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Quadvector Gestural Fractal synthesis-current implementation: part 1

in an attempt to not unload streams of incomprehensible information all at once, every 2-3 months, I will try to unload more bite sized streams of incomprehensible information at a slightly more regular pace…youre welcome. as we near the event horizon of the singularity refered to as “releasing the project to the public”, little things become big things, as if their mass increases by virtue of time compression.

one such thing is the synthesis engine concept, currently refered to as a quad-vector gestural synthesizer.  this is one of a few “fractal” synth concepts that I have been working on for the last 2 years. the idea with this one is of a single synthesizer, tentacled with branching gestural parameter interfacing,  that can, through various combinatory means such as key sequencing, hand position and mode switching, mutate into any sound I can imagine.  this is accomplished using the multimodal gestural capabilities of the exo-voice prosthesis, whose interaction matrix is fractal. by “fractal”, i mean systems that evolve to higher states of “resolution” over time, from simple origin states.  this applies to everything from design to programming to performative interaction.  20140613_143909

in the design of the hand units, following pure function, I needed “keys” that were spaced to be comfortable for my fingers, while also being attached to my hands unobtrusively, which was accomplished in the first, cardboard, version.  over time, the design iterated toward things like better ergonomics, better light distribution, ease of printability, and so on, so the design and function evolved, while still being based on the the idea of the first version.  since all aspects of the exo-voice share this design concept, the entire design evolves fractally; as new states are investigated, the resolution of each state increases toward a state of “perfection” at which point it forms the basis of a new state of investigation.20140613_143621

each hand unit has one 3 axis accelerometer.  the x axis measures tilt, side to side, like turning a door knob.  the y axis measures tilt forward to backward, like the paint motion from karate kid (hope that is not too old of a reference for some of you).  the easiest way to picture it mentally is to think about the range of motion your hand would have if your wrist was stuck in a hole in a thin glass wall; you could turn your wrist and you could move your hand, from the wrist, up and down, as well as combinations of those two motions.  this forms the basis of the gestural kinematics the system is built on.  the x-range is one parameter and the y range is a second one.  the z is unused right now.  it’s the functional equivalent of using a touch pad in 3d space with x and y acting as two semi-independent control vectors.

there are a number of ways to use these vectors. 

  • Individually(per hand)-x is one “knob” and y is a seperate”knob”
  • Together(per hand)-the combined x/y position is considered to be one control point, similar to how a computer mouse works.
  • Together (both hands)-2 x/y control grids
  • Quadvector-x/y-left and x/y-right are combined into a 4 dimensiona control structure.  think of this as video game mode or similar to how flying a quadcopter works; the left hand is, in this metaphor, forward, backward, left, right, and the right hand is up, down, turn left, turn right.  no one control is enough.  all vectors must be interacted with simultaneously to control the position of the quadcopter in 3d space. 20140613_155205


the exo-voice system works by routing accelerometer data to parameters which are determined by which “keys” are pressed when in edit mode. ( a key in this system is a function initiated by pressing a sensor with the finger, like how wind instruments work, but here is more symbolic since the same function could be achieved in any number of ways.  since I was trained as a sax player, my mind gravitates toward that modality.) so in “play” mode, the keys are interacted with as saxophone fingerings on a basic level.  when the edit mode button is toggled, the entire system switches to edit mode and all the keys become function latches, ie, if I press key 1, the accelerometer controls parmeter1 and parameter 2.  if I press key 2, the accelerometer controls parameter 3 and parameter 4, and so on.  there are 8 keys so that is 16 base level parameters that can be controlled.

in previous iterated versions of the software system, each key could instantiate a seperate synthesizer when pressed hard (HP1-8), each with an edit matrix that was specific to each synth which meant there were 16 paramters to control  for each of the 8 synths.  now though, there is one synthesizer with 4 oscillators-each assigned to its own accelrometer axis. the HP modes are for “timbral routing” which means that the synth is routed though a filter which makes it sound timbrally unique in ways such as being plucked or being blown. some parameters are already set, such as pan position, gain, delay and pitch offset, each taking on key, so that leaves 4 keys (8 parameters) to paint with, which is not a lot.  this is where the fractal concept begins to pay off.20140613_143815

each key sends either a 1 or a 0 when pressed. in my system each key press is multiplied by 2, ie., key 1 =1, key 2=2, key 3=4, key 4=8, key 5=16, key 6=32, key 7=64, and key 8=128. this is an 8bit number sequence. one useful aspect of this is that each combination of key presses creates a completely unique number that you cant not achieve by any other combination of key presses. so, key 1, key2 and key4 (1,2 and 8) equal 11. there is no other combination of key presses that will generate 11.  in addition to 4 keys per hand, there are two button arrays-3 buttons on top, controlled by the index finger and 4 buttons on the bottom, controlled by the thumb.  the upper buttons are global, so they can not be mode-switched (change function in edit mode), but the bottom button array on the left hand is used to control octave position in play mode.  in edit mode all keys become parameter latches, so octaves arent necessary, but in edit mode, if you press key 1, while at the same time pressing lower button 1 (LB1) you get the 8bit number 257 and can control 2 new parameters not achievable with either button alone.   this is how I was able to create relateable sax fingerings. in play mode, I use the octave button presses to add or substract 12 or 24 from the midi note number that is genrated from the key presses, but in edit mode, I simply gave each of the 4 octave buttons, their own 8 bit number (256, 512, 1024, 2048) which now means that when I press key 1, I have the original parameter position as well as 4 new ones, totalling 10 parameters per key press and 80 parameters overall.  this is stage 2 fractal resolution.

so, as you can imagine, there is ample opportunity for this to become a class A headfuck.  it is not enough to simply throw parameters in just because one can.  functions have vectors as well, otherwise they become unwieldly.  the question that must be asked is “what function naturally emerges as “next”?”  it is at this point that I use a mental construct called a “perceptual matrix”.  this is the mental projection of the flow of parameters within the system.  I discovered it by accident after I completed the first working version and discovered that the act of building it had created a mental model in my mind.  this freed me from having to reference any visualizations.  now I design the functions to make sense within this perceptual matrix. so far, I have not found a limit at which I can no longer interact with its growing complexity.  in fact, by following a fractal design concept, the perceptual matrix guides the design evolution since the mind is the origin fractal of the matrix itself.  as the name exo-voice implies, it is a fractal prosthesis for the mind, both in creation and interaction.  the job of the visualizations is to convey this information to observers and collaborators as well as providing a means of interacting with the data after the fact.

im having to investigate these issues because fractal synthesis makes sense now. 2 years ago, it was two words spoken one after the other.  now it is a protocol. every parameter vector can be mapped now and iterated through a  continuously evolving key sequencing modality (every key sequence can have 5 positions of 10 parameters, which could end up being over 200 parameter vectors per hand and 600 between both hands, without adding any new hardware).  but what goes where becomes the grasp-worthy straw.  20140613_143653

my percussive concept is begging for evolutionary adaptation but its not as easy as just throwing something in there because, since it is one synth with parameter vectors as sort of tentacles, or synapses, one connection has to lead to a next connection and a next, fluidly.  my mind is pulled in a dozen directions.

I needed to share this modality with whoever is interested in knowing it because a lot of what I will be expressing in the coming months will be based on this and without this information, there is no way to know what the hell I am talking about.  in additon, I expect that within the next year, these parameter trajectories will evolve to more resemble biological expressions like nervous systems, which are fractal as well. 


The nomadic diary of onyx ashanti-Episode#3 and Episode #4-exploring the digital memory banks and exo-voice developemnt updates.

