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Archive for April 2014


Episode#2-Double Dutch Bus(ride)-The nomadic diary of Onyx Ashanti-Exploring the exponential now

During this whole phase of the trip out of Berlin and into the US, I had very little hard drive space for new footage.  I was very “precious” with the time I had to record with the new camera and as such, I don’t feel that I captured everything I wanted to.  besides that, I am now seeing that I need to create some camera mounts for my bike so I can get the truly cool stuff that happens while I am riding around.  I have plans in that regard and will report on them when I have a model to show/share.

Sitting in the bus on my way to Holland, I felt that stomach-dance of anticipation that I had missed for sooo long.  When being nomadic, there is a point at the beginning or even at some point during the adventure where you say to yourself, something to the effect of, “ well…here’s another fine mess you’ve gotten us into!”, preemptively. there was a bit of that.  but not much, surprisingly.  My inner dialog was very focused on “getting to the point” with “point” being significant steps on this iterative trajectory.  in other words, focusing on what's next, leading to what's next, next, and so on…in this case, Holland was home to two significant entities that I feel are crucial to the “nexts”…”nextsus?”(…hmmm, nextsus didn’t make any sense but I wanted to try it on anyway. )


in the summer of last year, I was at Betahaus in Berlin, having a coffee and doing a bit of geek watching, when I was approached by a man named Keez Duyves.  he seemed to have a similar “vibrating-while-not-moving” energy to my own and we began chatting about a variety of topics relating to technology and berlin and our place in this “thing”.  he then proceeded to show me some of the work he does in virtual reality.  holy shit, it was amazing!  rather than approaching the concept from a game engine-“walk around and shoot things” perspective, he was creating what could only be described as “sculpture”, there.  and his work had many many dimensions, some involving motion capturing the input of entire theaters full of people, performance art overlays, total immersive constructs that made me begin to see the occulus rift as a necessary way to interface with data (if Facebook doesn’t fuck it up, but I digress on that point for now…).  we just happened to be playing at the same event in Wedding some time past this meeting and I got the chance to experience it myself and was completely blown away so when he graciously offered to house me, “if you ever decided to come to Amsterdam”, I made note of said offer, in INK, rather than my usually metaphorical pencil scribbling's.

around the same time and for most of last year, I was conceptualizing ways of separating the expression of sound from the expression of data so I could experiment with how they were to be reassembled.  I find it criminal that venues and police should have the right to dictate whether or not music can be performed and/or shared, based on outdated propagation modalities, i.e.. speakers transmitting sound through the air.  I've felt that this was inefficient for quite some time.  I investigated various ways of transmitting sound over the years, going so far as to build up a 15 headphone listening station on the street in san Francisco back in the 90’s.  it worked…kinda.  It weighed less than a speaker system but it was too soon for such a concept at that time and once the novelty wore off, I went back to speakers. 

now though, everyone carries some sort of network connected sonic prosthesis in the form of media players and smart devices.  so I set out to build a REALTIME media streaming system.  I capitalize real-time because I soon discovered that real-time in the media server world is measured in “seconds”, not milliseconds.  the lag time was too great and the overhead for running the servers I was discovering, offended my minimalist sensibilities.  I wanted the process to run in the back ground of the system I was already using, NOT on a separate, heavy, hot server.  if that was the case, I could simply stick with speakers.

it just so happened that out of all the servers I investigated, there was one that was low on cpu overhead and memory, blazingly fast, and, most importantly, open source, so I could share it once I got it to work (sonic fractal matrix 0.1 -alpha? Open-mouthed smile )  Its called Mistserver and it is made by DDVTECH who just happened to also be located in Holland!! 

so, the crazy VR guy is in Holland, the super-media server guys are in Holland and being that Amsterdam was the first place I stepped foot into Europe, the first person I ever met in Europe, my friend Phillip, also lived in Holland, it seemed that all roads lead to Holland!!

the first day back on the road.


