Performance: Live Visuals on Raspberry Pi

Role

  • Performance
  • Programming
  • Visual design

Timing

Spring 2014

One-week workshop

Creative Coding for Audiovisuals Helsinki

CC4AV Helsinki 2014 from Metasphere on Vimeo.

I attended the Creative Coding For Audiovisuals workshop in Helsinki, Finland in Spring of 2014. I have been increasingly interested in generative art and visuals created entirely in code over the last several years, and have gotten particularly interested in small cheap devices like the Raspberry Pi for their use in installations or performances.

CC4AV was a workshop and collaboration full of other sound designers, coders, musicians, and VJ's from all over Europe (along with me as the only American.)

CC4AV Example

It culminated in a live performance at mbar in Helsinki, with an "ensemble" of audio performers using PureData on Raspberry Pi and visualists using custom software created in OpenFrameworks. I was only in Helsinki for six days, so my time to build my performance tool was very limited. Fortunately I had been experimenting with both OpenFrameworks and the Raspberry Pi in the past, and got up to speed quickly.

Technical Notes

I created a completely original performance in OpenFrameworks that worked in tandem with my Korg NanoControl as a control surface.

Most of my creative coding experience was with Processing in the past - I used Processing to generate a lot of footage when I performed as a VJ in 2008 and 2009, and ultimately created a performance tool for VJ'ing entirely in Processing for a Logan Square Arts Festival Performance in 2011. However, I was always interested in OpenFrameworks and the speed and expressiveness of C++.

I went on to build a particle system that was heavily parameterized both through XML files and Midi, to avoid re-compilation on an underpowered device like the Raspberry Pi. It was an interesting experiment, and I enjoyed getting more familiarity with the standard template library as well as OpenFrameworks add-ons.

Reflections

The Raspberry Pi is a tool I keep returning to in my work. I think the flexibility to build software with tools like Pure Data, OpenFrameworks or Processing on desktop machines, and then port that same code over to the Pi for interaction or installation in the "real world" is very valuable. Obviously, we could have all performed using higher fidelity software Max/MSP/Jitter or Resolume as this event, but it was much more exciting to gather a workshop of students together with just a few hundred dollars worth of equipment and fill mbar with sound and light.