Adventures in Quartz

(Virtual presentation at the 2012 INTED Conference, Valencia, Spain.Complete paper:  Bargsten_Adventures-In-Quartz-Composer )

Creative artists are exploring a wide range of new narrative possibilities through live manipulation of software-generated visuals, video, and other digital media, known variously as videojamming, VJ-ing, visualism, or scratch cinema. Quartz Composer, a free tool for creating music visualizations, widgets, and screen savers, is a well-designed production environment for engaging an audience and expanding the narrative vocabulary for visual artists, writers, and storytellers moving past linearity and into more hybrid expressive forms. This presentation investigates how the Quartz environment can accomplish this.

After a brief overview of the software interface and workflow, discussion of key features of Quartz follows, including: 1) how stills, video clips, and live camera input can be incorporated, 2) how imagery can be amplified, disrupted, and transformed by various patches, 3) how 3D primitives and video feedback can be integrated and further manipulated, and 4) how a new set of visual vocabularies is available through the use of such techniques as video synthesis and data moshing.

The context of this presentation is a visual/sonic performance by Florida Atlantic University’s Media Experimental Ensemble (meme™), comprising a set of Quartz compositions by ensemble director Joey Bargsten and graduate students from his course “Creating Interactive Culture”. This work for live digital media and two dancers is called “Trialog and Interludes”, and it serves as a forum for discussing the impact of nonlinear, algorithmic environments like Quartz Composer on the conventions of narrative design in live performance.

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