I brought the boom box with me, just incase I wanted to busk with it.  I took the bus from Berlin to Amsterdam around 7:30pm, so I could get some sleep and be fresh for my meet up with the DDVTECH guys the next morning.  I had already had one amazingly productive online session with one of the head guys, Jaron Viëtor, a couple of months earlier.  he helped me get it basically working, but I was using windows at the time and I was migrating the system over to debian Linux, so they offered to help me setup an optimized system for that. 


the ride to Holland was meditative.  I didn’t distract myself with music or excessive note taking.  I just sat and explored my memories of my time I berlin while creating new “future memories” of the things that needed to be done in the coming days and weeks. sleep came easily, as did awakening early the next morning, to retrieve my stuff from under the bus, assemble the trailer and bike and regroup inside the bahnhof (train station).  it was at this moment that I realized fully that I was no longer in berlin and that everything I needed in life was on that trailer.  no anxiety.  only the desire to peel away the day, efficiently, elegantly, and interestingly.20140312_175049

it still bugs me that I didn’t have enough space on the cameras SD card to take video of the trip from this station to the station in Leiden, where the DDVTECH offices were, nor did I get footage of biking to their offices.  it was a sunny morning and I always love Dutch bike paths, so that sucks, but shit happens. 

Google maps led me directly to their offices and one of the guys was there to meet me at the obscenely early hour I decided to ride over there, which I thought was really nice of him.  this set the tone for the rest of the day.  and I do mean the ENTIRE rest of the day!  20140313_113654they showed me some of the interesting ways they were evolving the code in mistserver, based on its extreme efficiency and modularity and even went so far as to incorporate unreleased code into the customized version they compiled for me.  through much trial and error, we were able to get mistserver to broadcast in a stable fashion, with 400ms latency!  it must be noted that this is to devices with no prior app download or optimizations.  the client smart device merely has to log into my local wireless network, by clicking on a qr code, then log into the stream by clicking a second qr code!  viola!  a dimensional bridge between my sonic fractal matrix to the client sonic prosthesis (smart phone).  this is what we are doing in the video and as you can hear, it is a surreal sound that I look forward to investigating and iterating.

later that night, they dropped me off at the airport, where I caught the train back into Amsterdam, before Jaron and his brother zoomed off to the band rehearsal they almost missed, helping me achieve a dream that I've had for over a year.  I cant wait to show it off next month in California!


I got back to Amsterdam kinda late but luckily

a. I had my bike

b. I know my way around Amsterdam and

c. I had only to take a ferry from central station to the area that put me within 10 minutes bike ride from pipslab.

the only way to describe PIPSLAB is that it is the place that you dream, as a kid, that you will have as an adult.  this was obviously the workspace of spatialized minds; tools, toys and tidbits, all within thought and physical reach, but with enough space for the mind to be able to imagine wider, deeper thoughts.  a perfect workshop…and I was going to be living in it for the next 4 days!  needless to say, I was feeling very confident that my need to leave berlin for a nomadic existence, was a good call so far. 

pipslab is a collective of artists.  they seem to be highly professional in many fields of interest, which seem to gravitate around the artistic investigation of virtual realities using motion capture, but not limited to this modality.  I was exposed to theater, to pre and post production work, to concept development…there was a lot of energy in the place, even when I was alone there.  their process mirrored some of my own in that once I arrived, I was folded into construct almost instantly and since I came with the mindset of such an interaction, we just ramped right into doing shit.

most interesting were our jam sessions.  being that keez had designed his system himself, in open frameworks and I had designed mine entirely in pure data,  we were able to mesh our systems at multiple levels of abstraction.  I could play sound but also send  note, tempo and gestural data, in multiple formats, over multiple types of network connection.  he could translate that data into forms of expression I needed video to show because I don’t have the language to describe what is possible with his constructs.  I think the data IS the language because words don’t do it justice and could act as an impediment to where this type of thing can go.  I think if we had had to discuss it all first, it would have taken weeks, but since I knew my programming environment and he knew his and those could speak computer-speak, the low-resolution of spoken words, were only minimally necessary except to gawk at the results.  needless to say, there was very little in the way of sleep, for the days I was there. and since then, my mind is consumed with expressing a part of itself in virtual space. 

the next day we biked over to the Lumasol studio.  there, two guys, Remco and Boris, had a crazy 3d capture rig for creating high resolution 3d models of people and things…of COURSE such a thing was a bike ride away…where else would it be?!  this is the same kind of stuff that was used to create the fight scenes in the original Matrix movie.  60 cameras go off in perfect synchronicity.  you can see the results of our session in the above video.

for the rest of the time, I got to hang out with old friends, like Phillip, who graciously modeled the mask so I could take notes on the adaptability of the design to different sized heads, and musician/artist/DJ’s rawdee lewing and Nobunaga Panic who came down and jammed with me/us in the lab, bringing some amazing vibes and sounds along to bless the space. 


I also, finally, got a chance to drop by STEIM institute.  I've had so many people tell that I had to go by there, that I decided to bike over, with my stuff of course, and pay the place a visit.  just so happened that there were only two students there that day. unfortunately, I ran out of space, AGAIN, on the SD card of the cinema camera, before I could get the proper amount of footage this place deserves.  but I found the basement to be the most interesting of all.  so many stored projects in sound propagation.  I could feel the morphosonic field of generations of artists, expressing themselves in this space.  I had hoped there to be a possibility to see what many have described as an ancestor to my exo-voice-Michael Waisvitz’ “the Hands”, somewhere in the facility, since he was head of STEIM until his death in 2008, but unfortunately they weren't on location.  maybe another trip for another time.


to say that the intensity and beauty of the 5 days I spent in Holland, “recharged” me, would insinuate that I wasn’t already charged up before arriving.  instead, I will say that my time in Holland, “reaffirmed” the idea that the “now” I am seeking to investigate, definitely doesn’t reside in a single place.  I know now that not only was it the right decision, but in a way, it was the only decision.  there was no way to get this experience without being part of it.  without going to it and partially creating it enroute.  like in video games where the treasure is hanging there in mid air, waiting for someone to grab it and no one had to be defeated to get it!  it is with said treasure in hand that I head back to the US to reconnect with my roots and grow some new branches…


How to design a wireless 3d printed digital musical interface (quick and dirty tutorial)

Picture 279A friend asked me, this morning, if I could give her some pointers on how to start designing a 3d printed digital musical interface. realizing that the answer would be more than a few paragraphs I decided to write a blog post on the topic, for posterity. then as I started mind mapping an outline I began to realize how little of the process is digital or computer-y in any way. and when I say “the” process, I really mean “my” process. As I am a self trained designer, I developed processes which work amazingly for me but which, I have been told by engineer friends, are strange but OK, since the results work well. I will attempt to keep this post short enough not to need to take a break but long enough to be thorough.


realizations from my own exploration into form and function

When the y2k bug failed to send the earth hurtling off into space, all attention focused on another date in the future; the end of the Mayan calendar; Dec 21, 2012 when the end of time was supposed to happen. as I type this in April of 2014, I can safely say that the movie-esque version of this conceptualization of “end of time” didn’t happen, but, examined another way, the world is very different than a few years ago. maybe it wasn’t down to the day or even year of said prediction, but it must be noted that we live in an age of exponential change unlike anything we could have predicted and the rate of change is increasing, as well as the rate of the rate of change. thus is exponentiality. but what does this have to do with creating a 3d printed digital musical interface. EVERYTHING. we are swimming in a sea of perpetually changing and mutating technologies, this article would have been completely different 5 years ago and would have been science fiction 10 years ago. some of the techniques in this article that are so common place now, are thoroughly based in the now, not the past. of course it all builds on the past, but we are on the other side of a tipping point of possibility and must approach our expression exploration from that point of view.

