LoveTech SF 1st Anniversary Epictacular

We present a few photos and notes from the LoveTech SF 1st Anniversary “Epictacular”, which I attended on Saturday. LoveTech is a “Collaborative Music Technology Party & Interactive Multimedia Art Salon” here in San Francisco, and a group I definitely should try and be more involved in during its second year.

Our friend Tim Thompson, together with Michael Broxton, performed live improvised music along with generative visuals (i.e., the graphics are generated live):

Tim’s setup features a Launchpad/Mimo/Keyboard interface. This music featured tonal improvisations (lots of jazz chords and lines) with fast lines and rhythms, a structure that allowed one to shift focus between the music and visuals. The visual software was Broxton’s PhosphorEssence. You can see some clips from the performance on this video:

In addition to live performances, there were also technical demonstrations. Here we see Moldover presenting the MOJO, a newly released music controller which features touch-sensitive strips, game-controller-style buttons and a rather sturdy looking case.

There was also a “jam lounge”. Here we see a duo of *bernadette* (left) and Pamela Parker performing a delightfully noisy and inharmonic electronic improvisation with guitars and effects (including a Moogerfooger).

They also had a theremin as part of their set. Note the porcelain cat figurine on the theremin.

The video below features a demonstration by Komega of his custom sound and light instruments, including the Kromatron, Komegatone, and the Breadman.

More on Komega’s instruments in a future article.

MoMA, Miró, Modernism and Theremins

In addition to my adventures on the F train, I did have a small amount of time to enjoy art and music while was in New York for the Thanksgiving holiday.


One of the featured exhibitions at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) was Joan Miró: Painting and Anti-Painting 1927–1937. Miró often appears in my artistic travels – I have been to multiple retrospectives and visited the Miró Museum in Barcelona. This exhibition was more specific, focusing on a single decade of his career, during which he challenged the definition of “painting.” It opens with his declaration in 1927 “I want to assassinate painting” and features several examples of “non-painting”, including collages (such as Composition with Wire, shown to the right) and wooden sculptures. At the same time, however, many of the works are things we would consider paintings. Some of the canvases are unprimed, and several use new media such as masonite. But there are still primarily two-dimensional works involving paint on a surface. And most of the paintings and non-paintings include Miró’s signature elements in his more famous works such as bulbous abstract figures, curing shapes, stars, and scarabs. In addition to the theme of “anti-painting”, the exhibition follows the events in Europe, and particularly in Spain, in the late 1920s and 1930s, with the impending civil war and rise of Fascism. It ends with the Fascists coming to dominance in 1937 and the painting Still Life with Old Shoe that marks the end of Miró’s period of anti-painting.

The MoMA’s website includes a detailed online exhibition.

A few of the smaller exhibits also caught my attention. Dreamland: Architectural Experiments since the 1970s featured experiments in architecture, primarily centered around New York, or the modernist urban ideal of New York, as seen be architects. Some of the ideas, such as those in Rem Koolhaas’s Delirious New York: A Retroactive Manifesto for Manhattan, can be quite fantastic, such as an island oasis in a glass bubble atop a highway. Others were not only more realistic, but also realized, including some impressive homes in the country surrounding New York. It’s always great to see a celebration of modernism as it once was, before contemporary design and architecture took a turn away towards more mundane ideas.

Keeping with the idea of the 1960s and 1970s as particularly modern decades, the exhibit Looking at Music features visualizations of music from the era. This includes direction visualizations, such as the scores of John Cage, as well as early media works by Nam June Paik, Laurie Anderson, Steven Reich and others.


I did have a chance to hear some music as well. The weekend after Thanksgiving is often low on opportunities for new music (which is probably why I was able to book an NYC show without much difficulty after Thanksgiving in 2005). But the reliable Issue Project Room in Brooklyn hosted a show sponsored by the New York Theremin Society. The first set featured rather graphic stereo photos from World War I – still a horrific war when viewed a century later – with theremin accompaniment, presented by Robert Munn and Sara Cook. By Munn’s own admittance, this was not a performance for the faint of heart. The second set featured “Master Thereminist” Kip Rosser, who treated us to a series of jazz and pop standards that would be very much at home at a wedding or bar-mitzvah. It is interesting to think about a hybrid program featuring Rosser’s light jazz on theremin against Munn and Cook’s disturbing images from the Great War. But perhaps that would be a bit too ironic.

First LolCatSynth "contest"

Remember this photo from a few days ago?

Well, this photo has inspired several lolcat captions, including on this original post:

“im in ur ether, changing ur capacitanz”

There are several more suggestions on this repost at matrix.

So am calling the first LolCatSynth contest, to write even more lolcat captions for this photo. Please leave your suggestions in the comment section.

There isn't really any “prize” or “winner” for this particular contest, though I will be happy to do the actual captioning for my favorite submissions, as well as post them (with credit) to the popular lolcat sites.

Theremin Cats

From Brian Sacawa: Sounds Like Now:

The context for this picture is Sacawa's lament that early theremin virtuosi concentrated on trying to get the instrument to play traditional western tonal music, rather than exploring the radically new ways of organizing pitch and structure afforded by the instrument. This is indeed something that concerns me about many of the efforts going on to “de-experimentalize” computer music and simply turn it into another tool for traditional classical or popular forms. The great promise of electronic instruments is to allow people to break with the traditions of acoustic music. But Sacawa concludes:

Maybe if more cats–unlike humans, who are so grounded in western tonal music–played the theremin we might witness the instrument's full potential.

And thus we have theremin-playing cats.

Check out this feline thereminist from YouTube: