Centerline goes to Moogfest
How can we create instruments and interfaces that empower people to harness their creativity and create a better world?
This was the underlying question presented at Moogfest last weekend. Over the course of four days, musicians, technologists, makers, artists and other creative technologists converged in downtown Durham, NC, for concerts, installations, workshops, parties and other amazing experiences. Topics ranged from Transhumanism and Technoshamanism to Afrofuturism and Future Design.
Several Centerliners attended the festival; below are some of the a-ha moments (or just “cool shit”) that they experienced.
Global Synthesizer Project
A critical ideal of modern musical (and cultural) production is the idea of “modularity”: that by connecting a lot of small, custom pieces, you can have far greater creative flexibility than if you are working with a system that has been 100% organized in advance.
The modular synth movement is going strong, and Moog paid tribute to it with the commission of the Global Synthesizer Project. Working with sound artist Yuri Suzuki, they crowdsourced audio samples from around the world and put them into modular synth collections in the shape of the continents. Visitors could experiment with near-infinite sonic possibilities by adjusting knobs and making new connections.
Variety + Chaos = Harmony
GZA aka Genius
The founding member of the Wu-Tang Clan spoke on hip-hop and time travel, then crushed two sets at Motorco.
Fresh off the heels of his discussion and rap with Neil DeGrasse Tyson, GZA discussed his interest in science, his collaboration Dark Matter, and dropped some words of wisdom to creators everywhere: “Half long, twice strong.”
Conductive Ink = Amazing Touches
“What we are trying to do is create this software that can empower anybody to create little digital souls that they can then put into physical objects.” – Dr Jane Scott, Novalia
You might have marvelled at the recent McTrax project in which McDonald’s customers were greeted with a placemat that functioned as a fully operational DJ controller. If not, check it out and come on back. We can wait.
Dr Jane Scott’s talk provided an inspiring look into the technology that makes projects like this possible: conductive ink. Essentially, she’s perfected the process of silkscreening reactive circuits into paper. Throw in a cheap, powerful microcontroller, bluetooth connectivity and simple software for programming the sounds, and you have the ability to control a digital experience in a truly magical, tactile way…
That’s My DJ…What?
IBM’s own DJ Watson shared the stage with electronica pioneers Yacht for a “DJ Battle” of sorts.
Yacht would play a short sequence, and DJ Watson would compose a full structure around it in just moments. We saw that Watson has a distinct way of comprehending information about music theory and creating a musical track. This approach could also open doors to related pursuits such as music therapy or helping with getting past artist block.
His stage presence needs a little work…
Now Hear This….
For a musical taste of the festival, here’s an “audio tour” that we put together; a few tracks from some of our favorite artists who performed. This playlist runs the gamut from deep house to psych rock to rap to minimalist doom metal, so prepare thyself!
Synthesize Love, Y’all
As a proud North Carolina company dedicated to the full range of human expression and experience, Moog encouraged festival goers to “Synthesize Love” and oppose discrimination in all forms.