The key technologies that we are building on here are the reprap and the arduino platform. I could exchange the term “reprap” with “3d printer” and keep it general, but I choose not to. I think the reprap platform is more important than 3d printing because it is 3d printing with the open source ethos built into its DNA. every reprap can build other repraps. if it can not, it is merely a 3d printing appliance which falls in line with consumer products and market forces. the reprap, lives in digital space and when called out of that space as a physical machine, it allows the creation of form, from mind, in 2-3 steps, max! as a comparison, before repraps, which kickstarted the whole 3d printer craze, manufacturing, plastic or otherwise, took a workshop with specialized tools which were usually expensive and or dangerous, and years of training, which was usually expensive in either time, money or both. with the open source reprap project, one could download the plans and build one for less than $1000. a reasonably dedicated amateur could create something, realistically, within weeks or months, not years. and once you’ve built one reprap, you can build another, usually better one, easily. not so with commercial 3d printers, so for me, reprap is the way to go.

many repraps electronic systems are based on an open source platform called arduino. this was intended to be a way for children to learn about electronics but soon satisfied a need that didn’t exist before it provided a solution; an easy to investigate electronics platform. all of a sudden, sufficiently interested individuals could buy a $20 circuit board and create or adapt things that were of importance to them. or maybe just something they thought was cool. in either instance, the arduino allowed a low barrier of entry and increasingly sophisticated use cases based on its open source genome; there is an endless amount of information on how to adapt it to do anything…ANYTHING. flying robots, weather tracking, small satellites, autonomous vehicles and for our purposes, wireless digital musical interfaces.

the less significant but still very noteworthy technologies that we are spoiled with here in the future are plentiful cheap sensors, discoverable in internet based shops, deliverable anywhere in the world, and equally accessible CAD design environments and programming languages that talk to these systems and allow you to talk to your new lifeforms and in some cases, teach it to talk back with increasing syntactical ability. the one I will be gushing over is called Pure Data and specifically, pd-extended. this is a “data flow” language that you program by calling functions called “objects”, which are onscreen boxes with the name of the function in them, joined together by onscreen wires/cables. I love pd because at its heart, it is really just a math program with sound outputs. it is open source, free and can also communicate visually, as or over a network and can talk to anything that can be connected to a computer, like the arduino mentioned above.

all of the above mentioned tools are great singularly but for our purposes we need to make them work together. a musical interface must allow for the investigation of Self, through sound. that is my definition. if you want to play “an instrument” then there are are many to choose from. but the desire to create a musical interface from scratch, at such a low level, is really the investigation and expression of Self; how you move and think about what expression is for YOU. so going into this exercise with this goal in mind, will speed up your design process and result in something that evolves and grows as you do, possibly, for the rest of your life. it is not the creation of a thing, rather…

 it is the physical manifestation of the beginning of an ongoing, evolving process trajectory.

let’s begin

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the most important tool to begin with is a trinity of mind, paper notebook and pencil. your mind is your most important tool. it is your primary design software. if you can not build it in your mind first-imagining how it works, imaging playing it, how it feels, what it sounds like-then everything after that is a crap shoot. to do this part, my suggestion is to take large swaths of time to simply sit somewhere and let the mind wrap itself around the idea of what you want to create. at first it may be hard, maybe, but after a while, it becomes much easier to imagine your designs and iterations in multiple dimensions (cad design, code, sound, etc). (there is more I could put here about this stage, but it could fill a book. if there is interest in such a thing, let me know and I can look into it).

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after doing this for a while(sometimes hours or days, sometimes weeks, months or years, depending on the idea), the pencil pretty much guides itself to the paper without having to force yourself into long drawn out session where you attempt to coax yourself through some selfhelp/mystical bullshit. the key thing to remember, is that…
 your drawings are NOT art.
they are notes for YOUR mind.
a squiggly line might be a cable…or it might be your way to remember to pick up some eggs on the way home…this is YOUR space outside of your mind to begin to give your idea form.


I find that sometimes a drawing isn’t enough so I like to keep modeling clay around. I can, from my drawings, make a basic 3d form from clay then use my calipers to measure it before I take it into my CAD environment for 3d modeling. clay is your friend.



