Vector Synthesis Workshop Berlin 5-7 JUL 2019

Posted in Announcement on May 23rd, 2019 by admin

The Vector Synthesis workshop investigates the direct relationship between sound+image. It draws inspiration from media archaeology and obsolete technologies such as the Cathode Ray Tube monitor, combined with contemporary laser display techniques. Participants will learn how to draw Lissajous figures, render simple two- and three-dimensional shapes, and process photographs and video into vector artwork which can be displayed on oscilloscopes, Vectrex consoles, and ILDA laser displays using audio signals which can also be heard. These vector shapes can also be further modified in real time using external audio sources such as voice, amplified instruments, or electronic synthesizers provided by the participants.


You can see examples of what you might do here:

https://vimeo.com/macumbista/

The core of the workshop will be examples written in the Pure Data programming language. Detailed instructions on how to install and set up Pure Data, as well as a software oscilloscope emulator so you can see your work without special hardware, will be sent to registered participants.

You can view the Vector Synthesis code here:

https://github.com/macumbista/vectorsynthesis/

The language of this workshop is English. Participants are required to bring their own laptops with software installed according to pre-event instructions sent by email.

DURATION
This is one continuous workshop of three days, 5 hours per day. Participation on individual days is not possible.
—FRI 05 JULY 12-17:00
—SAT 06 JULY 12-17:00
—SUN 07 JULY 12-17:00
—Max participants: 14 (50% will be students from Humboldt University, so 7 tickets are available for outside participants)

LOCATION
Signallabor, Humboldt University of Berlin, Georgenstraße 47, Raum 2.26 (2nd floor), Berlin Germany

With kind thanks to Dr. Stefan Höltgen, the Signallabor, and Humboldt University for their generous sponsorship of the event location.

BOOK TICKETS HERE
https://www.eventbrite.de/e/vector-synthesis-pure-data-workshop-berlin-tickets-62307403120

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Macumbista Benjolin V5

Posted in Announcement on May 4th, 2019 by admin

Dear friends: I am about to start a building run of a dozen new Macumbista Benjolin V5 instruments, to be completed in July/August 2019. Features listed below. If you would like to order one of these instruments, please send an email to MACUMBISTA at the domain GMAIL dot COM with the subject line “Benjolin V5” for further info.

The Benjolin is a standalone synthesizer containing two oscillators (one LFO and one VCO), a voltage controlled lowpass filter (VCF), and a circuit called a “Rungler”, which allows chaotic cross-modulation possibilities between the different parts of the circuit. They have been further customized with a patchbay, which can be used to interface with other modular synthesizers or to setup further feedback systems within the Benjolin itself, as well as external audio inputs to the Benjolin filters, two “loop” modes, and an external input to drive the Rungler clock.

The Benjolin V5 features a newly-designed PCB with a few improvements, namely that it can be powered from normal 12V DC wall supplies rather than the more exotic 12V AC supplies I used earlier.

Available box finishes are “hammered metal” green, gray, and blue paint, as well as a “natural” finish. Some examples of colors here:

http://macumbista.net/wp-content/uploads/2015/07/end-jan-benjos.jpg
http://macumbista.net/wp-content/uploads/2015/07/start-feb-benjos.jpg

The price of the Benjolin V4 is EUR 565 (incl. 19% EU VAT) / EUR 475 (for customers outside the EU), plus shipping costs. All my instruments are made-to-order, and require a 50% deposit to begin work (EUR 240). I accept IBAN bank transfers and PayPal (with 4% PayPal fee added).

Further info (on the previous Benjolin V4) can be seen at:

http://macumbista.net/?page_id=4770

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Vector Synthesis USA Tour FEB-MAR 2019

Posted in Announcement on February 15th, 2019 by admin

I am proud to announce the following confirmed dates, including two public Pure Data workshops for creating audiovisual vector graphics for the oscilloscope, Vectrex, and ILDA laser plus several performances, for my tour of the USA in February and March 2019

25 FEB – 07 MAR ::: Vector Hacking Workshop :::
Dept. of Media Arts and Technology, University of California, Santa Barbara CA
https://www.mat.ucsb.edu/

09-10 MAR ::: Video Vector Synthesis Workshop :::
S1, Portland OR
REGISTER: http://s1portland.com/vectorsynthesis030919/

15-16 MAR ::: Vector Synthesis Performance + Lecture :::
Lafayette Electronic Arts Festival, Lafayette CO
Free entry! http://leafcolorado.org/leaf2019/

19-20 MAR ::: Vector Synthesis Workshop :::
Dept. of Digital + Media, Rhode Island School of Design, Providence RI
http://www.digitalmedia.risd.edu/

