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A Very BAD Studio

September 7th, 2013

So in Germany it is typical that it can take several weeks to set up Internet. In my case, we are talking 4 weeks. This brings the grand total of “artist without reliable Internet” on this move to two months. You know as a little kid when Thanksgiving passes and you think “Christmas is only a month away!” and you wait… and wait… and wait… double that, and that’s two months.

It’s crazy how difficult this makes a lot of the back end of things (signing agreements, coordinating shows) and also the collaborative process. But there is light at the end of the tunnel! It just happens to be a long tunnel (September 26.) So I apologize for the lack of frequent updates and the abundance of art announcements I will make between September 26 and the beginning of October.

In the meantime, I am working on a lot of things I am excited to announce soon and setting up my studio… check out the beauty!
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I know, not yet the most inspiring place yet…but how lucky am I? I move out of my half-a-bedroom setup in the States to an entire FLOOR here in Germany. My primary spot is a zen studio space (where the computer is) with great acoustics and a cool view. I had to pick the middle of the room because of the slanted walls, but I’m actually digging it so far. In the other room, I am setting up a worktable/etc to do my crafts and generally create a mess.
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Down the hall I have a little sink area which I can use for construction (and will be using on my winter project TBA!)
 
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And then I have a “BAD” (bathroom). Yes, if you can read from my crappy laptop camera, it says “BAD” on the door. Debating whether to call this BAD Studios… very possibly.

Biggest challenge so far (aside from half the lights not working) is definitely power. I use a lot. I need a lot of adapters and a power conditioner, and that stuff is not cheap here! Headed out later today to buy a ton.

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Moving to Germany/Building a New Studio

July 4th, 2013

That’s right… I am moving to Germany! The hub of beer, Christmas markets, random festivals, and pioneering electronic art. I can’t wait to be closer to the conferences I always want to attend, the great electronic music scene, my fellow Videopong partners… it’s going to be incredible. The plan is to stay out there for three years.

I landed a great job opportunity that will pay me well and also give me a great housing allowance. I will use that allowance to do two things: 1) shorten my commute so that I have more time, and 2) finally get an entire room to myself for my studio. I am ecstatic about both… you will see more things on this website as a result of the first, and that includes planning the second part!

After doing a lot of research, I decided to go ahead and buy some of my studio supplies (paint, mod podge, you know… the usual) here in the U.S. and then ship them to save some money. I also decided to buy the big, fancy art table I’ve always wanted for doing my soldering, painting, and other construction. So I went to the most American place I could think of… IKEA! (That’s a joke, just to be clear… but I really did go to IKEA…actually, two different IKEAs). I got a nice big Galant table top and the Finnvard table legs… it should look like this when built, but black:

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I also got a really cool robotic-arm like table lamp for it. So excited!

Now, the next part: I will be staying in a hotel for a month while I look for a house and wait for my household shipment to arrive from the U.S. How do I get my studio computer (and everything I need to run it) to the hotel so that I don’t miss a beat? After all, I have several shows coming up… I can’t be without my computer if someone needs me to render a different type of file or something!

A lot of trouble, but I know it will be worth it. I can’t wait to write all about it here and share this adventure with everyone.

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Full Circle: SONAR Duel Install at Boston CyberArts Gallery

June 13th, 2013

Last Fall, I showed Digital Synthetic at the inaugural show of the Boston CyberArts Gallery, COLLISION18:present. I set up directly across from audio/visual artist Nathan Boyer, who just so happened to be using SONAR for his piece, as well. Chaos ensued, resulting in us quite literally putting up a wall between our pieces so that the SONAR sensors wouldn’t interfere with each other.

It’s out of that chaos that the idea for SONAR Duel was born. Why not collaboratively build a piece that embraced the chaos of the dueling SONAR readings and created an even more immersive and interactive space for viewers?

TRULY GENERATIVE

SONAR Duel positions two TVs in a computer-generated audio/visual dialogue. SONAR sensors embedded in the televisions and connected to hidden computers converse: the SONARs’ interaction triggers coding in the computers that creates unique patterns on the screens.

On their own, the TVs “talk” to each other, moving in and out of visual and harmonic sync. But people can literally step into the conversation by standing between the two televisions. This human intervention generates human-like responses in the sonar dialogue. The screen images react with patterns, colors, and sounds that appear to reflect emotions such as happiness, agitation, and even jealousy. The interaction of the sonars with each other and with people in the space generates random coding in real time, so that audio and visual effects are dependent on the changing environment. In this way, SONAR Duel conveys the illusion of human sentience in technology.

GENESIS

Back in March, I wrote (http://willcopps.com/blog/?p=918) about the grant we received from the University of Missouri for me to travel out there and build the piece with Nathan. After a marathon multi-day coding session, we documented the prototype and applied to COLLISION19, which just by chance was wrapping up a call for submissions at the same time. We were accepted, and are therefore coming full circle, debuting the piece at the very gallery that inspired it!

SONAR Duel is a piece with many challenges. Not only is the coding extremely complex and involving several different programs, but we needed to program a PC and Mac to talk with each other, automate startup, run similar programs, and more. However, that all seems trivial in the face of actually getting the display right.

Our displays are old 13″ televisions we found on Craigslist set up on opposite sides of a room. We built the SONAR sensors and microcontrollers into the TVs (so long, audio jacks!) and ran the audio, video and USB cables out the back. Of course, computers aren’t exactly programmed to run video to old school 13″ televisions, so we had to run the video cables into video converters, and from there into the computers. Quite the process, but well worth the results.