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now that you have a basic idea of the form that you are shooting for, you will need to shift gears. it is at this point I like to shift to electronic concerns. once the form is developed, don’t move straight to CAD modeling because you now need to wrap that form around a basic function set and those functions are expressed using electronic parts, which have a defined shape and sometimes orientation. if you try to design and print the form now, without knowing what is going to go in/on/around it, you will inevitably have to start over to do this step any way, and will have wasted time and materials in the process.

with a basic drawn form you can now investigate the sensors, boards, lights and batteries required to make your system work. so first is to determine what sensors will allow you to do the thing you want to do. developing strong Google search-fu and proper online forum etiquette is crucial.

organize your thoughts at this time. I can not live without mind mapping software. I currently use xmind, but there are dozens of open source, free mindmapping programs for all platforms. what it does is allow you to get down to the precise questions you must ask yourself or someone on a forum. the gods of forumdom have little patience for overly broad questions or overly general ones that have been asked ad nauseum by “noobs” who haven’t gone to the trouble of reading the FAQ or searching the archives. do those things first and make note that you have done so before you ask your question. said question should be to the point and detailed enough that someone who knows can, if they are so inclined, check your research and give you an answer. remember, most of the people on them are like you, but maybe a bit more advanced. they have jobs and hobbies too, so don’t be an asshole.

create a mind map and drill down into what you are trying to accomplish (another topic for the book, but suffice it to say, there is lots of info on mindmapping properly, online). in the center of the mindmap is the subject but as you branch sub topics into more detailed subtopics, you end up with a constellation of very specific questions around the outside edge of your mind map. it is these specific questions you should ask, if necessary, after you have researched all that you can on your own and there is no other recourse. once you post the question, if you find the answer your self, it is proper etiquette to post said answer in the thread and mark it SOLVED for those that will inevitably search for it in the future. you become a part of the community in this way, instead of an anonymous leech. this is part of the value proposition built into the idea of open source. respect it.

so at a certain point, your sensors are working with your arduino. note; I use a firmware for arduino called firmata, which turns it into a digital input/output board that only sends and receives to the computer. my concept of digital interfacing is the interface as dumb sensor io, connected to the computer wirelessly. in this way, all the heavy processing is done on the computer, which I find to be more powerful than a purely arduino based system, but that Is pure preference, and not a rule of any sort. this is a good time to connect the arduino to the computer using your wireless transceiver. my choice for the last couple of years, has been the arduino fio/roving rn-xv wifi transceiver combo because it works, its upgradable, the arduino is mated to the wireless transceiver using a socket which also allows for things like xbee or an Ethernet “shoe” for cable connection and if one of these parts dies, I don’t have to replace one$50-100 board. each part costs less than $35. it is also quite small and has a built in battery charger. there are other boards out there that seem to be very cool, but I have been pretty satisfied with this one so I haven’t investigated those yet. (I wrote a tutorial for using this setup here)

one benefit of this system is that I coaxed it to use udp protocol bidirectionally, which means that instead of dealing with tcp/p running over serial, which introduces latency by way of constant error checking, udp is “connectionless”. this means that the computer blast data to the arduino and the arduino blasts its sensor data to the computer and neither cares if there are errors. the result is blazingly fast data throughput, which is very necessary for playing music in realtime. if your design is a singular system transceiver, then you can ad-hoc connect it to your laptop and call it a day. if there are more than one, the you will need to get a wireless router, dedicated to being the interface for your transceivers to connect to your computer, NOT the internet. in fact, if you want the lowest latency performance possible, you will need to ensure that NOTHING else connects to that routers ip address or set qos rules to ensure you have a guaranteed minimum bandwidth.