As I mentioned in my previous post, I was gifted a BAD ASS Blackmagic pocket cinema camera to document my travels.  so in addition to all of the other stuff I am learning, I am also working on developing more of an “eye” when it comes to visual expression. 20140610_144319 This is not the first time I have pushed into the video/film realm.  I edit all of my own videos.  but I do it more from the point of view of a technician rather than as a form of expression unto itself maninly because I never had a nice enough camera that warranted the expenditure of cognitive resources.  but I have been reaching into the void of visual expression lately, to see what I find.

over the last 2 months I have accumulated 1.5terabytes of footage of a range of subject matter.  I had been contemplating doing another “range of time” video, ie.  footage from a place and time, singularly, like berlin or amsterdam or atlanta.  but then it occurred to me that what I have is a digitized visual and audio memory bank.  as such, it would be interesting to interact with it as the brain interacts with memory.  so instead of, say, a video project concerning my time in Athens at the Slingshot Festival, or from my time in mississippi, I could think more about the totality of experiences from holland to where I am currently and single out particular conceptual constructs like, as this project presents, all of the representations of motion over the last 2 months.  times in cars, trains, planes and buses, just watching the world go by.

this makes the memory bank much more random access and interesting as a store of experiences.  ive got LOADS of footage  festivals, conferences,  maker faire, singing robots, thunder storms, strange insects…it is a more interesting way to access the digitally stored memory of my nomadic travels and makes me think very differently about what I capture on film and as audio.

Episode#3 is entitled “memory of motion” and is a montage of moments in motion between the time I landed in atlanta to go to Athens (GA) for the slingshot fest, then from atlanta to nashville to mississippi to memphis, san jose, san francisco and finally to oakland, where I am currently working on a few things that will be the subject of future nomadic diary episodes. Episode#4 is me playing in Berkeley, just above the BART station.  I was very lucky to have my friend Tony Patrick there the impart his camera skills on the occasion.  The purpose of the sound track is to give an aural reference to the state of synth development at the time of editing, for posterity.  in these videos, the synth functions have stabilized but are more simplistic than in previous posts.  this is because I took out many premade objects and replaced them with my own versions, but more on this shortly.

Busking in Oakland

berkeley2now that I am fully re-submerged back into busking, the iteration of systems is going waaaaaaaaaaay faster.  busking has always helped to accelerate idea iteration because you can practice more, in more relevant situations and get paid for it.  you become an entrepreneurial singularity; you only need think of an idea and try it in stages everyday that you go out. 

as I have been pushing myself to get the contributor/open source version out into the hands of people, the fast design-build-test-revise-integrate cycle that busking affords, has been invaluable. when busking, glaring fuckups or just “not-so-nice”ups, become unbearable because you are interacting with it everyday for anywhere from 1-5 hours a day.  a crappy sound is bearable if one only has to rock it for a 15-40 minute show on a nice stage with a nice sound system.  but, after a week of 5 hour days, the issue is  brought into laser-like focus and you are able to hone in precisely on errant gremlins.

luckily, since I was literally “from” here before I moved to Berlin, some of my old busking gear was still stored in my friends basement.  I had only to acquire a new battery.  my berlin battery was horrendously large-25kg (approx 50lb) so when I went shopping, size was a major consideration.  I found a nice, small sealed battery and borrowed the small Roland monitor that I also used to use back then (thanks Jaswho? !) and hit the road.20140525_141817


busking has supported me since I first moved away from home as an adult in the early 90’’s.  I knew a total of 3 songs when I started. busking allows you to develop.  it is the like a relationship with someone you might not see very often but when you do, its familiar and comfortable. 

the last few months that I was in Berlin, I was beginning to feel “soft”.  most seasoned buskers can rock it at a moments notice, anywhere…ANYWHERE.  I was starting to feel like I was losing that edge.  I had spent so much (completely awe-inspiringly necessary) time inside my own head for the last couple of years, that I felt I was losing sight of the ability to just rock out. but I KNEW I was losing that edge last july when I was fortunate to find out that DubFX and Rico Loop were going to be rocking out for free in Mauer Park. they are both seasoned buskers and I was awed by these cats!  they rocked it non-stop, in the hot sun for 4-5 hours with footpedals and beatboxing!!  it was amazing!  and neither of these cats has to busk at all anymore.  they are both famous with full touring schedules, but they wanted to give something back, and they really did!  that show stuck with me to this day.  I thought “why am I not doing my thing, somewhere…anywhere!?”  (the answer was because I was in the middle of revising the code and the hardware design to be more easily printable, but still…)

so now that I am “exploring the now” –partly from the street-, the boldness is coming back…that thing that a busker has that says “yeah sure, play right here, right now!”, but it is mixing with this scientific thing that has emerged In the last 3 years where things get interesting.

one system that is benefiting from this the most is sound design.  although the novelty factor, can work on passersby, sub-evolved sound and/or it parameter interfacing, drive me insane in a very short span of time-usually 3-4 days.  if I feel trapped by my parameter interface, I get bored.  if the sound doesn’t evolve toward a future attractor where it conveys its character with efficiency and beauty, I get irritable.  playing daily compounds these feelings.  so having a system that I designed from the ground up to be in a perpetual state of iteration, makes for exciting investigation.  shitty sound used to just be shitty sound.  now, shitty sound is a daily-updated list of “to-do’s”.  now that stability is reasonably common and expected, I can add the last synthesis piece…

the last synthesis piece

in March, I began using the new fractal synth ive been rambling about for almost 2 years.  by “fractal” I mean that it is truly fractal;

  • the system logic is an iterative branching protocol consisting of latching key sequences.  this means that by pressing one set of keys takes the system into a new mode and from this mode, a different set of keys, changes aspects of the current mode, from which yet another mode can be instantiated.  and since programming pure data is part of the expression, this branching system can continue to the limits of my computing power or cognitive abilities.
  • I imagine “functions” rather than specific sound outcomes, so I begin with the absolute simplest idea of the the sound function, then revise it toward higher states of expression, as I learn more and expect more from the sound.
    (this is the reason for the sound quality regression evident in my latest recordings; everything has been put into its simplest possible state so it can be iterated more easily toward higher states, rather than using too many objects that I didn’t build so as to sound “good”. )

the fractal synth the system is designed around, can be other types of sounds, based on how it is routed.  for instance, I can press one button and the sound is routed through a drum filter, so now, it is a drum.  but because it is gestural, the “drum” has a ripping/morphing kind of quality that is part function and part discovery-through-interaction.

20140610_145247pic 1: the fractal audio module object20140610_145630pic2: quad-vector synth with a few of the gestural control modules to the right20140610_145332pic3: the quad-vector synth closeup showing the routing20140610_145704pic4: the x and y vectors from one hand20140610_145554pic5: quad-oscillator selector patch
pic6: Drum filter

the last synthesis piece is the other timbral modalities ive been working on.  what this means is that when I press the “drum” button + another button, the sound now goes through a “string” filter, and/or a “pluck” filter, and/or a “wind turbulence” filter for wind instrument modes.  this is a bit of a holy grail for me now that I am comfortable with the concept of a synthesizer that I must effectively reprogram on the fly this sense, the term “quad-vector gestural synthesis”-which means that each x and y accelerometer vector, per hand, has its own complete synth- is the attractor that is pulling all development toward it. if the synthesis cant be done with gestures, then it is not gestural synthesis.

once this is working, it will be time to transcribe all the code and prepare it for distribution.  transcription will make it modular and understandable.  this will act to standardize the color synth parameters for the lights and the visualizations as well.

The modular mask

20140429_14174020140429_141723the mask has reached design stability now.  the final issues were;

  • snap together construction for ease of assembly and modification
  • designing a flip down mouthpiece so it could be moved away from the mouth without having to take the mask off.
  • modularity

in April I ordered a printer filament called tglase from Taulman.  this is PET, the same plastic used to make water bottles.  itits properties kind of slots between ABS plastic and Nylon.  its more rigid than nylon but more flexible than ABS and it doesn’t warp while printing.  but, most importantly, it refracts light beautifully, so I decided that it would be a great starting place for the mask design finalization stage.

