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Blinkenlights: After Debug Screen UpperWest Works

After long debug nights with multiple reflashings of 200 dimmers and only chaotic pixels last night was the big moment where the first of four screens starting to work as intended. On the first picture you see the first homogeneous pixels array on Upper West Screen - the second picture shows a letter loop directly from within VDMX (its originally from my Biometric Passport LoopCast).

Blinkenlights: Content Creation Tools released

BlinkenCreationTools.pngWe have now a whole array of content creation tools for the Blinkenlights house available. There is still one missing that I hope the Coding Monkeys downstairs will be able to pull off in time - its one where you can convert video loops directly into .bml files that can be played on the house - in the meantime so there are already available an extensive set of plugins for Apples Quartz Composer, The classic Blinkenpaint in the Stereoscope Paint edition and an enhanced Simulator with a record function. You can get the apple centric collection here.
Also there is now a Processing Library available. For those not familiar with Processing - its a Programming language for interactive media installations and with the processing blinkenlights library you are able to make programmable animations cross platform.

As said there is still more to come - also for the video peeps out there.


Blinkenlights: iPhone App released

BlinkenLightsiPhoneSim.pngThe Blinkenlights iPhone application is released and available on the appstore so you can watch the stream of pixels as it appears (or should appear ones its working) on the house on you iPhone with different viewpoints.

iPhone BlinkenSim on the Appstore


Blinkenlights: It blinks a bit

The first two days were the East Tower started blinking to the watchfull observer.

Blinkenlights: Jesus in a Blinkenframe

BMLJesus.pngThe Blinkenlights are driven by a protocol thats called bml (blinkenlights meta language) that protocol is actually pretty lovely to look at and I found jesus in it the other day ;)

Blinkenlights: A day off in Toronto

Yesterday the group had an invite to go to the island and have a day off in nature to relax so that we have the strength to go into the most stressful week ahead. Here are some pictures of the trip.



Blinkenlights: Arrival and 4th floor blinking

We arrived yesterday in Toronto which still has a late summer feeling with nice sunshine and t-shirt temperatures. After trying to control sleep deprevation induced breakdowns we also had a short visit to control center in the Toronto City Hall where we were surprised that the 4th floor (the floor that is the headquater) was already blinking (or blinken). Also the iPhone app has reached v1.0 and only needs to be approved by apple to be available on the app store.
The photos you see are my first impressions of the CityHall and the people on the project and the 4th floor blinkencentral.


Blinkenlights: Broadcasting from Kleinmachnow/Germany to Toronto/Canada and beyond

beamaztoBlinkenLightsTheFirstContact.pngTomorrow I will be leaving to London and then from there on Monday to Toronto. But before I even arrive we have managed to send some packets over there - packets of the electronic type that is.
My favorite VJ programm VDMX has gotten a Quartz Composer implant that in turns has a custom programmed implant that takes an input image and sends it out a as a blinkenstream to a proxy server. This proxy server can then be listened to by anyone with an internet connection - so to you or the guys in Tonronto (The CodingMonkeys of SubethaEdit fame - who are hard at work programming the iPhone app at the moment).
This all goes straight out of VDMX without anything in between - very sweet - vjing directly to the world so to say. I must say that this has prompted a bit of a shift in my perception of the artform - I will reflect about that after I am back from Toronto - I think its quite awesome.

As soon as there is an official version of the program that displays the data stream (mid next week) and an official proxyserver (tomorrow?) I will post it here - so you can watch what's on the towers or me practicing (not that much fun I guess)...
I will also post the plugins for quartz composer straight when I have arrived in Toronto.
this blog will see a new Category called "Blinkenlights" for those who are interested in my updates on the project over the course of the next 3 weeks. All quite exiting.

Of course there is also the official Blinkenlights Blog for more current information...


proto.lab: fader.flux

fluxfader.pngproto.lab proudly presents the first proto.flux production. Kiritan Flux made this handy little tool called fader.flux. Here is what it does:

fader.flux is a simple tool that maps the continuous controller values that come out of the midi-controller DJ2 from Faderfox into a non-continuous range of values and outputs them to the OSC protocol. This tool is mainly for use in conjunction with software that does not understand the 12 continuous controller values of the DJ2.