handunit v2.2handunit v2.4-crossjunction

We will now assume that your electronic systems function on a basic level and you know the size of all the components that will go into your interface. at this point, go back to your drawings and/or clay models and revise the design to account for the actual parts that will go into the interface. now you must begin to think about printability in your design. its all good to want the design to be all swirling shapes but the reality of the reprap is that it prints from the bottom up which means that if it is designed in such a way that the bottom doesn’t touch the print surface or there are weird overhangs, ie printing on a surface that isn’t there, the design fails. I design in interlocking flat pieces. flat pieces stick well to the bed. if a part doest stick to the bed, then I make two pieces I can mate together by hand, after the fact. in fact my whole design process is based around the limitations of the reprap print concept: designs that will stay attached all the way through the print process and fulfill their function. I call it “dominant flat side design” each sub part has to have a dominant flat side. think of this from the beginning of the process and you wont end up with wasteful prints.

using the digital calipers mentioned above, measure each electronic component and/or groupings of components and model fitted templates where those components can mount. if you have enough 3d printer filament, print out the template to see if the components fit snugly (you can also use the data sheet for said component, but I like to measure things myself.) then it s merely a case of assembling these parts together in your cad environment, into a form that is as closely related to your drawings as possible.

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with my Mayan calendar example firmly in mind, think of the idea of the 3d printer as enabling form to come from mind to this plane of existence, in 2-3 steps. the 3d printer is a dimensional portal through which physical manifestations of ideas come through, but the limitation of this “early stage” portal is the size of the print surface and the materials used. so although form is coming from another dimension, LITERALLY, the portal, in my case, is 140mm (long) x 140mm (wide) x 120mm (high), so although I could, say, manifest a great many things, they will either have to be that size or smaller, or come through in pieces to be assembled on this side of the vortex. so design accordingly.


from here…

As I stated above, this is the super quick run through of my process and at this point, you should have something that basically works, but it will never be perfect in the movie sense of the word. I see “perfect” as a significant point on a process trajectory. if it works at all, then its perfect. yaaaaay, you win! but as soon as it works you will instantly see things that can and should be evolved. welcome to the never ending process trajectory. it can always get better. it is part of you. it evolves as you evolve… as technology evolves. you are all intertwined now. and the most interesting part is that because you built it, you now have “insight”; with commercial “products” you know as much as they want to reveal about their process and “intellectual property”. with your interface, "you know EVERYTHING and can iterate in any direction you please. if something screws up, you can fix it or change it or delete it or start over from scratch. it is yours…it is you. you will begin to think “why isn’t more of my life like this” and your life will evolve along the exponential paths that made your interface possible. welcome to the future.






Exploring the exponential now-Episode#1:Leaving Berlin (The Nomadic Diary of Onyx Ashanti)


For those that don’t know, I have packed myself and project development of the exo-voice and associated projects, into my trusty duffle bag, attached by trailer to my folding bike, and decided to leave Berlin for the time being. It must be noted at this point that primary focus is still on developing and shipping crowdfunding campaign perks to my contributors, but I don’t need to be in berlin to do so.  truthfully, it is quite a bit cheaper to purchase parts and ship from here in Mississippi, than from Germany, but that is not the reason for leaving.  it is simply an assurance that “perk-iteration” is still my primary focus; making the people who supported me, happy, is still the overriding goal Smile .  The reason I left is to explore a “now” that is so profoundly interesting, that I can not be in one place to do it.

Exploring the exponential now.

Over the last couple of years, my mind has been a vast terrain of unexplored adventure.  I never dreamed of what awaited me once I turned off TV, movies, radio, CD’s, etc.  although I have become obsessed with sun ra, Terence McKenna, John Coltrane, Polynoid, online research papers, ancient Egypt, pre-colonial Africa, and Japanese Tech culture, I've done so at my own pace, using the internet, then disconnecting and letting all of these disparate topics interact freely in my mind.  the interactions between them and the hundreds of other topics, has been thrilling in completely unpredictable ways.  not “finding”congruencies, but just sitting quietly long enough for them to drift together effortlessly has created a pattern of its own and this pattern needs stimulation that can no longer be had primarily through a computer screen information interface.  tactility is now necessary.  personal experience.  fields within fields of influence.  the attraction of a future which wants to be experienced physically with mind and body, here in the present.  the now.