20140429_14160220140429_141618the key design innovation for this was the simple idea of "”small interlocking pieces”.  I took a couple of weeks away from mask design to work on a side project; 3d printed orthotics.  this allowed me to investigate how one might create a design meant to be snapped together by hand and attached to a dynamically moving, shifting body, like the foot (I will show this as soon as it is functional).  it came down to the relationship of its interlocking small pieces.  so I took this new insight back over to the mask and started from scratch, guided by function only, and this was the result.

the design only touches the head at 7 points and is very easy to modify. the mouthpiece now shifts up, out and down out of the way and the circuit area isnt mashed against the jaw.  when not in use, it is easily partially disassembled.  the material is flexible and robust enough to withstand assembly/disassembly repeatedly. and although the contributor version will not have the goggles, which are form fit to my head size, it was a matter of a 5 minute design tweak to incorporate them.

the design is very very playable and comfortable for long stretches of time, even in direct sunlight, which was a weak point in previous designs.  having so much plastic against the skin is not comfortable under hot lights or sun, but this design solves that issue. currently, the facemount electronic components look boxy, but since they are now lego-like in upgradeability, the final versions will be much more streamline.


beta testing the hardware on people

I have begun printing parts for a beta-build of the exo-voice.  this is a full exo-voice, printed with design revisions, for the purpose of putting on other peoples head and hands to get a feel for what needs to be changed so it can be used by the greatest number of people initially, or easily changed by the pilot, to suit their own personal needs or tastes.

being able to take the prosthesis out into the real world, playing on the street, gives me much more confidence in its design.  its been bouncing around in an un-padded bike bag for weeks now and has been extremely stable, ie., low incidence of broken parts, and faulty wiring.  as I print what will probably be eventually posted online/shipped to contributors, fit, finish and material properties will be defined and there will be much footage of people of various size, age, race and sex to see how well the design translates so it will be a “print-and-use” as possible.  I am planning to make this aspect of the project more social by taking some aspects of the fullfillment stage, around to local hackerspaces and doing it there, rather than in an apartment by myself.  more info on that as I wrap up this stage.  time to go play a bit. 




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

Picture 288

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).

Picture 94Picture 287
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.



Picture 221Picture 58

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.

Picture 229Picture 228Picture 215Picture 216

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…



Force sensing resistors officialy suck for lip sensing

for the last 18 months or so, I have been attempting to make FSR’s (force sensing resistors), the same pressure sensitive sensors I use for finger pressure sensing (the “keys”), as an inexpensive, easy to integrate lip pressure sensor.  until just recently, I believed that the error was in my design.  I thought that it was possibly the condensation of spit on the sensor which caused them to fail do often-usually within 2-3 weeks of continuous use. 

Picture 36so I spent the better part of a couple of months redesigning the mouthpiece to negate this possibility.  the latest oneplaced the FSR in a sealed space with a printed rubber gasket that also acted as a sort of “reed”.  pressure Picture 58applied to the top center of this reed-gasket would transfer this pressure through to the fsr.  the area underneath was, by design, completely free of any condensation.  only the transference of pressure from lip to plunger to reed gasket, made it through and this solution worked beautifully…for a time…

Picture 60in the last few days I started noticing that the sensitivity to lip pressure had begun to lessen more and more.  I believed this to be something loosening in my construction but decided to investigate it today and noticed that the FSR looked…flat.  yes, it is already flat, but there is a certain look they have when they have been pressed too hard for too long and upon connecting a fresh FSR to the circuit, my fears were confirmed; spit isnt the sulprit this time, but the sustained continuous pressure necessary for proper lip sensing.

what this tells me is that pressing an fsr continuously and strongly, as is necessary for lip sensing, will cause its eventual failure.  the ones for the fingers last much longer primarily, I now see, because I do not press them continuously and when I do it is at much lighter force than with the lip which must be pressed to a middle-range to center the pitch.  in this way, when I needs to pitch down, I must only relax my lip pressure a bit and if I want to pitch up, I increase it.

so, this presents an opportunity because, well, I’m me and I see opportunities in situations like this.  now, after fully exploring the FSR for lip sensing, and watching it fail, I will use a ratiometric hall effect sensor, which is tiny cheap sensor that sensing the intensity of magnetic fields.  when a magnet is moved close to the sensor, it changes the amount of voltage that is allowed through the circuit.  my previous wx5 wind controller used such a sensor as well and it was wildly precise.  And they are actually easier to find than FSRs and way cheaper- €1-2 as opposed to €5-10 for EACH fsr.  the primary benefits are

  • longer useful life
  • much more precise
  • I can still use the rubber reed-gasket design
  • hall effect sensors are much smaller (1/4 the size of a fingernail, avg.) so the mouthpiece will be much much smaller.


I will use another FSR this week for some playing I want to do this weekend to play thru some new hardware and software updates, but I hope the have the hall effect sensor integrated within the next few days.


Time to recalibrate… (part 3 of 3)

I have to apologize...i cant write the “big post”.  it was supposed to be (in my mind) some big “empire strikes back”, holy shit! WTF did I just read!?- level crazy shit!!  but…

Not that i "cant", i just wont.  why?  it's too much...too much information with not enough examples of WTF I’m on about.  the original idea was to drop it all as a sort of manifesto of sorts; an outline that describes a bigger picture that combined dozens of threads of research and thought.  But upon rereading the 20 or so drafts that have been created in the last month, the ideas were way too disjointed and abstract.  they didnt lead anywhere or get to the point that was intended.  My theory of what happened is that when you spend so much time in your own mindspace, it feels like the things you see and experience there, are as obvious to others as they are to you, as if the people you are sharing with, are in your virtual world with you, rather than the “virtual representations of them” that are there.

luckily, I have friends that let me project these concepts at them.  for weeks, i let down the "maybe they will think i'm crazy" shield, and just gave them the whole thing, exactly how i was experiencing it and all the associated research that i had done in, what i will term as the "communal reality" that we exist in together and agree we're both apart of.  well, you can probably surmise by the title of this post how most of these sessions went.  My friends love me, and are all honest people, otherwise we wouldnt be friends, so that look of "studied neutrality" that became the dominant response from 99% of them, gave me pause.  and during said pause i would write what i was thinking and read it the following day and have to commend them on their reserve for not simply walking away.

see, the problem, as i have come to see it, is that, unlike every other aspect of the project(s) so far, there was only the suggestion of an example to come rather than a demonstration of an example in hand. 

crazy shit isnt crazy shit if you can build it, play it, eat it, hold it, etc. 

much of the basis of the big post, (TBP) was theoretical and conceptual.  note at this juncture that i didnt say that the subject matter was bullshit...that’s a whole other thing.  "crazy" is not the same as "bullshit", but if there is no way to substantiate it, it is difficult to demonstrate any difference between them.


  • Currently, development of the hardware and software are multiple processes that each fight for attention;
        imagination iteration,
        CAD design,
        protocol logic,
        sound design THEN
        playing it, discovering what needs attention then
        restarting the whole process from the beginning.

i love it!!  I get to learn any and everything i want!  its so amazing, i am sometimes overwhelmed emotionally at my fortune to be alive in this day and age, but, it is inefficient. its hard to shift gears to do each of the things that needs to be done, so a few months ago i began looking into the idea of making the development of the exo-voice and all of its peripheral vectors, into a portable development system that i could develop from "within".  The idea was/is that if i use the exo-voice as an input device, replacing the keyboard and mouse that i use now, I could kill multiple birds with one stone; developing the muscle memory necessary for virtuosity, while doing things as simple as checking email or as focused as programming the underlying software logic, by incorporating all aspects of the exo-voice, namely, breath as input, hand position and function latching.  the basic keyboard/mouse logic hasnt been been hard to implement and as a thought exercise, it has really helped speed things up in regards to getting the campaign contributors a system they can wear comfortably and actually use.  this last point is a big one.  i do not want to send out anymore interfaces that dont get played.  when this reaches my contributors, they will have a prosthesis that should inspire them to want to use it as much as i  love using it.

the "normal"-normal?

