s low pass filters as well. All are based on Ron Pellegrino’s laser designs from “The Electronic Arts of Sound and Light” (1983).

Acknowledgements

My endless gratitude is extended to Svetlana Maras for pulling this whole thing together, and to Igor Stangliczky for his boundless hospitality.

VECTOR SYNTHESIS WORKSHOP HELSINKI

Posted in Announcement on May 17th, 2018 by admin

16 & 17 Jun 2018, 11:00 — 17:00
Location: Kuusi Palaa, Kolmas linja 7, 00530 Helsinki, Finland

During this two-day workshop, you will explore the direct relationship between sound and image.

Using the Pure Data programming environment, you can directly control the vertical and horizontal movements, as well as the brightness, of a beam of light. You will then investigate Lissajous figures, 3D models, Rutt-Etra video scan processing, and other audio-driven visual shapes and forms which can be displayed and manipulated in real time on an XY oscilloscope, or with oscilloscope emulating software directly on your laptop.

The participation fee for this workshop is EUR 50, with a 10% discount for Kuusi Palaa members. The workshop runs from 11:00 to 17:00 each day.

https://kuusipalaa.fi/events/vector-synthesis/vector-synthesis

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Mapping Festival Geneva

Posted in Announcement on May 8th, 2018 by admin

Mapping LIVE #2 – Saturday 12 May 2018

The last night of the Mapping Festival will be dedicated to the second LIVE marathon of this 2018 Edition Installations, performances, DJ sets and lives including video projections, strobe pulsations and sound creation will set fire to the ”Bâtiment H” of the HEAD Genève

Alessandro Cortini, Derek Holzer, Macular, Antoine Schmitt & Franck Vigroux, Philip Vermeulen, Kia Mann, NSDOS, Lanark Artefax, Tobias., Patrick Russell,… are among the guest stars.

Tickets for the Mapping Live #2 are available here:
https://bit.ly/2Hb1mGJ

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Interview for Middle East Technical University

Posted in Text on May 7th, 2018 by admin

I was recently asked some questions by Alparslan Teke of the Middle East Technical University in Ankara, Turkey about my instrument building practice, and I thought I might share the answers here.

1. How did you start making or altering electronic musical devices?

To make a long story incredibly short: I have always been interested in sound. However I lacked the discipline as a teenager to learn how to move my fingers quickly up and down the neck of a guitar or the keyboard of a piano. In my confusion, I considered “making sound” to be the same as “making music”. When I later figured out that most sound around us is in fact un-pitched, un-tempo-ed and therefore non-musical, my world opened up. But I discovered that most devices for making electronic sound still assumed one wanted to make “music” with them, so I started to take them apart to remove the “musical” part of the interface, or simply create my own from scratch, first in the Pure Data programming language and later with analog electronics.

2. In which relevant fields were you educated?

None. I studied literature in my bachelor’s studies, and silversmithing before that. Perhaps that accounts for my obsession with objects with tiny parts? Other than that I am not only entirely self-educated, but also in all my school years I nearly failed every math class which was ever forced on me. The fact that I am internationally recognized as a builder of electronics and a programmer of computers remains a gigantic mystery to me.

3. What were your motivations and/or purposes when you started, and (how) did they transform?

My instrument-building reflects an economic reality one faces as a non-academic, non-institutional artist these days. There is so much digital sound out there right now, and no one pays you for making any of it. But since we are working in the era of the “pro-sumer”, there are plenty of people who are constantly spending money on the tools to make their own sound. So what started as a way of taking control of my own tools and wrestling them away from the traditional music world ends up being an economic relationship with the music world all over again once they start to take interest in my way of working.

4. Do you consider this artistry (of making electronic/electroacoustic musical instruments) as your profession? If not, do you have any else?

I have no plan B at the moment. This is my day, night, weekday, weekend, summer, and winter job.

5. What words or concepts would you use to describe things you’ve created?

Non-linear, chaotic, generative, intuitive, iterative, multi-modal, phenomenological.

6. What related activities do you do that are directly or indirectly related to this occupation? (such as using the devices you made in performances, conducting workshops, etc.)

Currently a third of my time in this field is spent making instruments for sale. Another third is spent preparing for, traveling to and playing gigs. The last third is spent teaching.