But this “now” is different from the previous “now” I remember from the last “nomadic era”, of which there have been 4;

The first one i n the late 90s living in a van in LA,

The second living in a squat in London in the early 2k’s,

#3 was living on the A-train in NYC in 2006DSCN1779, and was the first one I blogged and

#4 was summer of 2010, living in a tent, camping, and busking around Europe and Ibiza, also blogged

In all of those nomadic phases, there was less certainty of what I was doing, where I was going and why I was going.  the “now” was just a place that my body and mind happened to inhabit.  and all of these were pre exo-voice, pre-open source, pre-investigation-of-self.  I was a street performer who was looking for good pitches to play.

Since 2010, “now” has gained several new dimensions based on my expanded perception of it and on the explosive growth of human connectivity and technological expression.  “now” is no longer a tiny point wedged in between a future and a past, but an exponentially growing life-form.  it consumed the past long ago, parameterizing it and making it increasingly easy to parse, but it now also stalks the future like a seasoned predator. 

We have the tools and the minds to create any future we can conceive, right now.  the now has become an increasingly vast multiverse of possibility and expression.  so vast, that one must approach it as artist and anthropologist.  any expression can be constructed as quickly as ones mind can use and/or create tools to construct it, but then one must shift perspective and investigate said construct with a respect previously reserved for ancient artifacts, whose age and detail beg  for serious inspection by trained “professionals”.  the new now…our now, must be played like music while also studied like any other science.  its boundaries grow exponentially and we must look out from its event horizon, to gain even a slight glimpse of the futureverse. 

So, looking at the “now” as a terrain rather than as a point-or maybe a really expansive point, with us as particles on or in it-then the impetus is to map it.  to explore it and see where it leads, and maybe find other explorers and trade notes.  “now” exists in berlin as well but not only in berlin.  the new now is a vast reality topology abstraction that can be experienced in part from any point, but must be traversed physically to try to grasp its scope and depth.  nothing in the virtual sphere replaces personal experience.


Another reason for this exploratory journey, is the birth of a new metaphor for the exo-voice software.  As I have mentioned ad nauseum for the last couple of years, I am obsessed with fractals in all forms.  from mathematical constructs to trees to nervous systems…they have changed my interaction with myself and with the world.  so the guiding principle for the evolution of the synthesis system of the exo-voice has been to make it “fractal”…to give it an evolving “fractal logic”.  to my mind, at a particular point, this was just an abstraction like “funky”  or “swinging”, but then a few months ago it came to mind to create a simplified version of the system for practice.  something that would be a little bit of everything in the system, condensed into a single synth/looper…POW!!!!!(insert matrix-y sound here)ZOOOREEROOOOMMMMMPOP!!!!  THAT WAS IT!!  THAT WAS ALWAYS IT!  make a single point from which to iterate the sound! The iteration is multidimensional in that it is an interaction protocol (how it is played) and a design protocol, which then feeds back into the interaction protocol.  this means that changing a very few things at a time can result in massive sonic personality changes.  basically, instead of changing an instrument metaphor, it is that of changing a “seed” metaphor.  tweaking the sonic genome, produces new morphosonic structures (“morph” is Greek for form).

the way this relates to leaving berlin is that berlin has a very pervasive “morphosonic field”.  a morphosonic field is a term describing the “sound” for which a place is known.  I derived it from the concept of a morphogenetic field put forth by Rupert Sheldrake in his book, “a new science of life”, in which he describes his theory that nature is made up of fields of influence and that each species has fields of memory that guide their collective habits.  Google and YouTube are your friend in researching this further.  from that theoretical point of view, a morphosonic field is the sound habit of a place.  berlin has sound habits , just like London has a sound habits, or Hawaii has sound habits.  so now if one interjects an iterative sonic construct into an existing morphosonic field,  you get very interesting interactions between the two; either the iterative sonic construct changes itself in the face of the exiting fields dominant concrescence, the existing morphosonic field incorporates the new novelty of the sonic construct, OR, both, simultaneously.  one or all of these processes has been happening in every city I have ever lived in but, now, with a fractal sonic iteration system, it is much more profound.  since each place gives its sonic genomic material freely,  a fractal sonic construct, like the exo-voices internal logic, can, theoretically so far, be interacted with in a manner that incorporates this genetic material in novel ways, and if it gets “stumped”, its own iterative, programmable genome can be modified to do so.

