Vector Synthesis Oscilloscope+Laser Workshop Helsinki

Posted in Announcement on June 16th, 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. This workshop is ideal for musicians, sound artists, and visual artists who want to work with oscilloscope or laser imagery.

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.

An informal presentation of pieces created in the workshop is planned for the final evening, where participants can show their creations on Vectrex or laser.

You can see examples of what you might do here:

The core of the workshop will be examples written in the Pure Data programming language. Experience with Pure data is not required to participate, beginners are welcome. 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:

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.


This is one continuous workshop of three days, 6 hours per day including a break to eat.

Participation on individual days is not possible except by special arrangement.

—FRI 12 JULY 12-18:00

—SAT 13 JULY 12-18:00

—SUN 14 JULY 12-18:00

—Max participants: 8

—Lunch (vegetarian/vegan on request) will be served each day.



Tallberginkatu 1 (Doorway E / 5th floor)

Helsinki, FINLAND

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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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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.

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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:

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Tour Dates SEPT-OCT 2015

Posted in Announcement on August 14th, 2015 by admin


My autumn tour plans from the Low Lands to the Wild Wild West to the Great White North are 100% finalized! Hope to see some of y’alls in some of these here places….

02-04 SEPT:::SoundBoxes workshop + Macumbista live, (kuS) Kunstencentrum Signe, Heerlen, NL

22-26 SEPT:::SoundBoxes workshop + A.LIVE performance (w/ Vanessa Ramos-Velasquez), The Paseo, Taos NM, USA

01 OCT:::SoundBoxes Workshop, University of Colorado, Boulder CO, USA

02-03 OCT:::SoundBoxes workshop, Rubin Center for the Visual Arts, El Paso TX, USA

05-15 OCT:::ToolMaker Residency, Signal Culture, Owego NY, USA

19-23 OCT:::Experimental Sound Instruments workshop, MediaLab/Aalto University, Helsinki, FI

26-30 OCT:::SoundBoxes workshops, Hola folkhögskola, Prästmon Västernorrland, SE

I would also like to announce that Ruth Timmermans has taken up my booking activities as of AUG 2015. Please contact her at THECULTURALOPERATOR at_the_domain GMAIL dot COM for workshop, lecture and concert engagements.

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Bis Zum Tod, Volksbuhne Berlin 20-21 Sept 2014

Posted in Announcement on September 13th, 2014 by admin

I am proud to announce my participation as musician in the Markus Öhrn/Nya Rampen/Institutet production “Bis Zum Tod”, premiering at the Volksbuhne in Berlin 20/21 September 2014.

We will tour this production to Poznan (3/4 October), Malmö (7/8 November) and Helsinki (14/15 November).

Pictured: Linus Öhrn and Anders Carlsson

Photo: Christian Kleiner

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VIDEO: Experimental Sound Instruments Workshop, TAIK MediaLab Helsinki

Posted in Documentation on February 20th, 2013 by admin

Experimental Sound Instruments Workshop, TAIK MediaLab Helsinki from macumbista on Vimeo.

Students from my Experimental Sound Instruments workshop demonstrate their hand-made projects on the final day. Their instruments involved a variety of technologies, including Arduinos, solenoids, motors, transducers, pickups and amplifiers which I presented over the week. This workshop, which I give at the school annually, ran from 04-08 February 2013 at the TAIK MediaLab in Helsinki, Finland. The students presenting were Johanna Storm, Ari-Pekka Leinonen, Scott McGregor, Saku Kamarainen, Ana Gutierrez, Thomas Svedstrom and Rajeev Siewnath.

My next MLab workshop should be in Oct/Nov.

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Helsinki and Tallinn gig photos

Posted in Documentation on February 12th, 2013 by admin

Live set for analog synthesizer, speaker box, found objects and room, 09 Feb 2013, Kodu Bar, Tallinn Estonia. Photos by Terje Toomistu.

Live set for analog synthesizer, speaker box, found objects and room, 07 Feb 2013, Vapaan Taiteen Tila, Helsinki Finland. Photos by Antti Ahonen.

In the rush of CTM Fest and my annual Mechanical Sound Orchestra Workshop at TAIK (04-08 Feb 2013), I realized I completely forgot to post announcements of these two rather informal gigs here. Let’s hear it for my Facebook page, at least…

Thanks to Jukka Hautamäki, Ilpo Heikkinen, Lauri Hyvärinen, Taneli Viitahuhta, Ilia Belorukov, Antti Ahonen, John W. Fail, Marika Agu, Timo Toots and Terje Toomistu for their support in the various aspects of playing and documenting these two performances.

