Unintentional residency, Mooste

Posted in Text on February 21st, 2009 by admin

“It’s not that I don’t like people. I just feel better when they’re not around.”
–Mickey Rourke as Charles Bukowski, Barfly

I’m at the end of a pretty heavy load: five workshops in four different cities in five weeks. That must have left me pretty groggy, because I managed to miss my cheap flight home from the final workshop in Estonia last weekend. So I’m currently engaged in a sort of accidental residency at MOKS in Mooste until next week when the tickets become affordable again.

It was many degrees below zero outside when I began to write this Tuesday night, and even the deepest footprints got buried by snow within an hour. My first action was to crank up the heat in the smallest room of the building, pile every mattress I could find on the floor, throw four or five blankets on top of that and bunker myself in.

I am completely alone here. There was a shy local boy once. He showed me how to light the fire, and then I never saw him again. If I want company, there are three busses a day to the next village where Evelyn Muursepp, the organizer of MOKS and my kind benefactor this week, lives. The local grocery store is also quite an experience, resulting in my current diet of bread, cheese, pickles and vodka. Every night I throw wood into the fire at 30 minute intervals until I’m too tired to continue. Then I fill up a couple 2L Coke bottles with hot water and climb into bed with them.

Is it all worth it? Hell yes. Almost every day I spend a couple hours navigating the quiet, frozen forests of the Estonian countryside, everything covered in white and the dead black arms of the trees reaching for the gray-blue sky. I’ve never seen a national flag so appropriate:

Image: .Janne.

So still, with some kind of Black Metal soundtrack playing in my head…”Eternal winterrrrrrrrrr…” And Thursday afternoon–snowblind! Unimaginably intense white light, coming from all directions. I retreat into shadows of the woods until I can no longer see straight lines, right angles, Euclidean geometry, any evidence of the work of human hands…

I’ve started to wonder why people live in cities at all, until I remember the awful reality: there’s just too damned many of them to do otherwise!


Neanderthal Electronics

Posted in Documentation on February 20th, 2009 by admin

Neanderthal Electronics: an instrument-building workshop by Derek Holzer

More than 40,000 years ago, our Neanderthal ancestors invented the first music instruments from simple objects around them (bones and stones, sticks and skins…), without reference to any existing music history, and primarily for their own pleasure rather than that of others.

Nowadays, we use complex audio hardware and software which make it “easier” to create music, so long as we channel our creativity into such socially acceptable avenues as Western Classical or Minimal Techno. As with any established genre, the results are often completely predictable, and therefore quite boring.

But some of us, deep in our wild hearts, still long for the Stone Age simplicity of pure noise!

The Neanderthal Electronics workshops are designed for approximately 8-10 people, possibly with a background in sound, but with no previous electronics experience. Over 5 days, they are shown how to use simple objects from our modern environment (resistors, capacitors, transistors, LEDs, integrated circuit chips…) to design and build their own personal, customized primitive noise synthesizers.

A final presentation allows the participants to demonstrate and play their creations, as well as allows the audience to make their own experiments with the newly built instruments.

This workshop has been realized so far at:

Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts, Copenhagen, Denmark (Feb 2009)
Tartu Art Month, Tartu, Estonia (Feb 2009)

with future workshops under discussion to take place in Germany, the Netherlands, Estonia and the UK. The workshop is currently available for booking in Europe during Spring and Summer 2009.

Neanderthal Electronics workshop, Tartu Estonia from macumbista on Vimeo.

Copenhagen Noise Workshop from macumbista on Vimeo.

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Pure Data Basics: a Project-Oriented Workshop

Posted in Announcement on February 10th, 2009 by admin

Pure Data Basics: a Project-Oriented Workshop with Derek Holzer

Wednesday 11 March – Sunday 15 March 2009
11.00-19.00 daily with one hour lunch break
Final presentation Sunday 15 March, 19.00

Location: eNKa / ElsenStr. 52 (2.Hof) Berlin, Germany
Telephone: +49 (0)176 20626386

Course Participation fee: 100 euros
Registration is required for this workshop and can only be done via email to: eNKa_NK@gmx.de
Please register early to ensure a place. Places are limited to 12. Participants should indicate ahead of time what their background and areas of interest are (sound, video, sensors, etc) as well as give a short description of any project they might want to develop during the workshop.

