2011 Year End Review

2011 has turned out to be a pretty dense year. I think it’s always worth reflecting on what’s been accomplished over the last cycle. Here are most of the major projects I helped push forward this year.

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This was a huge year for Recombinant Media Labs. Or new mobile surround-cinema apparatus, the Cinechamber, made its debut this year to a European festival circuit supported by the ECAS network of festivals. We started out 2011 for a month long residency at Club Transmediale in Berlin. Then later on in the fall we set up at two more festivals, ORF-Musikprotokoll in Graz, AU and Cynetart in Dresden, DE, some of our best shows ever.

In the middle of all of these we developed a host of brand new 360-degree 10-screen content from Egbert Mittlestadt, Fundamental Forces (Robert Henke and Tarik Barri), Signal, Edwin van der Heide, Lillevan and Fennesz, Subshrubs, Lawrence English and Werner Dafeldecker, Louis Dufort, Ryoichi Kurokawa, Jade/Pita, and Naut Humon / Peter Tscherkassky.

Development for some exciting shows in 2012 has been progressing as well, stay tuned for some major announcements for future audio/visual casualty.

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The momentum at Keith McMillen Instruments also keeps building. While I largely removed myself from day-to-day operations at KMI this year to pursue some other projects, the stellar team that was built continues to grow and push out great products. This year saw the unveiling of the SoftStep to the world at the Winter NAMM Show. The SoftStep saw major press and uptake over the year, and has gone on to become one of our most popular products.

The later half of 2011 saw the introduction of the QuNeo, and subsequent groundswell of support for its kickstarter project to fund tooling for production. This innovative controller takes the Monome concept and adds pressure sensitivity over four points, making each pad like a joystick. It also features a gradient of multicolor LEDs under each pad giving a variety of feedback options.

Finally, we successfully completed the primiere of the first string quartet for K-Bow augmented sensor bows in conjunction with the Kronos Quartet and composer Doug Quin, Polar Suite. This is a landmark for live ensemble-driven electronic music performance and hopefully paves the way for even more ambitious projects with Kronos.

Violinist Jon Rose and I developed Palimpolin, an improvisatory solo work for processed violin. This work uses the K-Bow system to process samples and spatialize the sound over a  quadrophonic system with realtime control from the instrument.

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The majority of last year I stepped into projection mapping and architectural projection fully, completing many projects in conjunction with Obscura Digital. In May we completed the world largest projected surface, the Coca-Cola Skyscraper in Atlanta, GA, for their 125th Anniversary celebration.  The fall saw the completion of the interior projection mapping for the 100th anniversary of the San Francisco Symphony, a show completed with orchestral accompaniment.

For the 40th anniversary of the United Arab Emirates we completed two simultaneous exterior projection jobs; the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque and Fort Al Jahili.

Back home we unveiled Illuminique, a holiday show in the historic Emporium Dome inside the Westfield Centre Mall in San Francisco.

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Fabricatorz also made great strides forward this year on all of our many projects. In early January we helped create An Open Web, developed at a book sprint in Berlin in a weeks time. We also had some time to throw together a web based visualization of the book as it was being edited, http://wall.fabricatorz.com/.

Later in March I was fortunate enough to be able to get involved with the HyperAudio project with Henrik Moltke of the Mozilla Foundation. We completed a proof-of-concept for a rich HTML5 javascript system using an audio file as the timeline. This demo and a creative meeting later led to an interactive RadioLab

I gave a presentation about HyperAudio at the Libre Graphics Meeting 2011 Montreal. Fabricatorz also rolled out several releases at LGM, including major updates to the Open Clip Art Library, the release of the Open Font Library, and updates to Aiki Framework.

We also saw the launch of the MilkyMist video synthesizer. This innovative box contains an FPGA that is programmed to be optimized for video processing. But, its also a complete FPGA system-on-a-chip development board. Even more exciting; its all open-hardware and open-software, schematics and source code are all freely available.

Finally, movement continued on the Sharism project, including the release of our Beta Site. There will be many more Sharism events in 2012 as this project grows.

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In September was the primiere of Active Ecosystem installation at Sacramento Airport, a 14-screen interactive environment attached to a glass elevator shaft, with artists Camille Utterback and Michelle Higa. The piece reacts to time of day and elevator movements, painting stylized natural scenes inspired by the Sacramento airport inside the new SMF Terminal B.

At the new Nokia headquarters Obscura set up the Nokia Horizon Line installation, a linear canvas of micro-tiles visualizing information about Nokia customers world wide. We also   put a smaller multitouch installation for Lexus at the Concourse d’Elegance in Carmel, CA.

I was also honored to be added to the ME’DI.ATE Art Group’s Advisory Board this year. They produce the annual Soundwave Festival, one of the best festivals for emerging arts in the Bay.

Although I didn’t do as many speaking engagements this year, I did contribute to Hot Spots a projection mapping panel at the San Francisco Art Institute; presented some Kinect based projects at the Art && Code 3D conference at CMU, and was on a Digital Marketing Roundtable with the Society of Digital Agencies.

The Gray Area Foundation for the Arts had an amazing year of educational workshops, events and exhibitions. We recently had our 2nd annual Galvanize Gala which provided a great deal of support for a fantastic 2012.

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Of course all of these projects were made possible by a huge assortment of people, way too many to list here. Allow me to generally express my gratitude to everyone I’ve been fortunate enough to work with in 2011; we’ve all done some amazing things!