Solar, with lyrics. from flight404 on Vimeo.

People can argue and theorize about digital art as a medium all they want. The answer is as simple as a simple word:


Do it over and over and over again in little bits developing techniques. Start small, add small, but keep adding over and over and over again. Iterate.

flight404 does that about as well as anyone in the Processing community, and it shows. His latest visualization of a Goldfrapp tune, now with lyrics, is stunning. And the addition of lyrics shows that these kind of techniques aren’t just eye candy — they can convey information, and do it elegantly and expressively.

Robert’s techniques are typically far from real-time, so part of why I enjoy them so much is they’re a challenge to those of us on the performance end to figure out how to do more interesting things live.

The other interesting thing here is the beat detection. Eventually, he wound up adding the beats manually, as detailed in the post linked here. That in itself is telling to me — as a composer, having worked on scoring and how things line up creatively, I’ve always found indirect relationships compelling. So this speaks to me of the importance of creating some imperfect algorithms, algorithms that don’t always line up so they challenge our ear and eye to make the connection.

Oh, and I love the fact that “Frankenstein” appears in the end, like a cameo by Alfred Hitchcock.

Solar, with lyrics [ Flight 404 ]

(It’s a long weekend in the US, so I figured we could handle double the inspiration.)

  • beatfix

    Yes, been following the progress of flight404 for a while – really beautiful stuff. Not a fan of the added lyrics – it feels a bit pasted on, and detracts from what I like about the rest of his work – but it was certainly an experiment worth trying.

    For Mac users, there is (or was – the link is down at the moment) an iTunes visualization plugin built on his engine. It's real-time, and thus not quite as tightly synchronized, but still very pretty. Info here (but sadly no download anymore):

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