Picture 79 

(note: much of this overview is to assure my contributors that im not dead since ive spent so much time over the last few months on proper-izing things.)

The hand units are increasingly wonderful now! before last week, the palm and handbrace that holds the unit securely on the hand, had been angled toward  the wrong plane (smacks forehead)  the previous versions of the hand units placed the hand at a 90 angle to the keypad where the fingers rested.

 Picture 74Picture 76Picture 82Picture 83

the hand was, until last week, still at a 90 degree angle although the keys had all rotated approximately 30 degrees owing to the new more ergonomic design, so not only did it hurt my hands to play for long amounts of time, but no one else could even put their hands in it, and those that could, couldnt touch the keys (note: since this is a completely new type of interface, I don’t know these issues until I have had time to play them for a bit and discover them)

So last week it occurred to me to angle all surfaces that touch the palm and the hand in the same direction as the accelerometer planes, which is set at what i call the zero point; middle of the x and y axes.8Notice the angled edge in the first photo and the cut away angled section of the handbrace in the second)

 Picture 75Picture 77Picture 86Picture 88Picture 89Picture 92

and viola!  not only is it beautiful to play, but every person that has put their hand in one of them, can hold it properly now-small and large hands. yaaaaay!!  next will be to make the joytoggle arrays more adjustable, but thats easy.

the mask gained adjustability last month.

Picture 33


  it also can be put on many head sizes.

the mouthpiece works beautifully now.  it took a while, but it snaps together in 3 pieces, with no tools

. Picture 7Picture 9

there is the main oral interface which uses elastic tension to lock into the front teeth.  while there, the breath holeis in the middle of an oval shaped piece that minimizes air leakage and directs it straight in to the two pressure sensors at the end of the shortest plumbing I could design.  it is the fastest most precise articualtion I believe is possible; 3mm wide, approximately 60mm long, completely air tight and printable on any reprap.

Picture 37

the lip sensing is equally precise but with additional customizability. It uses the same FSR’s used for the fingers controls on the hand units.  until this design, they would need replacement every 2-3 month because of spit corrosion.

Picture 53Picture 55Picture 57Picture 60Picture 61Picture 62Picture 65Picture 67Picture 69 

together, the lip and breath mechanics work together in ways that abstract the normal lip/breath interaction of wind controllers and acoustic reeded instruemnts, into something much more programmable.  I’ve yet to investigate this fully yet.

the main issue with it now, is to "universalize" the mouth interface area and design it in a way that doesnt allow it to stick to the face so much.

Picture 1 

its lightyears better than previous designs, but by concentrating on a single line from the chin to the back of the head, then draping the design onto that (thats the best way i can describe it), it will be more comfortable, more adaptable for many head sizes and easy to print with nylon, which is now the prefered material for the system since it can be easily sourced at any hardware store in the form of weedwhacker line.Picture 3

Time to play some music!

There was a whole lot of crazy shit here but thankfully “cut and Paste” can simply be “cut”.  for the time being, lets stick with this stuff.  make some dope controllers and some cool perks and some funky sounds and rock some parties.  there is plenty of time for all the weird shit.  it aint going away and I can ease it out a bit at a time but its kinda doing my head in a bit.  I need to get out and play.  oh and…


you may have noticed that i have avoided the term "cyborg", preferring the phrase "portable development platform".  As stated in the first post of this series, Cyborg, as a word, already has a life...a culture.  that post asked "what if the word cyborg had been invented today?" but since that post, i realized more fully that the word cyborg WAS NOT invented today.  it was created a long time ago for a different idea of what the interaction between a human and technology, could be.  it is for this reason, i will not use that term, although if someone uses it to describe me, i wont be offended.

the burden is on this idea, to birth a more humanistic, symbiotic conception of the union between a sentient intelligence and the technology it creates to expand its ability to interact with time, space, matter and sound. 

for now, I want to focus on little details like wrapping up last years crowdfunding campaign, and applying 6 months of sound design notes to the the synthesis system that has been neglected from the previous linear development concept.  oh...and rocking out with the fresh-ass minimized busking system.  its tiny, its powerful, and its begging to crash some (more) parties!! 

so with this post, i want get back to regular blogging and music and all that.  more to come, but as my neighbor says, “Slowly, slowly…”


3 year aniversary of the Original Beatjazz controller campaign

today is the 3 year anniversary of the campaign to build the "TRON" Beatjazz controller, which makes tomorrows post that much more relelvant


Bitcoin, art and Thermodynamics: why artists need to investigate Bitcoin


artwork by ObitusSol(Reddit)


Part 2.

In the second of these blogposts, I want to share some thoughts on bitcoin.  I now (capitalized for effect) ONLY accept bitcoin for anything I do, from busking, to shows to all current and future artifacts I create, including exo-voice and variants(foreshadowing Winking smile)  not just that though.  I’ve begun experimenting with a new type of busking that combines artist residencies with electronic theory, AND, once I have sorted out all of my campaign contributors, I will custom build exo-voice systems for €500 in bitcoin only. n the busking is following this idea;
when busking, I take  bitcoin, but I will give you a qr-code to take with you. does it sound crazy enough yet?  yes…I am saying that if someone offers me $1000 or euros or whatever, I will NOT take it, and those who know me personally, know that I am serious.  why would I do such a thing!? (it is more important to begin a conversation at this point…) keep reading…

how busking relates to bitcoin

when I was just starting out in Atlanta Georgia, I played saxophone.  I played it in high school and in college for the short time I was there.  it was a constant and made me feel good but I wasn’t very good outside of the academic/marching band world.  I could sight read classical which helped me get a scholarship to Grambling state university.  this proficiency did not help in the real world, so upon moving to Atlanta, I was employed at a candy store in underground Atlanta, a shopping center, for a few months.  this is where I was clued into the culture known as “busking” or street performing; playing on the street in hopes that people that pass by will drop a donation into your tip hat.  what I learned is that there is very little “hoping”-most buskers can average enough to make a living and some do way better.  I quit my job at the candy store after I watched a sax player, who would eventually become my sax teacher, make about $50, sitting and playing outside my candy store, in about 35 minutes.  I, at the time, working at the candy store, was going to make approximately $32 for 8 hours of work, after taxes.  not a hard step…I bought a cheap sax with my next paycheck and quit.  from that moment, I was a busker.

busking sharpens the mind and the skills.  you’ve got to read whole crowds of people and play in such a way that they are all part of the field you are generating.  it is an exciting honor to be able to stand in a place somewhere and know that you can setup, rock out, pack up and leave with more money than you came with, repeatedly and reliably enough to be able to eat and pay rent and even travel. 

oooh travel…did I mention that there is one almost perfect travelling profession?  being a stage musician is good “almost”anywhere in the world, but dare I say that your average busker who “plays out” at least a few times a week, can go anywhere in the world and murder it.  any stage, any street corner, or living room, or bar, or…
busking is the kung Fu of performing arts.

one sure fire way in the 90’s to make money as a busker, was by selling your music in this super new format called a compact disc.  around 94-95, you could buy blank “audio” cds, which were at the time distinguished from “data”cd because…well…because we didn’t know any better.  we were happy to just have them as an option. from 95 till around 2000, cds were a gift from a heaven.  by 96 I had moved from Atlanta to san Francisco and began playing around fisherman's wharf and downtown in front of virgin megastore on market street.  I sold soooo many cds in that city at that time (Clinton era/pre-Bush apocalypse).  of course, my life revolved around the hunt for the right sound in the right place at the right time.  I think this really tickled my more obsessive voices.  I was autonomous.  I could go wherever I wanted, wherever, and I could play music right on the street.

