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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.




Bitcoin code test


Something is different…

I think something came back through the looking glass with me this weekend...I'm thinking of forking away from beatjazz and calling this "Neuro" or something more or less cheesy.
most definitely listen to this with headphones. the spatial separation moves around inside your head.

More soon Smile


It’s lucky that digital doesn’t rust…

testing…testing, one, two, three…is this on?


just restarting my blogging habit after what seems like most of the year, spent inside my own head, trying to figure something out…and I did.  I figured “it” out.  what I figured out comes across as “wtf?!” and obvious, at the same time.  I want to jump into it directly, but I decided to try that out on close friends first.  these are people who have to hear me ramble about every tiny detail of this ever growing innerspace, almost daily.  almost without fail, I got more “wtf?!” than “ah, well I saw that coming”.  so I decided to unroll this thing properly over multiple blog posts, starting with contributor perk updates!  yaaaaay!!!  rest assured that in the next week and a half, I have, what I feel, is an interesting announcement.  until then, I will catch you up on (counts on fingers…) 3 MONTHS (!!) of goings on and movements toward a new level of abstraction. holla…


A hundred wrongs make a dozen rights: Iterative design and 3d printed circuits of the v2 hand units

(at the end of this post is the full Ars Electronica performance debut of the new hand units)remake fest pic 2013

Before-over a year ago- it was much easier to blog progress and process simultaneously.  it was mostly technical at that time and i was reading out of books and forums mostly.  i just wanted stuff to work and i could express that pretty well, with the odd/random swim into esoteric concerns here and there.  but as i have noted in the previous few posts, it seems to be more of an all encompassing  thing where technical, artistic and weird shit, all hang out and come up with surreal shit to hit me with , just to see what i do. i allow myself to go off on tangents at times just to investigate the space it inhabits and as such, it can get strange.  sometimes for a few days and sometimes for weeks and during this time, i am playing with contradictory information just to see what comes out of the conflict between them.  it is intellectually stimulating but when turned into words-spoken or written-it devolves to bullshit so i wait until these idea conflict algorithms play themselves out.


When they do finally converge and mutate, the results are bits of the intense parts of the conflict, but with all the weird shit washed off, or at least recombinated by the process of abstraction into numbers and form. one such conflict has been a design puzzle that has occupied most of the last 3 months; designing a biomechanical interface for interacting with a gestural sonic construct.  of course i already have that,  but another concept has been setting up shop in my head;

 that perfection is a moving target and highly subjective.

a year ago, the exo-voice hand units were, to me, perfect.  they fulfilled their function as well as i could conceive of at that time; finger placement, palm positioning, joytoggle functioning, and accelerometer positioning were as perfect as i could imagine at that time.  but, of course, there is no static "perfect".  perfect is a moving target; a significant point on a process trajectory.  as such, last years "perfect" is this years thing to fix.

last year, i uploaded the exo-voice/beatjazz system as an open source project and wondered why i wasn't seeing more of them in the wild.  being honest with myself i knew that it was because it was because it is a pain in the ass to print.  it takes forever to print everything and requires loads of screws, bolts, tubes, felt and hot glue.  the cardboard version that preceded it was much easier to assemble but its internal wire-nest irked a design "voice" that i only just realized was there.  3d printing is definitely the defacto hardware expression vector for the foreseeable future.  so if this part of the expression, on equal footing with playing music (which was the primary expression previously, with every other vector relegated to hobby or support ) then it was necessary to look at how hardware was being expressed as a shareable, playable construct.

theoretically, at the time, if i designed it right, it could be assembled right off the printer, but it took a half dozen trips in wrong directions to find a right one.  starting at the "wrong" place has many advantages if you can learn to not get attached to these stages. 

I knew it needed to be;

  • lighter
  • more sturdy-the v1 was prone to glitching over time as the components came loose over time.  also, there was the constant fear that dropping it would permanently damage the radio an/or the arduino (which has not yet happened)
  • snap together-it need to be assemble-able right away, without tools.