Mac Standalone Version (MacOSX 10.4+ Universal Binary) - 5.4 MB
Collective Version (Max/MSP Runtime Environment 4.6 required) - 1.4 MB
Win32 Standalone Version (Windows XP) - coming soon…

Panic on Wallstreet and beyond.

The fundamentals of capitalism are breaking down
former labour MP in England this morning on BBC worldwide.

The US government is as of this evening in official panic mode. Not that they will admit to it, just watch for their statements later tonight. The gravity of the issue is perhaps best illustrated by the fact that the politicians' staff members were ordered out of the meeting. That staff, of course, ironically (or should we say cynically) form the one and only barrier between their leaders and utter ignorance on what is happening.

At the Automatic Earth, two principles have always been unshakable and unmoveable.

The first is that all the virtual money, the casino toilet paper, created in the past two decades through the introduction of the "innovative and creative" financial -debt- instruments so lauded by the capo di tutti capi, Alan Greenspan, will have to disappear, never to be seen again.

The second is that this will lead to the mother-fcuker of all deflations. The only possible outcome left in its wake will be individual and societal debt burdens so high that the Great Depression and the wars it engendered will seem and feel like a sun-drenched dreamy all-the-icecream-you-can-eat kindergarten birthday bash in Disneyland.

from the highly respected financial blog "Automatic Earth" the blog that has been spot on with every prediction of the financial market since two years.

Official prediction is btw that Citibank/Citigroup is next - that would be the first bank where you then can see lines of people demanding their money - but no we are not in a financial crises at all - all is totally fine, you know its just a ripple and we are already on the upturn and the worst has been over since 12 month - you got to love politicians their distorted reality and the mass media amplifying and sucking in some poor sucker into their bubbled up view on the world - the elite is so out of touch that they do not even see their own house falling. If I would have time I would love to dig out all the comments from big Financial Institution, Politicians and MassMedia that said in the last 3 month that we are over the worst and the future looks rosy - I guess I would find hundrets of those, meanwhile there are tons and tons of bloggers activists etc that have been saying all along that this gets even more messy - you know ordinary people without business law politics study - people with common sense. Anyway back to work.


Lehman Bros failed alright but Merill Lynch?

Waking up this morning not expecting big news as it was the weekend and all and then the first headline I read is that Merill Lynch is beeing sold? Holy freak. While I am not a bank person and only understand half of what is written about the economy I do understand that Merill Lynch is in the top five of american investment banks - if not even in the top three. While there was lots of noise about Lehman Bros failure there was not even a chirp about Merill Lynch going down. Lets recap - Bear Stearns, Meril Lynch, Fanny and Freddy, Lehman Brothers - that is a hell of a list of failure for just 6 month! And it seems the failure rate is accelerating because after Bear Stearns there where 2-3 month of silence then comes Fanny and Freddy and only a month later the Lehman Brother and only three four days later Meril Lynch (still canīt believe that). Someone on some other blog wrote "Wallstreet is sinking faster then the Titanic" and I tend to agree. Investment Banks and Creditors are already victims - next up are the savings banks - if only one of those big ones collapses you have the super GAU. Interesting times indeed.

A good site too watch the banks implode is the bank implode-o-meter


Why we drink


How dangerous is the junior governor from Alaska? Matt Damon answers.

I let him speak because he does a damn good job of explaining how dangerous american politics might become for the world...

Oh and I like the reference to a bad disney movie - I can just see the plot in front of me - hockey mom is captured - her seven kids (representing the seven sins of course) are freeing her with hockey sticks and the bad russian emporer gets a hockey puck onto his forehead (without any blood of course) - happy end.
It could be funny if it wouldnīt be so serious.


Stereoskope - A Blinkenlights Installation


The word is officially out so I can talk about it publicly. Project Blinkenlights is awakening again and its bigger and more badass then ever. The Blinkenlights crew will turn the Toronto City Hall in Toronto/Canada into the biggest-analog-lowres-giant-dual-screen on earth. As seen before in Berlin and Paris every window will turn into a pixel with 16 steps of brightness and sustaining an impressive 30 frames per second picture feed across two buildings. Classic computer games, crazy controllers (*cough*iPhone*cough*Wii*cough*), love-letters and a custom tailored live VJ performance on the houses are all in play.