I had been getting label offers since waaay before I played well enough to do an album, and I knew it, so I couldn’t understand why I kept getting the offers.  I later discovered that labels would, at the time, go around and sign up anyone who would put their name on a contract, then just kinda “store” them for…I really don’t know.  all I knew was that I had at least a dozen friends signed to a few labels back then and none of them are in music today.  they burned out.  its highly intense and competitive.  I had busking and no real desire for what they were offering. 

DSCN6831buskers are extremely entrepreneurial.  making their “pitch” (chosen performance location) reflect their personality and their music.  I know cats who brought out 4 speaker sound systems and carpet and lights, shrink wrapped cds, vinyl and even took credit cards. and some of those same buskers (some musical, some comedy, some dancers, and some were “crate-dancers; guys who paint themselves up silver and and do elaborate robot-like routines while dancing and spinning on a plastic crate.  they actually make the most of all the buskers I remember.  sometimes $500 or more a day back in the 90s.

upon moving to London in 2001, I soon discovered that busking was different there so I did it less and less and played more squat parties.  I didn’t make any money but I got free…um…party stuff, some of which grew wild in the hills just outside London.  the parties were much more interesting during those times of the year Smile  and this experimentation of sound and perception, opened up many opportunities for me to play “inside”, i.e. the London club scene.

I played clubs in London for a few years and loved every second and returned to the us in 2005 with a completely new style which upon arrival in new york that summer, made nary a blip on the scene there, which was very scenery, in my experience. but luckily, I had busking.  I knew I could go out and “hunt”; find the right place at the right time and play.

eventually I got over the masochism that kept me there as long as it did, and in 2006 moved back to san Francisco for a bit, before moving to berlin in 2008, both instances, busking, or rather, having a busking attitude, allowed me to exist and to create the prototypical beatjazz protocols…on the street.

(this was one of the first times it all clicked together, but I needed a metronome to stay in time back then)


  I didn’t make much money.  people there weren't really felling my stuff, but I'm stubborn like that and I saved my pennies, literally, and bought my ticket to berlin, where upon arrival, I paid for rent and food by busking. 


when I travelled around Europe on a bike in 2010, I financed it, initially by playing a couple of shows at the northsea jazz fest as well as busking outside the festival at the end of the night.  from there it was street corners, bars, and cafes from Amsterdam to Paris to sitges, Spain to Ibiza and all the way back to berlin 4 months later.



the following January (2011) I began working on the 1st beatjazz controller prototype, with the intention of using it for busking, which I did, exactly once. 


on the day, at Tacheles Kunsthaus, I finally got it to work, a young filmmaker filmed me with his iPhone and gave me the footage, which I entered in a contest to be a TED presenter…the first contest of its sort they had attempted.  and the rest is…still going, but suffice it to say that busking took a backseat to conferences, and development and learning coding and 3d design and all the other stuff.

busking represents  autonomy to me.  without it, it would have been much more difficult to go and do the things I feel make me who I am. #autonomy


cut to summer 2013.  although I knew about bitcoin and even mined a few back when I had time for that kind of thing, I had been researching them a bit more.  they had gone from $8 to a whopping $250 in April and back down to about $80 by the time I decided to jump in and try them in June, when I showed up for the first bitcoin exchange meetup in berlin.  at that meeting, I wanted to “feel” something I sensed, so I asked if I could busk there during the meetup, and proceeded to make approximately €35 in about 5 minutes, but the amount was unimportant.  I had experienced a new type of transactional exchange.  no change, no banks, no conversion charges.  just a network and a desire to transact.

one of the benefits of being me is that I don’t have much, so the idea of “losing everything”, materially, doesn’t frighten me.  I could replace everything I own for less than the price of a decent drum machine, so in July, after an especially long bank transfer (30 days in 2013?!), I decided to investigate bitcoin by converting my gig fees into the currency.  since then, I have watched my money balloon 500% then back down to about 200% of what I put in, and it has never gone close to that amount since.  this intrigued me.  it’s the most interesting thing I have ever experienced with currency of any type. what is this strange literally cryptic currency that is taking the world by storm?

capitalism and art

a necessary evil aspect of being a modern day artist of any sort, is the need to “sell”; sell products, sell yourself, sell someone else's products by way of endorsements- selling your vibe and associating it with their products, etc.  we were born into a world of selling and “branding”(which is what is done to farm animals to show who owns them…farm animals and slaves…just saying…).  of endorsements and empty hyperbole.  music…art…is used to sell things, as if that was always it primary purpose.  music exists outside of commerce. in some cultures, the griot is the holder of the legacy and considered to be an important part of the fabric of society; a musical historian .  art signifies great cultures.  art is the connection with something greater than what is viewable in the here and now.  as such, it is very useful to advertisers who can inject their product into the space where insight once existed.

File:Indenturecertificate.jpgcontracts are created that, unless you know “the game”, sometimes usually end up with the artist working for the label and not the other way around.  the money they get is pre-spent booking overpriced studios and famous hitmakers so that when your album drops, it has the best chance at reaching millions of people who could otherwise care less.  and how do we currently make them care more within this distortion matrix?  by becoming a spectacle.  sex, drugs and garishness.  let me state, I LOVE all three of those things (sometimes simultaneously), but not as a means of getting people to like my art.  I don’t need a Kardashian on my arm to validate my expression, and yes…I went there… 

once you mix capitalism and art you get (capitalism)art or capitalism+art=X.  most of us believe that X is the only expression possible and anything else is to eek out an existence playing shopping malls or by oneself in ones bedroom with headphones on low, so as to not wake anyone.  I have been formed by X.  I grew up on ONLY stuff I either heard on the radio or on TV or in movies.  I am fully programmed with those pop-cultural algorithms that still impose themselves on my reality. for instance, before moving to berlin, I was terrified of the nighttime darkness partly because everything I had grown up with insisted that walking around in the dark was a sure fire way to get attacked by something; muggers, cops, aliens, monsters…none of which I ever actually experienced (at least not in the dark), all of which I experience repeatedly from pop-media.  X influences all of us.  as Alan Moore stated in his self-documentary “the mind of Alan Moore”, this cultures true shamen are advertisers because they have the power and insight to make everyone think the same banal thought at exactly the same time.  #heavyamerican_idol


I'm not going to explain the innerworkings of Bitcoin again.  this is more about what it is to TO ME and to my art.  so for this section we will use a similar formulabitcoin-infographic_5029189c9cbaf_w587


Briefly, a better way of thinking about bitcoin is as multiple systems with the same name.  there is;

  • bitcoin-the currency (lower case for this post)
  • BITCOIN-the system (upper case), which includes
  • the Blockchain.


bitcoin is an application on top of the BITCOIN protocol.  bitcoin is not the only thing that BITCOIN does.  it is literally only the FIRST app BITCOIN does as a network protocol.  the reason it is so game-ENDING is that it uses a concept that allows consensus (agreement) without hierarchy or permission or 3rd parties.  this concept is called the BLOCKCHAIN.

