The Art of Toyz

Last week, after too many coffees and a slushy walk through the wintry East Village, I stopped by NYU to warm up in the digital glow of the ITP Winter Show. Up on the 4th floor of Tisch School of the Arts, the scene was crowded and upbeat, as the department showed off its latest explorations into technology, media and art.

I tend to think of ITP’s huge loft space as a high-tech romper room, with its computer labs, circuit workshops, and reactive sculptures lining the halls. This “engineering for artists” program was founded in 1979, and since then has become a tight community of technologists, programmers, designers, and theorists experimenting with mechanical and digital technology. Using up-to-the-minute developments in software and hardware to inspire wonder and share information, the department describes itself as a “Center for the Recently Possible.”

Below is a video of some of the projects in the winter exhibit and conversations with a few of the many artists who showed their work (yes, it was very loud in there, almost like a New Year’s Eve Party!):

The projects in the show come out of ITP courses such as Introduction to Physical Computing, Virtual Worlds Workshop, Live Web, Live Image Processing and Performance, New Interfaces for Musical Expression, and several others. These include web-based experiments, gameplay, robotics, interactive objects and mobile applications.

Please check out some project pages by students in the Interactive Telecommunication Program, as they do a much better job of describing their work than what I was able to pick up on the fly. You can find all of the projects listed on the main ITP exhibit page as well:

Human Wind Chime
Historical Radio
Interactive Triangle Matrix
Beat Feet
Vonome
Dynamic Ground
Borealis MIDI Controller
The Bed
fridgebuzz MK1

Jocelyn

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Chronotronic Wonder Transducer

If you’ve been following along with us, you may have noticed that on the MMiX Festival performance schedule, we have something called Chronotronic Wonder Transducer on the bill. What in the hay is a “Chronotronic Wonder Transducer” you say? Well, you’re in for a treat, because CWT is a group of interactive sonic & visual artists who have banded together and agreed to bring their installations and projects to the MMiX Festival. We’d like to take this opportunity to introduce them to you:

JOE MARIGLIO

joemariglio

Joe Mariglio is a composer and artist whose practice spans many mediums.  He is often labeled an electronic musician, but does not really understand the term, since the vast majority of music has been electronic for some time.  Some of Joe’s work deals with problems surrounding the mediation of experiences.  Joe is also interested in networks, human and otherwise, structured improvisation, and narrative forms.  He enjoys baking bread, meditating, and building guitar pedals.  He documents his process at www.joemariglio.com.

AMY KHOSHBIN

amykAmy Khoshbin is a Brooklyn based multimedia artist from Texas. Her work explores perceptions on both micro and macro levels as well as dialogues between the body, technology, and the physical environment.  Amy’s performances, videos, sculptural objects, and wearable technologies question how we create meaning through exploring memories, the senses, and unexpected narratives. She performs music around NYC with Michael Clemow as “And Um Yeah.” More of her work is available at these websites: www.tinyscissors.com & semiotech.org.

MIKE CLEMOW

mikeclemowMichael Clemow is a sound designer and performance artist living in Brooklyn, NY. A graduate of NYU’s Interactive Telecommunications Program at the Tisch School of the Arts, his work has been shown at The Tank (New York, NY), Issue Project Room (Brooklyn, NY), Diapason (Brooklyn, NY), and others. He is interested in the use of technology to construct scenarios in which specific connections between the senses are exposed and used to generate symbolic languages through creative activation. Michael is a founding member of Semiotech, an organization researching technology for the performing arts.

TED HAYES

Tedb0t_tankTed Hayes is a Brooklyn, New York artist and composer whose works span from installation or “spatial art” to novel musical instruments to experimental opera. Most recently he invented a system of “space eggs” that wirelessly and intuitively control beat-repeating on live vocals. His interests lie in the affective dimension of space and object: bringing the poetry out of a place and inspiring new poetries with our cultural artifacts. He is a graduate of the University of Florida School of Architecture and a current student of the Interactive Telecommunications Program at New York University. His work has been performed and exhibited at The Arts Center in St. Petersburg, FL, ISSUE Project Room and Monkeytown in Brooklyn, the New York Center for Art & Media Studies, and more. See his blog at http://log.liminastudio.com for much more information!

STEVEN LITT

Steven Litt is a recent graduate of the Interactive Telecommunications Program of NYU. He is the creator of CrudBox, a robotic rhythm machine that controls electronic or electromechanical devices, amplifying their sounds in real time. His work mixes the raw, abrasive sounds of noise and electroacoustic music with the rhythms of electronic dance music. He is an artist, designer, and musician. He currently lives in Greenpoint, Brooklyn.

steven litt

You’ll find the artists of Chronotronic Wonder Transducer at the MMiX Festival’s free exhibit space on Thursday, Friday and Saturday (Oct 8,9, and 10) from 6:00 to 7:45 PM, where they’ll demonstrate their projects and installations, and you can ask questions or try interacting with their work yourself. Then on Sunday, October 11th at 6:30, Chronotronic will kick off the last night of MMiX with experimental musical & visual performances you won’t want to miss. In an upcoming post, we’ll provide more information on their individual pieces. Stay tuned!

