Eye for an Ear Festival Berlin

Posted in Announcement on June 15th, 2013 by admin

I have been invited to give a lecture on optical sound synthesis as well as perform the TONEWHEELS live set as part of the Eye for an Ear Festival in Berlin later this month. There are quite a few other amazing people involved in this, namely Andrei Smirnov, whose recent book “Sound in Z: Experiments In Sound And Electronic Music In Early 20th Century Russia” is one of the best things I’ve read in the last year.

Full details should be available on the NK website soon, and those of you with FaceBook can access the event page here.

LECTURE

“A Brief History of Optical Synthesis”, a lecture by Derek Holzer, Wed June 26th 21:00 at NK Projekt Berlin

The technology of direct optical synthesis arose with the first sound-on-film motion pictures. In the 1930′s, several designs for optical synthesizers were produced in the USSR, Germany and United States, with a handful even being commercially realized to great amount of techno-utopian hype. The future of sound, we were assured, was made of light.

However, the use of optical synthesis for electronic music creation was largely abandoned after the Second World War in favor of techniques derived from new military technologies which made the V2 rocket and the atomic bomb possible. Thus, contemporary research into optical sound synthesis represents a media-archaeology of “the road not taken”, that of a connection to the culture of film and music versus the science of destruction and death.

PERFORMANCE

TONEWHEELS (Derek Holzer: sounds, electronics), Friday June 28th 20:00 at NK Projekt Berlin

TONEWHEELS is an experiment in converting graphical imagery to sound, inspired by some of the pioneering 20th Century electronic music inventions. Transparent tonewheels with repeating patterns are spun over light-sensitive electronic circuitry to produce sound and light pulsations and textures. This all-analog set is performed entirely live without the use of computers, using only overhead projectors as light source, performance interface and audience display. In this way, TONEWHEELS aims to open up the “black box” of electronic music and video by exposing the working processes of the performance for the audience to see.

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Machine Deva Soundtrack + TONEWHEELS photos

Posted in Documentation on October 21st, 2012 by admin

Machine Deva Sound Track by macumbista

Original soundtrack by Derek Holzer for the short film “Machine Deva”, by Steve Holzer (19min, 2012, TX, USA). A very abstract love story created directly on 16mm film, using familiar and not-so-familiar direct manipulation. Hand color and intervention on found footage with unusual transfer techniques put the visual experience somewhere between cave paintings and a hand-held video of a dream world.

Tracklist

1.0: brief introductions/those who cannot remember [6:06]
2.0: first mutation [4:34]
2.1: the lecture(“étant donnés”) [1:51]
2.2: take the elevator [1:04]
3.0: second mutation/the dance [4:43]

Recorded April 15-May 15 2012, RSS-82 Berlin.

Derek Holzer: analog synthesizer, electronics, pure data, organ, percussion
Steve Holzer: synthesizer(1.0), guitar(2.1)

I will have CDRs of this soundtrack and DVDRs of the film itself available in late November, and I will try to organize a screening in Berlin to coincide with this. Please note that the film itself will not appear online, due to the detailed nature of the film manipulations which lose much of their impact through compression. Unless you are lucky enough to visit a screening organized by myself or Steve, the DVDR will be the next best thing. Please contact me if interested.

TONEWHEELS France Photos



Photos from Pau performance by Alvaro Ayuso





Photos from Pau performance by Nicolas Godin



Photos from Pau performance by Sandrine Ferrer





Photos from Marseille performance by Pierre Gondard

On the Road Again…

22-26 Oct: Neanderthal Electronics Workshop, Det Jyske Kunstakademi, Aarhus DK
26 Oct: Macumbista live set, SPLAB, Aarhus, DK
29 Oct – 02 Nov: Neanderthal Electronics Workshop, Nordic Sound Art, Copenhagen DK
02 Nov: Macumbista’s 40))) birthday whiskey-sipping session, hosted by Mads Bech Paluszewski-Hau, Copenhagen DK. RSVP for info.
05-09 Nov: Neanderthal Electronics Workshop, Sibelius Academy, Helsinki FI

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TONEWHEELS HURDY-GURDY

Posted in Documentation on October 16th, 2012 by admin



TONEWHEELS HURDY-GURDY
(VIELLE A ROUE OPTOÉLECTRONIQUE)
DEREK HOLZER for ACCES(S) FESTIVAL
PAU FRANCE, OCT 2012

TONEWHEELS is an experiment in converting graphical imagery to sound, inspired by some of the pioneering 20th Century electronic music inventions, such as the Light-Tone Organ (Edwin Emil Welte, 1936 Germany), the ANS Synthesizer (Evgeny Murzin, 1958 USSR), and the Oramics system (Daphne Oram, 1959 UK). Transparent tonewheels with repeating patterns are spun over light-sensitive electronic circuitry similar to that used in 16 & 35mm motion picture projectors to produce sound.

The TONEWHEELS Hurdy-Gurdy presented at Acces(s) is not an “interactive” artwork in the common sense. While it does not reward the impatient museum visitor with flashing lights and noises at the simple touch of the button, it does invite participation in the process of technological music creation. Although it first appears to be a very traditional instrument known to many folk-music cultures, it functions in a very different way which can only be discovered by playing it.

The artist would like to thank Tobias Traub of Oroborus Customs e.K. and Carlo Crovato for their invaluable assistance in creating this instrument. Circuits designed by Jessica Rylan and Eric Archer are also used within the system.

More information on the TONEWHEELS project can be found at http://umatic.nl/tonewheels.html






INSTRUCTIONS

This instrument functions by turning light into sound. The audience is invited to experiment with it, provided that they read the following instructions and handle the instrument carefully.

—GETTING STARTED

1) Pick the instrument up by the strap and put it around your neck. You will hold the instrument as seen in the painting shown below, “Jeune fille à la vielle”, by Jules Richomme (1882). Please handle the instrument by the edges. Do not handle the triangular area in the middle, this area is very delicate!

2) Activate the power switch and adjust the volume knob at LOCATION A.

3) Using your the fingers of your left hand, locate the pressure-sensors at LOCATION B. When you press these, you will see different lights turn on at the center of the instrument.

4) With your right hand, turn the crank at LOCATION C. This will spin a wheel printed with transparent patterns. These patterns break up the light which falls on several light sensors, creating the basic tone of the instrument.

5) The sound of the instrument passes through a filter which can change its tone. The controls for the filter are marked in green at LOCATION D. The switch controls whether low, middle or high frequencies are passed through the filter. The controls marked “LFO” can be used to modulate the filter, while the controls marked “FIL” are used to affect the frequency and resonance of the filter.

6) There is also a distortion effect, marked in red at LOCATION E. The distortion only works when the large button has been clicked, and the red light is on. The four controls marked “DIS” control different aspects of the distortion.

7) When you are finished, please gently set the instrument down flat on the table and turn the power off.

—TIPS

1) The speed of the wheel affects the basic frequency of the sound
2) The filter and distortion shape that sound, but can also produce sounds of their own.
3) A good place to start is with the distortion off and all the controls set to the middle position.
4) There are some control settings which may not produce any sound at all!


“Jeune fille à la vielle”, by Jules Richomme (1882)

TONEWHEELS HURDY-GURDY(VIELLE A ROUE OPTOÉLECTRONIQUE) from macumbista on Vimeo.

FREIZEIT MACHT FREI

This hurdy-gurdy project might be the most complicated thing I have ever tried to build, involving quite a bit more technical research and development by myself and several others than I expected at first. All in all, we took about two months to build something that really needed a year to do right. Live and learn, unfortunately in that order. So when it was all over, and I finally had my first free day in ages, I took a little walk in les Pyrénées with Vincent Meyer







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TONEWHEELS in France Oct & Nov 2012

Posted in Announcement on October 7th, 2012 by admin

I have three dates coming up in France for the TONEWHEELS project:

13 Oct – Acces-s Festival, Pau (with Andrey Smirnov, Toktek / Chapelle des Réparatrices, Conservatoire Musique et Danse)
17 Oct – RIAM Festival, Marseille (with Radian and Hervé Boghossian)
16 Nov – Visionsonic Festival, Paris

Additionally, at Acces-s in Pau,. I will have a new instrument on display which I am furiously trying to finish right now, with the help of Oroborus Customs, Berlin. It will be a TONEWHEELS-style opto-electronic hurdy-gurdy with plenty of extra noisy electronics. I made the mockup you see in the first photo below, and sent it to Tobias at Oroborus who began building a proper body for it… I will properly document this instrument and thank all the other wonderful folks who helped me out once it is completed.

