Interactive Installation for 12 Players
(2) x UHD Video Walls
TouchDesigner, Kinect, Nvidia Quadro K6000, Custom Server Hardware
Composition VI is a site-specific artwork installed in the lobby of Viacom's Times Square building at 1515 Broadway.
The piece was the result of a series of independent creative iterations, beginning with meditative live image manipulation and eventually arriving at this complex force and particle system using Kinect input to drive interaction.
As visitors move through the lobby space, their paths and body movement are flattened into an orthographic space, spanning both massive video walls across the lobby, rendered as directional flechettes, and painted with a dynamic color system.
A sophisticated rule set, refined through extensive user testing, assigns attractive and repulsive forces and particle emitters to users' heads and hands. The result is a balanced system that responds immediately to passersby, welcomes initial exploration, and yet rewards long-term play and engagement.
We created this piece with our old pals and collaborators Slanted Studios and we're already looking forward to more fruitful collaborations and wondering why we haven't been doing this stuff together all along.
This piece was commissioned by Viacom's Catalyst group, supported by Art at Viacom, and made with TouchDesigner.
Special thanks to Matt Hanson and Matt Heron at Catalyst making this possible. Thanks also to Kathryn Henderson and Ana Kim at Slanted for making it real, and thanks to our rad group of test subjects* for all the arm waving.
* Kinda Akash, Sougwen Chung, Yussef Cole, Guillermo Echevarria, Stuart Fox, Manna Hara, Erin Kilkenny, Gabe Liberti, Stephanie Lopez, Guilherme Marcondes, NIka Offenbac, Gabriel Pulecio, Dave Rife, Jake Rosenthal, Daniel Savage, D. Schmudde, Stephanie Swart, and Ed Uberia.
This piece is part of an exploration of my ongoing obsession with visual artifacts — specifically, the artifacts produced in the intersection of persistence of vision and contexts with strobed lighting exposing rapidly-spinning subjects. Something like the malfunction of a poorly-calibrated 3D zoetrope.
While relatively simple to create, documenting a 'clean' performance of this piece presented some interesting challenges, including tearing, gamma, sub-frame lighting, compression, and transcoding issues. The most salient compromise - banding related to JPEG compression - is prominent.
More interesting, though, were issues related to the nature of this recording as documentation of a live performance. Keep an eye on the news section of this site for a future writeup.
Viewing in 60FPS in a darkened space with headphones turned up loud strongly recommended. The usual, really.
****Straight-up does not work on mobile.****
Procedurally-generated models from Polyhedra Database used with permission by Felix Larreta.
Made in TouchDesigner.
Glasslands Gallery is not just a music venue - it's our favorite place to see a show in NYC. It's also space that's been known for the installation art and idiosyncrasies that set the tone and give the room a DIY loft feel.
Our installation at Glasslands is a distributed, modular design that uses common mailer tubes (treated for flame retardancy) to house over 300 RGB LEDs, individually addressable, passed through diffusion, and mounted in clusters about the venue.
In an attempt to speak to the warm, intimate feel of the space, the design deliberately destabilizes the stage / house dichotomy by spreading from the upstage wall all the way to the entrance of the venue. Because each tube is individually addressable, the system can can highlight the three downstage 'chandeliers' over the performers' heads, or the cluster over the house DJ position, even individual tubes peeking into the bathroom stalls, or can treat the whole room as one large canvas, passing shapes through the point-space like spotlights or stripes.
Driving the system is our custom software, refined through over a year of development and onsite testing. It's a dynamic set of high-level controls that allows house sound engineer (GL has no full time lighting guy) to direct the software based on the same subjective criteria used to describe music, or the feel of an interior, offering direction like 'darker, cooler colors, dimmer in the house, slower moving', freeing up the venue crew to focus on the task at hand while providing adjustable, appropriate, and dynamic looks with minimal intervention, whether through the onscreen interface and built-in LFOs, MIDI controls, or OSC over wireless.
AM owes huge thanks to the Glasslands owners Rami Haykal and Jake Rosenthal, staff Josh Thiel and Cameron Hulk, plus Eileen Tang, Trevor Hufnagel, Francisco Casablanca, Guillermo Echevarria, Dark Momino, Chuck Reina, and many more who gave countless hours to project, strictly on faith and love of tubes.
Made in Max.