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Regnskov 2012 in Copenhagen and Aarhus

Posted in Announcement on August 16th, 2012 by admin

Mads Bech Paulszewski-Hau and I will be running the “Rainforest” series of workshops at two events in Denmark next month: the LAK Festival in Copenhagen (6-9 September 2012) and the BY i BY Festival in Aarhus (14-16 September 2012). There are still spaces in both workshops, particularly the Aarhus one (which will be outdoors!), so please get in touch if you are interested at MACUMBISTA at the domain GMAIL dot COM.

Regsnkov 2012 is a contemporary re-interpretation of David Tudor’s series of compositions from the 1970′s entitled Rainforest. It uses various types of sonic transducers to play live sounds through a selection of resonant, found-metal objects in the performance space. A matrix mixer allows the sound from any of the performers to be sent to any of the objects, creating an immersive, tactile and spatial sonic experience.

The project is developed in a workshop format with up to 8 participants over a period of several days. The participants will work from the bio-acoustic model of an actual rainforest, where it is necessary for each species’ survival that they can both hear and be heard within their own niche of the busy forest soundscape.

You can download a PDF of information about the project here:

Other up and comings:

28 Sep – [w/Vanessa Ramos-Velasquez] Basic Electricity, Berlin DE (more on this soon!)
9-13 Oct – TONEWHEELS, Le festival accès(s), Pau FR
17 Oct – TONEWHEELS, RIAM Festival, Marseilles FR
22-26 Oct – Neanderthal Electronics, Danish Art Academy, Aarhus DK (TBC!)
29 Oct-02 Nov – Neanderthal Electronics, Nordic Sound Art, Copenhagen DK
05-09 Nov – Neanderthal Electronics, Sibelius Academy, Helsinki FI
16 Nov – TONEWHEELS, VisionSonic, Paris FR (TBC!)

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SoundBoxes Helsinki Info + Video

Posted in Documentation on June 18th, 2012 by admin

The MUU Gallery requested info-sheets for each of the instruments I am showing there. A whole weekend of vector-scribbling later, I present these examples of my mad Inkscape skillz as testament to the fact that I probably should get more sunlight this summer…

Download the PDF catalog with photos here:

Wolf Tone Box
Derek Holzer

This box was created from a found children’s karaoke toy specially for the MUU Invisible Time exhibition, Helsinki (FI). It features a voice-changing circuit, condenser microphone and loudspeaker mounted in an antique wooden box, and has been equipped with “bend points” where physical contact with the circuit changes the sound.

1) On/Off Switch
2) Volume Knob
3) Input Jack
4) 9V Power Input: for battery or wall adaptor
5) Speaker
6) Bend Points: touching two of the screws together with your finger can “bend” the sound of the instrument, or flip one of the switches to hold a certain sound
7) Condenser Microphone with Flexible Neck

To Play:

A) Press the On/Off Switch, you will see a small light above the Speaker when the box is activated
B) Speak into the Condenser Microphone
C) Adjust the Volume Knob to lower the level, raise it or create feedback
D) Feedback can be also created by lowering the Microphone nearer to the Speaker
E) Experiment with the Bend Points using either fingers on the screws or the switches
F) If the sound dies out, speak into the microphone again

This instrument is for sale, price EUR 260.

Macumba Benjolin
Derek Holzer

The Benjolin is a circuit designed by Rob Hordijk from the Netherlands. It contains two oscillators (one slow and one fast), a band-pass filter and a circuit Hordijk calls the “Rungler”, which allows chaotic feedback possibilities between the different parts of the circuit. This one has been customized with an old silverware case, a built-in amp and speaker and a patchbay for further chaotic interactions.

1) On/off Switch
2) Inputs: the four left-hand-side jacks are inputs, don’t unplug these. The black connection with the red cable connects to the speaker. The other input jacks connect to different parts of the oscillators.
3) Outputs: the eight right-hand-side jacks are outputs, play with these. The black jack is the output of the filter. The others others are different parts of the oscillators.
4) Volume knob
5) Output jack, for plugging into other SoundBoxes
6) Speaker: this is turned off when something is plugged into the output jack
7) Filter Controls: these will only change the sound when using the black output jack
8) Oscillator Controls: these change the frequency and chaos levels of the oscillators

To Play:

A) Flip the On/Off switch upwards
B) Adjust the Volume Knob
C) Create feedback by plugging the blue cables from the left-hand side into the different output jacks on the right hand side
D) Listen to different parts of the synthesizer connecting the red cable from the black jack on the left-hand side to any of the output jacks on the right-hand side
E) Use the top row of knobs to adjust the two oscillators
F) Use the bottom row of knobs to adjust the filter, and remember you only hear the filter when the red cable is connected to the black output jack
9) The Macumba Benjolin requires two VERY FRESH 9V block batteries to operate properly

This instrument is from the personal collection of the artist. Customizations of many electronic music circuits are available on request.

