octal_hatch (2003) is a series of works based on materials generated using a live video feedback system. The setup consisted two antiquated video mixers (equipped with various wipes and internal effects), assorted cameras, monitors and a laptop processing and feeding footage through itself and into the system. These source materials were then edited, layered and reprocessed using various softwares and hardware techniques.
The idea first presented itself to me when Matmos asked me to play contrabass on the track "Snails and Lasers for Patricia Highsmith" from the album "The Rose Has Teeth in the Mouth of a Beast". From them I got the idea of making an abstract work that had conceptual links to someone who had deeply influenced my life and work. In my case I decided to do an "abstract portrait" of the composer and architect Iannis Xenakis.
The sonic materials used in the works have direct links to Xenakis' electronic music in that they mainly use his UPIC System and an implementation of GenDy written by Alberto de Campo in the software programming language supercollider.
The UPIC sounds were generated years before, performed live to DAT tape while I was working in France as music assistant at Les Ateliers UPIC. The GenDy code uses a stochastic algorithm that Xenakis invented and called "dynamic stochastic synthesis." Also to note, currently the hardware dependent UPIC is replaced in my studio setup by the UPIX, a software only version created at CEMAMu just before they were sadly shut down.
The UPIC (an acronym of Unité Polyagogique Informatique du CEMAMu) is a drawing tablet linked to a computer, which has a vector display. The user draws waveforms and volume envelopes on the tablet, which are rendered by the computer. Once the waveforms have been stored, the user can compose with them by drawing "compositions" on the tablet, with the X-axis representing cumulative duration, and the Y-axis representing pitch. The compositions can be stretched in duration from a few seconds to an hour. They can also be transposed, reversed, inverted, and subjected to a number of algorithmic transformations. The system allows for real time performance by moving the stylus across the tablet.
The title comes from the name of one of the UPIC pages "performed" in the work, a sort of cross hatched image which to me at the time resembled an eye.
Portions of the work premiered in Bristol England as a part of the Sonic Arts Network "Connectors" event, and the parts of the version posted here was first screened at The Ninth Annual Activating The Medium Festival in San Francisco, CA.