Blockchainthink of the blockchain as an enormous asset ledger based on cryptographic trust.  what happens is (simplified) bitcoins are generated by miners-individuals with computers who's job it is to take all transactions on the network, run them through a cryptographic hashing process that takes a minimum of 10 minutes, then, based on which miners did the most work, spits out a set amount of bitcoins, every 10 minutes, until 2040 when the last of 21 million bitcoins is spit out.  because the system is decentralized, no one-not a government or banks-can turn it off or hack it but that isn't the interesting part;  now the idea exits, like napster, and bittorent before it, this technology can not be un-invented.  it is now part of the collective field of human knowledge.  if it ever gets crushed, the following version will improve on what made the previous version fail, and be even more resilient to attack.  THIS is a BIG deal.  but not the only big deal…

Bitcoin is decentralized, permissionless, unhaackable and PROGRAMMATIC, i.e., programmable money.  this has never existed in any way, before.  this means you can program value to do all kinds of things that cant be imagined yet.  who imagined YouTube in 1991?  or Google?  Facebook?  mp3s destroying the record industry? filesharing?  I can go on…  this turns the relationship between art and stored value (formerly the exclusive realm of fiat currency), on its head.

just the idea that artists who were indoctrinated into the “x” system, now have a “Y” system that is already working, is cool, but when you investigate and explore Y (bitcoin+art), you can see opportunities that never existed before. 

one I really like right now is the idea of  “digital Autonomous Corporations”.  because bitcoin is decentralized and permissionless and frictionless, it can be incorporated into an algorithm that runs itself, buys its own server space, pays those that upkeep it, etc., all with no human intervention.  you birth it and set it free on the internet.  this could be abstracted as digital autonomous record labels, for lack of a better term for record label right now.  imagine an algorithm that is programmed to form a collective of artists and support persons that can contribute to a project, with the system paying them itself, based on blockchain concepts of proof of work in addition to other variables.  just one idea of many.

but wait…there is more!! 

bitcoin is highly volatile; gaining or losing up to 50% of its value based on many real-time variables. but the longer the system exists, the more valuable the entire system.  imagine opening a bank account where instead of paying for the privilege, you get interest on your money…and a bit of interest from every single person who also has an account there.  its kinda like that but times 1000 or more.  this means that todays bitcoins will be worth more later, but the only way to get there is for them to circulate.  and the easiest way to do that is to accept bitcoin.  to earn bitcoin.  to be part of the system and interact with it actively.

I must admit, much of this still seems like internet voodoo to me.  I have read a few crypto book back in the 90’s, but retained none of it.  I feel like this is powerful enough to invest a significant amount of my mental space in not only understanding it, but abstracting it as expression, accepting it exclusively, and teaching myself how to create it.  it is well worth learning to code and understanding crypto, for the possibility this creates.

to me, Y means that every amount of bitcoin I earn will fluctuate mostly upward over time, without me having to do anything other than focus on securing them (the system cant be hack, but your computer and smart devices can).  but from there I can take that value and create a program that automatically buys and sells bitcoin on exchanges, based on my own criteria.  or invests in projects I like, or, my favorite theoretical construct…

Bitcoin viewed as an energy source for expression

please excuse my lack of actual knowledge concerning thermodynamics, which I view thru the lenses of expression  rather than precision.

Bitcoin is programmatic, frictionless and unhackable. to explore its possibilities, I needed to look at it not as money but as energy.  back in October, I had approximately .5 (half) bitcoin in my wallet, which at the time was worth about $150.  all of a sudden the news broke that china was loving some bitcoin.  that news and a few other bits here and there ballooned my .5 bitcoin up to around $650.  although many were looking at this and thinking “oooh, I will get bitcoin and save it for a rainy day”, I was thinking “spend everything above the $150 I invested” in that way making the value useable and tangible, so I bought stuff I needed, and took friends out on multiple occasions, to a local restaurant that takes bitcoin, Room 77. I got $500+ of value out of $150 in initial investment.  this made me think; if I invest even small amounts of fiat cash or bitcoin, back into my wallet, to use, then think of it as another form of expression to be programmed, it will generate more than I put in.  the entire bitcoin economy is worth, I think, about 50 billion or less, with about 3-4 million people in it…what happens when there are 100 million people in it?  1 billion? TWO billion?  notice I didn’t just jump to 6-7 billion, which will happen but will need a different mindset that I must iterate toward.  just the growth from 3 to 100 million will increase the value to levels we do have words, concepts, ideas or tools for yet.  so zooming back down to my little 2-300€ a month investment, combined with programming it artistically, my “store of value” will generate its own sort of field.  it will be the true meaning of rich; hoarding capital is necessary to secure ones store of value in fiat currencies and gold.  digital programmatic money, I feel, wants to circulate, and it thus more in tune with the natural state of man and even the universe.


(no, this is not a bitcoin)

so now, in this virtual future, my stored value is generative.  looking at it from the point of view of electronics, if I store this “energy”, it generates “heat”(I’m still weak on thermodynamics, so bear with my analogies).  this metaphorical heat could also be utilized, but that’s a step too far for me right now.  viewed as stored energy, it presents me with some extremely interesting possibilities:

how bitcoin changes busking

if busking is artistic autonomy, the adding bitcoin becomes autonomy2(multiplied by itself).  owing to the dynamism of my sonic fractal system, especially in the re-envisioned context of busking, I can focus on doing ONLY things that are interesting and shareable.

  •   I love busking on the street but I can also use my system as a way of demonstrating the blockchain in sound, which I did at a local bitcoin meetup in Nov.  no tip hat necessary.  I simply give out qr-codes.  I am confident that by focusing only on interesting (to me) vectors, I don’t need to beg.  people can investigate bitcoin and tip me later, or tip someone else…at least now they are in the system.
  • Touring.  rather than going to places to play a show and or give a talk, bitcoin means that everywhere is an opportunity to do these things.  the amount of money offered is no longer the primary incentive.
  • the goal of accumulating wealth is much less interesting than the programmatic investigation of consensus based value.
  • this opens the opportunity to choose places to go and express and share, based on how interesting it is to go to that place, rather than simply how much I get paid.  I can take the value fluctuation and use it to buy the parts for 3d printers and just go places doing interesting things with interesting people who may not have money to build or buy such things, just because I feel like it and because I am the sound system, the light show and the band, any time, anyplace I don my exo-voice, is a concert.  I don’t “need” to play for ever larger audiences. and I don’t need sponsors.  the internet is my sponsor.


because the value of bitcoin is so explosive, in both directions but mostly upward, and is frictionless, I can investigate doing my busking/tour/workshop/whatever thing for DONATIONS!  this is not the same as shows in that  shows are booked ahead of time.  my excursions are my own. there is a caveat though. when a (no term yet) “donation-based performance-thing” is announced each event will have its own  wallet address which can be seen at, you can see every transaction ever done with that wallet address, which makes it a free crowdfunding platform!!  I believe that no one wants to be “that cheap city/club/maker space” on a page full of wallets, whose stored value is used to do interesting stuff.  its the same as how people like to get the attention of the person behind the counter before dropping a tip into the tip jar by the register.  it is also a psychological mechanism in busking.  I will keep a log of places I go and play in this manner and post their donation wallet on a page for all to see.  probably the best reputation system so far Smile  contact me if this interests you (only here in berlin for the time being)

exo-voice €500 (bitcoin only)

I believe in the plan I have stated above enough to offer my exo-voice systems for basically the cost of parts and time.  with the latest redesign, the exo-voice is the worlds first 100% 3d printed gestural sonic prosthesis.  as such, it is much easier to print and assemble which means less work for me.  the exo-voice is as much art as computer interface…maybe more.  each one is different and they change based on my whims and needs, although each variation will be forkable on Github (until I can create my own git-like system).  once the design is stable enough for human consumption (more in the next post on this topic), it will be freely downloadable and open as a learning resource.  the exo-voice is my expression of the possibilities of the interconnectedness of humanity thru the internet, and bitcoin integrates completely into that idea.

the new world order


There is  “new” new world order.  one that wasn’t in our programming before the internet.  although Hollywood and the media industrial complex have worked hard to put our imaginations back into the box they crafted so carefully for 100 years or so, the powerful thrust of the hyper connected world has them grasping for the straws of litigation on one side and artist mind control in the form of spells like American idol, celebrities who are only famous for being famous and indentured servitude to capitalist corporate kingdoms in decline.  how sad is it that an artist would think that singing a song they didn’t write, to judges who either cant or barely sing, validates them not only to the mass hoards of “fans” but to themselves as well.  it bothered me enough to take a few months to form a description of bitcoin for artists that I hope, makes them see that that media oligarchy is already dead.  it just doesn’t know it yet.  and in its wake “can be” something else that is far more interesting and useful. it wont be rainbows and puppies, and I don’t doubt that someone will throw this post in my face at some point in the future, but the time is now to see that this world is not set in stone.  the NSA can tap your internet connection but they can not stop the internet.  the record labels can take “thriller” off YouTube, but they can not remove it from the internet, and they know it.  their only respite is to convince you that they can and that they are all powerful.  the facts on the ground, or rather on the internet do not reflect this.

we are the internet.  we are the artists.  we don’t even have to fight for “a”bitcoin-like system that enables freedom from banks.  its already here, it works, it is climbing in value exponentially RIGHT NOW, not in the future.  the future was yesterday. welcome.

oh…the last of the series will be the trippy one Winking smile


Part 3-Beatjazz is dead…Long live Neuro…


bitcoin: 16nkxuArE6P1Bbpa292CoAptbz3RCcK2dE


What would the word “cyborg”mean, if it were invented today? part one

1185180_527139014028053_959555043_nHappy new year!!!

