PROJECT “PHANTASM” (A VISUAL INSTRUMENT)

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    MaxTheMoon
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    PROJECT “PHANTASM” (A VISUAL INSTRUMENT):

    0:01 – 1 Player (Myself with Two Candles)

    4:00 – 1 Player (LED Hoop) HD

    4:47 – 2 Player (LED Hoop & Poi) HD

    8:33 – 1 Player (Two Candles) HD

    10:54 1 Player (Myself with One Candle) HD

    “PHANTASM” is a theoretical Visual Instrument – together, we will explore its journey into increasing stages of physical reality!</p>
    What you see in my video is all happening in real time and space – it is what you would see if you were in the room with the performers or whoever is using this proposed device – there are no computers involved in this instance or manipulative after-processing. The footage is from my archive of early experiments.

    The magic that you see before your eyes is called video feedback – a chaotic visual phenomena that is the Yang to audio feedback’s Yin. The performers here are playing the video feedback like an instrument, using sources of light and shadow to control the experience… feedback is a major part of the organic consciousness that lives inside of SOMA. If you are familiar with “The Butterfly Effect”, this is a perfect visual illustration of that principle.

    More common instances of video feedback, as explored historically on CRT Televisions and lo-fi devices, display lights and patterns that could only be described as “emergent”, “living”, “cellular”, “fractal”, or some other word that is a synonym for “organismic”.

    I will include relevant demonstrations and documentation throughout this thread – I encourage you to do the same!

    What differentiates “PHANTASM” from its unorganized precursors is several-fold.

    PHANTASM” is designed for High Definition systems and video signals – the resulting manifestations are more fluid and organic, the colors far more vivid, and the actual light has a meaningfully physical presence – the use of this device is fully realized through pairing with a video projector. Fitting an entire live participant, or several, inside of the screen is simply not possible with CRT Televisions. The sophistication of the feedback’s response to the manipulation of light and shadow is also greatly enhanced, allowing a full range of motion, in addition to micro-motions if fully zoomed in. There is also no issue of “signal dropout” or loss of image for the projector or HD display, which would occur if you tried to achieve similar lo-fi glitch effects with a circuit bent video mixer. By adding several simple effects to the feedback loop; such as high saturation, color shift and inversion, strobe, image mirror, rotate, and zoom – you are able to unlock greater levels of complexity and control. Most of these effects were reproduced in my video by modifying the onboard settings of the camera and projector, but that is just the start.

    One of my major goals with “PHANTASM” is to put complete control into the hands of the performer. As it stands, manipulating a feedback loop is laborious, involving hardware menu diving, zooming in and out, and physical rotation of the camera, as well as any actual physical or musical performance. In the above video, I am manipulating the camera for the performers, but in prior instances of my own live performance, I have operated the camera’s zoom with its remote behind one of my candles. The settings modified in this way are not easy to switch in a live situation – it is very difficult to menu dive when the text is upside-down and backwards.

    In this project, we will explore various existing ways to achieve further control over “effects” and “steering” of this system, and hopefully, through these experiments, arrive upon a combination that translates well into a standalone hardware device that is as intuitive to use as video feedback is to play with. Even, and perhaps especially, a child could find awe and appreciation for this device and what it reveals. I could see it equally at home in a Children’s Science Museum, an art gallery, music festival, nightclub, underground cave, or your own living-room.

    Alternatively, but slightly less intuitive, this device could function in tandem with (open source) software, perhaps achieving a much greater level of evolving complexity. It would also be able to more easily interface with MIDI and audio, which is a potential that might make the tradeoff worthwhile. Going in this direction, we will explore variations of computer control, including performative ways to MIDI map effects using existing VJ software, to get an idea of what should be included in our more focused and simplistic live video mixer. This will be one of the immediately following experiments in this thread. Everyone is welcome to follow along, participate, and personally utilize any breakthroughs we may discover using available software.

    Ultimately, the final form of this project is unknown. It would be great to see a standalone device that easily connects to its output and requires no time to setup or even look at a menu during the time of performance. Ideally it will have some sort of infrared or Bluetooth control, potentially MIDI capable. First instincts say to put LEDs into the controllers; however, using external props such as candles to control something technological adds an undeniable magic that would be a shame to lose the potential for. The issue of adding a computer screen into the mix also takes away a small portion of the magic of this being an entirely analog process. There are decisions to be made.

    I am hopeful that through a series of increasingly informed experiments, with your collective input and potential assistance, a new Visual Instrument will be born. I am confident that whatever results from these efforts will be both beautiful and replicable in some fashion, assuming the final realization of “PHANTASM” is not commercial physical production… but I think that there is a good chance!

    Let’s take a collective step into the light and see if we can bring some back with us for the rest of the world!
    <p style=”text-align: center;”>AWESOME FORCES WILL EMERGE</p>

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