7. Where and how do you get your ideas that end up with different devices?

Up to quite recently, almost everything in the analog synthesizer world was some kind of riff on something which was made in the 1960’s and 70’s already. This happens due to an unprecedented access to information about those devices which was much more mystical and unreachable at the time they were made. Despite the efforts of their inventors to share the knowledge at the time in many cases, the widest propagation effect was delayed until internet access became largely ubiquitous. I still think some of the best work in the field was done back then, and I spend a lot of time looking at old designs of audio and video devices from many eras, as well as related readings on the cultural, aesthetic, and philosophical ideas of the time which gave birth to these machines. Some of my favorite eras are the 1930’s (optical synthesis technology), the 1950’s (early analog and digital computer vector graphics), the late 1960’s (patchable, cybernetic analog computers become Buchla synthesizers), and the early 1970’s (after the Sony Portapak, television comes unglued through the work of Dan Sandin, Steve Rutt, Bill Etra, Steina and Woody Vasulka, Nam June Paik and others). However, the latest developments of hybrid digital/analog synthesizers have given me great hope and faith that finally we can also move on from these older models, and stop imitating drum machines from the early 80’s for the next 40 years.

8. Where and how do you get your raw material or components?

Small local shops when I’m in a hurry, larger European suppliers when I’m not. I haven’t moved to ordering from China in bulk yet. Most of my wooden instrument enclosures come from flea markets, antiques shops, strange collectors I have met over the years, and EBay.

9. How much time of a day or week (or a month, a year) do you spend on the workbench? Do you have a working schedule?

Sometimes I sleep. Then I feel guilty. I don’t know how to take vacations since beaches bore me to death, so I always end up finding some way to make a project out of a trip.

10. What time of this is actually building something, and in which other ways you spend time there? Would you confine your occupation of creating new musical devices to only the activities you do on the workbench?

As I said, I am pretty much always working. If I am not building, performing, or teaching, you can usually find me in “my office” (currently a rather relaxed cafe-bar in the Kallio district of Helsinki) doing research.

11. Do you have a separate workshop to maintain your effort, or is it embedded in the place you live in?

I had a working space in my Berlin flat for several years. It was the most unhealthy thing I ever did to myself, and my quality of life improved dramatically when I started renting out a studio. In Helsinki, I share a small space with a couple other artists who are pretty much never there, but I do dream about getting a larger space for myself again once finances allow it.

12. Do you produce in large quantities? Do you use the devices you`ve made, or do you sell them? Does this occupation provide you a livelihood?

I make everything in very small batches. This is because I am too stubborn to get into modern, automated processes and compulsively do things in very difficult ways, by hand. There is such a giant market for Euro-rack synthesizers made in far more efficient ways, I feel like if I get involved in that it will be a race to the bottom in terms of cost and quality. Probably I’m just a huge control freak.

I stand by everything I have built, and I use my own instruments every time I perform. In fact, I can’t really stand using things other people have built unless it’s something that would be really redundant to make myself, like a 16 channel audio mixer.

I have been lucky enough to be able to live from my art for the better part of two decades now, but that has also meant that I must constantly re-evaluate what “my art” means. This is how commercial instrument building and teaching became folded into my work. As I said, there is no plan B. It’s too late in life for me to get a start in the banking industry.

13. With whom do you most frequently interact as part of this
occupation of yours?

Workshop participants. I have offered my workshops in artist-run spaces, in music and media arts festivals, and in bachelors and masters level university programs in a variety of areas, including but not limited to architecture, theater, visual arts, media studies, audiovisual design, and music conservatory studies, in countries across Europe, North and South America, and New Zealand. The participants of these workshops have come from all walks of life, from professional Scandinavian artists to Native American high schoolers who have been tragically mis-labeled as “problem students”. The oldest participant in one of my workshops has been nearly 80, and the youngest just 8. One of the most unique participants was completely visually-impaired, yet insisted he would solder together his own electronic instrument. With a bit of assistance, he did just fine.