I hope this new year finds you healthy and motivated.  I needed time to find my words and construct with them. so…

2014 is going to be insane (sans “!”, as this is the new-normal state from now on).  the world is grooving along quite speedily.  the rate of change and the access to information has transformed our society and everyday is a new flashpoint of explosive growth in all aspects of human existence-for better or for worse, simultaneously.  it can not be stopped.  it can not be reversed, BUT, it can be interacted with, studied, guided, internalized, stored, and expressed.  the key to this is the pursuit of patterns, and their interacting fields.  perceptual patterns, virtual futures, social patterns, patterns of life, the cosmos, music, word, idea, concept…the study, creation and interaction with these meta-multi-dimensional pattern fields, IS “a” new science and will probably end up becoming “THE” sciences and arts.  as well as the ability to examine existing patterns/ideas and make them useful in the “now”, so as to make them useful in the future.

I start with this premise because I want to play a game.  I’ve not blogged since sept 2013 because I had somethings I wanted to say/express that I didn’t have words for yet.  I didn’t want to do another long cerebral post about my innerspace, even though that is very relevant.  instead, I want to ask a question that I intend to answer in as many words or posts as are neccessary .

what would the word “cyborg”mean if it were invented today?

Angry CyborgDownload wallpaper Terminator,  Cyborg,  Arnold free desktop wallpaper in the resolution 2560x1920 — picture №376075Female Cyborg

that I would ask this question, probably comes as no surprise.  I, as well as most of this generation, have been programmed with visions of man-machine hybrids, whose technologically bestowed enhancements, made them, “super-human”.  they could, for instance, lift heavy things, survive being shot because their machine systems could take over if the biological systems were injured, access endless netowrks of information, and all manner or golly gee wiz abilities.  they were, we were fed, better than “us” with their part metal/artificial, part human flesh/bone bodies, which were, it would seem, always made by some corporation with a kill switch and nefarious motivations, so if you didn’t shoot into the (movie-esque-hypothetical)crowd of unarmed civilians, said cyborg could be turned off like any other machine (but of course, the human element overrides its programming, because human spirit conquers all, blah, blah, blah…)

but if we really look at this construct, we will see that there are aspects of the imaginary expressions of it that are inefficient, capitalistic and dangerous as well as already existing and  integrated into human society right now.

first issue is that most of the cyborgs I have been programmed with by way of hollywood and anime, were created by megacorporations as their trusted eyes and ears in all places where humans were far away from corporate influence.  I think the Terminator is a perfect and the most recocnized cyborg although he was really an android with human skin to make him look human.  Darth vader was more of a pure cyborg.  as was the Six million dollar man, all the sex crazed cylons from the Battlestar galactica reboot a few years ago, “the others” from Fringe, iron man, and of course, the borg.

Cyborg Pickard

what all of these have in common is that they were created outside of the influence of/inflicted onto the hybrid entity in question.  they were usually created with a purpose that the hybrid may or may not have known and for all the abilities they gained, they always lost something crucial to human-ness.  their machine-ness somehow restricts their human-ness.  to what end?  manipulation.  manipulation OF the hybrid entity and the hybrids ability to manipulate situations directly, manifested as being super-efficient mercenaries for their “fathers”, the corporate entities that gave them life in this form.  in this way, for all of their amazing abilities, fictional cyborgs are sad slaves, whose souls have been grafted into artificial constructs for the purpose of fullfilling the mandates of large corporate interests. 

what is the purpose of enhanced human abilites if not to enhance the human? or rather….how can we pre-suppose that these ideas “fix” humans, when we barely know what we are? pre-existing visions of CYbernetic-ORGanisms are sad, powerful robots with just enough sentience left, to question their exisitence as a subroutine.  just enough to create a “hell”-app for their externally imposed, corporate profit mediated, immortality.

These myths have, spurred on by the ability to exchange information in ways never before imagined, inspired new generations to investigate the idea of the man machine hybrid.  some have internalized these myths so fully that they desire nothing more than to have some technology.any technology, surgically placed into their body, with no knowledge of what it is, is made of, the intent of the inventors that created it, what to do if it fails, how to fix it, how to upgrade the hardware, etc.20131102-110939.jpg in my opinion, these people, although free to sew a cellphone into their arm if they please,  are dangerous to themselves and to people investigating such hybridization because they watched too many movies and didn’t take to time to decipher the true meanings (here is a talk by the guy with the pic above. judge for yourself).  terminator was not all powerful.  he was a robot with a limited scope of reality, whose whole being was programmed to kill john conor, and failed, on three separate attempts, despite being “super” (a real unpacking of the terminator mythos is beyond the scope of this article).  I posit that he was created out of fear and as such, could never see the whole picture, by design.

cyborg2corporate cyborgs are created for profit, period.  even if the initial (hypothetical) corporate cyborg is all about humanitarian or artistic expression and investigation, at some point the shareholders want to make money off of it, and this is were it will be transformed into something akin to mix between lady gaga, darth vader and number 5 from the movie “short Circuit”;  welcome to the future.

in the “real”world, whatever that means anymore, we are all cyborgs.  here is a talk on the subject, that I liked when I saw it the first time.




1460089_688244491194911_1724590596_nsince september, I have been obsessed with iteration of the project.  at the time I had created a viable printed construct for the investigation of sonic fractals.  I realized that I could begin the next stages of the project, namely sound design, light (synesthetic) design and the perceptual construct for propagating these patterns as musically relevant structures (formerly called “music”).  what this means is ordering all of the information I absorb, into mathematical structures which can then be abstracted as music, or 3d models or movement metaphors (dance), or robotic instructions, etc.  to percieve the math as patterns beyond simple interval relationship querying.  to do this, I must first, understand the math…a math…any math.  systems of interaction with interval relationships.  luckily music is already the interaction and investigation of interval relationships, so to understand music as math is a good start (note: I am equal parts (re)beginner math student and math groupie; the more I learn the more in awe I become of what it is).  but then there is the math of biomechanics and the math of bioelectric fields, and of economics and of diet, social interaction, time management…there are many different maths and they all interact. 

I tend to spend an exorbitant amount of time interacting with this construct.  I did an unscientific guesstimate a while back; in the last 3 years I have, based on my scheduling of time, spent approximately 70% of this time, in my flat and 60-70% of that time, inside my own head.  so I have spent more time in my virtual futures than in the now, in the last 3 years.  this is not a bad thing.  it is an opportunity looking for expression.  it occurred to me that my project was never really about building the greatest musical system, but rather, using the mathematical structure of music to design a better “onyx ashanti construct”

Onyx Ashanti v5

In october, I was in Taipei Taiwan for the Onsite Festival.  Taipei is a beatutiful city that bustles with life and culture.  the festival iteself was a buffet of international artistic expression, with a focus of digital expression.  I was far from the only digital bio-mechanical hybrid form there.  every single participant shared their “math” or patterns or art or whatever you want to call it.  where some see “art” I see math.  both are the investigation of pattern metaphors. 