INSTALLATION

What an installation this ended up being! I had shipped my computer to the curator’s house, and some of the pieces of the computer became disconnected. Thankfully this was an easy fix. Then we cut podiums to size and I figured out how to get my computer into one of them (standing it on its face!)… things were going pretty smoothly. That is, until…

One television blew a fuse and our backup television wouldn’t work. This led to a desperate “does anyone have a 13″ TV with RCA inputs in the Boston area? Need it tonight” Craigslist post and a search that took up a LOT of time. Thankfully we found a wonderful person named Lisa to buy one off of, and headed to her house late Saturday night to get it.

We also were missing some software and the Internet was crawling. The software download (Ableton Live 9) was set to take approximately 10 hours.

That left us with Sunday with a totally unmodified TV that we needed to drill and install SONAR in, a computer that didn’t have the right software yet, no automation done to network the computers together, and only 5 hours to finish install before I had to leave to catch my flight back to Baltimore.

(Approximately 7 hours later, from my gate at the airport) VICTORY!!! Sweet, sweet victory. Wow. We got everything installed and automated JUST in the nick of time. I’ve never had an install remotely that stressful before. Once the finish line was in sight, Nathan offered to drive me to the airport (which would grant us an additional 30 minutes), but his car died, so while he got it jumped I documented the piece with hundreds of pictures and videos in a matter of about 15 minutes. I was even my own video model! Haha. We then fixed the very final error in the automated boot sequence and took off for the airport, only to run into Red Sox game traffic. AHH! Talk about stressful. Thankfully my plane gate was C40, which essentially has its own security line. I got through security in 3 minutes and was good to go.

COLLISION19 opens Friday. A special thanks to Bill Tremblay of the COLLISION Collective for his helping hand!

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Duel of the Tiger (University of Missouri Grant/Trip)

March 31st, 2013

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My workspace… I spent a lot of time here!

This past week I had the incredible opportunity to go to the University of Missouri on a grant to collaborate with artist Nathan Boyer on a new project. Nathan and I met in Boston last Fall when we both showed up at the Boston CyberArts Gallery with audio/visual pieces based around SONAR readings… and of course set up right across from each other, messing up each other’s pieces (quick aside: for those who don’t know how SONAR works, it sends out a pulse and waits for it to return, using the timing to calculate distance. Well, both our pieces were pulsing on the same frequency at different rates, so they were causing a pseduo-moire pattern of readings and messing things up). We spent the next few hours putting a wall between our two pieces and talking about what we could do together by embracing the chaos caused by the dueling SONARs/computers.

A quick proposal and grant from the University of Missouri, and next thing you know I’m in Columbia testing it out.

Read the rest of this entry »

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Movin’ on Up

January 7th, 2012

The lady and I are moving to a new place!

Relevancy here: I’m going to finally have my art studio! You’ll be able to follow the build here as I go along with this project. My goal is to make it an art/music/post-production workshop that can effectively double as our second bedroom. This is of course going to require a lot of work.


The room as it is with current owner…

Decisions so far: GREY. Definitely painting it grey. It’s my favorite room color and will be light enough for me to project my art onto the walls without discoloration or contrast problems.

My new studio monitor controller to switch between my studio monitors (the KRKs I have and the grotboxes that I don’t yet):


SM Pro Audio MPatch 2.1

Now I won’t have to reach around my speakers all the time to make volume adjustments or plug and unplug cables.

Very exciting! The problem with moving, though, is that you need to pack up your former place.


Yikes

My workspace has shrunk considerably here, but I refuse to stop working until the last second! Here you can see me in the middle of programming and reinstalling screens on my second video installation. Progress is flying! Unfortunately I had a hard drive crash and lost some of my programming, but I’ve rebuilt a lot of it from the ground up and now it’s better than ever.

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27 Hours

September 21st, 2011

27 hours ago, this computer was recording my band. Now it’s back and powering my new sculpture… you are looking at part of the sculpture and the two rewired LCD screens (the board you see is powering one of the rewired monitors).

Making amazing progress on it… my second installation!

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Textur-iiiiiiize the Demon

July 2nd, 2011

Working on the tree sculpture that will serve as a display/stand for my next A/V installation. With help from runawayalice I settled on covering the wood with joint compound and then plaster of paris. I’ve spent a long time on it, but I’m getting some really cool wood textures!

I can’t afford a nice macro lens yet (working on that), so you’ll have to deal with the close up magnifying adapter to get these close-ups for now.

It’s kinda fun/ironic to take wood blocks and texture them to look like trees…

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Big Strides (and Smaller Windows)

March 8th, 2011

Pictured above is the result of my struggle to find the perfect art display for my visual art. My new installation (tentatively and most creatively titled “Trees”) will use small screens, and months after beginning my search I have been able (with help from some supplies from Hong Kong) to finally get a borderless display together using a jimmyrigged replacement laptop LCD screen. YES!

I am incredibly excited about the breakthrough and now working the technology into my rough tree sculpture. I can’t believe that it is all finally working. I’ve never quite seen anything like it before.

I also got my first set of macro lens adapters today for the 7D:

See nut.

See nut BIG.

Exciting, right? The macro lens should let me zoom in on the smaller windows of life. As detail-obsessive as I am, this is exciting.

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“Trees” Installation, New Website

February 2nd, 2011

7d test- Emily Woods from The Console War on Vimeo.

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The technology behind my new A/V installation! Those pieces of wood will be the sculpture base, and that replacement laptop monitor will be inverted and mounted and hopefully turned into one of two beautiful displays installed on the sculpture. The video is just another 7D test (featuring the lovely Emily), this time in similar lighting conditions to what I’ll need for the installation.

Also, a quick announcement–I spent all of last weekend programming the Brittany Jean website. Anything Brittany Jean will be moving over there… this website will focus on my art, music, and combinations and adaptations of the two (including The Console War).

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