Screen-Shot-2013-05-13-at-2.17.49-PMan epiphany came in the form of the 3d printed gun that was making the rounds on the interweb this last spring.  once i got over my distaste for what it was, i quickly saw why it was important; because it was designed to not be able to be stopped or controlled; print, assemble, nail, bullet, fire.  that was the key!   design something that comes out of the printer, working!  I experimented from this perspective, producing many "wrong" prototypes.  mostly just creating a simple piece that i could hold in my hand then measure with calipers to get a feel for where things could be placed within the design, but many of those "things" were never meant to be used in the working models.  they were simply there to explore the idea-space.  physical meditative artifacts in a sense.

in early august, after the 3rd wrong iteration along the line of what i had been experimenting with for the previous 2-3 months, i started over from scratch. all of the "wrong" vectors had kind of converged to create a sort of ghost image of something that could work. this was a true version 2, only related to the previous version by basic function alone.  all other aspects were completely re-designed but encompassed 2 years of investigation into this field.




to understand why the version 2 design is better than previous versions, it helps t understand why it exists.  I used to play a Yamaha WX5 wind midi controller. 060621-12 this is a synthesizer controller that is played like a sax or flute rather than like a piano keyboard.  Yamaha still sells them but hasn't investigated the design or concept since the late 90's.  there were predecessors as well; the WX7 and the WX11.  i played the wx7 and owned a total of 4 of these controllers over the course of 16 years.  the wx5 was much better than either of the previous models.  it was more sturdy, and allowed for the selection of midi program changes and control changes using key combinations.  there was a thumb wheel for the right thumb that let you control one thing when rocked upward and another parameter when rocking downward (which I used for stepping up or down thru the layers of loops I created when performing live).  on the upper part of the "horn" two keys were also freely assignable and it is these two that i used to control looper record and overdub in the early days of experimenting with live looping.  in addition, i felt it necessary to replace the stock indicator leds with bright blue versions.  i didn't understand synesthesia much beyond lsd at that time (erm, from I've read...) but i noticed even at this stage that the light became an important part of the expression.

the pre-prototypes

SANY0016when i began the project in winter 2011, i had no context for what i needed, wanted or could achieve, so i tried to emulate the functionality i had with the wx5 based system. the first mockup was paper mache with cheap switches for keys and a big gaming joystick on the bottom, painted gold  it seemed cool because it was never meant to be played, but i could already tell that the components-battery, arduino, xbee, wires and lights, were not going to fit in it so when i created the first working prototype, i added enough size to shove everything inside it.  i never even played that one outside of my flat.  i played it exactly twice- once for the YouTube video documenting the project.  almost as soon as i played the first notes on it, it was obvious how it was "wrong";

  • tSANY0017humb placement was painful
  • accelerometer placement wasn't useful, but merely functional in the simplest terms
  • the handbrace broke almost instantly (paper mache)
  • the inside was a nest of random wires

it instantly created the design conditions for the next prototype that i would use for almost a year

the cardboard version

I call it a version rather than a prototype because it did actually get published in MAKE magazine as a project so it deserves a v0.5


this joint was so easy to come AFTER the first prototype.  on paper, a long-ish triangle placed the fingers in an ergonomically perfect position.  the forefinger was right above the thumb, creating a "pinch" space with the accelerometer in between.  the inside was still a nest of wires, but the reinforced shell was solid and the 3-way harness held the hand pressed firmly against  the palm points, originally made of foam and bottle caps, to keep the keypad position stable underneath the fingers. the second benefit of this version was that it was cardboard-easily modified and if modified too much, easily and cheaply replaceable, which allowed me to experiment with emulating the wx5 keys that i had been using for loop control.  after a bit of experimentation, i decided on using joysticks on the keypad side and the thumb side.  this consolidated the functions into a smaller space.  then it just seemed natural to replicate it on the right hand controller, even though there were no functions to assign to them.  it was just that the symmetry made sense.  and this was where the leds also deviated from wx5 emulation by using rgb leds to convey much more info, but nothing at this stage alluded to any synesthetic synchronicity.  even without it, it was still "perfect" for what it was…until it wasn't...

v1-3d printed.

