Alchimia - live cinema performance by NoiseFold (2008).
Alchimia is a live interactive cinema work that draws equally from the visual and sonic arts. This networked duet explores the use of infrared sensors, microphones and midi control instruments to animate an evolving matrix of virtual 3-D forms, which are imbued with life-like aesthetic properties. The project is a collaborative effort created by artist-performer-programmers David Stout and Cory Metcalf.
Situated at the nexus between the modernist tradition of visual-music and current transdisciplinary explorations fusing media art and science, Alchimia integrates multiple digital techniques including real-time 3-D animation, mathematic visualization, recombinant non-linear data-base, artificial life simulation, image to sound transcoding, complex data feedback structures and additional algorithmic processes used to generate both sonic and visual surfaces, skins and textures. In Alchimia the 3-D forms are capable of emitting their own sounds resulting in a surprising array of sonic expressions induced by the shape, size, luminance and movement of the visual object itself. The kinetic behavior of these “synthetic organisms” includes morphogenic expansion and contraction controlled by the hand gesture of the performers or automated by a bank of 16 low frequency oscillators. Alchimia is unique, in that, the sound is not an illustration of visual properties but rather the direct and simultaneous result of manipulating the visual field. To further complicate the often unpredictable behavioral properties, the organisms or avatars are programmed to be sonically sensitive to each other and to external acoustic inputs initiated by the performers to evoke a wide range of “life-like” recursive audio, visual and kinetic phenomenon. The result is a theater of alchemical transformation and emergence existing within an intricate cybernetic system. The generative performance instrument utilized in Alchimia makes unique demands on the music-video performers, who find themselves containing or reining in chaotic behavior, as often as nudging or stimulating their independent-minded avatars to “mutate, dance and sing”. The endlessly folding objects, synthetic life forms or theoretical geometries defy easy anthropomorphic categorization. Organic images of cellular life, nerve networks, serpentine colonies, collapsing architectures, plant structures, teeth, bone and explosive phallic dystopias may come to mind.
NoiseFold is a leading interactive sound-art and live cinema group founded by artist-performer-programmers, David Stout and Cory Metcalf. NoiseFold create films, interactive installations and perform live cinema works utilizing Artificial-Life techniques. These works can take many forms including ecological simulations, bio-mimetic animations and responsive video environments. NoiseFold performances are described as “a visual music theater on a symphonic scale, where “lifelike” avatars emerge, evolve and emit a startling array of sounds; from pure noise and chaotic rhythms to shimmering melodic textures.” NoiseFold presented their first world premiere at the Festival Internationale d’Art Video in Casablanca, Morocco in spring 2006. Their performances, which have included the UNESCO Creative Cities Summit, the New York Electronic Arts Festival, Interactive Futures in Victoria, BC and “Chinati Weekend” in Marfa, Texas have garnered entusiastic reviews and a growing audience. The pair received the New Mexico New Visions Award for innovative animation and have been recently nominated for the United States Artists fellowship. Stout is also the recipient of the Harvestworks Interactive Technology Residency and the Sun Micro Systems Award for Academic Excellence (2004) and was nominated for the both the WTN World Technology Award (2003) and the International Media Art Prize (2004). Stout & Metcalf currently live in New Mexico where they are designing Archipelago, a networked installation environment in the form of a “live” artificial ecosystem. The project, which includes collaborating scientists from both the Santa Fe Institute and Scripps Oceanographic Institute, explores the creative nexus between real-time animation, immersive environments, multi-player computer games, complexity science and ecology.