image: Color Is Luxury

This Saturday I’ll be playing at 8static, the monthly show for the friendly, enthusiastic chiptunes/chipvisuals scene in Philadelphia. Before the show, I’ll do a brief show ‘n’ tell workshop about Open Emu the open source emulator-bending tools we released this year. Animalstyle (local Philly favorite and cat rescuer), Glomag (local NYC favorite and This Spartan Life producer/director), and Trash 80 (if I knew where Trash 80 lives and something interesting about him, I would tell you) will be playing their excellent musics, and I will be sharing the pixels with Enso (local Philly favorite and pixel artist). It’s a cheap, fun show and just a few doors down from a very tasty Ethiopian restaurant. Let your friends in Philly know about it.

Tuesday, I’ll be playing at {R}ake with the improvisational bleeps ‘n’ bloops of Color Is Luxury, a duo consisting of Charles Cohen and hair_loss, which will be a refreshing return to pure improvisation for me after being quite focused on tight A/V pairing this year. It’s audio/visual dinner theater in the back room of Monkeytown, the Williamsburg venue that feels like a 70s sci-fi film: soft, white couches lining a cubic room with projections on each wall. Good food, well worth experiencing. All details below.

Saturday, November 14, 7pm
West Philly
http://8static.com/about/ $5 with a flier

Tuesday, Nov 17th, 8pm
58 North 3rd Street (bet. Kent & Wythe)
Williamsburg, Brooklyn
$7 Admission; $10 Food/Drink Minimum (I recommend the cheese plate)


The {R}ake show went great — Charles and hair_loss are master improvisers and it was a pleasure to play with them. Here’s the video. I bumped up the brightness and contrast so you could see Charles (right) and hair_loss (left), hence the grain. The sound quality from the on-camera mic is less than could be desired, but still listenable.

As I said earlier today, I’m writing, writing, writing my thesis paper stuff, which, thank god, is not as painful as my writing process used to be just a few months back. It’s an engaging challenge putting my motivations for Kids Connect as clearly as possible…without using bullet points. 😉 Here’s one of my objectives, which will form the template/questionnaire for the thesis paper itself. Your feedback would be much appreciated. Here are some guiding words on clarity if you need them. If you prefer, add your thoughts on my page on the ZoomLab wiki.

Objective [1]: teach read/write media literacy and cultivate a critical stance to mass media

Why: One of the primary goals of Kids Connect (KC) is read/write media literacy. What does this mean? To be literate is to be able to read and write. A full understanding of media (new, mass and otherwise) necessitates practical know-how of audio and video recording/editing, creation and synthesis. [Quote Mark Twain about reading the river]. In order to be critical of media, you must be able to distance yourself from it. A practical understanding of the craft of media creation and manipulation cultivates that distance. Moreover, a one-sided conversation is a lecture. Few young people are learning how to master the written word, to produce a compelling argument in nouns and verbs. It is vital that young people learn to write media, to raise their voices over and around the constant shouting match and join the discussion.

How: In the first two weeks of workshops, students learn to shoot video with cameras of various quality, record audio with a variety of microphones, go on sound walks and video walks (experiential exercises in listening and seeing), composition and framing, editing and compression. Each technology is approached through exercises with storytelling, improvisational and/or experiential frames. For example, convey a given emotion through a sequence of still images. In the subsequent weeks, these skills are built upon in exercises exploring expression of identity, neighborhood and community experience. Example: take photos, audio and video of your home in your neighborhood, edit together a gestalt, share it through Second Life. Furthermore, we introduce our students to the world of live visual performance. They learn the techniques of live visuals and VJ-ing: how to mix and synthesize live, streaming, and pre-recorded media, how to express emotion and narative through abstracted light and sound, and to do this collaboratively over networks. They’ve [Some have] already given up on the written word [for formal purposes, e.g., an argument –thank you, Anton]: we teach them the new multimedia communication skills they passionately desire.

Evaluation: How can you tell if someone has developed read/write media literacy? By seeing what they’ve expressed through various media. At the end of the workshops, we will have a large collection of work by our students to examine, as well as many hours of teaching experience to consider. We’ll sift this for patterns and I will write it up in my thesis paper.


How can you argue with this video? These kids are cool.

Kids Connect is going very well. Our students are learning a lot, they like us, we like them, it’s an avalanche of busy and all good. Tomorrow we’ll open a window (read: video conference) with our counterparts in Amsterdam; we put the above video together in VJ-U today with Benton Bainbridge, who thought it’d make a great welcome when they join us on the Kids Connect island. More later, stories and pictures now:


Josh Ott invited me to draw with him last night at Galapagos Art Space in Williamsburg. Josh has written a phenomenal live visual drawing program called superDraw which, surprisingly, I’ve never posted about before. At base it’s a drawing program: the performer draws with a Wacom tablet and the lines are transformed with beautiful effects, the list of which keeps growing and growing as Josh adds to the program. For some time now, it’s been capable of two performers drawing simultaneously, which is what we did last night, playing along with a phenomenal DJ (whose name I didn’t catch) and Mad EP — of Psychasthenia Society — who (dammit) I haven’t posted about before, either. It was thoroughly engaging and fun, like every time I’ve played superDraw with Josh. After much persuasion, it looks like I’ve talked him into considering porting superDraw to Max/MSP/Jitter. Anton discovered a relatively easy way to port Processing code to Jitter and we’re going to do a test port with part (all?) of superDraw — so clean up that code and send it over, Josh. 😀

The ever-engaging and delightful Chika played with the reggae/dance group after our set, with her increasingly engrossing textural, psychedelic visuals. Bravo, Chika. 😉

One of the new features in the latest version of Second Life is flexible prims — basically, now objects can bend — so I searched the Second Life fora to see what people are doing with them. The new version’s only been out for a week and a half and already there are some beautiful new flexible objects — some guy flew by me yesterday with a fantastic cape. 😀 nand Nerd had posted about his work so I went to check it out (visit his work, see some videos). nand showed me how it worked and lent me one of his objects for us to display on the Kids Connect island. Thanks to his and other residents’ generosity, we’ll have some great work to show our students the potential for creative building and scripting in SL. Check out the youTube videos linked above: I have a feeling Second Life is going to look a lot more organic pretty soon.

If all goes well, Eric, Anton and I will be doing some live machinima at Share tomorrow night. The plan is very lo-tech: Eric and I will move and look around Second Life at interesting things (nand’s work and others as well as the glitchy goodness you can find by zooming in very closely to things). Our fullscreen outputs will go to a Radio Shack video switcher, the output of which will go into a capture device into Anton’s machine, where he’ll manipulate it with vade, sending his output to Share’s screens and our live stream at share.dj. Check the left-hand side of the Share page around 8 pm EST tomorrow or watch the stream on my land in SL.