IMG_0834IMG_0837IMG_0850IMG_0893IMG_0929IMG_0645IMG_07033d printing changed EVERYTHING.  the design process became another computer based expression vector.  i didn't know much at the time and had many, many, "wrong" ideas to explore here.  first being the attempt to create something that was a shell that i would put components into.  this displayed its wrongness before the print even finished.  it took too long to print, wasted too much plastic and was distractingly ugly, so i thought i would make an internal frame to mount things in and build around it but once the frame was built, i liked it by itself and kept it that way.  but from this, the idea of designing purely from a function aesthetic came.  it was always there but it wasn't obvious and i didn't have any reference other than the reprap itself whose pure function based aesthetic is still a source of inspiration.

the version one carried over everything from the cardboard version, but with the precision of 3d modeling, so every component had a precise place to be.  the palm points became adjustable, it had integrated led holders and the wires became part of the design by having them sprouting off a tiny circuit board attached to the arduino.  it was perfect.  i played it for the first time at a black history event in neukölln right after finishing assembling it in the dressing room 5 minutes earlier and it was breathtakingly intimate at the time.  it felt like tools for doing something "else" else.  eventually the upper joystick got placed into the frame, underneath forefinger and once the first gestural system software started working, the rear facing leds became secondary parameter feedback(edit mode), freeing me from having to look at the computer at all.  yaaaay!!!


version 2

EPSON001so, as i stated earlier, last years perfect is this years issue to solve.  the circuit board on the v1 started "acting up" regularly to the point i didn't trust that i could get thru a show with it not fucking up and erasing my loops.  the hard palm points were beginning to make my hands hurt and the flat key layout was starting to make me feel as if i were finger drumming on a table.  in addition, this was always going to be an open source project.   i wanted people to build it themselves but i knew from experience that it was a pain in the ass to print and assemble. it took alot of screws and bolts and hot glue and other tediousness, just to assemble it, let alone play it, and that is not even mentioning the headset, which i will cover next week ;-)  so knew it need to be be completely redesigned.

the basic needs and desires of the previous year were still there but they were not sufficient for the coming exploratory stage of the project.  simply being ergonomic and colorful are the norm since v1.  v2 had to represent growth from many perspectives.  being an artistic endeavor in most respects, meant that it not only needed to be more playable but had to display an evolving form that moves toward a sense of perfection and efficiency.  the form itself needed to tell a bit of story on its own, whether being played or not.  a story that hints of lineage, of having ancestry.  of being “from” somewhere.  IMG_20130830_163957IMG_20130831_140231IMG_20130831_140529

the v1 felt really good to hold but with the v2, I wanted to investigate a feeling of holding “energy” with my hand and manipulating it with my fingers.  this meant, in my opinion, that this version should promote a grasp that was more rounded, like holding an apple-sized ball of energy. and if we investigate this metaphor further, eventually one comes to the expectation that energy is probably more “feeling” than  form or shape, so in the center of the 3 palm points is a lilypad buzzer to provide vibratory haptic feedback.  the beauty of this component is that it can vibrate like a mix between a tiny speaker and the vibrate-function in most phones, so it varies its vibration rate dependent on input.  at the center-palm position it occupies, it vibrates my entire hand and can be felt up near my elbow as well as taking advantage of the RN-XV’s high speed bi-directional Wi-Fi.  it feels exactly as it should; like parameterized energy in the palm of my hand and under my control. but that is jumping ahead a bit…

IMG_20130904_132714the question; what was “perfect” now?  this flies in the face of “don’t rock the boat” or “never touch a running system”.  stability or lack thereof, had become an expression vector.  I came to the realization that its kinda my job to poke this thing with a stick.  to explore boundaries that it may not even be fully “necessary” to explore.  how do I create a perfect biomechanical sonic gestural interface that is also easy to print, sturdy, snap-together-easy to assemble, and cool?

