Chromatouch Dome at Shambala festival

Chromatouch Dome at Shambala festival

After the success of the Black Country Touring piece, Occasionally We Skype, I went back to my immersive engine research, bought a 10m geodesic dome from www.shelter-systems.com, (something that I’ve wanted since I finished my first piece for fulldome) and hunkered down in the studio to build a software engine to accomodate the various audio, video and control inputs from other artists,

This would entail a video server software like Resolume Arena to handle the content such as live cameras, laptop input, video files and to apply effects. it works in real time on many layers and you can pipe video around within the computer from app to app using a protocol called spout. Then you need a 3D engine to map those layers to a virtual model of the space you are going to project in/onto so they appear correctly in the cameras (which in turn go to the projectors) – a lot easier in a dome which intrinsically has no corners. Initially Unity 3D seemed like a good idea to do all the mapping for the realtime engine, but after what seemed like a month of a programming friend failing to get it to work (bad spout plugin mainly to blame – Unity is a gaming engine after all…) I decided to rebuild it in a proper VJ software – Touchdesigner which is essentialy a 3D engine made for realtime video work. It worked a treat and handled all the UV mappings beautifully and I can’t wait to do more with it over the coming months.

I’ve been working at Shambala festival for coming up to ten years now and from running the visuals for the Gaia Nova dome back in the day and through to when it turned into the Kamikaze dance tent, I now always do the mainstage visuals – mixing the live cameras nightly and nursing the visuals for one of the days – usually Saturday. It is my fave UK festival because of it’s size, friendliness and holistic attitude to qualitative fun and mutual respect. As a more sober individual in my forties than i was in my thirties I don’t note any  change in my enjoyment of Shambala from the early days to now. An experience I can’t say carries across from your average pub.

So, having built the engine and bought the dome it was time to convince the festival to give me a slot and to decide what was going in it. My experience of working for Rejenr8 dome (the last guys to run a dome in the woods at shambala) was that a full on rave wasn’t what the woodlands organisers wanted, so the perfect candidate to curate the Saturday night was long term fave of mine, my friends and the (now sadly defunct) Big Chill forums – the ambient supremo Mixmaster Morris who rules the mixcloud charts in many categories…

Also, now the woodland area is open in the daytimes it made sense to bring in the 8bit lounge gamning sessions as an aside from all the visuals when it wasn’t possible to project. With this in mind it was only fitting to bring a selection of UK chiptune musicians for the Friday night such as GrayCFGK, Sam Wray and George Lazenbleep. My partner in crime at 8bit lounge Tony Grainger (DJ Subcitizen) has a vast collection of other worldly electro so this was also a good mix to introduce into the Friday blipfest. And finally to round off the first night I had a chance encounter with none other than Tony Culverville who i befirended on a trip to Brazil in 2012 – four times DMC DJ winner and current champion of the world, Mr Switch!

Friday and Saturday sorted I decided to take it down a notch in terms of popular culture and turn to some more academically minded sounds on Sunday night, combining electro-acoustic, live-coding, live AV and modular disciplines, namely BEAST, Shelley Knotts & Holger Ballweg, Diarmo & L’Aubaine and Dave Headcleaner, respectively.  Thrown in for good measure and to utilise the 280 slices of vinyl he had brought, Tony Grainger soundly rounded it off with some suitably shuffly techno.

Visuals were taken care of by myself on the whole, but also Sam Wray with his self-programmed visualiser engine ModV – a bit like the dome engine i built, a very solid software creation but slightly unfathomable to anyone else but it’s creator 😉 Also Laurie Bender (L’Aubaine – London based, Swiss born). George Lazenbleep, lastly, stepped in with his own projectors fed by the Gieskes 3trinsRGB+1c and they really made a nice addition to the darker corners…

I’ll leave the exact tech to another post but suffice to say it all worked well on the whole. A great weekend with a weeks worth of time spent in the woods to make it happen. Special thanks to everyone who helped out like the Cliffords, Paul Kent, Liam & Arlene Burnett, all the daytime DJs like Jon Harris, Mark Smallman, Mach V, Olbi Iyah… And big big thanks to my old college buddy Sid Sharma for giving the thumbs up to the whole thing along with master man Morgan Robinson who drives buggies around and shouts at bridges a lot. 😀

Photo Credit: Laurie Bender

p.s. our neighbours in the Mexican Cantina were awesome, they had essentials like water, brooms and frozen margueritas at 1.30am when we were setting up cheers Lynne!!!

80s Disco Thang Cloudcast by leolodreamland

I have made a cool little mix of some nice tunes, with a DJ/VJ video mix of this to follow. Some gems in there, it all started with the Do It To The Funk track, from Credit to the Edit by Greg Wilson, a mashup he made of the two tunes, “Do It To The Music” by Raw Silk over an instrumental edit of DMX Krew’s “Who Got The Funk”. The rest just followed and i got into a bit of post dubstep type stuff; Floating Points and Dam Funk as well as some classic Salsoul and some 80s synth pop. enjoy:

[vodpod id=ExternalVideo.985065&w=425&h=350&fv=feed%3Dhttp%3A%2F%2Fwww.mixcloud.com%2Fapi%2F1%2Fcloudcast%2Fleolodreamland%2F80s-disco-thang.json%26embed_uuid%3Db993481e-67d8-4885-8e10-71d8f4bc8135%26embed_type%3Dwidget_standard]

All mixed and recorded on Traktor Pro, I didn’t have my Xponent controller with me when i recorded it so just using the mouse, it came out ok.
Chromatouch develops AV as Platinum artist for Fierce Festival. Gets Coldcut as Mentor.

Chromatouch develops AV as Platinum artist for Fierce Festival. Gets Coldcut as Mentor.