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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: http://macumbista.net/files/rainforest_overview.pdf

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!)

Now Playing

crippled black phoenix-(mankind) the crafty ape[2012]
wovenhand-live at roepaen[2012]

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In the mines–working, working, working… [+ upcoming]

Posted in Announcement, Documentation on April 20th, 2012 by admin

Been locked in the studio for days now, but the fruits of my labor will be heard soon…

UPCOMING

25-29 April: TONEWHEELS @ Radio Sonores, Guimaraes PT
16-20 May: Machine Deva @ Marfa Film Festival, Marfa TX USA
26-28 July: Solo Performance + SoundBoxes Workshop @ Norberg Festival, Norberg SE

Starting next month, I will also be taking orders for customized tabletop noise makers, drone machines and sound boxes. Please contact me if interested.

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[video] TONEWHEELS at Multiplace Fest, Brno

Posted in Documentation on June 2nd, 2011 by admin

DEREK HOLZER (US/DE) – MULTIPLACE OPENING 2. 5. 2011 from Fórum 4AM on Vimeo.

Vzhledem k vývoji celého vystoupení doporučuji všem vizuálně naladěným divákům zhlédnout především druhou polovinu klipu.

“Derek Holzer se v projektu Tonewheels inspiruje pionýrskými díly elektronické hudby 20. století (ANS Syntetizér, Variophone, Oramic systém).” Vyrobil GUERILLA.film

Now Playing

barn owl + jefre cantu-ledesma-live at the levee, berlin
crippled black phoenix + master musicians of bukakke-live at festsaal kreuzberg, berlin
danica dakic-isola bella[video, 2006-7]
evan caminiti-when california falls into the sea 12″[2011 handmade birds]
leatherface-the stormy petrel[2010 big ugly fish]

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TONEWHEELS in CZ, FR, SoundBoxes in ES

Posted in Announcement on April 27th, 2011 by admin

TONEWHEELS Live

02.May.2011Multiplace Festival, Brno CZ
03.May.2011Školská 28, Prague CZ
07.May.2011Fête01, Orléans FR

SoundBoxes Workshop

09-10 June.2011Proximos Festival, Tenerife, Canary Islands ES

Descubre las escondidas calidades sonicas de los objetos de la vida cotidiana en estos dos días de taller, combinando las artes de la electrónica, ruidismo, escultura y collage. Los elementos básicos del taller serán una caja de madera, un altavoz, un pequeño amplificador y un micrófono de contacto (piezo). A todo esto lo mas atrevidos podrán añadir sus propios objetos, gráfica personalizada, imágenes, memorias e ideas para crear una única caja de ruido electro acústica.

INSCRIPCIÓN AQUÍ

Other News

A friend of mine was murdered here in Berlin last week. Up to now, I believed this to be one of the safest cities I have ever lived in. She will be missed. Ladies, if your country doesn’t allow you to carry a handgun, please learn kung-fu.

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Singing the Post-France Blues

Posted in Documentation on November 23rd, 2010 by admin


Watching Tomoko Sauvage Performance/Installation @ Grimm Museum Berlin (photos by Laura Gianetti)

Miss Tomoko was a fabulous host during my last stay in Paris, especially when she indulged my obsession with second hand stores and flea markets. The TONEWHEELS gig at the Art Museum of Dijon went strange, basically I was asked to turn it down about 5 minutes into the set, when I was only a quarter of the way up! Seems the security guards were frightened I might “vibrate” the paintings in the museum (organizers, on the other hand, were cool and supportive). Talk/demo for the /dev/art series was a bit friendlier, with lots of questions and interest, and the final I-R-L gig was super, very good PA and responsive audience. Thanks to everyone who made it possible.