IMG_20130818_155708IMG_20130826_123432luckily the version 1 was still very cool and very playable so I could (and have) play it until the new version was stable.  first criteria was to shrink it a bit and give the arduino and the Wi-Fi radio a bit more protection, while getting rid of all those little edges and screws that used to catch themselves on my clothes and prevented me from  more physically kinetic expression.  from the beginning, the accelerometer was always going to be moved back to its position underneath the index finger, but with this iteration, the index finger is angled into a more natural curved angle with relation to the other fingers, which are also angled in the opposite direction.  the thumb and the forefinger each have their own array of switches that allow the finger in question to “be” the joystick rather than dealing with the mechanical latency of a physical joystick.  the thumb array has a guide groove that helps with mental orientation of the control layout.  by providing little grooves and indentations (inspired loosely by braille), the fingers have a location map of function areas.

IMG_20130904_132837on the printability tip, I created the first of the v2 “wrongs” with a center pin that went all the way thru and connected everything but I could see how much just simple hand tension would flex the temporary METAL pin in the prototypes so I scraped that idea and went with more of a slot together design that would make ach piece interact with at least two other pieces so each would increase the strength of the associated connection places.  THIS IS WHY I HAVENT BEEN BLOGGING! holy hell, you cant imagine how many ways you can do this wrong especially when you don’t know how to do it in the first place.  eventually though, I created a key-like mechanism that locked the keypad mount to the back plate.  then the battery mount slotted in in a way that secured the keypad mount.  then, as a bit of an experiment, I got rid of the perfboard circuit board and designed the circuit into the front panel, as a bit of a jab as the overly mechanistic aesthetic of man-machine interaction representation on popular media.  no “shielding” or aggressiveness.  I just thought it would be beautiful with the light illuminating to from behind.  this piece connects to the keypad and the battery mount as well as the back plate.  then the handle slots into keep the battery mount from sliding out and clicks into the other end as well.  all together, the design is solid as if it were glued together while being easy to disassemble.

and light expression….oooooh, hexagons.  in 3d printing, you have the choice of making solid plastic objects but its usually a waste of plastic to do so, so you can have what is known as a “fill”- a pattern that is printed inside the object that takes up enough space to add structural strength but without having to use so much plastic.  these fill patterns are an art in themselves but when combined with transparent plastics, then not only look really really cool, but they refract light amazingly!  with the v2, I embedded LED holders into the design. they are part of the form.  and the thin layers and hexagon fill conspire to create something that is beautifully functional and expressive.  the element lights, the Wi-Fi radio lights and the edit mode lights mesh at times, to create a surreal storm of modulating color which supports the aural narrative and provides precise parameter feedback. and its pretty too.

I don’t want to go too much into the new fractal synthesis system I have been developing for the last forever, but there is much less of the “sea of beats” vibe from a couple of years ago and more of a sonic matrix; the ability to place a sound in a perceptual “slot” and construct with it and around it. each tweak, from or to any point, increases the resolution of the entire idea especially when you recognize it.

 IMG_20130830_163957IMG_20130831_140231IMG_20130831_140403IMG_20130831_140529I wanted to share this trajectory.  in the past I was afraid I was rambling on to much but I figure its easy to unsubscribe if its too much and I feel more honest than simply trying to say cool shit.  sometimes its not cool…sometimes its neurotic and wordy and geeky and tiringly involved…and without giving too much away (because I still have to build it), if the contributor mask design (yes, contributors get a mask and not simply a headset….told you it’d be worth it to be patient) is as bad ass as the sketch I just made, I will say, without a doubt, it will be the absolute sickest thing you have ever seen pop out of a 3d printer.  no straps, tubes, screw, hot glue…it only even touches your head at five points! but that’s the next post Winking smile


Bitcoin busking, printing elastic in 3d and how they relate

2013-06-29 17.26.01I thought I was going to have to write 2 separate posts; one about Bitcoin and one about my elastic 3d printed experiments, but luckily I found a convienient way to tie the two together, over the weekend.  I will begin with Bitcoin.

