What Moves You?

10 12 2009

General Project Information:

Questions: How will your project uniquely contribute to the Stanford community?  This project was developed primarily for Dance Marathon. It will allow our charitable Stanford community members to channel their inspiration and create art as they are participating in a much larger cause, a 24 hour benefit for AIDS.

What Moves You? gives those involved in service the opportunity to have an immediate way of witnessing their own community’s emerging identity. What Moves You? combines the intimate personal window offered by dance and film with interactive methods of media distribution. By developing a framework for this communication to occur en masse, I would allow for a cultural artifact to be explored by the rest of the student body.

By creating this project, I can give others the tools to express themselves through dance, without having to be able to make the moves themselves, I have never seen anything like this produced at student art events, and it is an opportunity to begin moving contemporary art beyond the walls of the gallery and into the more general stanford community.

Description of Project:

What Moves You? is an interactive video and collaborative art piece, to be installed at Dance Marathon 2010. It serves as an inspiration by allowing participants to interactively “remix” beautiful videos of their own dancing silhouettes, recorded onsite, by allowing user control of slow/fast motion and mixing multiple bodies together. The sculpture will consist of two parts: a recording area, and a projector and screen with a podium of rotary control knobs for interactive mixing of video and audio.

At the beginning of the marathon, the art piece will essentially be blank. Participants will go to the recording area and be video-taped doing 1 minute of dancing against a backlit backdrop. They will also answer the question: What Moves You? for audio recording. That recorded video and audio content will be processed by the computer server to fit in to the prefabricated Isadora framework for video and audio remixing. This will make it immediately available to the projector on the remixing side of the project.

Once a video is recorded and fit into framework (a process that only takes a few minutes), onlookers and participants will be able to to go to the projector screen and use rotary control knobs to remix content. Each looping dance clip will have four controls: 1) Transparency (like volume) 2)Speed (-2.5x to 2.5x speed) 3) Jog (jump to different position in the clip 4)Alpha Mask (something that edits out the background and lets multiple clips be seen with full transparency). These controls will be well documented, and are very intuitive–it almost becomes the video equivalent of DJ “scratching.”. The buttons on the rotary controls will launch that persons inspiring audio response to the question: What moves you.

Please see https://emergentsounds.wordpress.com for a video demonstration of what this remix process looks like. As the night goes on, clip slots will become filled by dancers. The project has the capacity to simultaneously hold 32 different clips, and when full it will become a unique cultural artifact of what occurred during the night. By empowering participants to dynamically create their own art experience, the content does more than just inform, it provides the building blocks for immediate and fulfilling personal action, and the result is a beautiful mirror of our collective experience and community of support. I see this art project as the capstone achievement for my MST major. It may sound crazy, but I absolutely have the skills and the experience to pull this off.


ASSU Arts Grant Portfolio

10 11 2009

This is a selection of past and current work to give a better feel for my current proposed project, What Moves You?

Current Project Teaser:

You Mix (User-generated Video Installation May 2009):

You Mix

Here is a sample audio track generated by live performance with the YouMix console:



The Machine (March 2009):  A User generated Sound Installation, fully interactive, installed at the Synergy 2009 Circus Party.



Monome Complete

10 11 2009



Finally finished it!  
4X8 Monome clone with 2 IR proximity sensors and a 3-axis accelerometer to process tilt.

I can use it with many of the monome.org patches, as well as a direct MIDI/OSC controller for Ableton Live and Isadora.   I just need to implement some data smoothing and scaling for the analogue sensor inputs to get them up and running.


Isadora, YouMix, and the Final Push

26 05 2009

Tis been a long and winding road.  My design is shaping up, and I have recently had a few interesting breakthroughs that will change how the installation will look.

1) Isadora and YouMix.  I developed the scheme that will run on my BCR2000 rack.  It consists of a simple array of volume knobs, each row coding for a different audio experience.  The first row are beats/textures.  The second row are speeches mined from youtube.  The third row are going to be found sounds, nature sounds.  I have conducted several test runs, and the results are amazing.  Participants are immediately drawn in to the simplicity of the interface, and they are able to create for themselves a really dynamic experience.

I though, ok, what will take this to the next level?  Video.  I started cruising and I found Isadora, developed by TroikaTronix.  It is a programming canvas much like MAX or PD, with elements that can be connected, except its main function is to process video.  It can take MIDI control messages and do almost anything with them, changing speed, position and image processing parameters.  I have assigned videos to live on the knobs, and users can “mix” them by changing the opacity and making certain layers more visible.  This adds a third dimension to the experience of YOUmix, sound, touch, and sight.  

