Winter Reflections

The title, Winter Reflections, comes from music I composed in late December of 1998. That music was originally for a video piece I was doing based on young children playing, running, and dancing in twirls on a perfect summer day. So, there I was at the beginning of winter reflecting on the sweetness of youth and composing music as an expression of that reflection. Hence the title. But as so often happens with the work of composers who take a modular approach, that music has found a number of different dancing partners including this video work.

The imagery was composed with ArtMatic, software that gives the user access to dynamical system algorithms represented in the user interface as a set of selectable flowcharts composed of selectable mathematical functions. The software is beautifully designed to encourage the user to experiment with complex dynamical systems at multiple levels (structures, functions, and parameters) and gives one almost instant visual feedback on what happens when the algorithms are modified, the functions are rearranged, and/or parameters are tweaked. Whenever I work with any piece of hardware or software (including ArtMatic) what I do is to seek out its quirks, odd turns, cracks, anomalies, and other oddities and then play with those to make my pieces thereby avoiding (hopefully) the cliches inherent in the voice of art product. The fact is that when I work with generative software (ArtMatic belongs to that class) I tend to actually incorporate far less than most folks who work in the electronic arts. Being in the field since 1967 and always being a serious student of the "voice" of individual art products certainly have a lot to do with my tendency to avoid dwelling on the surface of the generative process. Use this link to give ArtMatic a closer look.

Image set from Winter Reflections excerpt:

My interest in complex systems design stems from my early explorations of analog music synthesizers beginning in 1967. Thinking in terms of modular functions in all manner of configurations became second nature to me very quickly and since the late 1960s complex systems design has informed all my compositional work in the electronic arts of sound and light. Under the umbrella of Compositional Thinking I describe a good number of my pieces based on those design principles. Links for additional downloadable excerpts are also found there.

Please note that video on the internet in September of 2000 (when I started posting video excerpts) still has a long way to go for great image and sound quality. Nevertheless, even under current conditions there are ways of optimizing the internet video experience.

Ways to get the best results from this video file:

  1. Setting your monitor to a resolution of 640 x 480 will provide the largest image with no distortion. Finer resolutions will also work; the screen will just be smaller and the image compromised somewhat.
  2. With some browsers, Internet Explorer 5 for example, you can resize the the video by grabbing its window in the lower right hand corner and pushing and pulling it. If you resize the image adust your viewing distance to the monitor accordingly.
  3. Be sure you play the music on a good sound system; the speaker built into your computer is as bad as audio systems get. For less than $100 you can get a decent stereo sound system to connect to your computer and your listening pleasure will be greatly enhanced. For less than $50 you can buy decent stereo headphones. Never listen to music over the speakers built into your computer; they should be illegal.
  4. Video files are long, which means downloads are long. Let the file download in the background while you're doing something else with your computer. Or while the file is downloading take a walk and see what birds are playing in your yard or out on the street. If your sound system is turned on, the music will begin playing as soon as the video file is finished downloading. That's a good way to remind yourself you started a long download especially if you start working on something else in the meantime.
  5. To play the video you should have QuickTime installed. If you don't, download it at no cost from Apple.

To download the video excerpt from Winter Reflections (19.1 MB) click here. Be sure to download long video files in the background while you're doing other tasks with your computer or away from your computer.

Go to this page for links to more video excerpts.

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