so now…substitute Detroit or Rio or Tokyo, or Goa or the Congo, for berlin and my desire to touch these fields, makes much more sense;

It is the traversal of multiple morphosonic fields, all “collectivized” (I just pulled that one out of my ass, but it felt like the right word) within the expanding membrane of the “now”.  rather than attempting to predict a sonic end result, by way of trying to sound “good” or even “musical”, I feel that developing a personal experience based interaction model of swimming through the “now”, with the exo-voice acting as  the snorkel in this metaphor, will result in outcomes that no amount of precognition will produce.  the sound will interact with any morphosonic field it encounters and mutate accordingly.

this sonic fractal is of the first interaction with this new metaphor.


vlcsnap-00002the mask iteration is coming along nicely now.  the minimized mount points, i.e., having as little material touching the skin as possible, have been working very nicely except that abs is no longer considered a suitable material for the high stress mask design.  around the mouth, the stresses are too much for abs.  it snaps eventually.  but nylon in just about any form, fits the bill nicely.  getting the angles right, has been a bit of a pain in the ass.  the teeth must sit on the tip at a certain angle so that when one blows, the air only goes into the air hole, otherwise, there is too much adjustment of the embouchure before and during playing.  now I feel like I can abstract the positioning into the design as a rule rather than a theory.  this is why the design process is taking so long; it must be played enough to develop solid design rules.

the hand units have been mostly stable for months now and are 98% done, as a release-able construct, with the holdouts being adjustable hand mounting, more robust circuit design and adjustable thumb positioning. 

20140217_115223the software took a quantum leap in efficacy a few weeks ago when I FINALLY shifted ALL development of the system, over to a USB flash drive based debian audio distro called Tango Studio.  the difference between this one and many others I had tried was that the real time kernel was enabled by default and after a couple of tutorials, I was able to turn on persistence.  this means;

  1. I can distribute the exact code I use, in the exact environment I created it in, and the end-patternist has only to insert the USB stick into their computer and boot it up.  no config (for reasonably modern machines) required
  2. the distro can be loaded with all my notes and pics
  3. real-time enabled out of the box means it will run well on 90% of computers that its put into (with some addendums, because someone will still try and run it on their commodore 64 or some shit)
  4. said patternist can iterate their distro their way and save it to the stick itself as well as back it up much more easily and transport it to any other computer.



Episode #1 was just the first video of a new series of “nomadic diary” film expressions.  I haven't spoke in this (visual) language in a while so I am relearning what I knew while incorporating new techniques, ideas and motives.  my videographer gave me a Black Magic pocket cinema camera to document my travels with.  as you can see from the video above, the quality is stunning (thanks Tom and Darren!).  I will have to really dig into the capabilities of this camera over time, but definitely expect to see more artistic visual expression over time, starting with this video but extending through episodes #2-4 which document the 2 weeks it took to finally make it back to Mississippi, where I currently am.  loads of crazy footage from PIPSLAB and DDVTECH in Amsterdam, the slingshot festival in Athens, GA and the national society of black engineers conference at Opryland in Nashville Tennessee (which, previously unbeknownst to me, is a massive climate controlled biosphere).  in addition, detailing the final stages of getting the exo-voice and associated perks out to contributors, will be much more interesting as I investigate the visual story hidden within the exercise. 

I can not or will not say what happens after that.  but I feel confident that it will be interesting and now, well documented multidimensionally (blog, film, audio, 3d printed artifact, etc.).  the new now awaits…


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