The Fierce Festival is Birmingham’s festival of the performing arts (essentially) and was started in 1997 by Mark Ball. Since then it has had an immense impact on Birmingham’s culture and has gained a reputation for edgy, underground and sometimes tongue in cheek presentation of the finest in contemporary art. The company Fierce Earth has grown and moved on from the festival alone. The festival is currently reinventing itself and experimenting with new directions under the artistic directorship of Laura McDermott and Harun Morrison who took over in 2009. One of the main things I’d say they bring to the mix is a totally open mind and no agenda. They are not from the Midlands and as such are gazing on the landscape like explorers, learning as they go, taking their time to learn the ways of the people. Having had two ‘interrobang’ events away from Birmingham (one in Warwick Arts Centre and one in Wednesbury at The Old Post Office and the Town Hall), i think the best thing is to expect the unexpected, which has always been the way of Fierce.

I have been a fan of the festival since before I considered myself an artist and along with Vivid, Fierce had a lot to do with me getting involved in the arts. I volunteered as early as 2004 to help out with the festival and was employed by Mark Ball on a few occasions. I also met some good friends whilst being involved. People like Rich Bate and Anne-Marie Pope, who were involved in the organisation of the festival. Meeting ‘the pope’ was also the beginnings of my involvement in the Project X Presents series of events.

So when the opportunity came up to apply for the Platinum artist development program i gave it some thought, submitted and Harun and Laura chose me, I’m very pleased to say. The aims of the program:

Platinum is an exciting opportunity for artists to develop their work with Fierce Festival.

Platinum provides a space to network & make connections with key internationally acclaimed artists to focus & develop your own work in a supportive environment.

Fierce has a reputation for celebrating risk and for encouraging the expression of a myriad of voices, perspectives and artforms.

Fierce is particularly interested in its curatorial agenda being led by the artists it engages with. Forthcoming Fierce festivals will involve 8 – 12 artists who develop their projects over a ten-month period. This emphasis on process is very much at the heart of the thinking around Platinum. We are less interested in finished products than the development of long-term strategies to sustain your career as an artist. Platinum artists are very much a part of the activities and enquiries of the festival itself.

So even if i don’t come up with something at the end i have achieved something. Seems I can’t lose. I do feel obliged, however (if only to myself) to create new work from this and have decided to come back to where I started creatively as a youth, and have been creating some music, with the aim of performing a fully live Audio Visual set of my own creation from beginning to end, using found footage, my photography and animation, field recordings, and live performance.

The program started last April and through Laura and Harun’s zen-like guidance I have been developing my ideas, and communicated them to the other artists on the program. Mentoring of the group discussions has been by performance artist Kira O’Reilly, who is extremely inspiring and perfect for facilitating the group. For instance on the first day we met, she instigated, not an icebreaking waffle fest of artists spouting about themselves (I know I do) but a silent walk around the surrounding streets where each member took turns to lead. We learnt as much about each other in that hour than if we’d talked for three.

Each artist has a budget for the program, two-thirds of which can be spent on kit. The remaining portion to be spent on exploring, e.g. courses, travelling to festivals, and mentors of the artists choice. I decided i would like to talk to AV legends Coldcut (why keep it mortal?), mentioned this to Laura and she got someone from Ninjatune to contact me a couple of weeks later! I’m about to arrange a meeting with Matt Black, so I’ll report back when I have done.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=41VOvxj0Khc] (more…)

Making music again

One of the major developments in 2010 was that i started toying with sound again making music with Ableton Live like this track which is somewhere between shoegaze and dubstep. it’s entitled Polystep
[soundcloud url=”http://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/5507229″]
or this one which is straight up space disco, called Space-O.
[soundcloud url=”http://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/5556481″]
Also I am starting to play with spoken word, here is my reading of Walt Whitman’s I sing the Body Electric. A wonderful poem.
[soundcloud url=”http://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/4815498″]

Recent STRAX interviews on www.rhubarbradio.com

On my Rhubarb Radio STRAX show I’ve recently had a couple of artists who are working locally in to interview

First up is the Rea Garden’s resident artist Hannah Hull talking about her work and a memorial she will be holding at the end of November.

[soundcloud url=”http://soundcloud.com/chromatouch/2009-10-28-1700-strax-radio-show-with-hannah-hull”]

And yesterday we had (Captain) Ed Wakefield in to talk about his new maritime novella, Blood & Rorschach and also Cheryl Jones explaining it’s inclusion in the Digbeth based Arts Festival – THE EVENT – which launches tomorrow.

[soundcloud url=”http://soundcloud.com/chromatouch/strax-radio-show-2009-11-04-1700-with-captain-ed”]

STRAX AV 5 with Oli Sorenson aka VJ ANYONE

STRAX AV 5 with Oli Sorenson aka VJ ANYONE

STRAX Audio Visual proudly presents AV 5!
The Victoria Pub – 5 minutes from new street station in Birmingham will play host to VJ Anyone – Oli Sorenson, founder of the AV Social, previously held at BFI South Bank and TATE Liverpool. He will be performing his DRUG MUSIC MY EYE set on Friday 23rd October. It’s a lovely boozer with great food, ales and cocktails…

This is a unique opportunity to see Oli perform in such an intimate setting.
Support comes from DJ Mark Smallman, STRAX DJs and an AV collaboration between Chromatouch & mashup supremo Sam Redmore. Also, STRAX is delighted to have Joseph Potts from Modulate back at STRAX.
There’ll also be lots of engaging craziness including Tagtool, Wiiwhorld, and 10-player Bomberman!

Facebook event here.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v8Hepvvd9bw&feature=player_embedded]