Cycles 720 


by Craig Allan is an hybrid visual/audio sequencer built using VVVV and Ableton Live with a custom M4L patch.

The earliest musical notation was chiseled on stone tablets in cuneiform, but it wasn’t until the Classical era of music that we developed the standard arrangement of notes on bars we know so well today. Now, it’s handy having a universal language for music, but in the era of computers, is that language something we need to see? Or could we compose and play music through manipulating some other set of visual symbols?

That’s largely the ideology behind Cycles 720, by Craig Allan of Numbercult. It’s a proof-of-concept A/V sequencer, meant for large venues, that allows someone to compose music simply by drawing shapes.

"In part I hope it inspires people to think of alternative compositional avenues to break free from the constraints of a given program, but mainly I hope that it brings a closer union between A/V systems, and a more immersive experience," Allan tells Co.Design. "I think the ability to construct music and real time graphics in tandem as part of live performance is developing apace."

As of right now, the music is built from the interplay of lines and circles. But playback isn’t a linear, left-to-right page-scanning process. Instead, the geometric abstraction becomes its own automaton, cranking and blinking with elasticity and mechanical logic. In spite of that, Craig Allan doesn’t want composers to read these shapes too literally, as they might notes on a page--and so it seems he’s programmed his own system with a bit of give. He’s specifically after a 'translation' between screen and sound, which to me implies that something could be lost (or gained) in translation from eye to ear.

"I don’t think there should be a strict one-to-one relationship between the geometrical elements of a piece and the sound itself," he writes. "I think you need to develop an aesthetic language that gets the balance between the sound and what’s happening on screen."


Source: Mint



Cycles 720, vvvv, real time, generative, Interactive


Notation. Calculation and Form in the Arts (2008) is a comprehensive catalogue (in German) edited by Dieter Appelt, Hubertus von Amelunxen and Peter Weibel which accompanied an exhibition of the same name at the Academy of the Arts, Berlin and the ZKM | Karlsruhe. (ZKM)

Notations 21 (2009) by Theresa Sauer features illustrated musical scores from more than 100 international composers, all of whom are making amazing breakthroughs in the art of notation. Notations 21 is a celebration of innovations in musical notation, employing an appreciative aesthetic for both the aural and visual beauty of these creations. The musical scores in this edition were created by composers whose creativity could not be confined by the staff and clef of traditional western notation, but whose musical language can communicate with the contemporary audience in a uniquely powerful way. (Notations 21 Project)

Grid Index (2009) by Carsten Nicolai is the first comprehensive visual lexicon of patterns and grid systems. Based upon years of research, artist and musician Carsten Nicolai has discovered and unlocked the visual code for visual systems into a systematic equation of grids and patterns. The accompanying CD contains all of the grids and patterns featured in the publication from the simplest grids made up entirely of squares to the most complex irregular ones with infinitely unpredictable patterns of growth, as editable vector graphic data files. (Gestalten)



Messa di Voce (2003) by Golan Levin, Zachary Lieberman, Jaap Blonk, and Joan La Barbara augments the speech, shouts and songs produced by a pair of vocalists with real-time interactive visualizations. The project touches on themes of abstract communication, synaesthetic relationships, cartoon language, and writing and scoring systems, within the context of a sophisticated, playful, and virtuosic audiovisual narrative. Custom software transforms every vocal nuance into correspondingly complex, subtly differentiated and highly expressive graphics. Messa di Voce lies at an intersection of human and technological performance extremes, melding the unpredictable spontaneity and extended vocal techniques of human improvisers with the latest in computer vision and speech analysis technologies. (Golan Levin)

VJ: Audio-Visual Art + VJ Culture (2006) edited by D-Fuse. A major change has taken place at dance clubs worldwide: the advent of the VJ. Once the term denoted the presenter who introduced music videos on MTV, but now it defines an artist who creates and mixes video, live and in sync to music, whether at dance clubs and raves or art galleries and festivals. This book is an in-depth look at the artists at the forefront of this dynamic audio-visual experience. (Laurence King Publishing)

META/DATA: A Digital Poetics (2007) by pioneering digital artist Mark Amerika mixes (and remixes) personal memoir, net art theory, fictional narrative, satirical reportage, scholarly history, and network-infused language art. META/DATA is a playful, improvisatory, multitrack digital sampling of Amerika's writing from 1993 to 2005 that tells the early history of a net art world gone wild while simultaneously constructing a parallel poetics of net art that complements Amerika's own artistic practice. (The MIT Press)

Tim Wright is a musician, composer and video artist based in York. He is perhaps best known as a producer of unusual electronic dance music released under his own name and the pseudonym Tube Jerk. His music has been released by some of the key labels in the field including Tresor, Novamute, Sativae and GPR. In recent years Tim Wright has in some respects returned to his experimental roots and has been exploring generative and algorithmic approaches to audio visual composition. (Tim Wright)

Paul Prudence is an artist and real-time visual performer working with generative and computational systems. He is particularly interested in the ways in which sound, space and form can be synthaesthetically amalgamated. 

Paul Prudence has performed and lectured at numerous international shows, festivals and conferences. Researcher and writer at Dataisnature. (Transphormetic)