For the VJs out there is maybe of interest that a lot of the picture making process is driven through quartz composer - there will be even an official blinkenlight quartz composer plugin soon. That means not only can you preview your graphics in quartz composer to see how they look on the house (3d is in the works) but you can actually use quartz composer to stream videos to the blinkenserver that is then serving them to the house (30fps I mentioned right?).

The installation will light up mid-end september and stay on for about 2-3 weeks.
As mentioned I will do a live performance on the houses on the 4th of October - the night of the Nuit Blanche. Standing on the Nathan Philips Square in front of City Hall with music and all.

There will be a live stream of the feed that goes to the house and stay tuned here as I will be "live blogging" as much of the installation setup and tryout as my time permits. Its whicked and monumental and I am proud to be on the Blinkenlights team.

(thanks Tim for putting trust in me).

The official website.
The official blog

FaderFox - the ultimate Midi Controller Solution

DJ2_front_1.jpgI have been looking for years to get a "perfect" midi controller for my live visual endeavors. That is no exageration. I have high expectations toward a midi controller. I want to lug it around the world - so it has to be small enough. I want to a plethora of functions on it so it actually helps me perform and is not just a gimmick. It has to be robust to withstand outdoor gigs with sandy gusts and water spray as well as indoor gigs sweat dropping from the ceiling and 80°C heat from above lamps. It has to be scalable and adaptable to new software coming along and it somehow has to fit my own style of performing - which means the knobs need to be properly soldered on - the faders have a solid feel and the buttons been tested to withstand 1.000.000 times pressing.

I have been impressed with the Mawzer concept two or three years ago because it was poised to deliver on that promise. Yet the final product they came up with is much less extensible and much more expensive and much bigger then what was originally proposed - the midi controller for everyone it was not. So I was looking up on building your own. There are kits out there and with access to lasercutters through the web that looked like a good alternative. There was only one problem - someone would have needed to shower me with some time to make such a project feasible. Soldering, testing building rebuilding a midi controller is - no matter how good the kit you are bying - a task of months. Sure you have the perfect controller in the end for your needs but the time to get there I would rather spend on creating content that looks whicked.

Then along came a project (next blog entry in a minute) that requires to leave my trusty videomixer (an edirol V4 1st generation) at home because it ainīt going through the old route of outputting digital video through an analog cable back to a digital projector - but instead it goes digitally over the air directly to the very analog output. So the only piece of hardware that gave me direct access to my output outside of the laptop I have to toss out for that even - and since the event is quite big and lot of focus will be on what I am doing a replacement for that loss had to come.

But lets make a little detour. Some might ask "oh you have the laptop as input controller". Yes thats true and while I use the keyboard of the laptop extensively and I can feel blind where the cursor is when using the trackpad there are still some things that are not fast enough using the computer. For example changing the speed of a video clip. There is just nothing that allows you to quickly do that - quickly as in "make decission in one beat of a 120bpm clip and have the speed change at latest at the 4th beat or next downbeat". For that direct control is absolutely necessary.

So I had another information scavenging on the interwebs to see if there is any solution to my controller need. I looked at all the ones that are used by vj friends. Cheap ones, expensive ones. I tried to imagine using them and always came up with shortcomings. Most are just too big with too little functionality - not one would fullfill all my needs in one piece. I need Trigger pads, Sliders, Knobs, Rotaries and lots of them - like LOADS of them and as said in a small package to travel. I almost gave up seeing myself trying to move the mouse cursor in unmatched fashion to some crappy output.
Then I stumbled over faderfox. I donīt know how I got there and its even a german company - I have missed them all those years. Apparently they are very well known in the tracktor/live world of musicians - I jut had never seen someone using one of the controllers they offer nor have I ever stumbled across their website.