Lighting Engineering: Jason Fellows
Avery Tare photos courtesy of Jason Bergman
Grid photo courtesy of Eileen Tang
Tubesoft uses the very awesome imp.dmx ArtNet library by David Butler.
Aside from the citywide festivals, the radio broadcasts, and the daily newspaper, a large part of RBMA's visible output is in the form of its lecture series.
For RBMA's 2013 NYC academy, their journalist and musician interviewers conducted informal talks with some 50 luminaries from all aspects of music production, arrangement, and performance, notably including Phillip Glass, James Murphy, Lee 'Scratch' Perry, Nigel Godrich, Brian Eno, Debbie Harry, Giorgio Moroder, Q-Tip, El-P, Van Dyke Parks, ?uestlove, and Rakim. Followup questions after each talk came from RBMA participants, studio assistants, and staff, among whom were Flying Lotus, Four Tet, Just Blaze, Thundercat, Throwing Snow, and Koreless.
For the series, alongside epic documentarians and old friends M ss ng P eces, AM designed and ran a 3-camera studio, audio system, and DSP components, directing the crew to create the lecture films hosted on the RBMA site.
During the planning and buildout phases of the space, AM worked with MP as well as architects Inaba, systems integrators, automation engineers, and RBMA's in-house studio, radio, and media teams to advise on issues of design as they pertain to future uses for shoots and performance.
Pictured, from top to bottom:
RBMA founder Torsten Schmidt talking to Brian Eno pre-interview
Flying Lotus interviews Nigel Godrich
Debbie Harry and Chris Stein on the couch
Lee 'Scratch' Perry, the Upsetter, Godfather of Dub
For presentation at Vanity Fair's Fashion in Film Festival, BMW commissioned the production of four short films collectively titled 'Spotlight on Innovation'. The bios focused on innovators from fields like urban planning, exploration, and fashion, and VF wanted them presented in a form that spoke to the theme.
AM, working here with Industria Creative, knew it had to fit in with museum surroundings - clean, built-in, and permanent. The function had to be simple and robust enough to withstand constant use by the public, unmonitored for 3 days.
For the physical display component, we built a rear-projection system housed in a custom cabinet - a single projector throwing what looked like 5 separate channels of content onto floating panels of custom-cut rear projection plexiglass.
For interactive playback control, we wrote an iOS app and embedded the iPad into a purpose-built kiosk.
Control messages originating at the kiosk made their way to our purpose-made software playback system to allow on-the-fly adjustment of video geometry and timing, making it possible to fine tune the placement of images on the floating panels throughout the settling process of the housing cabinet.
The result was kind of magic. Check the shaky-cam video to get the gag.
Thumbnail image courtesy of Owen Hope for Industria Creative
For all three iterations of F5, an NYC-based 2-day creativity conference, AM handled all technical production elements from vendor contracting and stage design to run of show and show call. More than most, this production requires close coordination with presenters to accommodate some particularly challenging technical needs.
2011's lineup featuring with live musical performances from Kid Koala, Tanya Morgan, and Wayne White, some puppets, a huge balloon sculpture, a coordinated balloon drop, a robot, a moderated talk with acclaimed director Mark Romanek, and, most importantly, ecstatic attendees.
In 2015, with the demise of Roseland Ballroom, the conference headed to Terminal 5 with speakers like maniac animator Gmunk, Cosmos director Brannon Braga, and Pentagram partner Eddie Opara in the lineup. This time around, we hosted an entire floor of art installations from teams like MPC, Positron / Voxiebox, Magnus Östergren (Goo Create) and our good friends Jodi Terwilliger (of HUSH), Antfood, and Dark Igloo.
Thumbnail photo by Adele Major
The idea: gather Washington influencers for a moderated discussion with YouTube activists about the power of the platform to change the world. Then get some newly-famous YouTube entertainers together to talk about how that fame can happen and why it matters. Then have a party.
AM teamed up with producers Industria Creative at DC's newly-built, half-studio half-museum, jumbotron-equipped Newseum to handle the two-part event.
Rigging was a challenge for the custom backdrop for the panel, balancing a wall festooned with displays of all sizes and carefully knitted PVC scenic suspended from the studio grid.
Against that backdrop we called a multi-camera shoot, folding in a remote guests on the displays and streaming wide on YouTube, all following a shifting timetable and tight transitions in a challenging museum setting.
