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Make It ‘Til You Break It: Electronic Art


Workshops and performances by Pete Edwards, Merche Blasco & Thessia Machado, Sofy Yuditskaya & Eric Barry Drasin, and Alex Nathanson & Dylan Neely.

This series explores the tools and techniques involved in the creation of hybrid audio and visual artworks including installation, interactive environments, and film/video/sound performance. Emphasis will be placed on tactile interaction and manipulation, and the experimental use (or mis-use) of common technology and re-purposed equipment.

This beginner’s course is suitable for anyone who has ever wanted to hack their projector, TV, or game controller, but didn’t know where to start. The series will consist of 3 classes and a performance evening covering a variety of common and accessible techniques including Open Source Programming, Arduino, Circuit Bending, and working with interfaces.

The aim is to educate students thoroughly enough so they can complete simple projects and have a foundation for further independent learning. The program also seeks to educate students on the intersections between analog and digital media art, with a focus on cheap and accessible tools. Students are encouraged to take all the classes as a series, but can take them as individual workshops.

All workshops cost $5 for additional materials and tools, but students must supply their own computers with Pure Data already installed (download here). For workshops 1 and 3, students must supply their own Arduino. We’ll be working with the Arduino Uno ($25-$30). You can purchase one in NYC at the NYU Computer Store and Radioshack (call your local store to check availability), or online at Adafruit Industries (ships from NYC), SparkFun, Maker Shed, or Modern Device.

Performances by Pete Edwards (Casper Electronics), Merche Blasco & Thessia Machado, Sofy Yuditskaya & Eric Barry Drasin, and Alex Nathanson & Dylan Neely
Date & Time: Friday, June 28th – 8pm
Entry: $5 -or free if you register for all three workshops

Workshop 1Circuit Bending and Arduinos – SOLD OUT
Instructor: Peter Edwards
Date & Time: Saturday, June 29th – 2pm
Materials Fee: $5
Introduction to circuit bending with Arduino. This workshop will demonstrate to students how to hack simple circuits and re-purpose children’s toys in the name of sound. In addition to bringing your laptop and Arduino, please bring a dollar store children’s toy to be modified. The device must be battery operated and generate sound.
[EXPAND Class Description]
In this workshop we will do two main things. We will be opening and looking at the guts of various electronic devices like kids toys, answering machines, alarm clocks, keyboards, etc. Anything battery powered with push buttons. And its often good if it makes sound. The variety of devices we work on depends on what you bring in. Then we’ll cover a few techniques for using the arduino to control various aspects of these devices. These techniques will utilize transistors and home made vactrols to electronically “press” buttons on the devices (such as a snooze button, or a toy drum pad) and modulate variable parameters (such as pitch or volume).[/EXPAND]

Workshop 2Programming in Pure Data – SOLD OUT
Instructor: Sofy Yuditskaya
Date & Time: Saturday, July 13th – 2pm
Materials Fee: $5
Introduction to the open source programming language Pure Data. The workshop will focus on working with sound and video.
[EXPAND Class Description]
This hands-on course is a comprehensive introduction to the basics of visual programming in Pure Data. Participants will learn how to design and compose “patches” or programs. No prior experience is required. Topics and concepts include data flow, audio and video signal manipulation, and sending and receiving data. We will work with live audio processing and modulation, writing custom filters for video, importing libraries and creating custom output signals for video. This workshop is designed for beginners, and will give you a working toolset to create your own generative audio and video projects.[/EXPAND]

Workshop 3Interacting with Arduinos and Pure Data – SOLD OUT
Instructor: Merche Blasco
Date & Time: Saturday, July 20th – 2pm
Materials Fee: $5
This class will provide an introduction to basic electronic sensors as we explore the possibilities for interaction between Arduino and Pure Data.
[EXPAND Class Description]
In this course we will learn how to make very simple and effective gestural interfaces to control audio and video. We will be using piezos elements and photo resistors as sensors that we will connect to the Arduino board and learn how to use them to control different parameters in our Pure Data patches via Serial Communication, or translate them into MIDI parameters to control other audio software or synthesizers. Additionally and if we have time, we will be installing the Capacitive Sensing library for the Arduino and learn how to use different materials (food!) to control our interfaces.[/EXPAND]

About the instructors & performers:

Merche Blasco is a multimedia artist/engineer developing new tools for Electronic Music Performance that create site and time specific experiences. As a her alter ego “burbuja” she has performed in venues and festivals in Europe, Canada and USA: SONAR Festival in Barcelona, Mapping Festival in Geneve and Sonic Art Circuits in Washington, among others. She has collaborated with artists such as Chicks on Speed, Cristian Vogel and Lucy Orta. She came to NY thanks to a Fulbright grant to take part in the Masters Program in ITP/NYU where she continues as a resident researcher. In the last two years her focus shifted to NIME research and Electroacustic Improvisation and her work has been selected for the NIME2012 (Michigan) and NIME2013 (Korea) conventions. Her piece “Espongina” was recently awarded with “People’s choice to Most Unusual Instrument” in the Margaret Guthman Musical Instrument Competition 2013 (Atlanta).[/EXPAND]

New York/Amsterdam based artist Peter Edwards has been designing and performing on experimental instruments and musical environments for over a decade under the name Casperelectronics. His work explores the definition of intended functionality and consistently challenges the process of performance. He works extensively with interlinked sound and light generation to create immersive musical experiences.[/EXPAND]

Thessia Machado was born in Brazil and now lives and works in NY. Her work investigates the physicality of sound and its effect on our perception of space. Lately she’s created pieces that also function as unorthodox instruments – sculptures and installations that have a real-time, live component. Pieces in which the expressive potential is still active and changeable as the viewer interacts with them.
As a extension of this practice, and under the moniker link, she also performs electronic and electro-acoustic experimental music with hand-made and modified instruments.[/EXPAND]

Alex Nathanson is a creator and organizer of images, sounds, and events. He has been hyperbolically described as a, “video effects guru,” and poorly described as, “difficult to describe.” He collaborates and performs regularly with Dylan Neely and Man Forever. Currently, he is an artist in residence at Flux Factory.[/EXPAND]

Dylan Neely is a composer/performer based in New York City. His music has been performed by groups including Quartetto Indaco, Mills Contemporary Performance Ensemble, Mills Improvisation Workshop, and Caedmon Quartet, and played by The American Composers’ Orchestra and The Salome Chamber Orchestra. As a violinist-composer, he frequently performs with the video artist Alex Nathanson. Their collaborations have been presented throughout Europe and the United Sates. He has performed with musicians including Paul Cantelon, Angela McCluskey, Wadada Leo Smith, and Roscoe Mitchell.[/EXPAND]

Sofy Yuditskaya is a media artist and designer working in whatever she can get away with. Her work ranges from street performance to techno-ocult rituals and hacktivism. She has worked on projects at the Eyebeam Center for Art & Technology, the ARS Electronica Center, the Netherlands Institute voor Media Kunst, and the Games for Learning Institute.[/EXPAND]


Make It Til You Break It: Electronic Art is part of Flux Factory’s 2013 educational initiative, Make It Til You Break It, a series of hands-on workshops that teach practical skills and culminate in a group activity among participants. It is supported, in part, by National Endowment for the Arts, the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council, and the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature.
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