ILLUM Festival Performance

Wednesday, September 18th, 2019 | Blog

I was invited to perform at the 2019 ILLUM Art.Tech.Music festival in San Francisco at the Midway venue. This was a great opportunity to share my visualized piano experiments with the public with a giant LED wall. The festival featured multiple new media artists and fellow A/V performers who I admire, so it was an honor to be asked to perform alongside them.

I decided to name the performance after Kandinsky — At The Boundary.

Where would the boundary between point and plane be? This approach to the external boundary — indeed, the crossing of it somewhat, the attainment of that moment when the point, as such, begins to disappear and the plane in its stead embarks upon its embryonic existence—this instant of transition is a means to the end.

I really tried to push and pull at the boundary of song, note, and sound, in the aural; color, light, and picture in the visual. I’m also keen that this work continues in a long line of artists working in the synesthetic tradition, and the physicality of the piano itself should be as core to the experience as visuals and sound. It took some doing to transport my trusty PianoDisc to the Midway, but we made it happen. I used VDMX and almost entirely ISF for the visuals in the performance, but had to teach myself some basics of live PA for the audio side. I wanted to be able to sample, playback, and play samples from my library in KONTAKT. I controlled my samples from a Roli Seaboard Block, and learned the basics of MPE (MIDI Polyphonic) to perform. The expressiveness of MPE really lended texture and a sense of live performance and production to the work.

Some setups were more playing driven, and some were more visuals driven with sonic overlays. Some visuals reacted very plainly and simply (Pitch to scale property, tempo to color, etc) while other were more sophisticated systems that I then reacted to when I played. I definitely found the very edge of how much I could control and just cognitively process simultaneously, although I think with some practice I could improve.

I played some covers and some original works, a culmination of the last year or so of A/V experiments. The work is still changing and evolving, there is a lot more to explore and discover. I’m still learning on the visuals side, introducing ray marching techniques and 3D into the visual side, and there is a universe to discover on the live performance side, using Ableton Live and the Roli gear.