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Nomadic Soundsters Summer Showcase

“Ocean” by the Nomadic Soundsters Blue Team

In March the Nomadic Soundsters (NS) 2021 Residents located in various parts of the world (US, Canada, Japan, Thailand, Tasmania, etc.) were presented with the theme prompt “Fragile States”. The NS 2021 Summer Showcase is a premiere of the virtual collaborative works created by the residents.

Program Notes for “Ocean”

“Ocean” represents the Blue Team’s first long distance collaboration and response to the writing prompt of “fragile states”.

The first music segment of the piece features Yunfei as primary composer, with additional elements added by Tang and Jeremy.

The second music segment started with a generative composition provided by Jeremy, and was embellished by Yunfei. The third musical segment features the piece “Lost Letters” by Tang.

The choreographic elements of the piece were inspired primarily by the movement of the ocean, and was created through a series of improvisational explorations. The music inspired and influenced the speed and quality of the movement in the final piece, in addition to the desire to produce three properly distinct experiences for the viewer. The dance footage and the majority of the ocean footage came courtesy of Sammy, shot on an iPhone. The short transition ocean shot and audio came from Yunfei (also via cell phone). Jeremy combined these with additional original footage of Pennsylvania streams. Video processing, done in Touchdesigner, includes audio reactive elements that determine how/when video clips appear, using an element of randomness (another reflection of fragility).

Blue Team Members:

Yunfei Li https://www.yunfeilimusic.com/
Supakorn Wongsumdang https://soundcloud.com/supakornwongsu… Jeremy dePrisco http://www.jeremydeprisco.com
Sammy Gerraty (movement artist) Currently based in San Francisco, Sammy is, above all, a manifestation of the desire to do absolutely everything all at once – less of an artist, more of a walking mental breakdown relying on the arts for sanity. She has and continues to create work about grief and loss on a personal and planetary scale, and hopes that art can help her form an understanding of herself and others in the face of tragedy. Dance and dance choreography in collaboration with live music and the California outdoors are her transcendent language of choice, though she dabbles in costume/lighting design, acting, spoken poetry, and painting.

Learn more about the creative process for this work here: https://www.nomadicsoundsters.com/pro…

Learn more about Nomadic Soundsters: https://www.nomadicsoundsters.com/

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Blog Video Art

My Touchdesigner Journey

Some Touchdesigner samples on my YouTube channel. These really just scratch the surface of what I’ve been doing.

TouchDesigner is a node based visual programming language for real time interactive multimedia content, developed by the Toronto-based company Derivative. It’s been used by artists, programmers, creative coders, software designers, and performers to create performances, installations, and fixed media works (from Derivative web site).

Why Touchdesigner?

After a few years working with Magic Music Visualizer (also a great video animation and processing application) I wanted something a bit more robust. The COVID lockdown, followed by the drab winter of 2020-21 left me with time to focus on learning a new skill.

Most of my learning came throughout November 2020 to February 2021 via YouTube tutorials by the very supportive Touchdesigner community. I treated this like a college course, with daily lessons, building along with the instructors (not just watching passively). I estimate that at 30 hrs/week for four months, I logged at least 480 hrs of focused education, probably more. And of course, I am still always learning and exploring.

Using Touchdesigner for live performance

One of my primary motivations to learn about Touchdesigner (TD) was for creative live audio-reactive visuals, both for my own performances and others. I soon found TD was much more than just a visualizer. I also found that I could build things that would not otherwise be possible in other tools.

So far I’ve used TD in a live context several times, feeding signals into OBS (Open Broadcaster Software) via NDI and Syphon for live broadcast.

This performance uses a video mixer that I built within Touchdesigner, taking the place of the scene switcher in OBS. All of the video generation and broadcasting is running on one machine.
Proof of concept for some ideas that combine TD and the Elektron Digitakt.

To further explore TD, I made some videos for my wife’s 4th grade class.

To get more practice, and to take a break from my own creative work, I offered to make some videos for other artists. This also served as a helpful use case while developing my JDRenderEngine, a pet project that leverages TD to overcome some of my frustrations with traditional video editing platforms.

“Yellowcake” is an album by musician Breakfast that features 10 videos I made in Touchdesigner.

What’s next?

There’s a lot more that I’d like to share on this. I’ve created a lot of experiments – with and without music – that I think people would enjoy. Just as my music has been exploring chaos, noise, and probability, TD has allowed me to explore those concepts visually. However, the work is time consuming. With COVID lockdown lifting, and with some other higher priority projects picking up, I’ve had to step back from TD a bit. The weather is also much nicer now, so I’ve been trying to get outside more – away from screens. I still create something new weekly, so perhaps I’ll post more of that content soon.

At the moment, the big weakness in my setup here is the GPU on my mid-2015 Macbook Pro. Things run pretty hot, and some functions in TD (like Line MAT) don’t even work properly on the MacOS. I am now trying to decide how to justify the purchase of a more powerful machine to continue development and learning. For now, Touchdesigner remains a fascinating tool in my toolbox for creating things I never would have thought possible even a few years ago.

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Blog Video Art

Collaboration with Breakfast

A new collaboration with my friend Tom Dennehy (AKA Breakfast)

One fateful night in the early 90s, at an open mic in Bloomsburg, PA, I met Tom Dennehy. His mix of Dr. Demento-style originals and Weird Al Yankovic covers immediately endeared him to both me and, my future wife, Audra.

Life was never the same after meeting Tom. His combination of humor, musical smarts, and global vision have been a pleasure to observe throughout our friendship. Every interaction has been an education (as well as a lot of fun).

Careers always took us in completely different physical directions. But whether Tom was writing to me from India while taking khayal singing lessons, or (more recently) chatting on Zoom, we’ve always tried to stay in touch. Our last major collaboration was in 2003-04 with tabla player Bulu Rahman in a short-lived fusion experiment called Moonlight Masala. Somewhere in WVIA’s archives is a Homegrown Music performance of that group.

For many years, Tom has lived on the West Coast, adopting the moniker Breakfast. He also plays with improv groups The Wyatt Act and Mission Delirium. He’s a thoughtful multi-lingual wordsmith, multi-instrumentalist, and also teaches music and English.

During lockdown, Tom wrote 10 new instrumentals in his living room on his laptop (in Garageband no less, though you wouldn’t know it). At the same time, I was studying Touchdesigner and various visual techniques. I was starting to build what eventually became my JDRenderEngine, and I really wanted to put it through its paces. While I also do music, I wanted to collaborate with someone else on this experiment. So we decided to join forces – his music, my visuals. The result is Yellowcake, now available on Bandcamp and YouTube.

The brilliant, complex music centered around saxophone, electronics and odd time signatures, stands on its own. The visuals add another later of strangeness that we both had fun creating. Check out the playlist below and enjoy!

YELLOWCAKE YOUTUBE PLAYLIST

Music by Breakfast, Visuals by Jeremy dePrisco

YELLOWCAKE YOUTUBE PLAYLIST