2)  Live Layers:  My live looping apparatus is underway.  I have developed several test platforms, and have arranged 4 resampling banks with volume controls and record buttons for each track.  Users are able to press any key on the multisampler and trigger certain loops, and generate their own layers.  Once recorded, the tracks can be run through an “Instant Remix” knob.  The inputs from the multisampler will be paired with microphone inputs for live resampling. 

The first friend I showed this to described the game as “a challenge.”  With unmarked keys, there is a sort of Mystery Effect at play.  He advised marking each key with symbols so as to improve predictive capabilities and allow users to memorize and return to certain loops.

The architecture of the tracks, multisampler, and remix are in place.  I still am not satisfied with the quality of the content itself.  Over the next few days I will have to work and compose a better array of samples.  I also wonder if there is a better way to store the samples, maybe in drum rack.

Okay, so the countdown.  Immediate needs:  Get YOUmix in final stages.  Record textures for Live Layers.  Develop symbolic system and set of instructions.  Finish the monome (done soldering, I just flashed the arduino, trying to test out the hardware). 

Friday night is the proposed opening night.  Gotta get it done.

Theory and Practice

15 05 2009

The Self Educating Space


Michael Zeligs

Stanford University


May 14th, 2009




The self educating space is an intuitively designed classroom that incorporates contemporary theories of emergence into a freely available experiment.  Based on combining values of contemporary art and the Montessori education method, this installation allows self-directed learning to be easily accessed, with the story and experience of the space itself evolving based on user participation. This is achieved through user-generated content in a variety of mediums:  musical instruments, recordings, instantaneous and simple performance interfaces, collaborative artwork and available educational tools.  The end result is a gathering that places its “fingerprint” on the space, and informs both participants and architects of their power and capability as creators.




Imagine walking into a room of children at play.  The energy is palpable.  Dynamic worlds of interaction are created as individuals and small groups combine the material resources around them with the world of their imagination.  These childhood environments foster experiments that lead, ultimately, to emergent social structure and a general knowledge of the universe and its laws.


If this environment were to be created for adults and teens, with the children’s world of abstract “imagination” replaced by easily accessed network knowledge, and with “games” modified to include an artistic satisfaction equal to the intellectual capabilities of participants, then new societies, ideas, and collaborative works of art become not only possible, but guaranteed.


When creativity and education are immediately accessible, then even the most subtle form of curiosity is enough to enable a diverse and rich experience. A space having a distinct physical location reduces the “level of education required to look for and retrieve information.” The architect provides the algorithm, though the creation itself does not arise until the participants show up.


No longer does web research and learning require an isolated and purely electronic process. By re-engaging the concept of the forum, and encouraging collaborative use of the information tools that enable our diverse and instantaneous access to information, we re-socialize the classroom. This represents a “simultaneous centralization and decentralization of activities,”  because the unit is the network, and a classroom simply serves as a node for emerging trends.


Local knowledge centers on the web have mirrored this need for local environments to arise.  “The loss of community, is, in fact, the founding theme of urban sociology.” By fusing the digital and the local, we can overcome the notion that “there exist audiovisual products separate from the space they occupy and the bodies they are addressed to.”  Private headphones are different than speakers.  Reading to others is a different process that reading to yourself.  


The goal of the Self Educating Space is to translate into the physical world the user generated revolution that has developed on the internet.  Our contemporary movement understands that there is difference between a pre-programmed, received experience and a user generated one.  All an architect should do is provide the opportunity for expression.  Artifact and overall meaning are ultimately created by participants themselves. Here, intuitively designed digital music interfaces can enable non-musicans to immediately engage creatively with others in forming a unique sonic environment.


When audio games and other means of collaborative, improvisational artwork merge with freely-available educational resources, the social environment of a space is transformed. New ideas develop and are implemented from a grass-roots level.  Responsibility for synthesis and creation reside solely in the hands of the participants.  And the room reflects those changes, and emerges with phenomena that could never have been predicted by the architect alone.





Intuitively designed digital music interfaces can enable musicians and non-musicians to immediately engage creatively.  A few rules apply to design:  1) Simplicity 2) Immediacy 3) Clear functional higherarchy.


The idea is to create an environment that is inviting and powerful at the same time.  Far too often designers can integrate what seem to be, for them, very clear, higher-order connections (FX processing, signal routing, etc…).  Some of these concepts are more difficult to discern for a user not familiar with the vocabulary. The majority of participants will be satisfied, if, on first touch, they are able to produce satisfying music and understand how their interaction is contributing to the sonic space.  


Building up from this sense of simplicity and immediacy, the goal of a well designed sound game is to not to enable a leading edge performance, but to provide accessibility and extend the musical capabilities of all individuals.  Games should be accompanied by clear instructions, especially for higher order functions.  Specific controls to stop audio are necessary, and it is important to identify elements which will stop audio (filter sweeps, for instance, can eliminate audio entirely).  Creating a foolproof design that continues to radically expand musical capabilities and produce satisfying results is the balance that the classroom looks for.