Their website at first put me off a bit - as you might have noticed in the beginning paragraph - I need some serious professional gear. I just donīt want anything to break half way through a performance. Things need to be sturdy and the knobs and faders and buttons of exceptional quality to not loose that great break in the music that might make a difference for the feel of a whole performance. So a website that looks like its done in the mid 90s and never been updated makes me suspicious as of the professionalism - yet in my midi research I found out already that the midi hardware guys donīt have a great sense of astethics when it comes to websites (doepfer anyone?). Also on their front page was something that was so ultimately intriguing that no bad design could ever throw me off before I figured out more.

What I saw was a modular midi controller concept of ultra small units that are made for ultra portability. And on top I could figure out instantly that all I need in control ever is there in a maximum of five units - with three units already controller heaven. I googled a bit more and found out that people who bought them liked them and where impressed with their professional feel. They are even running battery powered and three of them are not wider then a typical apple pro lappy. Also the DJ2 unit they offer pretty much replaces all the controllers of my Eridol V4 videomixer. So I ordered one.

The order was processed with human kindness (yes a person on the other end - seemingly the developer himself) and delivered in outstanding speed (next day after money arrived). But what I got blew all my expectations. Not only was the controller everything that was advertised - lightweight, professional build quality - faders as solid as they can be - but it was way more versatile then I ever thought. You know you look at a controller and see all the buttons and your mind maps them to functions, but this controller crams more functions in his small space then most other controllers I have looked at 10 times its size. Buttons are all dual configurable with the shift button - that means there are 36 button messages you can get out of the controller, the xy joystick (which ist sooo smooth) can send on four different channels - switchable in a nanosecond, the two rotary controller send out continuus data on 12 different channels and notes on four and have a "push down" event on eight channels. All Sliders and knobs can be muted to avoid jumps on the controlled buttons by holding down the shift key. Everything works flawlessly after a week of testing (so the rotaries are not supported by VDMX yet (nor by quartz composer) which sucks) and its a lot of fun using. There is a (chainable in case you get more controllers from them) poweradapter coming as extra add on, it all supports midi chaining and midi through. Batteries are included and are supposed to hold 80 hours (so through the longest club session ever if you are so inclined). I can recommend this whole heartly to anyone out there - especially vjs - looking for that perfect transportable midi controller with more control then the mind allows. The price - so it does seem steep for such a "small" thing - is fully warranted.


Test Test - we are broadcasting again

Note to myself - never say a switch of servers is going to be easy. Note to the world - we are back up and running.


prototypen.com dns switch tomorrow morning

I just want to send a message to the prototypen out there that starting tomorrow around 1 pm we are moving away from the developing server at bytecamp that we have been on since the beginning and onto the server farm in anticipation of some other stuff that has been happening behind the scenes here. E-mail to prototypen.com will not be affected but the blogs (edit and view) might be unavailable until the DNS update has been propagated through the tubes. We have set DNS propagation time to 1 hour so if all goes well it should be over in less then an hour. I am expecting everything working as normal after the move if you still see strange things happening afterwards please report here in the comments.

Free Press in America

Amy Goodman is the host for Democracy Now! - a free independent Internet, Radio and TV news organization (12 years in existence). At the day she wanted to cover the protest against the Republican convention she and some senior producers were arrested by police with freaking baseball bats. Goodman one of the producers also arrested has been officially charged with obstruction of a legal process and interference with a “peace officer" (no joke!) - or officer "I bring peace with my baseball bat". (Democracy Now Article about the arrest here.)
America is officially a police state. There is no free press and the country is not free anymore - forget about a free election as well. Hail Reichspresident McCain and his creationist running mate cheerleader Palin.


Speed Racer Meets Quad - future pop comic on the streets of Berlin

quadster001.jpgI am really not into any kind of motor sports but yesterday I came across a speed quad and thought I was temporarely beamed into a future that came straight out of a cool comic book. I had to look for a while and found that the vehicle in question is made by GG Quad. They only sell you a kit to roll your own. Sets you back between $55.000 and $65.000. I saw the one that you see in the picture in white and somehow all the motorcycles around it have lost all the "I want to be badass" appeal (to me at least). If you are interested go to the site for more pictures for various color combinations and addons.