For the last couple of years, I have watched with great interest, the rise and fall and rise and fall and...(you get the picture) of a new form of currency called Bitcoin.  Legend has it that a mysterious developer/s named Satoshi Nakamoto invented an unbreakable, (by current computing means), un-gameable, global digital currency, untied to any government, nation state or bank, which would herald a new era of financial independence throughout all of humanity and not one ewok had to be harmed to do it.  so, of course, I was intrigued and wanted to know more.  I watched to see what was happening in the space.  and long story short, although there seemed to be a whole lotta hacking going on, no one was “cracking” bitcoin, ie, hackers were exploiting backdoors in the systems built “around” bitcoin and mistakes made by users and online exchanges (where bitcoins are exchanged for cash), but no one had cracked bitcoins encryption.  this was very interesting. 

Bitcoin has been all over the news lately.  with banks completely shitting the bed and whole countries going bankrupt, many people have been investigating the new currency for the reasons noted above.  I personally have had an interest in it because I HATE dumb shit that banks do in regards to MY money, like 30 days to clear a payment…IN THE 21ST CENTURY!!  or creeping, ridiculous fees when doing mundane stuff.  or simple things like how my bank, who shall remain nameless, removed a coin counting machine-the only reason I opened an account with them in the first place-because…wait for it…too many people were using it.  yes…too many people found their service useful, so they stopped.  it boggles the mind. 

so saturday morning, I woke up with bitcoin on my mind.  I wanted to start experimenting with the currency.  luckily, not only does berlin have the alleged largest bitcoin local economy in the world, but said economy is located in kruezberg, my neighborhood!  yaaaay!!  I figured I would go to the hub of all things bitcoin in berlin, a bar called Room 77, so I posted on facebook to see if anyone wanted to tag along.  while researching the array of bitcoin businesses in the area, I discovered that berlins first bitcoin exchange event was happening that afternoon!  YAAAAAY!!!


Aaron Koenig, stated at the beginning of the Berlin Bitcoin Exchange event, held at Platoon Kunsthalle, that he had been inspired by similar events held in new york and decided to do one here in Berlin.  there were about 50 people, including myself, all excited about the paradigm shift this currency presented.  for my part, I, wearing my “buyer” sticker on my shirt, acquired 1 bitcoin from a local seller who, along with the bitcoin, also provided a wealth of information of all aspects of the currency; political, social, personal and humanity scale.  everyone, buyers and sellers, were extremely passionate and optimistic about what it could all mean.

the exchange itself was surpringly shcoking in its frictionlessness.  I paid for the coin, opened my tablet, on which I had already installed a bitcoin wallet (a piece of software that holds the bitcoins) and before I could check to see how this type of transaction would work, “ching, ching!” I am told I have one bitcoin!  completely frictionless!  no email, no click-thru, no sign up or questionaire.  just peer to peer transfer of wealth.  this is mind blowing!!  it doesn’t even matter at this point if bitcoin fails later.  the paradigm is so seductive that it will be evolved into something that builds on this simple elegance (remember how napster “failed”?  but the idea lived, mutated and evolved into entire ecosystems).

2013-06-29 18.14.33afterward the transaction, I began to think about busking for bitcoins.  its frictionless.  no hats or other pyhsical  containers.  no making change.  just a qr code.  the tip is on the interweb, safe and secure, as long as you follow proper precautions like encrypting your wallet and backing up your “keys”.  (buskers know the feeling of having a great day after making lots of cash and being a bit paranoid on the way home that someone might try and rob you).  so I decided to do a little experiment and “busk for bitcoins” there at the exchange.

