SIGGRAPH 2015: Ritsumeikan contributions to the SIGGRAPH conference

Our half-day course on how to design and build new musical interfaces was accepted for SIGGRAPH 2015. Unfortunately, I will not be able to travel from Ritsumeikan to Los Angeles to attend Siggraph this time but Prof. Sid Fels (UBC) will be presenting our course. Additionally, one of my video artworks was selected for screening at Siggraph 2015. ‘Soft Pong Inari’ with a soundtrack composed by seminar guest Prof. Palle Dahlstedt (Universities of Gothenburg and Aalborg) was selected for the ‘Enhanced Vision – Digital Video’ Siggraph exhibit and will screen as part of the SIGGRAPH 2015 artistic program.

http://s2015.siggraph.org/attendees/courses/events/how-design-and-build-new-musical-interfaces

Live Performance at the Opening Reception of ACM Multimedia 2013

A little more than one year ago, Alex Jaimes and I collaborated on a live intermedia performance for the Opening Reception of the ACM Multimedia 2013 conference in Barcelona Spain. The video below records part of the performance, but it was made with a small pocket digital camera, using the built-in mic, and I was very preoccupied with the performance itself. Unfortunately this is the only record I have of the performance.

It was held October 24, 2013 at the Foment de les Arts i del Disseny, which is housed in an ancient stone building next to Barcelona’s Contemporary Art Museum. We worked with contemporary dancer Laida Azkona and violinist Paloma de Juan who was one of Alex’s colleagues at Yahoo Research Labs in Barcelona. Paloma’s day job is research engineer, whereas Laida is a profession contemporary dancer who has studied and performed around the world.

Again the quality of this video recording is not good, but perhaps it gives some impression of the performance.

The next video is from the first rehearsal for the live performance. Alex, Laida, and I met at my apartment the same day I arrived in Barcelona and we had our first rehearsal a day or two later. We had two more rehearsals after that, which includes a brief one after we had setup and sound-checked on the day of the opening reception. Since Alex and I worked remotely we could not prepare much beforehand, though I had already written and tested the programs needed for capturing movements and converting them to OSC for controlling the video projections. The video clips themselves were edited at the last moment, partly during a visit to Alex’s home in Barcelona. It was a busy but exciting trip!

Next Level Shit

I recall first seeing a Die Antwoord video two or three years ago. It was the strangely trashy YouTube video for the single ‘Beat Boy’ with an interview about South African Zef counter-culture:

I can’t recall how that video hit my radar, and I promptly forgot about it. In the meantime, Die Antwoord has broken through and their videos attract millions of YT views. The stuff is viral, addictive, and toxic as crack. Zany and sometimes wicked parody seems to work as a kind of Trojan Horse for critical viewers. Most viewers, who may not understand much of the parody are probably dazzled by the eye-candy (eye-smack, really) and the uncanny vocals that mix South-African English, and unfamiliar Afrikaans and Xhosa languages. Where did Ninja and YoLandi park the UFO? In one YT interview, shows Ninja (humourously) losing his temper at an interviewer who ask about their involvement with ‘conceptual art’, while Yolandi pretends not to understand the term. But dig a little deeper and you’ll see that indeed Die Antwoord have dablled in the art world and have collaborated with Leon Botha and Harmony Korine.

China My China (1974)

This pre-MTV music video shows Brian Eno performing the track China My China from his second solo album Taking Tiger Mountain (By Strategy) in front of a Nam-Jun-Paik-like television wall. Judy Nylon and Polly Eltes provide backing on guitars. Check out the use of a typewriter for percussion from about 1:40. This is post-punk from the period before punk. Performance artist/musician Judy Nylon looks really new wave, but this is 1974, not 1980. This is closer to video art than music video. Surely Eno’s concerns here are artistic, not aimed at gratification of a pop audience. As with other innovative Eno works there seems to be a focus on process over product. Something to reflect on as we begin a new year.

Here’s another track from the same album. Third Uncle is considered notable as an example of proto-punk, but again this is really closer to post-punk. There’s a strong resemblance to Joy Division here, however this was recorded a couple of years before Joy Division was formed.

Walls of Kyoto – Cabaret Voltaire live in Tokyo, 1982

This is what really good electro sounded like live in 1982. In those days this was known as industrial music. Cabaret Voltaire was one of the first groups to play like this along with Throbbing Gristle. Lo Fi video art was de rigueur for industrial bands even in the days before MTV.

Check out the video for the early CV track ‘Obsession’. This may be more accessible than the above live track.

I’ll bet Grimes has given Cabaret Voltaire a good listen. Certainly there’s a direct link via Skinny Puppy.

Finally, here’s the video for one of my fave CV tracks, ‘Nag Nag Nag’.

I first heard Cabaret Voltaire on an alternative radio show in the late 70s and a while later saw some of their videos on late-night cable tv. It seemed pretty fresh then because there was not much else around combining techno (at that time disco) beats with noise. In retrospect this was experimental pop music, though at the time it seemed too deviant to be pop. At some point, the subversive deviance of the late 70s/early 80s industrial subculture was recuperated.