21 MAR ::: Vector Synthesis Live :::
With Victoria Shen, Andrea Pensado, and Shawn Greenlee / Mark Cetilia
Machines with Magnets, Pawtucket RI
http://www.machineswithmagnets.com

22 MAR ::: Vector Synthesis Live :::
With Jonas Bers, Mike Sidnam, Paloma Kop, VX Bliss, and Dead Lion
Secret Project Robot, Brooklyn NY
Posted soon at https://www.secretprojectrobot.org

23-24 MAR ::: Vector Synthesis Workshop :::
Harvestworks, NYC NY
REGISTER: http://www.harvestworks.org/vector-synthesis-workshop/

With undying gratitude to Marko Peljhan, Matthew Rempes, Kathy Hardin, David Fodel, Shawn Greenlee, Mark Cetilia, Victoria Shen, Jonas Bers, Mike Sidnam, Paloma Kop, Bob Bellerue, Sofy Yuditskaya, and Carol Parkinson.

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VectorHack 2018 Review

Posted in Documentation on December 25th, 2018 by admin
Robert Henke & Bernhard Rasinger, Zagreb 03.10.18 (photo: Damir Žižić)

My personal and academic research into experimental vector graphics systems culminated in the most significant event of my entire year, the Vector Hack Festival in October 2018. This festival sprung out of discussions Ivan Marušić Klif initiated with me in July 2017, when we both made the first public releases of our Pure Data and Max/MSP code libraries for displaying vector imagery on the oscilloscope using audio signals. Klif and I envisioned the event as a forum where artists creating experimental audio-visual work for oscilloscopes, vector monitors, and laser displays could share ideas, develop their work together, and form an actual community from the disparate artists working in this field, who otherwise only knew each other through the online world. We also curated a public program of open workshops and talks aimed at allowing young artists and a wider audience to learn more both about creating their own vector-based audiovisual works, and about the scientific and artistic history of these techniques from the 1950’s onward, as well as organizing a rich performance program which demonstrated a diverse range of techniques and artistic approaches in action.

Alberto Novello, Ljubljana 07.10.18 (photo: Katja Goljat)
Jonas Bers, Zagreb 04.10.18 (photo: Vanja Babić)

In total, we gathered a group of twenty-three participants, all working as researchers, teachers, developers, and performers in the field of experimental vector visuals, from across the EU, the USA, and Canada. The program was held between two very different locations in two different cities. The first half of the festival in Zagreb, with talks and performances oriented towards a larger public audience, was held in a large hall of the Nikola Tesla Technical Museum from the 2nd to 4th of October. We found it especially significant that this museum was also the site of the fifth and final New Tendencies/Nova Tendencije exhibition in 1973, which had focused on “Constructive Visual Research, Computer Visual Research, [and] Conceptual Art”. There, the keynote and subsequent presentations were very well attended by audiences of between 30-60 people each evening, while the biggest performance night featuring Robert Henke and Bernhard Rasinger drew approximately 300 people. In Ljubljana, the Osmo/za venue was significantly smaller and therefore the program focused more on discussion between the event participants alongside the evening performances from the 5th to the 7th of October. The event was organized locally by Ivan Marušić Klif, the Radiona.org Zagreb Makerspace, the Ljudmila Art and Science Laboratory, and Zavod Projekt Atol. Curatorial duties were shared between myself and Klif, with assistance kindly given by Chris King of the Video Circuits group.

CHA/V workshop, Ljubljana 07.10.18 (photo: Katja Goljat)
Vanda Kreutz, Ljubljana 07.10.18 (photo: Katja Goljat)

One of the highest priorities of the program was given to the sharing of technical know-how with a general audience in both a discursive and a participatory manner. In both cities, Jonas Bers and Philip Baljeu each gave practical electronics workshops focused on building the CHA/V (a “Cheap Hacky Audio/Visual” synthesizer based on the deliberate misuse of a Chinese VGA test pattern generator) and the OGA (“Oscilloscope Graphic Artist”, a circuit developed by technology writer Mitchell Waite and published in Popular Electronics magazine in 1980). Hansi Raber and Jerobeam Fenderson also each gave presentations on different aspects of their OsciStudio software, which may be the most well-known of the ‘oscilloscope music’ platforms, with Raber focusing on the freshly-implemented live coding functions of the application and Fenderson covering its artistic and performative use with a strong nod towards the computer gaming and demo scene.