Pure Data is a powerful, free and open-source software environment for producing and manipulating sound, image, data and connections to sensors, motors and other “physical computing” functions, all in real time. Because the programming is done visually, many artists find it a more intuitive tool than traditional text-oriented programming languages. This 5 day workshop will cover the basic “grammar” and “vocabulary” of the Pure Data language through a mix of lecture and demonstration in the mornings and project-based mentoring in the afternoons. This workshop is open to those with no previous computer programming experience, however basic computer literacy is assumed as well as a working familiarity with either digital audio or video. A manual-in-progress for Pure Data by Derek Holzer can be found here:



1) Meeting PD: the interface and how to play with it
2) Basic PD: participants learn to make a simple synthesizer, and learn basic PD grammar in the process
3) Workshop: discussions of examples and work on student projects

1) PD audio: more on oscillators, noise, delays, feedback, filters and signal analysis for all your sonic needs
2) Events in PD: participants explore the timing of events with sequencers, delays, messages
3) Workshop: discussions of examples and work on student projects

1) Working with soundfiles: loading audio for use in samplers, granulators and other file-based sound manipulation systems
2) Basic GEM: how to create simple 3D objects, play videos and get camera input
3) Workshop: discussions of examples and work on student projects

1) Physical PD: an introduction to physical computing using Pure Data alongside a microcontroller-based board such as the Arduino or xxxxxAVR/HID–or even a hacked USB gamepad–to work with sensors, motors, lights, etc.
2) Workshop: discussions of examples and work on student projects

1) Workshop: discussions of examples and work on student projects
2) The Wrap Up: public presentation of student works + closing party.



1) Laptop running Linux, OS X or Windows
2) Pure Data Extended installed from: http://puredata.info/downloads (please make sure it is Extended package!)
3) Soundcard
4) Headphones


1) MIDI controller/keyboard
2) Microphone/piezoelectric contact microphone
3) USB Joystick/Gamepad
4) Sensors or other input devices (please bring your own sensors if you are interested in working with them, as only a few light sensors will be provided at the workshop)
5) Small motors or motor-driven objects
6) USB webcam/Firewire camera
7) Arduino boards (Available from Segor in Berlin: www.segor.de) and/or the xxxxxAVR/HID board (http://www.1010.co.uk/avrhid.html, please inquire via the xxxxx webpage about preordering!)
8) Your own projects and ideas to realize!


Derek Holzer [USA 1972] is a sound artist with a background in radio, webstreaming and environmental recording. His work focuses on capturing and transforming small, unnoticed sounds from various natural and urban locations, networked collaboration strategies, experiments in improvisational sound and the use of free software such as Pure-Data. He has released tracks under the Nexsound, Sirr, and/OAR, Frozen Elephants Music, Mandorla and Gruenrekorder labels, and has co-initiated several internet projects for field recording and collaborative soundscapes including Soundtransit.nl. His recent projects include the opto-electronic audiovisual performance TONEWHEELS, solo performances for analog synthesizer and a manual for Pure Data. He was also co-curator of the Tuned City event for sound and architecture, which took place in Berlin during July 2008.


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the things they carry

Posted in Documentation on February 1st, 2009 by admin

Last night, while I was packing up after the XXXXX workshop at Club Transmediale, some kid popped a snapshot of my flightcase piled up with TONEWHEELS stuff. Like nobody has ever seen an overhead projector before! I wondered what the fascination was, so I made one myself. This time, the flightcase is packed for the two upcoming Ouroboros Orchestra workshops. The first will be at the Kobenhavn Kunstakademiet, in Copenhagen, Denmark this week, and the second will be during Tartu Art Month in Tartu Estonia. Contents: hundreds of ICs, diodes, resistors and capacitors, dozens of meters of wire and cables, and a selection of my favorite guitar pedals. The matrix mixer I posted about last time gets carried on to the plane… Of course, anyone in Copenhagen or Tartu is welcome to drop me a line for spontaneous chili-cooking, mixer feedback sessions or late night beerservations.

Some music which entered my world over the last 9 days at Club Transmediale:

Wolves in the Throne RoomMalevolent Grain 12″ [Southern Lord]
BJNilsen & StilluppsteypaMan From Deep River CD [Editions Mego]
White/LightBlack Acts CD [Smells Like Records]
Waldchengarten…In Preparation of the Machines to Fall CD [KFIOG]
Sten-Olof Hellström & Ann RosénLagrad CD [Fylikingen]
MudboyHungry Ghosts 12″ (amazing laser-cut cover!!!!) [Not Not Fun]

Oren Ambarchi – Live @ CTM
Mudboy – Live @ CTM
Monno – Live @ CTM
ASVA – Live @ CTM
Pan Sonic – Live @ CTM
Mika Vaino – Live @ CTM
Martin Tétrault – Live @ CTM in various configurations. The multiple drummer one, however, was a big fail.

Unfortunately I missed Lichens, and Æthenor and Attila Csihar’s sets were both screaming disappointments. I will post on CTM at greater length later on during the week. Until then, check Pablo Sanz’s CTM pics on Flickr and keep your clothes clean…I’ve got a plane to catch!

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