III.  THE SELF EDUCATING SPACE  May 29th – June 4th, Synergy House Experimental Room.



The installation to take place on May 29th represents my immediate application of these theories.  The space will contain a mix of easily accessed collaborative art projects, multimedia presentations, printed materials, and sound games.  Below are the specific elements to be implemented therein.  


Design Elements:

 See Figure 1


Controller functions:

 See Figure 2




The Self Educating Space is a framework for magnifying the social and creative possibilities of a gathering place.  The factors that constitute successful interaction and hosting are infinitely scaleable…from producing vast warehouse sound tribe gatherings to day to day public education projects, this theory represents an approach.  The desire is to produce an architect who understands the needs of his audience and can provide an adaptive approach to being a good host and offering the collective resources for building relationships and facilitating the movement.




Castells, Manuel 2000. The Rise of the Network Society  Cambridge, MA; Oxford, UK: Blackwell.


Kelly, 1995 Out of Control: The New Biology of Machines, Social Systems and the Economic World  Perseus Books.


Lillard A, Else-Quest N (September 2006). “The early years. Evaluating Montessori education”. Science 313 (5795):


Ranciere 2004 The Politics of Aesthetics: The Distribution of the Sensible Tr. Gabriel Rockhill 


Wheeler, 2000.  “Cities in the Telecommunications age” Routledge.


figure 1:




The Self Educating Space

3 05 2009


      Imagine a space where you walk in and are instantly encouraged to become creative.  Where it is easy to take responsibility for your own growth, where resources are readily available and well designated.  Where it is easy to surprise yourself, where you would be asked to connect the dots.  When this connects with a social environment, when people come together and educate themselves in play, this is when ideas for the next step are born.

The Self Educating Space is a forum for exploring what is on our plate, for recognizing the familiar faces of individuals who actually show up, those that take active steps to feel personally responsible for the things they want to be part of.  Any education can only be offered, and it is up to an individual to decide for themselves whether they can take up the seed and run with it.  A successful classroom is one that makes that this transition into experimentation easy, and allows participants to readily share the results of their experiments with others.


A shared vocabulary develops among peers in this situation, where the implications of new knowledge can be discussed.  This kind of creative and collaborative atmosphere is essential for the advancement of any field, it is the necessary element for movements to begin.  An example:  Why is it that solar power and recycling have arisen from groups that readily attend bluegrass music festivals?  The new lessons of social ecology demonstrate that there is only one movement, and it gathers its energy from people of active minds coming together over simple events that inspire creativity and cultivate community.

The Self Educating Space represents my immediate contribution to creating this kind of education.  It will take the form of an event, to occur in a sound intallation at CCRMA Stage in June, 2009.  It will provide oppurtunities for immediate sonic experimentation:  Immediate and simple Sound Games.  Intuitively designed DJ labs.  Internet Learning Stations (computers and projectors on the internet, lists of google and YouTube Keywords).  Streaming Footage.  Live Looping Performance and Workshops.  And Beer.

Monome, Chop and Instant Remix

28 04 2009

The aesthetic has been developing.  I now understand the need to have an interactive workshop component to my performance.  I believe the final performance will consist of a simple live looping composition, paired with an installation that audience participants will be able to explore and alter their sonic enviroments.

This week I began fabricating the arduinome.  This will present an array of 32 pressure sensitive light up buttons for use in the installation/performance.  The matter here is assembling and wiring in order to get a functional prototype, as well as examining the open source community for max patches that will enable the run time.


Live looping experimentation got underway this week.  I assigned an array of record buttons onto tracks and developed a simple strumming pattern to capture on the fly.  The breakthrough came with the additon of Automator, a mac program which monitors mouse clicks.  This means I can build in the architecture for chopping loops for a loop that doesn’t exist yet, and feasibly capturing a loop and chopping it on the fly.  This can be paired with a MIDI Translator, which will translate a midi message into a mouse click.  I can then send a MIDI “AutoChop” Message froma device to chop a loop on the fly.

Another big development was more integrated use of effects chains in Ableton.  I was able to make an “Instant Remix” function that assigns five classes of midi numbers to certain beat-repeat/FX functions.  I can then use one knob to cycle through the FX chains, thus eliminating the need for on/off buttons or individual sends.  

What I’m seeing as far as the big picture is using these developments to facilitate my live-looping composition by chopping and remixing on the fly, as well as in developing user-friendly upper-level functions such as FX that can exist in a simple and approachable form, such as only needing one knob.