In honor of this anniversary we have released two books in print celebrating Bassel’s life and work.
Waiting… is a prose book by Noura Ghazi Safadi, a Syrian human rights lawyer, born in Damascus in 1981, written to her husband Bassel Khartabil Safadi from 2012-2015, while he was imprisoned by the Syrian government in Damascus.
The Cost of Freedom is an anthology written as a book sprint in Pourrières, France, in five days, from 2nd to 6th November 2015. The many contributions in this book offer unique reflections upon the price we pay for freedom, and a tentative program for the reader to reflect on the future of freedom in our times.
The proceeds from both of these books to toward the #FREEBASSEL campaign.
Bassel was also the founder of the #NEWPALMYRA project (for which I am Interim Director), dedicated to the preservation and continued development of Syrian cultural heritage as exemplified by the archaeological site of Palmyra, taken and vandalized by ISIS in October of 2015.
Been awhile since an update here, but things have been busy! Some news though; it is both bittersweet and with a great deal of excitement that I can announce I am leaving my full-time position as Director of Software at Obscura Digital.
In the last six years I’ve been fortunate enough to help Obscura create some of the most groundbreaking and largest scale experiential installations and live events in the world. The vast scale and variety of projects I’ve had the privilege to be a part of is daunting in retrospect. From our large scale architectural projections like the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, to integrated media in architecture with the AT&T Stadium, or new boundaries in immersive cinema like the Dubai 360 Sphere, we have always managed to push forward and break expectations under insane deadlines and design criteria. Our series of events awareness around climate change and species extinction at the United Nations, Empire State Building, and St. Peter’s Basilica shows the potential of spectacle to transcend beyond entertainment toward approaching social good.
It has also been a period of vast organizational change and growth with the company. In my time there I’m proud to have rebuilt the Obscura software department into what I absolutely believe is the greatest interactive software development team in the world. The sheer scope of what this team must accomplish to execute the design requirements of live performance, interactive installation, and built architectural spaces is hard to wrap your head around. The suffocating prison of human language has no power to convey the utmost respect with which I hold their tireless efforts to innovate and advance our technology.
As for the future, although I’ll still be supporting Obscura on a few big installations, I’m refocusing in the short-term on further developing the #NEWPALMYRA project, our ongoing programming at the Gray Area Foundation for the Arts, and yes, even some forthcoming news from Recombinant Media Labs. However, I’d also like to use this opportunity to work with more of you, particularly in finding ways to integrate art practice and technology development into integrative design thinking for purpose driven results, and research and development of next level experiential technology. If you have a interesting project, get in touch!
It’s been a fantastic journey with one of the most stellar and driven companies in the world, and I wish the whole team the best of luck in the future.
I recently had the pleasure of participating on a panel on The Aesthetics of Immersive Experiences at the Transforming Hollywood 6 conference at UCLA. It was a wide ranging discussion around large scale media experience and cultural infrastructure with some really fascinating panel members.
There’s Art all Around Us: The Aesthetics of Immersive Experiences
Moderated by Jeff Burke, UCLA
Exploring immersion via the new technologies of an era has long been a part of the avant-garde in theater, film, architecture, and other art forms. The panelists will share their ideas about what contemporary innovations by artists and technologists operating at the boundaries of commercial entertainment may herald for the future of immersive storytelling.Key questions for the participants include:
- What are new ways to create (fictional) overlays on everyday life (e.g., Project Tango, Hololens).
- What do these changes mean for world-building based storytelling?
- What will be the ongoing evolution of the film and television screen as each moves towards a mobile, context-sensitive, and personalized media surface?
- What will these new screens, contexts, and surfaces mean for storytellers?
- What are the implications of having the authorship of story and code increasingly paired in the creation of immersive experiences?
- And, finally, what next directions for immersion are suggested by direct interfaces between technology and the human body?
- Ana Serrano, Chief Digital Officer, Canadian Film Centre.
- Sara Thacher, Creative Lead, Walt Disney Imagineering Research and Development; previously experience designer for The Jejune Institute
- Barry Threw, Director of Software, Obscura Digital
- Fred Turner, Associate Professor of Communication, Stanford University
This presentation was in conjunction with a workshop on TouchDesigner given at Resonate.
This panel discussion is from the Connecting Cities symposium during the EM15, May 27th, 2014 at the Phi Centre, Montréal, Canada. The panel includes Greg J. Smith, Editor-in-chief of HOLO magazine, Nerea Calvillo, Curator at Medialab-Prado Madrid, Josette Melchor, Executive Director & Founder of Gray Area Foundation for the Arts, and myself discussing work at Obscura Digital and the way experiential and immersive media can support engagement with the city.
Some can’t miss 101 armchair pseudo-philosophy at the end.
Videos of my section from the EM15 TouchDesigner workshop in Montreal earlier this year have been posted. This section explores creating geometry with Channel Operators in TouchDesigner. Check out Derivative’s site for the rest of the workshops, from Ben Voigt, Markus Heckmann and Greg Hermanovic, and Mary Franck.
