Friday, September 5, 2008


It’s funny how things work out sometimes, bad things and good things. The bad thing is that my laptop died. The Firewire ports disappeared, which isn’t that big a deal except that I need them for my MOTU Ultralight audio interface. No complex recording in Ableton Live without it (although I did manage to record two Elektron Monomachine tunes in GarageBand on my iMac). The ports have been dead for several weeks now, but it just hadn’t been convenient for me to be without my laptop for a week or so, mainly because I had been scheduled to take a series of three Arduino classes at NYC Resistor. I’d become interested in the Arduino because I figured if I learned enough of the programming language I could do some interesting music stuff with it. Sadly, this was not to be as the iCal calendar links I downloaded were in the wrong time zone and I showed up for the first class four hours late.

So I missed the programming class, and was a little bummed as I was really looking forward to it. I’ve done a bunch of scripting over the years and have sorta dabbled in programming but not really gotten serious about it. That was on Saturday. On Monday I saw a post on CDMo (on my blogroll on the right) about a book called Learning Processing. I’ve been interested in the whole visualist/VJ thing for a while now and have looked at Processing a time or two, so a new book on Processing for beginners sounded just about right, especially with what happened with my Arduino class. It was good timing, so I ordered the book. It hasn’t arrived yet, but it’s on it’s way.

Then, on Thursday, first on CDMu, also on my blogroll, I started seeing talk of a new version of iTunes. The most interesting thing about it was rumors of the new visualizer, supposedly Magnetosphere, which apparently used to be downloadable but lately no longer available. Regardless of the truth of the rumors or the lack thereof, the demo movie of Magnetosphere is absolutely beautiful. What cemented this for me, however, was that the visuals were generated in Processing, so we’re now back around to the beginning, starting at programming for the Arduino (whose IDE is based on Processing, by the way!) through a series of incidents and and coincidences involving music and computers and ending up back at programming, in Processing.

But aside from the incredible visuals, the music, also, of the Magnetosphere video was hauntingly beautiful. Simple, interesting, calm, but also, just, compelling. Thankfully a link on the page took me to Trentemøller, where I more or less instantly bought and downloaded the album The Last Resort. Excellent, beautiful; calm but rhythmic, ambient but dance, simple but complex. Highly recommended.

So. I haven’t posted for a while, much longer than I wanted, as I’m without my usual computer. But because of that “impediment” I’ve been opened up to new possibilities through new music and upcoming new endeavors. I’m not deceiving myself that learning Processing will be easy, but I’m looking forward to it nonetheless. I’m not sure that I’ll ever be able to do incredible visuals (and music) like Richard Lainhart’s Lux, done in After Effects and then rendered, or the incredible generative visuals of Robert Hodgin’s Magnetosphere, hopefully on computers everywhere after next week’s iTunes announcement. I hope I’ll be able to use Processing to make visuals that evolve slowly and interact with my music, ideally in live performances. Maybe a lofty goal, but one I think well worth pursuing.

Does this post exactly reflect the stated purpose of this blog? Not exactly to the letter, but I feel it’s definitely following the spirit.

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