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Vector Synthesis Workshop Piksel

Posted in Announcement on December 28th, 2017 by admin

Derek Holzer, Vector Synthesis workshop
Building: Piksel Studio 207, Bergen NO
Dates: 9-11 March 2018
Time: tba

All workshops are free entrance. To sign up send an email to:
prod(at)piksel(dot)no

VECTOR SYNTHESIS is an audiovisual, computational art project using sound synthesis and vector graphics display techniques to investigate the direct relationship between sound+image. It draws on the historical work of artists such as Mary Ellen Bute, John Whitney, Nam June Paik, Ben Laposky, and Steina & Woody Vasulka among many others, as well as on ideas of media archaeology and the creative re-use of obsolete technologies. Audio waveforms control the vertical and horizontal movements as well as the brightness of a single beam of light, tracing shapes, points and curves with a direct relationship between sound and image.

You can see several demo videos here:

http://macumbista.net/?page_id=5000

SOFTWARE

The Vector Synthesis library allows the creation and manipulation of 2D and 3D vector shapes, Lissajous figures, and scan processed image and video inputs using audio signals sent directly to oscilloscopes, hacked CRT monitors, Vectrex game consoles, ILDA laser displays, or oscilloscope emulation softwares using the Pure Data programming environment.

https://github.com/macumbista/vectorsynthesis

During this workshop, you will learn how to use a custom library in the Pure Data programming environment to directly control the vertical and horizontal movements, as well as the brightness, of a beam of light. You will then explore Lissajous figures, waveform representations, and other multiplexed, audio-driven visual shapes and forms which can be displayed and manipulated in real time on an XY oscilloscope, Vectrex game console, ILDA laser display, and other analog vector displays, or with oscilloscope emulating software directly on your laptop.

LINKS

http://macumbista.net/?page_id=4869

https://www.instagram.com/macumbista/

More info at: http://17.piksel.no/?p=72

Photo credit: Anders Børup

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On the road in OCT-NOV-DEC 2017

Posted in Announcement on October 16th, 2017 by admin

05.10 – Vector Synthesis, SIMULTAN Festival, Timisoara RO (pictured)

09-10.10 – Field recording workshop, 7 DAYS of SOUND, Klaipeda LT

13.10 – Vector Synthesis, Meq Festival, Centre Dramatique National de Montpellier, Montpellier FR

14.10 – SoundBoxes workshop, Meq Festival, Centre Dramatique National de Montpellier, Montpellier FR

11.11 – Vector Synthesis workshop + performance, sound art festival, Copenhagen DK

18.11 – Vector Synthesis, Piksel Festival, Bergen NO

22.11 – Vector Synthesis, MuTe Festival, Sibelius Academy, Helsinki FI

24.11 – Vector Synthesis, Noisy November, Viljandi EE

27-29.11 – Vector Synthesis workshop, Piksel Festival, Bergen NO

04-10.12 – SoundBoxes workshop [w/ Björn Eriksson], Hola folkhögskola, Prästmon SE

11-15.12 – Neanderthal Electronics workshop [w/ Jeroen Vandesande], RITCS Academy, Brussels BE

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Vector Synthesis Library for Pure Data

Posted in Announcement on August 4th, 2017 by admin

The Vector Synthesis library allows the creation and manipulation of 2D and 3D vector shapes, Lissajous figures, and scan processed image and video inputs using audio signals sent directly to oscilloscopes, hacked CRT monitors, Vectrex game consoles, ILDA laser displays, or oscilloscope emulation softwares using the Pure Data programming environment.

You can see the latest version of the code here:

https://github.com/macumbista/vectorsynthesis

Audio waveforms control the vertical and horizontal movements as well as the brightness of a single beam of light, tracing shapes, points and curves with a direct relationship between sound and image.

The technique is based on the well-known principle of Lissajous figures, which are a mathematical representation of complex harmonic motion. Originally displayed by reflecting light between mirrors attached to a pair of vibrating tuning forks, we are most used to seeing them on the screen of an oscilloscope, where they can be produced using pairs of electronic oscillators tuned to specific ratios.

There is a wealth of such experiments from the 1950s onward by major figure such as Mary Ellen Bute, John Whitney, Larry Cuba, Manfred Mohr, Nam June Paik, Ben Laposky, Bill Etra, and Steina & Woody Vasulka, which were all highly inspiration to the development of this library.