20130929_123934 - Copy20130929_124159 - Copy20131002_135703 - Copy20131002_164648 - Copy20131002_16493720131002_17545920131003_12443220131007_160026DSCF4406taipei 014taipei 021

while there, I stayed at an artist village called treasure hill, which had been a slum for war vets many years ago, had been refurbished into an artist village with studios, cafes, a makerspace and a temple, overlooking a river and a network of highway overpasses. it was beautiful and serene. I was given a room there for the entirety of my 10 day stay. I brought most of my most important tools, namely my exo-voice and backup parts, my computers, and my 3d printer, and set them all up on the desk that was already there. throughout the week I was able to continue my project iteration unabated;20131001_002912 these tools WERE my lab. they were part of me as I exist now. to not have my reprap with me, or at very least, access to one, was to have no means of moving forward (i finished my boogie-bot 3 hours before my show, in my room).  to not have my prosthesis with me is tantamount to leaving my arm or leg at home.  as if someone were to ask you a question on the condition that you don’t use your native language to answer it.  yeah, sure, you can do it, but it takes longer and isnt as efficient and nowhere near an nuanced.

it was during this time I began to think about what “this” is;

  1. am I a musician, or rather, is that “all” I am?
  2. if music is the math of sound, then…?  (this is the beginning of a whole range of evolving questions so I leave it as this)
  3. if I can carry an entire lab, cheaply, easily and easily replaceable and upgradeable, then why must I be so stationary in my iterative process?
  4. who says that this is or was ever a purely “music as entertainment”system?
  5. will my campaign contributors be able to gain benefit from my design evolution?
  6. journal.pone.0003465.g005once i started seeing that entire sciences use the exact same digital signal processing concepts to interpret and iterate wildly different aspects of the world -from fractals in movie computer animation to cycles and modulations and other musical concepts in electronics and thermodynamics- then the idea of what “music” really is and what it can be with a perceptual shift, induces an excitement that fuels every single waking moment…every single waking moment…



every single waking moment…

the most interesting way to metabolize everything that is necessary to feed this construct is to make research, developmental iteration and expression, equal parts of an evolving construct that is integrated into daily life.

music as entertainment ceases to be a goal, although entertainment value is vital as a means of communicating.  I now see music as a process and an algorithm for self-investigation.  it is the programming language for the construct.  I am the construct.

I have begun the process of integrating my exo-voice into my daily social, public life

1441474_688244401194920_1107866933_n at first, as a means of not having to sit in my flat to iterate it, but eventually adding perceptual overlays that allow me to interact with the world in ways that benefit me directly then, by sharing what I discover, contribute back into the growing open source ecology that has given me so much support.

the design changes to the system, inspired by the hypothetical differences between a wearable prosthesis for stage and a wearable prosthesis for, say, going to the grocery store, or through immigration at an airport, have already provided much needed design insight for my campaign contributors system.  a design focused on daily wear and comfort, will allow those that download and practice with the system, to do so for hours at a time in comfort. 

the first version will be useable but suboptimal-it is currently a stage prosthesis designed for playablility and and visual dynamism, with up to 5 hours of battery life.  ive worked up the nerve to wear the mask publicly, first with my busking excursions, BUT, when I would normall take it off after finishing, I leave it on and set to bright white light, to use when riding my bike.  this reveals so much information that can be acquired through no other means (mostly, people smile when they see me ride by). this provides valuable empathetic data about how the system “feels” in public and the perceptions directed at you.  for instance, on stage, exposed wires and bright lights express a sort of hacker aesthetic combined with a raver aesthetic, which works well.  but in real life, exposed wires can be a source of anxiety if they are percieved as part of something nefarious.  bright synchronized lights would be wildly distracting in a cafe as well.  the only way to become this is to be this.


here in 2014, why would any person choose to mesh themselves so fully with an external construct?  well, I hate to be the one to show you the matrix, but that ship sailed a loooooong time ago.  the moment a baby gets fed with a bottle instead of a breast, it is part of a system of technology that either substitutes itself where, in the past, maybe a human was, mediates interaction with reality, as cars and television do or creates new reality topologies like the internet.  technology is human created and therefore an intrinsic part of what it is to be human.  technology and “digital”technology are not different-they’re merely branches of the same tree.

so, if, according to this premise, everyone is already a cyborg in some fashion, then the entity that these socio-coroprate cyborgs are a sort of willing base level construct.  the gain benefit from social networks, paypal, amazon, facebook, mobile phones, etc.  where it falls down is in interface design. starring at something the size of the palm of your hand, to interact with the entire compendium of human knowledge as we currently percieve it to be, has the effect of making said cyborg stare at their interface.  now, I don’t belive that moving the interface from the hand to the head, ala google glass, will remedy the siutation, because these information streams are not meant as a reality overlay and the overlays ive seen, are corporate; things like how to find the nearest starbucks, what time do the trains run, tweets from…, etc. 

I propose that the first goal of the cyborg should be self hacking; who are you?  what are you?  those short questions could take up every waking minute for the rest of your life, but rather than looking at the investigation as something “else” than ones daily life, it could be the basis of a form of self anthopology mixed with future projection, ie, who do I want to be based on who am I right now, based on the data that I have and generate? which would then lead to an iterative self creation process, each and every element of which evolves as the person evolves.

1402262_10152005688085943_2049293433_othis evolution would involve many more aspects than simply wearing a strange prosthesis.  the exo-voice is designed as a gestural sonic interface for creating fractals made of sound.  you know what else is fractal?  Us.  Humans, nature, societies…I posit that self propagated fractal sound can interact with perception and modify it based on ones will. put another way;

I play my music as a means of modulating my thought processes within this sonic matrix. 

interestingly,  I have begun the exploration of sonic fractals as a means of accessing memories in the same way as drawing a scribble can be used as a reminder, reliably.  I can listen to a piece from, say, a year ago, and tel, based on the developmental stage of the sound, what I was doing or thinking at that time.  this occurred when I played vsti’s, but the action of programming everything in the current system, mostly from scratch means that a scratch filter sweep can have more relevance than it did in the past.  combined with light, projections and haptic feedback, this will become my voice over time.  I recently added the ability to type and move a mouse cursor within the system, but that is for the next post.

the self iterated cyborg is not a “thing”, it is a “process” of self investigation.  the ability to learn oneself using technology and to optimize.  I propose that there is no need for invasive procedures to implant artificial constructs in the body of healthy persons, when there is so much that can be done with sound, electricity, magnetism, and diet, including food, suppliments and psychedelics.


  in one sense, I havent got a clue what I am talking about, as I never went to school for this stuff, but as a self-aware learning hybrid of man and “his own” gestural sonic machine interface, I have already created the sono-spatial construct necessary to test this over the coming weeks, months and years.  with the above stuff in mind, listen to this with headphones. 


as a bit of a setup to part two I guess I should take this moment to mention a couple of things;

Beatjazz is dead…Introducing “Neuro”

as a stylistic construction of sonic fractals. it has birthed a new style trajectory of sonic fractals call “Neuro”- a new type of music that focuses on realtime neuro-modulation. (on the album collection that the above piece is a part of, everything from the “NeuroGenesis”, is going in this direction now.

Bitcoin is my only currency and I am teaching myself how to program for the blockchain

from now on, to book me or pay for any artifact I create, must be done in bitcoin, BUT, because of this, I charge less.  I will explain in detail in part 2 of this post.

breakdown of all the version numbers I keep throwing out

exo-voice v3----onyx ashanti v5…

Back to my roots

the original goal of the “beatjazz controller”, before it was called and exo-voice, was to allow me to busk better.  I have been taking the system out on recon busking missions and have accrued some interesting notes on the topic and how it will propagate in the near and long term future.


I still have a few more levels of weird to drop on you, but I am really happy I could finally get this new modality out in the public. m more soon.




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