Derek Holzer, Zagreb 03.10.18 (photo: Damir Žižić)
Keynote audience, Zagreb 03.10.18 (photo: Damir Žižić)

The three other major coding platforms for audiovisual vectors, Pure Data, Max/MSP, and Processing, were demonstrated by my own Vector Synthesis library and Douglas Nunn’s additional Pd research, Ivan Marušić Klif’s REWereHere patch, and Ted DavisXYscope library respectively. Equally important hardware approaches were elaborated by Andrew Duff and Bernhard Rasinger’s discussions of analog modular synthesis for the Vectrex and ILDA laser display, Roland Lioni’s (aka “akirasrebirth”) examples using the Axoloti microcontroller DSP board, Joost Rekveld’s self-built analog computers for the generation of vector-based HD video, and Baljeu and Bers’ presentations of their own oscillographic and scan processing systems inspired by the Rutt-Etra video synthesizer from the 1970’s and Mitchell Waite’s circuits from the 1980’s. Finally, Robert Henke gave an extensive tour through the progressive iterations of his monumental Lumiere performance, along with details of the laser controlling software and hardware necessary to execute them.

Joost Rekveld, Zagreb 04.10.18 (photo: Vanja Babić)
Jerobeam Fenderson & Hansi Raber, Zagreb 02.10.18 (photo: Vanja Babić)

The event also strived to provide a historical context for the contemporary activities it showcased, as well as cities in which we had chosen to work. We were very fortunate to welcome artist-researcher Darko Fritz, who provided a survey of vector-related works from the New Tendencies art movement, which was born in Zagreb and saw its most important exhibitions and publications come together there. And in Ljubljana, the artist and curator Ida Hiršenfelder presented a wonderful overview of Slovene computer art during the Yugoslav era, extending from the 1960’s to the 1980’s. Each of these talks was intended to provide a local artistic frame of reference for the visiting foreign participants, however much of the material was also new to many – in particularly the younger generation of – local audience members as well.

Bernhard Rasinger & Robert Henke, Zagreb 03.10.18 (photo: Damir Žižić)
CHA/V workshop, Ljubljana 07.10.18 (photo: Katja Goljat)

From there, other keynote presentations dug into various particular technologies and their historical applications both in and outside of the art world. Rekveld set out an impressive display of early mechanical and electronic devices used to create physical analogies of real-world phenomena to provide real-time simulation and interaction for scientific and industrial engineering applications, while I gave a window into my own research on the military development of computers as a means of simulating, predicting, controlling, and eventually annihilating unknown ‘others’, and where the legacy of these origins might be found in contemporary computer graphics. Researcher Stefanie Bräuer focused on a very specific historical setting, namely the use of technologies such as oscilloscopic and stereoscopic imagery in the 1950’s films of Mary Ellen Bute, Hy Hirsh, and Norman McLaren which she described as marking a change in focus from mechanical to electronic means of image production in experimental cinema, while Chris King sought to bring together the developments of mechanical drawing machines with concurrent and subsequent experiments in video synthesis and vector graphics.

Andrew Duff, Ljubljana 06.10.18 (photo: Katja Goljat)
Philip Baljeu, Ljubljana 07.10.18 (photo: Katja Goljat)

The majority of participants who gave workshops or talks, as well as laser artist Alberto Novello who could only join us for the last evening, also made performances demonstrating their self-made systems for a public audience. However, for me the most exciting moments lay in the new configurations and collaborations which sprang up during the festival. The first of these collaborations was a sublime conversation between the ethereal sounds of Hrvoslava Brkušić and the geometric vectors of Douglas Nunn in Zagreb. This was closely followed by a completely spontaneous shared set by laserists Rasinger and Henke which illuminated the architecture of the Technical Museum hall with such power that I felt I could still see afterimages in the room the following day. Of note was the contrast between Henke’s usual precision-high-tech approach, which he discussed just that afternoon as originating from the need to be taken seriously within the world of large-scale audiovisual installation and performance, and the relaxed, ‘dirty techno’ improvisational style he easily returned to for his duo with Rasinger in the evening of the same day.