Cast of Characters
Barry Threw, 2014
Fiberglass, Permanent Marker
Limited Edition of 1/1
A collaborative community sourced work with contributions from:
Aaron David Ross
Greg J. Smith
I’ve known Darwin for many years through the MaxMSP programming community, but we’ve never talked this far in depth about experiential art and technology. We talked for over an hour and covered a huge range of topics from surround cinema, to interactive music technology, to projection mapping. There was so much in this hour that I wanted to go more in depth into that I think we’re going to have to do a part two sometime in the future.
We talked about Obscura Digital, the Gray Area Foundation for the Arts, the Recombinant Media Labs’ Cinechamber, Keith McMillen Instruments, and music school. We even ended by discussing the current situation with Bassel Khartabil.
This podcast is rapidly becoming a who’s who of people doing interesting work in art and technology, so I’m honored to be a part of the group.
This Tuesday, March 4th, we will be holding a very special Artup 3.5 event focused on sonic technology. The evening’s performances and presentations will address topics such as artistic practice as process, tool production as a creative act, open source software and hardware, ethical manufacturing, artist empowerment through learning to code, diy solutions and the inherent beauty of blank-slate devices.
Music and sound technology has been a huge part of the Bay Area art scene for many years, so we are looking forward to shining a lens on current work in this field.
When: Tuesday, March 4, 02014
Doors open at 7pm, performances and presentations begin at 7:30pm.
$$$: Admission is all ages and free
We’d like this event to revolve around Q & A, dialog and interaction among everyone, so bring challenging questions for our presenters and a desire to engage with your community. It’s what we’re all about.
In addition to the presenters we will have two special guests to give an overview of two sound based museum openings this week: Maryanna Rogers will discuss the REBOOT: music opening at the San Jose Tech Museum, and Ceci Moss will give an overview of Jacqueline Kiyomi Gordon: It Only Happens All of the Time at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, a part of their new Control: Technology in Culture series.
Brian Crabtree and Kelli Cain – Monome – http://monome.org/
Brian and Kelli are artists creating open source devices of undetermined use. Their new device, Aleph, is a powerful audio processor, synthesizer, noise machine and rapidly modifiable instrument – a platform for experimental practice and organic discovery. Brian and Kelli will perform with the Aleph and discuss concepts informing its design and purpose.
Peter Nyboer – Livid Instruments – http://lividinstruments.com/
Peter is a partner and the primary programmer at Livid Instruments, crafting custom controllers, DIY products and commercially available control surfaces. Their latest device, the Guitar Wing, is a wireless controller for guitar and bass complete with its own SDK. Peter will speak about the general challenge of designing blank-slate controllers versus one-to-one integrated devices, and what it takes to make something truly useful for musical and other creative endeavors.
Carr Wilkerson – CCRMA – https://ccrma.stanford.edu/
Carr is a System Administrator at the Stanford Center for Computer Research in Music and Acoustics (CCRMA), a multi-disciplinary facility where composers and researchers work together using computer-based technology both as an artistic medium and as a research tool. Specializing in Linux and Mac OS systems, Carr is a controller and software system builder, performer, instructor and researcher. Carr will present an overview of CCRMA’s culture, current research initiatives, and the many technical resources available to the ArtUP community.
This week, Disquiet Junto, a weekly collaborative music composition event (now in its 107th consecutive week) is honoring my friend Bassel Khartabil, a programmer and activist who’s been in prison in Syria since March 2012.
It is an open project with anyone welcome to participate. I’ll be joining and hope you can find the time as well.
Some thoughts on camera about Bassel:
From Disquiet Junto:
On Thursday, January 23, a special collaborative sound and music project will help raise awareness about Palestinian Syrian programmer and Creative Commons advocate Bassel Khartabil, who has been detained in Syria since March 15, 2012. As the two-year anniversary of Bassel’s incarceration approaches, the Disquiet Junto music community on SoundCloud.com will spend four days developing original sound works in Bassel’s honor. This week’s project will invite musicians to flesh out a work-in-progress that Bassel has, naturally, not been able to complete due to his imprisonment.
Late in the day each Thursday, a new compositional prompt goes out to members of the Disquiet Junto, who then have until 11:59pm the following Monday to submit a piece of music. The Bassel project will be the 108th weekly Disquiet Junto project. As of this date, over 3,000 original pieces of music have been uploaded to the Disquiet Junto group on SoundCloud by over 400 musicians from around the world. The Disquiet Junto began the first week of January 2012, and has continued weekly ever since. Past Disquiet Junto projects include the interpretation of polling data as a graphically notated score, the use of wind chimes as a percussive instrument, the creation of “goodbye music” for the Voyager 1 space probe made from the sounds of interstellar space, and numerous Creative Commons–inspired remixes of music originally published on netlabels.
The Disquiet Junto was created and is moderated by Marc Weidenbaum, the San Francisco–based author of the book Selected Ambient Works Volume II, based on the Aphex Twin album of that name. Subscribe to the Disquiet Junto email announcement list.
I'm Barry Threw. I work in global art and experiential technology as a consultant, designer, technologist, and curator.
If you'd like to collaborate, email me.
You can also find me here:
Look at a very small object, look at its centre.
gray area foundation
gray area foundation for the arts
keith mcmillen instruments
recombinant media labs