Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Lichtspiel: Contemporary Abstract Animation and Visual Music

Los Angeles premieres. Co-presented with Center for Visual Music

“Joost Rekveld has provided an undeniable masterpiece with #37.” International Film Festival Rotterdam

This ravishing “play of light” explores rhythmic abstractions in the cinematic tradition of Oskar Fischinger and visual music animation. The centerpiece of the program is the Los Angeles debut of Joost Rekveld’s #37 (Netherlands, 2009, 31 min., 35mm CinemaScope), a stunningly beautiful study of the propagation and diffraction of light through crystalline structures. Sure to bend more than a few minds, the lineup also offers award-winning animated shorts from around the world, most of which are screening in L.A. for the first time. Featured artists include Scott Draves, Robert Seidel, Steven Woloshen, Bärbel Neubauer, Thorsten Fleisch, Bret Battey, Michael Scroggins, Samantha Krukowski, Mondi, Devon Damonte, Scott Nyerges, Vivek Patel and Yusuke Nakajima. Plus the final film by the late CGI wizard Richard “Doc” Baily.

In person: Joost Rekveld

Curated by Center for Visual Music with Steve Anker.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

EraSer + vj Ape5 - audiovisual and experimantal project

EraSer + vj Ape5 are an audiovisual and experimental project from Italy.

More on ape 5
Ape5 is active since 2001 both as a VJ and video-artist, basing his performances on the research and experimentation of real-time video, interested in the interaction between arts and video and in the experimentation of glitch aesthetisc of the sound.
In 2005, he established on the the first net labels that focus on real-time audio-video interaction. Lately he is into building audio-video controller that use open-source hardware

More on EraSer
Matteo de Ruggieri using the pseudonym of EraSer has given birth to his own electronic experimental project through the art of circuit bending, exclusively playing with toys and musical instruments transformed by him, creating glitch and lo-fi electronic sounds on an intense melodic basis. An artist and circuit bender, he has set up the first italian website based on this art, has modified toys for international musicians.

Latest Creative Project

Future sounds like past toys

It is based on the concept that contemporary music and the music of the future "sounds like" past toys.

Experimental audiovisual net label

Vimeo Video - 3 Cubespirals

3 cubespirals from ape5 on Vimeo.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Working Solo: Staying Motivated

There’s been a ton written about the importance of planning your goals. It's common knowledge that one of the best things you can do to make your dreams a reality is to put together a list of goals and then take steps to get those goals done. This is rarely as simple as it seems. Take a trip online and see all of the websites, programs and applications that are supposed to make this process simple and painless. The problem with goal setting (and achieving) is that we all have different goals (approaches and applications) and different personalities (methods and motivators). There doesn't seem to be one system for all. What we're going to discuss today is a good starting point in putting together some lists so that you have a strong foundation. We'll look at some of the universal problems in achieving your goals. From here you may try any one of the systems out there and see what works for you. In any case, you'll have set the ground work and not matter which system you end up using, you will be heading toward your goals along the way.

You're Special

One thing that most systems don't take into consideration is the fact that no two people work the same. There are provisions in most time management systems that allow for folks to try and discern the most productive time of day and try to work around that but there's a lot more to it than just the time of day. People have different ways of working and different motivators. Some people like to work under pressure, some hate it. Some people need to work in a neat and orderly place, some people thrive on chaos. Most people need structure, though the amount varies a lot between individuals. Some people need a lot of supervision and feedback, some very little. You get the point here. There are a lot of other variables that most systems don't take into consideration. Some just leave these questions wide open and leave it up to the individual to figure them out for themselves. The problem is that these issues are really important and may make the difference between a system working for you or not. Let's look at a couple.

One is the Loneliest Number

One of the major issues people have today in getting things done is that most things have to be done on your own. This means that not only do you have to get the job done, but you also have to figure out what’s important and what needs to be done. Just as important you have to try and find the motivation to get do these things on a daily basis. The fact is that a lot of people don't work well completely on their own. Most people work best within a system with some structure. Working with other people, it's easier to stay motivated and on course. It's all too easy to let things slide when you don't have any one waiting on results. It's easier to think that an item isn't as important when it's your own responsibility and no-one's reputation or job on the line. The problem is that if you have an important item on your list that must be done, you must find a way in make sure that it gets done. If you boss tells you that he needs that report by Friday morning by 9, it's a lot easier to put much more importance on it because somebody is waiting for it. It seems easier for most people to get things done when there are other people waiting on it and you're reputation is at stake. That's why when people are trying to lose weight and going on an exercise regimen, they are encouraged to tell somebody they trust about their plans. When there is somebody waiting on a particular project, there is a huge built in motivator for you to get that done. When you're on your own, that external motivator isn’t there.