Photo courtesy of Google.
Over three years and more than 25 events, AM worked with Cut&Paste to develop a touring graphic design battle.
By the 2009 tour, the show was hitting sixteen cities worldwide plus a global championship at Hammerstein Ballroom in NYC. Over the years, the show system expanded to twenty-four machines as a blend of Mac and PC hardware, enabling three simultaneous contests in 2D, 3D and motion graphics, live onstage and in plain view of crowds in spaces as varied as nightclubs, rock venues, design conferences, and office building atria.
AM's technical direction, alongside production from partners e2K (North America) and Germination (UK), enabled this technically intricate live show to run smoothly across three continents, five voltages, and seven languages. all while fitting in four road cases small enough to check on a domestic flight.
Thumbnail and images 1-3 courtesy of Jason Lewis
For the American Museum of Natural History, AM provides stage management services to the One Step Beyond event series, a long-running show New York Magazine calls "New York's Best Museum Party."
At the mobbed monthly concerts, AM supervises sound check, stage access, and run of show in the museum's iconic Hall of the Universe.
Past events have featured live performances and DJ sets from Talib Kweli, Q-Tip, James Blake, Kanye West, Passion Pit, Animal Collective, Crystal Castles, Peanut Butter Wolf, Yeasayer, Pete Rock, Chromeo, Telephoned, A-Trak, Kid Sister, Spank Rock, Flying Lotus, Prefuse 73, Dirty Projectors, The Rapture and Simian Mobile Disco.
Simian Mobile Disco photos by Brian Pennington
For WIRED Magazine's annual Manhattan popup, The WIRED Store, AM's involvement runs the gamut. We work with production agencies like MKG, Mother, and TPG in preproduction and display design, staff hiring and training, buildout, and security installation; then in-store, providing management, event support, day-to-day technical operations, even granting on-camera interviews and studio appearances on behalf of WIRED to news, radio, cable and networks like PBS, FOX, NBC, Reuters, BBC, NY1, ABC, Sinovision, T7, Attack of the Show, LXTV, and Brian Lehrer.
2014 was the 10th year of AM's relationship with WIRED and the project keeps getting better, each year introducing additional event programming, improved display designs, greater interactivity, and refined security and operations.
The stores have ranged widely in size and aesthetic – 2014's activation was a clean and minimal look sited in a new event space hosted by Milk Studios, whereas the 2011 store occupied 20,000 square feet in Conde Nast's building at 42nd and Broadway, with over 5,000 square feet of window frontage on one of the most heavily-trafficked corners in the world.
Some photos courtesy of Louis Seigal
Installation piece for a group show at the Cohen Gallery at the Granoff Center for the Creative Arts at Brown University.
LEDs, Max/MSP, Mac Mini, used LCD panel, shattered water pitcher, spraypaints, deception
The idea for this piece began with the knowledge that most of the other works in the group show would be rectangular - prints, photos, or animations on conventional screens. I work with displays intimately, maybe more than some, and I've been hurt by them in the past. I'm sick of them.
As such, my first instinct was to openly disrespect a screen, not to disregard it via omission, but something more - to 'break' it, and leave it unprotected at the foot of a 'real' object, somewhere it might be missed or kicked in the investigation of a 'thing'.
For the 'thing' I wanted a vessel on a plinth - a container - or, moreover, the idea of a container rather than the thing itself - so I acquired a glass pitcher and began an investigation into transparent silicone casting. After some research and consulting with those who know more, I found the shape and volume and need for a void on the bottom (to accommodate lighting) to be a poor fit for a cast in silicone.
After a good bit of experiment and tests down other avenues, I became frustrated with the only vessel I had - my reference and placeholder - the actual pitcher - and was at once overcome with the desire to smash it.
I put it in a bag and tapped it with a hammer and in that moment felt a rush of release. The resulting fragmentation was workable - the remaining large parts recognizable as once a pitcher - but no longer a vessel in any real sense.
The color system visually offsets the two components and cycles slowly through the hue wheel. It was enjoyable to watch people try to interact with the piece. It's not interactive. It's a sharp pile of broken glass and some Chinese LEDs.
I recently came to the conclusion that I likely unconsciously cribbed the name for this piece from The $10,000 Sculpture (in progress) by the very awesome Caleb Larsen, who is, as I just said, awesome.