Jocelyn

MMiX FESTIVAL – Schedule of Events

The MMiX FESTIVAL of Interactive Music Technology
October 8-11, 2009 at Theaterlab
137 W 14th Street, New York City
(212) 929-2545
http://www.theaterlabnyc.com

Tickets: $20 / $15 students & seniors
Available online at: https://www.ovationtix.com/trs/cal/28175

SCHEDULE OF EVENTS & PERFORMANCES:

6:00-7:45 PM Thursday through Saturday
Free and open to the public in Studio C

Interactive sound installations by
Chronotronic Wonder Transducer
led by sound inventor Steven Litt

THU OCT 08
8:00 PM – Performance
Bora Yoon +
Luke DuBois +
Todd Reynolds +

FRI OCT 09
6:30 PM – Free Event
Ableton LIVE 8
Demo/workshop by DubSpot NYC
led by Chris Petti
8:00 PM – Performance
Dan Trueman and his Mini Laptop Orchestra
Jon Margulies / Hobotech
Joshua Fried / Radio Wonderland

SAT OCT 10
6:30 PM – Free Event
– Ableton & Cycling ‘74 present: MAX for LIVE
with Todd Reynolds & Luke DuBois
8:00 PM – Performance
Patrick Grant Group
Kathleen Supove / Exploding Piano
Elliott Sharp / Janene Higgins

SUN OCT 11
6:30 PM – Performance
Chronotronic Wonder Transducer
Ben Neill & Bill Jones
DJ Rekha / Basement Bangra

PLUS product giveaways of Ableton LIVE 8 and Cycling ’74’s MAX 5

* * * * * * *

The MMiX Festival of Interactive Music Technology is produced by Theaterlab, radio producer Jocelyn Gonzales, and curated by composer/performer Patrick Grant.

All events take place in the studios of Theaterlab which is located at 137 West 14th St., between 6th and 7th Ave., New York City. For more information (ticket info, directions, etc.) visit Theaterlab’s web site at http://www.theaterlabnyc.com.

Software and laptop improvements present new possibilities for composer/performers to create complex soundscapes in real-time during live performance. The focus of the festival is to demonstrate that these emerging audio technologies are instrumental in new artistic creations, and to inform the public regarding the current state of this art form. The artists presented in MMiX have set a new bar in that discourse and will provide live performances, media installations and workshops.

Ableton, creators of LIVE 8 and Cycling ’74, creators of Max/MSP/Jitter are primary sponsors of the festival with additional support by DubSpot NYC and Eventide.

Media sponsorship for the festival is generously provided by WNYC 93.9 FM and 820 AM, New York City listener supported radio.

WNYC

“Will You Be Checking-in Any Baggage, Mr. Litt?”

When Steven Litt opens up his suitcases, you won’t see socks, shirts and a hairdryer tumble out. (Well, maybe a hairdryer – could come in handy, sonically speaking.)

Instead, you’ll find a small mixer, a mess of wires, hacked doorbells and effects pedals hammering out a somewhat industrial heartbeat. Steven is the inventor of CrudBox, basically a super analog robot drum machine.

photo from Steven Litt

photo from Steven Litt

Steven describes his project this way:

“CrudBox is a 16 step, 8 channel step sequencer which replaces digitally created or analog synthesized sounds typically associated with sequencers and electronic music with the amplified sounds of whatever electronic or electromechanical devices are plugged into it.

There are many new possibilities for sonic experimentation with the diverse combination of sounds and musical structures which can be created with CrudBox. Solenoids and motors can be plugged in and sequenced while striking or otherwise moving or vibrating any physical material and their sounds amplified in real time using Piezo contact mics. These mics, or any other sound source, can be plugged into hacked guitar pedals and effects boxes which can then also be sequenced by CrudBox. Cassette decks, reel to reels, turntables, power tools, and any other sound generating devices can also be hacked and sequenced.”

Here’s a quick demo of the CrudBox:

Steven presented CrudBox at ITP’s Spring Show 2009, and he’s performed with it at Handmade Music events in Brooklyn.

This week at my office in NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts, I asked Steven about creating this new musical instrument and what’s next for his suitcase sequencer:

There’s something beautifully retro and organic about CrudBox, and its percussive possibilities seem limitless due to the variety of scrap materials and devices that can be used with it. There’s no software or computers involved at all, and though it probably has just as much musical flexibility as something you might manipulate digitally, CrudBox can also receive MIDI information from a program like Ableton.

I can’t wait until Steven sells a kids’ version of CrudBox to Fisher-Price, a gift to the exasperated parents of budding musicians everywhere. 🙂

Jocelyn Gonzales