You can see a demo video of the scan processing and 3D rotation functions here:

And you can see a two hour video presentation of this library here:

The author also wishes to thank the following people and institutions for their support of the project:

Aalto University Media Lab (Helsinki FI)
Marianne Decoster-Taivalkoski/CMT Sibelius Academy (Helsinki FI)
Jason and Debora Bernagozzi/Signal Culture (Owego NY USA)
Borut Savski/Cirkulacija2 (Ljubljana SI)
Lars Larsen/LZX Industries (Portland OR USA)
Spektrum (Berlin DE)
Andy Farnell
Ivan Marusic Klif
Dave Jones
Nathan Thompson
Roland Lioni/Akira’s Rebirth
Lee Montgomery

Derek Holzer Berlin July 2017

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Vector Synthesis Workshop Berlin

Posted in Announcement on June 8th, 2017 by admin

VECTOR SYNTHESIS WITH DEREK HOLZER

http://spektrumberlin.de/events/detail/vector-synthesis-with-derek-holzer.html

WORKSHOP (7hours/1day)
Level: introductory/beginners
Costs: 70 euro
Max number of participants: 12 people
Min number of participants: 4 people
Contact: macumbista@gmail.com
Sign up through this form:
https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSfo-Wn4JIdidSTJuTWmu6mzMFK34VH1d0qDVwMJ9InObAJcig/viewform

OWN COMPUTER AND HEADPHONES ARE NEEDED

DESCRIPTION

The VECTOR SYNTHESIS project is an audiovisual, computational art project using sound synthesis and vector graphics display techniques to investigate the direct relationship between sound+image. It draws on the historical work of artists such as Mary Ellen Bute, John Whitney, Nam June Paik, Ben Laposky, and Steina & Woody Vasulka among many others, as well as on ideas of media archaeology and the creative re-use of obsolete technologies.

SOFTWARE

During this workshop, you will learn how to use a custom library in the Pure Data programming environment to directly control the vertical and horizontal movements, as well as the brightness, of a beam of light. You will then explore Lissajous figures, waveform representations, and other multiplexed, audio-driven visual shapes and forms which can be displayed and manipulated in real time on an XY oscilloscope, Vectrex game console, ILDA laser display, and other analog vector displays using a DC coupled soundcard.

HARDWARE

We will also discuss hardware essentials such as how to modify a normal CRT monitor for vector inputs, how to hack together a cheap DC coupled soundcard, how to use a microcontroller such as the Teensy, Bela or Axoloti as a base for your vector synthesizer, and how to interface with the International Laser Display Association control protocol.

WHAT TO BRING

Please bring your own laptop. If you have a DC soundcard such as the MOTU Ultralight, please bring that as well. Many cheap USB soundcards can be adapted for DC use as well, you can find them on EBay or I will bring several for sale at the workshop. There will be a limited number of displays, so if you already own an analog XY oscilloscope, Vectrex game console, or other vector monitor, that would be very useful to bring. And finally, please get in touch if you have a CRT monitor you would like to see hacked (no guarantees!) during the hardware phase of the workshop. (Additional materials fee applies, we can discuss this.)

LINKS

http://macumbista.net/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/VECTOR-SYNTHESIS-PURE-DATA-LIBRARY.pdf

https://www.instagram.com/macumbista/

ABOUT THE WORKSHOP HOLDER

Derek Holzer is an American instrument builder and sound artist whose current interests include DIY analogue electronics, field recording, media archaeology and the meeting points of electroacoustic, noise, improv and extreme music.

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SKETCHES for VECTOR SYNTHESIS

Posted in Documentation on February 7th, 2017 by admin

SKETCHES for VECTOR SYNTHESIS [2017][HD720] from macumbista

The VECTOR SYNTHESIS project is an audiovisual, computational art project using entirely analog synthesis and vector graphics display techniques to investigate the direct relationship between sound+image. Driven by the waveforms of an analog synthesizer, the vertical and horizontal movements of a single beam of light trace shapes, points and curves with infinite resolution, opening a hypnotic window into the process by which the performed sound is created.

This project is available as a live performance, a video installation or soon as a standalone audiovisual object crafted from handmade circuits and analog CRT tubes.

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.

Essay “The Vectorian Era” here: http://macumbista.net/?p=4715

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Sirene by Phillip Sollmann

Posted in Documentation on December 8th, 2016 by admin

sirene

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.

SIRENE Dokumentation from pa bla on Vimeo.

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