Feedback and Community

Along the same lines, another big motivator that keeps you on goal is feedback and community. When you have a community of people that know about your goals, you can turn to them for advice and motivation. Sometimes just being able to have a conversation about what you're working on and what you plan to do in the future may provide enough motivation to last for weeks. It certainly can help when you're not sure what to do next or if you're questioning the goal in the first place. There is also that built in motivator that we talked about in the last point. Suddenly there are other people that know about what you're doing and you may feel pressure to get things done just to keep up with the community. Community is also great when things aren’t going well. It’s comforting to know that there are others out there going through the same kinds of things that you are. It may also give you an idea of what the trouble is and finding a solution.

Welcome to the Show

It’s no longer enough these days to just be a musician. You need to be able to run your music career like a business. That means that most of the time you’re going to be doing a lot of things at once. Most of these things won’t be your area of expertise. You are literally a one person show. Even if you join a band, these same principles of running a business still apply. You won’t have the money to get all of the help you need so you’re going to have to do a lot of things on your own. You will have to start working your music career like a business.

As a business you’re going to have to set apart some time to make some plans. Knowing how you work, how to keep motivated and on course is critical for your success. At the end of the day, you’re on your own and it’ll be up to you to make sure that you get all that needs to be done…well, done.

Next we’ll take a look of some specific examples from the problems listed above and find some solutions.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Jean Detheux - Festival du Nouveau Cinéma - 2009

Audio Visual Performance

A Visual and Sonic interplay by the painter- filmmaker Jean Detheux and pianist Jean-Philippe Collard-Neven


Programme note:
"Normally, when you present a piece, you specify your intentions. But in this case, it is the absence of intention that defines our performance. We are not hoping for anything in particular to take place since it is precisely the “whatever happens” that interests us—all the more so if it is beyond our will or our control. We can say that the performance will be comprised of certain elements. There will be music, both early (Frescobaldi, Dowland, Couperin) and contemporary (Jean-Luc Fafchamps, John Adams, Steve Reich, Maurice Ravel, Claude Ledoux, Collard-Neven). There will also be free improvisation, music that doesn’t yet exist but lives only in the realm of possibility. At the same time, there will be images, drawn and reworked, as well as photos that don’t tell a story, a sort of abstract impressionism. Lastly, there will be a painterfilmmaker and a pianist who (re)discovered each other and (re)connnected somewhere beyond time and space and who very much look forward to the unexpected possibilities of their visual and sonic interplay."
See programme at:

See also:

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Quality Control

Quality Control album cover

Whenever the labels were going to release a new album, there was a procedure that they followed. It was all about timing and making sure that the proper channels were set up. That way, when the album was released, there would be enough momentum and they were assured a certain amount of press and air time. Things now are different. Now most artists do a lot of their marketing online. There is also the ability to get new material to all of their fans simply through their website and online aggregators. Because of the availability of tons of music at their fingertips, most fans can pick and choose what they want. There is no limited shelf space or even limited air space. As an artist you can pretty much now release whatever you want, whenever you want. Question is (just to be even more confusing), is this something you want to do?

Death of the Album

Before the advent of the internet, the album was it. Ever since the Beatles released albums like ‘Sgt. Peppers’, the album has remained the preferred choice for fans and labels alike. I’m still a fan and its how I usually choose to listen to the music and artists that I enjoy. I usually found that the tracks that I loved best from the artist were never the ones that made the top ten. But because of the internet, it’s now possible to get almost any song you desire. The concept of the album hasn’t completely died but it has now taken a far less important role. Like it or not, the single has once again taken the dominant role. The problem that arises for the artist is to consider even creating an album in the first place. There are many industry people that say creating an album is a waste of time since it’s probably not going to be ‘consumed’ that way anyway. They have a point but there is way more to consider here. You have to ask yourself some questions about what it is you want to do. If the idea is to create some tracks and then go out on tour then putting together a CD is critical. It’s also another way to sell your tracks online and gives fans another alternative. Like Trent Reznor has shown the world, it’s all about giving the fans choices. Some fans will want all of your tunes and putting together a complete CD package is the best way to do that. Albums also give fans a snapshot of were you happen to be at a certain time. I know that for my favorite artists, there are albums that I love more than others. In most cases, even if you do most of your sales online, it’s a good idea to put together an album since it creates another stream of income from your music.

Release It Now

There is one more item that should be looked at when releasing new material. This is what most industry insiders usually refer to when they say that releasing an album isn’t a good idea but they don’t explain it properly. It’s the idea of releasing material immediately. Since the distribution chain is almost immediate, you can release material the day it’s completed. This gives fans immediate access to new material and also gives them a reason to come back to your website. The advent of the big CD release should be reserved for special occasions when there is a market and gives you a great reason tour, to connect with more fans, and to send out press releases. Otherwise it’s a good idea to release material on a regular basis giving fans a reason to come back again and again. Some artists not only release new material on a regular basis but add other items such as videos and separate tracks for the fans to remix. In other words, break down any walls between you and your fans. Always give them a reason to come back. Releasing your new material is a great way to do this. Some artists have even released demos and asked their fans for feedback. There are other sites that allow fans to invest money into their favorite bands to help with recording and tour costs.