M79 Super
Derek Holzer

The smallest synthesizer I have ever made, the M79 Super was built during the Piksel Neanderthal Electronics workshop in Bergen (NO). Here, three oscillators, a tiny speaker and two sound-reactive LEDs are placed inside a beautiful, old, palm-sized flashlight from the 1970’s.

1) On/Off Switch
2) Third Oscillator On/Off Switch
3) Oscillator Frequency Control Knobs
4) Output Jack: to connect the M79 Super to larger speakers
5) Very Small Loudspeaker
6) Two Audio-reactive LEDs: one of these displays the waveform of Oscillators 1+2, and the second displays the waveform of Oscillator 3

To Play:

A) Slide down the On/Off Switch located on the side of the object
B) Flip the Third Oscillator On/Off Switch up or down to activate/deactivate Oscillator 3, and notice what effect it has on the sound
C) Adjust the frequencies of the different Oscillators
D) You can make a filter by covering the small Loudspeaker with a cupped hand or your mouth

This instrument is for sale, price EUR 130.

Electric Spring II and III
Derek Holzer

These are simple, resonant drone boxes using the feedback between a simple contact microphone with a coil-spring and the speaker to make rich harmonic sounds or metallic reverb effects. These were created in an edition of three for the Electric Spring Festival in Huddersfield (UK).

1) On/Off Switch
2) Volume Knob
3) Input Jack: other kinds of microphones or instruments could also be connected here
4) Contact Microphone + Spring: this microphone picks up physical vibrations rather than sounds from the air. It has a resonant coil spring attached to it which makes the drone and also can be used as an “antenna” to search for new sounds
5) Speaker

To Play:

A) Turn Volume Knob all the way to the left
B) Place the Contact Microphone across the Speaker
C) Flip the On/Off switch upwards
D) Adjust the Volume Knob until you start to hear a tone
E) Adjust the position of the Contact Microphone + Spring and the Volume Knob to find new sounds
F) You may gently touch the Speaker with the Spring, but please do not press hard or you will damage the Speaker

These instrument are for sale, price EUR 80 each.

SoundBox I
Derek Holzer

This was the first SoundBox instrument I created in 2010. It uses feedback and the physical vibration of the speaker cone to create different kinds of chaotic sounds.

1) On/Off Switch
2) Volume Knob
3) Input Jack: other kinds of microphones or instruments could also be connected here
4) Speaker
5) Contact Microphone: this microphone picks up physical vibrations rather than sounds from the air. It has two “antenna” attached to it to search for new sounds.

To Play:

A) Turn Volume Knob all the way to the left
B) Place the Contact Microphone across the Speaker
C) Flip the On/Off switch upwards
D) Adjust the Volume Knob until you start to hear a tone
E) Adjust the position of the Contact Microphone and the Volume Knob to find new sounds
F) Place some of the found objects provided in the speaker and see how the vibrations move them around and change the sound

This instrument is from the personal collection of the artist, and is used frequently in performance.

SoundBox II
Derek Holzer

The second SoundBox I built, this one remains a bit incomplete–it looks better than it functions. Besides the normal SoundBox microphone/amplifier/speaker feedback loop, this one was intended to have a small synthesizer circuit which would alter the sound as it passed through. This part didn’t work out so well, but I left the controls to remind me that one day I should fix it!

1) On/Off Knob
2) Three Useless Controls
3) Input Jack: for Contact Microphone or other sound sources
4) Speaker
5) Contact Microphone + Spring: this microphone picks up physical vibrations rather than sounds from the air. It has a resonant coil spring attached to it which makes the drone and also can be used as an “antenna” to search for new sounds

To Play:

A) Turn the On/Off Knob clockwise, you will feel a click when the box turns on, but please don’t expect it to control the volume as well!
B) Don’t bother with the Three Useless Controls either, they’re only decorations at this point
C) Adjust the position of the Contact Microphone + Spring to find new sounds
D) You may gently touch the Speaker with the Spring, but please do not press hard or you will damage the Speaker

This instrument is from the personal collection of the artist, and is a work-in-progress.

Derek Holzer: live SoundBox Performance at MUU Gallery, Helsinki 07 June 2012. Video by Rita Leppiniemi.

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