Friday, November 16, 2012

Reactable as Artist Instrument: On Mobile, Live, and Tangible

Reactable as Artist Instrument: On Mobile, Live, and Tangible: presenta Carles López-Reactable from Milivingroom on Vimeo.
Can the Reactable be artistically meaningful, as well as technologically impressive? New performances, and new releases – interactive “label” releases for your iPad/iPhone and updated hardware for those of you wanting to try the whole experience yourself – might just answer that question.
Listen to designers of futuristic musical devices talk about what they hope to create, and a common theme recurs again and again. They want to make musical instruments – something you’d practice, something for which there would be virtuosos and performances that would knock your socks off.
It’s tough to make a direct comparison. Many electronic performances are part instrumental, part compositional – that is, some gestures occur directly on the level of a sound, whereas others “conduct” larger-scale musical transformations. But perhaps the most important ingredient is time.
The Reactable, a tangible interface first developed by Sergi Jordà, Martin Kaltenbrunner, Günter Geiger, and Marcos Alonso, has now had the benefit of time. And as a result, we’re seeing an evolution of music, not just technology. That is, I’ve watched the performance by Carles López above more than once because I like his musical ideas. I could watch it with my eyes closed, and, oddly, see some of the gestures he’s making – there’s some idea connected to the gestures. “Carles” (in Catalan) López is a kind of “resident Reactable savant,” as described to me by Reactable’s other Carlos, Carlos Morales. You can see him in action at bove courtesy You lose something not being live in the room with him – I greatly enjoyed that chance in London recently – but it’s still fun to watch, even behind your computer.
The experience of using the Reactable is largely defined by content. So, on the “conducting”/compositional side of the coin, Reactable is doing their first artist release, with Oliver Huntemann. See the video below – we head into techno territory, in contrast to the López video at top.

Here, the work is within reach of anyone with an iPad, in the form of an “artist edition” release. It’s a bit like having an interactive album release. You can approach it from several angles. You can simply listen to his music – the lean-back (or dance) traditional listening experience. You can also watch it as it’s being played. Or, you can take the helm yourself, remixing the content.
It’s all a bit like the 21st-century equivalent of a piano roll for a player piano — only, in this century, made more interactive.

The artist release is 1,79 € for iOS only; the full app costs 8,99 € and runs on both Android and iOS. Reactable tells us more apps are coming. (The fact that they opted not to support Android here to me is yet more bad news for that suffering ecosystem. But having tested – and even played live with – Reactable on Android, I can say it runs nicely enough on my Galaxy Tab as well as my iPad. So don’t be afraid to try it if you do have a newish Android device.)

Mobile is much cheaper, but there’s nothing like using the actual, physical hardware. Moving those blocks around can make you feel like rockstar DJ and kid all at the same time. Of course, it doesn’t come cheap – this is an integrated digital and physical system with projection and camera sensing, not something that lends itself to easy mass production. But the Reactable creators have done some impressive iteration, making each new version a little better and a little cheaper. That brings the price down to 6.100 € in the latest version – just under US$8000 at the current exchange rate. You can find the tangible interface hardware from Reactable – or just awe at those photos. (Seriously, while I can’t argue it’ll be the most practical few thousand dollars/Euros you ever spend, I can say it’s a lot of fun. I can appreciate it from afar. iOS and Android are the way to get it for us mere mortals.)

Scanning Device Enables Computers To Read And Play Sheet Music In Real-Time

Scanning Device Enables Computers To Read And Play Sheet Music In Real-Time:
Reading sheet music can be a bit of a drag. All those staves and notes and stuff—much better to have technology do the heavy lifting for you, so you can free up your time to watch videos of cats getting blowdried and babies doing kung-fu.
Researchers at Tokyo Metropolitan University, headed up by Professor Tetsuaki Baba, have created a device that reads and plays sheet music in real-time. It’s called the Gocen and it works by scanning the staves, then the notes and their position so it can determine which are the high notes and which the low. It can also read what instrument is meant to be used and change the computer to play the correct one accordingly.
While you can compose music using just a computer and not have any need to scan it, the researchers see this as a composition support system, allowing people to write out the musical notations by hand so a computer can read it and play it—and it’ll make it easier for children and lazy adults to learn musical notation too.

Danny Quirk Self Dissections Print Release

Danny Quirk Self Dissections Print Release:
AshleyChristina, and Candice are available for $30

at the Street Anatomy store.
Danny Quirk Candice print available at the Street Anatomy Store

Candice by Danny Quirk 11×14″ digital print
Danny Quirk Candice print available at the Street Anatomy Store
Danny Quirk Candice print available at the Street Anatomy Store
Danny Quirk Christina print available at the Street Anatomy Store

Christina by Danny Quirk 11×14″ digital print
Danny Quirk Christina print available at the Street Anatomy Store
Danny Quirk Ashley print available at the Street Anatomy Store
Ashley by Danny Quirk 11×14″ digital print
Danny Quirk Ashley print available at the Street Anatomy Store
Danny Quirk water color Self Dissection Series from Street Anatomy's OBJECTIFY THIS exhibition from September 2012
We’re excited to release AshleyChristina, and Candice prints from Danny Quirk’s Self Dissection series on the Street Anatomy store! Originally available at the OBJECTIFY THIS exhibition back in September 2012, Danny’s prints were an instant favorite among the gallery audience.
Using dramatic chiaroscuro lighting, this gorgeous series of surreal portraitures expose underlying anatomy by means of self dissection.
  • 11 x 13.75″ with 1 1/2″ white border
  • Digital print on fine art paper
  • Limited edition of 20 prints, signed and numbered
  • Exclusive to Street Anatomy

Ashley, Christina, and Candice are available for $30 at the Street Anatomy store.
Feel free to contact Vanessa at vanessa [a] with any questions! For other shipping inquires, please see our store’s FAQ section.

Nicholas Baxter’s Apostasy

Nicholas Baxter’s Apostasy:
Nicholas Baxter Almighty Oil on Panel 12" x 12"
“Almighty” Oil on Panel 12″ x 12″
Nicholas Baxter Anointing Oil on Panel 24" x 24"
“Anointing” Oil on Panel 24″ x 24″
Nicholas Baxter Hand of God Oil on Panel 24" x 24"
“Hand Of God” Oil on Panel 24″ x 24″
Nicholas Baxter Communion Oil on Panel 12" x 12"
“Communion” Oil on Panel 12″ x 12″

These are just 4 out of the 10 oil paintings in Nicholas Baxter’s incredible Apostasy series.  Apostasy means renunciation of a religion by a person and this series explores science and medicine as the new religion.
Nicholas boldly states in his artist statement to this series,
“These images represent an inquiry into the medicalization of modern society.  In our time, the specialized knowledge of an elite group has been canonized and made gospel, resulting in the learned helplessness of an increasingly ill populace. Surgeons and scientists alike have become the new priests of a material-industrial age, in which living organisms seem to be regarded as no more than an assemblage of mechanical parts…
…Science is the new religion, Big Pharma is the church, the doctors are priests, pills our Holy Communion, and sickness is our only hope of salvation when diseases are dollar signs that fortify the edifice.
So this is my apostasy, my leap for sovereignty from the dungeon of a castle made of glass and steel sterility. A journey back towards wholeness in The Garden that made me. A breach of faith in hopes that I may rejoin the wild world and be healed in its immeasurable and immutable wisdom.”
View more of Nicholas’ photorealistic oil paintings at

If the style of Nicholas’ paintings strike your fancy, also check out the work of Danny Quirk, one of the very popular artist’s in our current OBJECTIFY THIS exhibition (Sept 7–29, 2012).