However, a funny thing happened on the way to the airport…

I almost forgot to mention that I missed my flight going to France! The long and the short of it is this: I hadn’t done the TONEWHEELS set since last spring, so I had forgotten how screwed up all my equipment was. I started checking it the day before my flight, and realized that I would have to remake everything…motor controllers, light-to-sound converters and all. Mostly because of stubbornness, I have to confess. I had tried to make a single unit of the whole thing before my USA tour and abandoned it the day before leaving.

This time I would not be defeated! I worked until the last possible minute, but to no avail. Then I called a taxi to the airport, which never showed up. I rebooked the flight (at my own expense!!!) for the next morning early, and spent the whole sleepless night (again…) building the SlenderTONEWHEELS box.

SlenderTONEWHEELS takes it’s name and super-70′s enclosure plus matching carry case from a Slendertone “fitness” machine, designed to stimulate your abdominal muscles with electrical pulses while you perform such rigorous labor as eating popcorn while watching Saturday Night Live. I found the device at a flea market in Helsinki last winter and had been dying to use it for something. So at the cost of a missed flight, I managed to put a 6 channel Arduino-based PWM motor controller and four light-to-sound-converters inside just in time to show off for the Frenchies.

Now that I’m home I can start preparing for the next two upcoming workshops at NK Project Berlin plus a Tuned City trip to Tallin, as well as thinking how to concentrate more on crafting unique sound boxes to sell rather than traveling so much for gigs and workshops. Not that I don’t like playing and teaching, it’s just that I start to feel so un-grounded these days. Maybe missing flights is a sign I need some rest…

Now Playing

agalloch-marrow of the spirit[2010 profound lore]
bruce springsteen-nebraska[1982]
jazkamer-failed state of mind[2010 pica disk]
kris kristofferson-kristofferson[1970]
krzysztof penderecki-threnody to the victims of hiroshima(tren ofiarom hiroszimy)[1960]

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Some Thoughts on Concept and Craft

Posted in Text on November 4th, 2010 by admin

Raymond Parker, Untitled, 1959

While Pop art constantly referred to contemporary society through its reconfiguration of consumerist images, Color Field painting consciously distanced itself from societal referents and focused on the lyrical possibilities of color.

—”Color Fields” exhibition catalog, Deutsche Guggenheim, 2010

An Estonian art student recently informed me that, “since WWII” as he was taught, the position of the artist has essentially become that of a conceptual engineer rather than that a mere “craftsman”. I did as best I could to protest. On the one hand, I argued, this means that the artist is largely divorced from the process of creating their own work. All the would-be Jeff Koonses or Damien Hirsts who relegate their labor to hired armies of technicians and assistants lose the direct familiarity with the medium that they work in, and subsequently miss out on any suggestions that the materiality of that medium might have on their creative process.

On the other hand, what it leads to is a vision of art as a cynical manipulation of symbols and referents alone. Whether it is the visual-arts hipster ironically juxtaposing iconic cultural references, or the media-arts nerd sonifying stock market data streamed at them through Twitter, it all becomes a series of artistic black boxes where we can only assume that what comes out has some relationship to what went in. And when anything=anything, the end result is that the we the artists take a stand on nothing.

One week it’s unwatchable “found footage” from YouTube in the galleries, the next it’s sock monkeys, with everyone in the monkey camp loudly denouncing those who still prefer handycams to knitting. The Estonian student’s professor once placed a golden replica in the former location of a controversial Soviet-era statue in Tallinn.  In his 5 minutes of fame on the evening news, he preferred to mumble something about “relational aesthetics” rather than admit that the action might actually mean something. And so we the audience…in the end we can believe in nothing.

When I began working on the TONEWHEELS project, I was more interested in the technical side of this equation: how to avoid the black box of the computer and how to demonstrate a tangible connection between image and sound. But now I see how it addresses the conceptual side as well.  By working with direct optical synthesis, I hope (in a similar manner to the Color Field painters of the 1960s, the subject of a current exhibition at the Deutsch Guggenheim) to shortcut this reliance on symbols and intellectualism in favor of the only thing left to believe in: the direct, personal and physical experience of light and sound.

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