Audiovisual experiences promise to be richer than ever, but conveying them to new audiences matters, too. Very often, the Internet reduces documentation to small bits and pieces or low-fidelity, grainy live video that’s hard to follow. That’s why it’s a treat to have a full set from the excellent NYC Unsound Festival, here featuring the ongoing visual project by our friend Joshue Ott, superDraw.
Built in Java and Processing, superDraw is a three-dimensional, stylus-driven generative drawing application, allowing expressive pen gestures to become a kind of visual performance to accompany music. The visuals are relatively simple and minimal, but as such allow Josh as an artist to reflect on the nuance of the musical performance. In fact, while the visual language isn’t entirely new, to me, that’s actually partly necessary – expressive sound synthesis, for example, often requires focusing on basic sonic building blocks like square waves and filters, sounds first heard prior to the moon landing. (I’ll let you ponder that idea and tell me why I’m wrong in comments.)
The sounds from fellow New Yorker Alexander Kaline fit perfectly with Josh’s visual style. Alexander, aka Alka_Rex, is part of a circle of artists here in New York that includes David Last and their collaboration, Konque. The results are a form of audiovisual/sonic sculpture that draws on a long history of experimental sound art, digital minimalism, and electronica. Again, while the essential ingredients draw from this history, there is an aesthetic bent that to me nonetheless places the output in the present day.
But don’t listen to me talk about it; you get to experience the full set. Dim the lights, put this on the big screen, and you have a home/chamber experience of a couple of audiovisual performers. Just as I love seeing a film with a full live audience, then watching it a second time at home, I hope we see more of that kind of access in the future.