Film-Gate to Present Selections from Opera

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We’ve been invited to perform a portion of my opera MelanchoLalaland™ at South Florida’s only interactive and immersive storytelling festival – Filmgate 2015 (February 1-8, 2015).  If you would like to experience our first efforts at realizing our transmedia opera, as well as a program of local dance peformances/screenings, and interactive demonstrations/seminars you can purchase tickets on Filmgate’s website  – film-gate.org.

For presentation of scenes from MelanchoLalaland™:

  • Date: Tuesday, February 3
  • Location: Miami Light Box, 404 NW 26th St., Miami
  • Times:  7pm cocktail
  • 7:30pm – 9pm performance/screenings
  • free with FilmGate passes
  • $5 for students in advance, student ids will be checked
  • $12 in advance, IFCM members, Miami Light Box members
  • $15 at the door

Filmgate Interactive is an annual fusion event of leading international creators, thinkers, and practitioners from across the fields of film, tv, interactive, online, mobile, gaming, publishing and live events. Filmgate interactive presents the latest ideas and innovations of modern storytelling, audience engagement, and business practices. MelanchoLalaland™ is a transmedia opera composed and directed by Joey Bargsten, in collaboration with librettist/producer/lead choreographer Thea Zimmer. The project is made possible by the support of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, the Dorothy F. Schmidt College of Arts and Letters Advisory Board (FAU), the Bailyn Foundation, and the Avid Corporation. Most recently Bargsten received an Individual Artists Fellowship from the State of Florida Division of Cultural Affairs in the Interdisciplinary Art category.

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And just in case you missed our latest teaser/trailer, here it is:

The Lavender Spray: Performance with Kinect

It happened. Some people got hurt, bad. Some may have even wandered home afterwards and hung themselves from silk stockings or rough rope they bought at Home Depot, despondent over the current state of the arts . . . .

(of course, I jest . . . . )

meme™ —media experimental ensemble™—provided a momentary distraction from that state at the FAU Faculty Biennial exhibition last Friday (September 20, 2013) on the Boca campus. It was a well attended event, and much curiosity was aroused by a certain crazed mad scientist in black conducting his torso-controlled remix of  Strauss’s Also Sprach Zarathustra ( seen in video above the final scrolling credits).

Additional Quartz compositions, videojam sets, and film remixes of the work of Ariel Baron-Robbins were provided by Anna Torlen, James Ko, David Wichinsky, Rosena Francois, and August DeWinkler.

Pd via Kinect: SkyRon’s QuadTheremin and Sampler

Yeah, I know—straight out of 2011, but some of us have been busy with other distractions. So, above is a preview of a set of QuadTheremin essays, and below is SkyRon™’s initial performance , assisted by Pooster Beest, of Kick-Ass Kitty fame (view that video here).
And, yes, it’s not really four independent channels of theremin wonderfulness—more like two dual-pitch stereo channels. Both x- and y- axes  control different pitches on each hand, with the z-axis controlling dynamic/volume. I need to adjust the Pd-Kinect router patch in order to make the four channels truly independent.
I suspect this will be a useful start for approaching Kinect control of sound, especially if one keeps it simple—sure, we could have wahwah or vocoder effects added to each foot, but I’m not that good of a dancer! Hands are easier, plus we’ve all studied conducting anyway, right?
For a quick overview of how to build this, go here. Oh, and, ok, here is the first draft of a sample-player controlled in PureData via Kinect—enjoy!

un rêve d’amour

During Spring 2013, I devoted all my energies in both the grad courses I took to developing assets for the fourth level, with the working title “un rêve d’amour”, of my first video game Blimps’n’Torsos.

Considerable time was spent developing the main character, Blimp Bugger Ultra (‘BB’), as well as the game environment, including a sculpture courtyard, a maze, and a series of ramps and platforms (The Path of Suffering) leading to the level’s goal (the Orb-Egg).  Additional assets were created for the sculpture courtyard, although they are not as fully developed as the main character (ExtroodDood™ sculpture, Tri-Light Barrels, and the CloudSphere).

BB is the most developed character in the entire game, and was created as a high-poly sculpt in ZBrush. A low-poly mesh was created, with hi-poly mesh transferred to a normal map. The bug was UV’d, and color, specular, and transparency maps are included in a .psd network. It was rigged, and a rudimentary walking animation was created.

In order to create a rich environment for the character, an arena was built that includes a sculpture courtyard adjacent to a simple maze. The entire arena was UV’d, and a simple normal map created in Crazy Bump was also applied. Its texture is based on a photo of a wall outside the church at Cluny, France, with black marble detailing.

The Path of Suffering went through a number of transformations before settling in to its final form. The overarching frame of reference was ‘digital detritus’, so I turned to the page-borders of much of my artist’s book Experimental Media Voodoo™ (print version, 2011: Lambert Academic Press). I developed both color maps and normal maps from the Illustrator files of the background, and created a series of plane elements, arranging them into a set of ramps and platforms, leading to the Orb-Egg altar, bathed in warm light. In the process of creating Path, I discarded earlier ideas for encasing the entire area with graffiti, and including a 3D version of an early Illustrator work (“Sapp Chart” from 1994).

I created a machinima film “un rêve d’amour” from gameplay, and added soundtrack elements developed during the semester (a set of sonic ‘bookends’ were borrowed from my 1984 work Thunder, Perfect Mind). The opening shot is reminiscent of the beginning of Lynch’s Eraserhead, where we simply fly through a dark planet; and for that, I substituted my CloudSphere—of course, I didn’t realize this until after I edited everything!

Video Feedback Jam, Digital Folk Music, and Studio Nostalgia

Submitted for your perusal, in the eye candy/ear candy category, is this latest meme™ jam, a meditation on video feedback set to an unpolished, unsequenced electronic jam from 1991.

Visuals: two channels of Rutt-Etra video synthesizer set against a blurred video background. Input video is pointing at the screen for feedback. Created in Quartz Composer.

Music: Bad Mind Time™ Digital Symphonies, first few minutes of Volume I, part 1. The entire collection—over 12 hours of electronic and acoustic sketches and improvisations—was created between 1991 and 2005, and can be streamed, downloaded, or remixed here. BMTDS is one big, online musical sketchbook: lots of thumbnails, doodles, and scribbles in sound. Some sketches are very rough, some are more developed. There are multiple experiments with samplers, sequencers, keyboards, live and extended instruments, and voices.

You may hear echoes of your own electronic studio: Ensoniq ESQ-1 synth/sequencer, Roland S-10 sampler, Roland R-8 drum machine, the Casio VL-Tone, the Kawai G-Mega and Emu Proteus Orchestral midi modules, Alesis Microverb, Mackie 1202 mixer, Pioneer RT-2044 2/4 track open reel deck, Tascam DAT deck, Tascam 788 digital 8-track; Opcode Studio Vision Pro software run on a Mac Iici (25 mHz processor!), and/or the PowerBook 5300cs (100 mHz !). Ah, good times! And p.s., I’ve sold or given away almost all that vintage equipment (as well as all but 8 or ten LPs from a collection that was once maybe a couple thousand records), because, well, I’ve moved around a lot.

This is the sixth in a aeries of meme™ jams, short videojams to document how I’ve approached the form. The other five can be downloaded on iTunes.

Year-End Wrap-Up

So, here are a couple of videos celebrating our survival of the Mayan Apocalypse, the laming-down of the Fiscal Cliff, and other averted disasters!. First, my final project for Mark Franz’s class (generative visuals, video feedback, and Arduino control):

And, finally, my video for Trialog™: The Happening™ (November 29, 2012, Museum of Art, Fort Lauderdale):