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Alex Lampe, art director/graphic designer/programmer
Alex Lampe/Lewis Moberly, project design and development

“I never thought making music could be so much fun (or so annoying). This is so easy to use: click, move your mouse and get ready to sign a deal with Sony Classics.”—juror Dan Mavromatis

“A beautiful piece—I could really spend the entire day with this one. I particularly liked that the visual audio painting extended outside of its space into the area with the controls. This gave the whole thing a more fluid feel that is really in keeping with the piece.” —juror Allegra Burnette

Overview: Turning conventions on their ear, this is music you can see as well as hear. Begun as an experiment to explore the potential of sound, design and interactivity, Visual Acoustics is now being integrated into Web projects to create a holistic experience with the design and navigation.

• Mouse movements trigger sound
• Midi used with Soundfont technology to deliver sounds of instruments
• 1 month, 1 person

Comments by Alex Lampe:
“Visual Acoustics is an experiment in approaching music at its most fundamental level: instruments, notes and time. These elements are extracted and put in the hands of the user in a control system that’s as intuitive as painting. It transforms the screen into a multimedia canvas on which to compose and perform ‘reactive music and visuals’ in real time.

“Each movement of the mouse (the brush) represents an instrument and accompanying visual. The further the mouse moves over time, the more strokes (triggered by a timer) are made by your brush. The position of the brush on the screen determines which notes are played. Layers of different brushes can be built up by selecting multiple instruments, resulting in a stunning performance of improvised musical vision. Each brush or layer is variable, with the ability to control the volume and interval at which the brush paints onto the screen.

“Each musical experience can be created from a handful of sampled harmonious notes, chords and drumbeats, so the download overhead is minimal. The user will never experience the same soundtrack twice, yet it will have an underlying consistency through its ingredients.

“What began as an idea one rainy Sunday afternoon soon turned into an obsession. I was hooked the minute I started playing with the first primitive test piece I developed. Such a compelling concept to bring interactivity, music and image together as one. I was constantly inspired by surprises and found myself spending hours experimenting with design, tweaking the code and sampling different instruments to see what would happen. It’s amazing to build something that develops a life of its own.

“This prototype is just the beginning. The system has the potential to grow organically, with new sounds, visuals and interactive responses, fed by the exponential growth of the Internet. Multi-user environments could open possibilities of a real-time global orchestra.”


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