Vanda Kreutz, Ljubljana 07.10.18 (photo: Katja Goljat)
Kikimore, Ljubljana 06.10.18 (photo: Katja Goljat)

Later on, in the more intimate settings of Osmo/za in Ljubljana, we focused on what we had been calling ‘workgroups’ throughout the festival. These workgroups were envisioned as a way of inviting young, local artists to interface with vector and video synthesis techniques for the first time and explore them towards the goal of an informal performance at the end of the festival. We took the extra step of inviting only women to these groups as a way of counterbalancing what I saw as a serious deficiency in female performers in our festival lineup, and of nurturing them into the larger scene of audiovisual vector artists from which we drew our international participants. Croatians Brkušić, who shared the stage with Nunn in Zagreb, and Vanda Kreutz, who presented an inspired solo improvisation arising from her meeting with the LZX Vidiot synthesizer, were joined in the workgroups by members of the Slovene noise collective Kikimore, which was founded in 2016 in Ljubljana out of an initiative focusing on the activities of women in the area of science, technology, and media art. I had given them a basic demo of the Vector Synthesis patches during a residency in Ljubljana in July 2017, and their enthusiastic response guarenteed that I would remember them when we began considering who we might invite. From their collective, Staša Guček took a masterclass in the art of audio-reactive video mixer feedback from Bers, and the trio of Sara Mlakar, Nina Orlić, and Barbara Poček ran the chaotic, noisy signals from their lovingly-handmade electronic sound devices into the laser system of Rasinger, laughing the entire time.

Robert Henke & Bernhard Rasinger, Zagreb 03.10.18 (photo: Damir Žižić)
Alberto Novello, Ljubljana 07.10.18 (photo: Katja Goljat)

Moments such as these workgroup performances went a long way towards fulfilling the community-building goal Klif and I set out during our first conversations, as well as towards that of bringing new artists into this community with an enthusiastic welcome and a wealth of new inspiration. After reading a draft of this post, Jonas Bers pointed out to me how all the participants very quickly got involved in the aspects of community building ‘behind the scenes’ so to speak, by debugging each others’ code; adding features to their own systems by request; loaning, teaching, troubleshooting, repairing, and modifying hardware; donating printed circuit boards; coordinating workshops; creating content for one another; and actively maintaining contact after the event ended. Once the video documentation of the talks and performances are online, we hope that the discussion they stimulate will grow even larger and more inclusive of radically different approaches to the medium. Our next ambition is to organize a followup to this event, perhaps in 2020, which I would like to see go further in directions we only touched on in this edition, i.e. more female participants, more participants from outside Europe, more participatory and entry-level workshop situations for local and visiting artists, a deeper look into different approaches to the laser display from both the established professional and experimental artistic sides, a focus on the currently burgeoning field of digital plotters and mechanical drawing devices, and a new round of media archaeological excavations into the hidden histories of vector technologies and the arts created by them.

–Derek Holzer, Helsinki, 25 DEC 2018

Your hosts Chris King, Ivan Marušić Klif & Derek Holzer, Ljubljana 07.10.18 (photo: Katja Goljat)
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VectorHack Festival 2018 1-7 OCT Zagreb & Ljubljana

Posted in Announcement on September 19th, 2018 by admin

We are very excited to publish the VectorHack Festival 2018 lineup today. I really feel like we have invited some of the most brilliant minds in the field of experimental, audiovisual vector graphics to Zagreb and Ljubljana for one week (01-07 OCT 2018) of hacking, presentations, keynote talks, workshops, and live performances.

In Zagreb, I will demonstrate my Vector Synthesis library for Pure Data on 02.10.18 and give the keynote lecture “A Media Archaeology of Vector Graphics” on 03.10.18, while in Ljubljana I will perform the Vector Synthesis set live on 05.10.18.

The Vector Hack participants:

Philip Baljeu / Jonas Bers / Stefanie Bräuer / Hrvoslava Brkušić / Ted Davis / Andrew Duff / Jerobeam Fenderson / Darko Fritz / Robert Henke / Ida Hiršenfelder / Derek Holzer / members of Kikimore (Staša Guček / Sara Mlakar / Nina Orlić / Barbara Poček) / Chris King / Vanda Kreutz / Roland Lioni / Ivan Marušić Klif / Alberto Novell / Douglas Nunn / Hansi Raber / Bernhard Rasinger / Joost Rekveld

The Vector Hack website:

https://vectorhackfestival.com/

I do hope some of you will join us, all talks, keynotes, and performances are free to enter.

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Vector Synthesis Helsinki + Pori

Posted in Announcement on August 22nd, 2018 by admin

I am pleased to announce that I’ve been invited to present Vector Synthesis on 29 August at the Pori Art Museum, Pori FI in the context of the exhibition Steina & Woody Vasulka: Art of Memory, Works from 1969 to 2000. I will be giving a guided tour of the exhibition and performing with my Rutt-Etra/Vasulka inspired scan processing system.

And this week, I will perform at a live cinema event focused on the work of ASTEPBACK (Andrea Saggiomo and Gaëlle Cavalieri) and Marek Pluciennik at the Myymälä2 gallery, Helsinki FI.

I would be so very pleased to see some of you at either event.

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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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