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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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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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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The Vectorian Era

Posted in Text on November 23rd, 2016 by admin

xy-day-two-03

THE VECTORIAN ERA: an Investigation into Analog Computer Graphics

The Vectorian Era opens with a screaming across the sky. Analog electronic computers predate their digital counterparts by several decades, and one of the first practical applications of the analog computer was in controlling the trajectories of German V2 rockets as they traced their rainbow of gravity from Flanders towards London during the Second World War. As Friedrich Kittler has observed, the relationship of media technology to military tools of destruction was sealed by moments such as these.

Post-war developments continued in this direction. Tennis for Two, programmed in 1958 by William Higinbotham on an analog computer at Brookhaven National Laboratories in Long Island NY USA, using an oscilloscope as the display. It combined a two-player interface with physics models of a bouncing ball displayed as vectors in motion, and is arguably the first publicly-playable video game. The laboratory itself performed government research into nuclear physics, energy technology, and national security.

In the early 1960’s, the composer Morton Subotnik employed engineer Don Buchla to help him create “the music of the future”. Buchla redesigned the existing function generators of analog computers to respond to voltage controls of their frequency and amplitude. This gave birth to the realtime-controllable, analog modular synthesizer which was subsequently expanded by others such as Bob Moog and Serge Tcherepnin.

In 1967, the Sony Portapak revolutionized video by taking the camera out of the television studio and into the hands of amateurs and artists. And by the early 1970’s, an interest in cybernetics, systems theory and automatic processes brought the analog computer closer to the worlds of art, music, and architecture. Figures such as Heinz von Foerster, Gordon Pask, Nam June Paik, Steina and Woody Vasulka, Iannis Xenakis and R. Buckminster Fuller all speculated on the effect of computers on society, and used computer-derived forms in their work. The 1972 Rutt-Etra Video Synthesizer, used famously by the Vasukas in several works, employed an analog computer to manipulate and deconstruct the raster of a conventional video signal with very otherworldly effects.

Vector graphics were widely adopted by video game manufacturers in the late 1970’s due to their computational efficiency, and the wealth of experience using them that the history of analog computing provided. Perhaps the most iconic of these games is Asteroids, a space shooter released by Atari in 1979. Battle Zone (1980), Tempest (1981), and Star Wars (1983) all stand as other notable examples from this Vectorian Era, and also as rudimentary training tools for the future e-warriors who would remotely guide missiles into Iraqi bunkers at the start of the next decade. As electronics became cheaper, smaller, and faster in the 1980’s, the dated technology of using analog vectors to directly manipulate a Cathode Ray Tube fell out of favor and rasterized graphics, animations and moving image quickly took their place.

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. The fact that many aspects of our current utopian aspirations (and dystopian anxieties!) remain largely unchanged since the dawn of the Vectorian Era indicates to me that seeking to satisfy them with technology alone is quite problematic. Therefore, an investigation into “tried-and-failed” methods from the past casts our current attempts and struggles in a new kind of light.

Derek Holzer
23 NOV 2016
Helsinki FI

sage_pinup

IMAGES:

–TOP: Derek Holzer, “VECTOR SYNTHESIS” study, August 2015, Berlin DE
–MIDDLE: “VECTOR SYNTHESIS” studies, January 2017, Helsinki FI
–BOTTOM: Early computer art created by anonymous IBM engineers, this pinup girl program is running on a SAGE (Semi-Automatic Ground Environment) defense computer. Polaroid photo by Lawrence A. Tipton, 1959, Ft. Lee Virginia USA. Via The Atlantic.

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