Thursday, October 30, 2014

Monolith 2.0 by Tim Thompson

Monolith 2.0 appeared at Burning Man in 2009, and was the same size (11 feet high) as the Monolith in 2001: A Space Odyssey. The theme that year was Evolution, and just as the original Monolith triggered jumps in human evolution, Monolith 2.0 triggered jumps in the musical expression of people who discovered it. It was also a study in contrasts - one side was a simple visual instrument (a blackboard with colored chalk) and the other side was a complex two-person musical instrument with over 100 buttons, 32 velocity-sensitive pads, 4 multitouch surfaces, and 2 LCD displays. Passers-by could immediately play music with individual notes and drum hits, typically quantized, looped, and scale-enforced. A little study of the interface - reading the button labels and LCD displays - was rewarded by allowing deep manipulation of two synchronized 5-track MIDI loopers driving synthesizers and audio effects. The installation was running on a small battery-powered computer with 15 USB devices plugged into it, and was running 24x7 for an entire week. VIDEO:

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