March was a month of turbulence. Reid and I both moved into different apartments, if, in my case, you consider a sh*thole an apartment. We also both started new jobs. We managed to get together and work out the Alchemy installation for Bent Fest and NYCEMF. It took a lot of long nights and ill dip technology, but it all paid off. We were proud to present our piece and now have performance versions of our original, immobile design.
We traded fluorescent, wall wort lights for super bright LEDs. The light was not as evenly distributed, but it also gave the feeling of having various power centers in the hand. The red lights also added other connotations depending on the observer.
Reid and I sat down in the corner of my crack den of a house and went at it. I am pleased to say that I got out of that place quickly and now reside at Meat Town, U.S.A. - a house in New Brunswick that puts on a good show and houses good people.
Everybody, Everybody... Fun with rotary tool designs.
Just me and Jesus and a Japanese Piano School Cassette
We were having trouble with the hands the night before the NYC EMF. Reid was a little tempted to let it go, but that was before his support system made it on the scene. I am not one to give up. We sat at his new setup in Brooklyn, behind rainbow sheet walls, and sacrificed sleep for tweaks and adjustments, until the hands were reaching their full potential.
It is so painful to have to take everything apart and put it together again, especially at 5 am, the day of the exhibit.
But we did it! 5 hours and 10 tacos later, we were off to NYC EMF.
We were set up in the lobby outside of one of the concert halls, so we set up with headphones and speakers. It was good to see people go at it with headphones because they seem less inhibited. But I loved to hear the different crunchy and bleepy noises people were coming up with blasting on the main level of the Graduate School Building of CUNY.
The set up was not ideal. I was really happy about it, but wished it was darker. We got them to turn some lights off, but for the purposes of the area we were in, we could not cut the lights.
The video hands still had white light beneath them. I think I prefer the red in the well lit environment.
We kept getting new colors and patterns out of the Etch-a-Skletch. At one point during Bent Fest, Reid and a few others witnessed a quick flash of the video game, whose cartridge we used for as a bus for the bends!
We had a chair in front of the video palm reading table, but some people made themselves at home for the audio hands too. Tomislav rocked out.
One of the big differences between this piece and its predecessor is that all of the controls are accesible to the subject. The design is meant for performance and we wanted people to explore the full range of sounds that they could manipulate manually.
I arrived to Bent Fest 2009 a little late: I had work early so Reid had to set up by his lonesome. I set up the exhibit at NYCEMF by my lonesome though. The difference was that Reid had to carry everything himself this time... up three flights of stairs. Our installation was upstairs. At first, no one new it was up there. But there were a few workshops up there, and our piece got some people's attention.
The performances the first evening were stellar!
Dr. Bleep opened up with a crap load of Thingamagoops - I picked one up for myself.
This is a video of his performance at Bent 2008:
Bent NYC '08 - Dr. Bleep from Dr. Bleep Videos
Wil Lindsay blew my mind with VBLANK - Check out the videos page for a sample. It was great to see on a big stage with a large projection in the background.
Chris McDonald stunned everyone with silence. It took a long long while for his laser to run across the stage horizontally, bottom to top and then he changed his position as it ran vertically across the stage. Most people stayed in their seats, some got up and left. Most people did not know what was going on. Everyone maintained silence. I noticed a tripod on the stage and moved a little closer. I tried to get a long exposure picture, but my camera was not up to the task. The following picture is 15 seconds of exposure:
After the laser stopped its second pass, Chris moved forward on the stage, took hold of the camera (an old Polaroid model) and ripped out the following brilliance:
After the reverence for the stage people showed for Chris McDonald, Galen Richmond of Computers at Sea invited everyone up to see his set up. Again, people's jaws dropped at the sight of beautiful bentstruments embedded in old books!
And then we all rocked out to his slammin' music! It was so slammin' that he had to ask it nicely to stop every now and then to get to the next slammin' song.
Rythymmemory kept the hot beats droppin' and the sweet bends screamin'! Not to mention the ridiculously awesome video montage they had playing in the background, which contained Arnold Schwartzeneggar and the original Black Power Ranger among other cultural beauties.
My personal favorite of the evening had to be Playboy's Bend, whose rockin' beats were accompanied with a lot of pizazz. The whole night was inspiring. Below is one of Xavier's fuzzy Playboy Bends:
Nicolas Collins had a book release party for the second edition of Handmade Electronic Music -- an excellent reference for anyone getting into electronics or circuit bending -- He did a performance based in sound reactivity to a candle burning on top of a small, light-sensitive instrument.
As they played the DVD included with the book, I took picture of people playing with our installation. In the following picture, it looks as though a camera is focused on the instruments we built, being projected live. The video, however, is of a completely seperate instrument that just looks as though it is set up like our handstruments.
I spent most of Friday trying to make signs for people to go upstairs to see our installation. I missed most of the performances or just sat in the lobby area and watched from a distance. Concert #2 was still breathtakingly awesome and mind-blowingly sonic.
This is where I leave off an Reid takes over... I was not there Saturday night. I showed someone at the open bend session the secrets of the Swording Beacon and Ohming Beacon. I left Saturday to see my Naeners and Screaming Females record release/tour kick off.
Reid!? What can you tell the folks at home that I've sadly left out?