Anyone who knows me knows at least 2 things;

1. I can talk quite a bit

2013-06-29 18.18.432. I never leave home without my exo-voice (that’s just how I roll)

Graciously, Platoon and the BXB Guys allowed me, unrehearsed, to busk for bitcoins.  I placed my tablet on a nearby table, displaying the QR code, then proceeded to hack my way thru a torrent of glitches and false starts.  but it was enough to get a feel for the concept.  I ended up making about .3BTC (a little over $35!), which I reinvested back into the bitcoin economy immediately, by way of buying a round of drinks and a burger later at Room 77, but I must take this moment to shift topics a bit…

3d printing with elastic

After said experimental performance, I looked at the pictures like the one above and was completely taken aback by the disharmony of aesthetics.  so much effort to refine the exo-voice appearance to convey function as an aesthetic, only to have it stomped on by my own lazy fashion sense.  Berlin is a relaxed place and I am relaxed in it but plaid shirts and cyborg prosthetics don’t work together at all.

IMG_20130620_141628IMG_20130623_150713IMG_20130624_145315For the last few weeks, I have been experimenting with a 3d printable rubber elastic material from 3dprintsystems.  I have had it for a while, but only recently realized that I could use it with my huxley reprap by calibrating the print speed and temperature (very slow and very hot).  now I can print things that are very strong and very flexible.  think shoe soles or bike tires.  I have been working the material into the design of the systems that will be sent to contributors of my last campaign when it occurred to me t1065116_10151521726852496_1019242990_oo investigate creation of a lattice of shapes that could be used to cover my body and provide a surface to attach things to.  This “exo-skin” trajectory is providing a wealth of info on creating small interlocking strtures capable of acting as a skin which I can modify and parameterize over time.  the idea is still new but after my BXB performance, I realized that function must be first, but, if the lack of aesthetic consideration distracts from said function, then it must be corrected.  over the coming weeks, the exo-skin will replace my curent performance wear and will have a space in my bag for those time when I need to inhabit the construct.  I mean, batman, without the batsuit is just an asshole who needs therapy, innit?

Back to the story…

after we left Platoon we went to Room 77, the deacto hub of the Bitcoin economy in berlin.  it is situated in area affectionately known as the “Bitcoinkiez” (pronounced bitcoin KEETS)  many of the buisnesses in this area on and around Graefestrasse, take bitcoin. 


(note, I got to chat extensively with all the guys in this video)

This place was where I had intended to go, all day.  its very local-vibey (another way of saying berlin-y which iam really tired of saying); couches, big burgers, chilled vibe, etc.  I and a couple of people for the exchange met up there, drank, ate and discussed all things future and monetary.  you really should try it!  it was so overwhelmingly cathartic to discuss the future and economics without a hint of doom and gloom.  this was new to me because I have always been…hmmm…not so much “poor” as “having just enough to not die or make too many people mad at me at once”.  using cash for everything, as I did in my early adulthood, compresses your scope of possiblity.  banks always seem to find a way of pissing in your morning coffee.  suddenly we were discussing things like possibilty and opportunity without a parallel discussion on how much of our souls we would have to sell off to entities with big pocketbooks. 

2013-06-29 22.25.18later we had a round of shots with the owner, Joerg Platzer, who exudes a charisma and personality that explains how and why this area is so invested in bitcoin.  he definitely puts his bitcoins where is mouth is, from his activism locally in hosting bitcoin meetups in his establishment to projects like which aims to provide decentralized communication and currency technology for schóols in developing countries.  chatting with him gave us an insight into the the vibe going on in the bitcoin space;  pushing economic models in the direction of redistribution of wealth.  I’m not saying that I am a bitcoin zealot yet, but I find the whole concept interesting enough to at least pay attention to what is happening in the space and to begin inhabiting it a bit. 

I have added permanent bitcoin addresses to all of my blog posts and I will be integrating it into future crowdfunding models (online and the trusty offline [busking] version).  I think it will integrate well with some of the sonic presentation concepts I’m playing with.  the future is getting more and more interesting by the day.


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