The Package

One thing that seems to get lost in this equation though is keeping your focus together. Sometimes it’s easy to just start writing anything and then sending it out there for fans to consume. There is a fine line between keeping fans back and simply filling up you website, just to fill it up. The point is that even though there is the ability to release whatever you want and get it out to people, do you want to release everything that you do? There still needs to be some filter to decide if the material is up to your own standards and musical vision. Even if the song is in demos form, is it a good representation of the band. Remember that once it’s out there, it’s out of your control. This is different from sending your stuff out for remixing. Once there have been new material ready, give it a day to review it and see if it something that you really want to get out there. There is a danger now that you can contact people anytime, to make sure that when you do connect, it’s for a good reason. Trust is the issue we’re talking about here. Fans know that if they go to your site that there’s going to be a certain level of quality there. Even if it’s a demo, they know that it will be of a certain quality when it comes to the content. There are a million ways to connect with you fans but there is only so much time in the day that they will be available. This means that when you do try and connect, have something worthwhile to give. There are artists online that constantly push their own stuff without giving much value in return. There is no room for that anymore. There needs to be content but it has to keep the fans attention. It’s not good enough to just have stuff there, it needs to mean something. Putting together CD releases is a great way to have quality content. Putting your newest tracks online for the fans to comment is also a great way to get traffic. Constantly bombarding people with your ‘go to my site’ isn’t. Releasing constant material without making sure it’s of the highest quality isn’t. People now have the choice to listen to anything that they want.

Quality Control

There are no surprises anymore. You can have the greatest marketing and websites in the world but without great content, you’re going to lose. That’s it’s important to always have new material but you have to make sure that it stands up to your standards. Releasing something just because you can isn’t a good reason. If you do this often enough you will betray people’s trust and they won’t come back. It’s been said a million times before and it still stands. It’s all about the connection with people. Release anything, whenever you want. Try to connect with as many people as you can. This takes a while and doesn’t happen in a day. The auto-replies and friends adders don’t work anymore. There needs to be a connection and a reason for people to come back. Give them as many reasons as you can to do this. Make sure though, that it’s something that you feel represents you and your music. Because after all; people and music, that’s what it’s all about.

Friday, October 2, 2009

punto y raya festival - 76 films

The punto y raya festival to be held in Barcelona on November 26th to 29th, 2009 (see website) in its call for works has collected an amazing selection of audio visual works. The website provides excellent documentation of the works being shown and is a brillant starting point for checking out contemporary audio visual work - both fixed media, installation and performance.

See festival videos page at:

The 2009 official competition program for the festival showcases contemporary work - there are 76 films from all over the world, there is a link to more information about each film and a screengrab from the film - this is an excellent festival

"This festival explores the ultimate synthesis of the form·movement duality in different spheres of human endeavour. Due to the simplicity of its criteria, it uses abstraction's prime matter to reveal the limitations and achievements of our representation systems.
The dot·line is the ultimate grain of our universe and of the sense we make of it; it's the primordial identification of all that exists; the essence of that which is matterless but builds up matter, of what is imperceptible but allows us to recognise all perceptible things.
But in the symbolic dimension the dot·line ceases to be an end in itself to become a representation of human thought."

Antonio Brech - Psycho-Sound-Graphics

"Sound Expression, graphics and audiovisual animation an experimentatl approach in line with their theoretical work on psicosonography. Intermodal ethic and integrated graphic design. This website is based on a few examples of their work."

Also see:

48X48 - Installation by Visual System

48X48 from VS Team on Vimeo.

Installation du collectif Visual System, pour l'édition 2009 du festival Scopitone à Nantes.

48X48 a été réalisée par Julien Guinard, Stephen Roques et Valère Terrier.

Une sculpture lumineuse interactive et contrôlable, une œuvre volumétrique en apesanteur de 64m2, le collectif travaille sur des structures architecturales provisoires avec une technologie détournée : la led. Conçue comme un espace de lumière sans armature, généré par son environnement, elle happe le spectateur qui mènera rapidement un jeu spatial (sa position), architectural (points de vue de l’installation dans l’espace) et cinétique (vitesse de déplacement), alors conditionnés par la présence ou absence de lumière.

Remerciement très spécial à Monsieur Thierry Pillet et à la Fondation Jean-Luc Lagardère qui sont à nos côtés depuis le début.

A previous post showing their architectural installations is here