© 2014 Stefan Nussbaumer.
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La Musica di Colore

I’ve been invited to do a performance in Trieste, the old Italian harbour city at the north-east most corner of the Adriatic sea, next to the Slovenian border. The event was part of a series of presentations, talks and performances called SALoTTo VIENNA that happened in a building that formerly served as the fish market hall – now a gorgeous location for various kinds of cultural events.

As the evening was dedicated to the relationship between visual art and music (I was invited by MediaOpera, a Viennese collective of “projectionists”, artists who mostly do projections for concerts and parties) I thought this might be a good occasion to do performance that swaps the usual relationship between music and visuals.

As one can see in the video I’m using mobile phones to control my sound. One is only controlling the volume but the other one is running a self-written OSC-controller, called VideOSC, that uses the phone’s camera-input. Here’s a little screenshot:


The idea was simple: each pixel holds 4 channels of color-information, red, green, blue and alpha, each having some value between 0 and 255. Usually a digital image consists of thousands or even millions of pixels (“mega-pixels”). A digital video is a sequence of digital images. Hence, a certain pixel in this sequence is a stream of constantly changing values, just like the movement of a fader on a MIDI-controller describe a stream of constantly changing values. Of course, we don’t need millions of faders when controlling music (and very likely such a high resolution would go quickly beyond any computer’s or phone’s CPU capacity…). As a consequence VideOSC works simply with a small, down-scaled version of the input image (6 x 5 pixels in the above screenshot – can be set by the user) and sends the values of these few as OSC messages over a WIFI connection to the computer or any other device that understands OSC.

However technical these explanations may sound – using VideOSC isn’t merely about understanding technology. Rather it’s like learning a new instrument, about playing with sound and images, may it be a painting or just filming what surrounds you.

So far VideOSC in its current form is still an experimental prototype but I hope I’ll have the time to develop more features. If you’re feeling adventurous you may download the app from its Github repository and install it on your Android phone (it should work on Android 2.3.3 and higher).

In any case I enjoyed every minute in Trieste and it was a successful performance of which I hope it will not have been the last one.

lunch on the terrace of the Ex-Pesceria

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