Gonçalo Mendes - MPP

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Masters Major Project Proposal, by Gonçalo Mendes. London College of Communication, University of the Arts of London.

Transcript of Gonçalo Mendes - MPP

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U N I T 1 . 3M a j o rp r o j e c tp r o p o sa l

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U N I T 1 . 3M a j o rp r o j e c tp r o p o sa l

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“One of the most significant factors promoting multidisciplinary

themes in art and design practice is the influence of new technologies.

By translating information to digits, the exploration of literal and

metaphorical equivalents is encouraged.”

( King & Kusters, 2001)


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Research QuestionHow can generative design systems be applied to a live music instrumental concert?*

*How can generative design systems enhance a live music instrumental concert?


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As the research question indicates, the proposal for the Major Project is the creation of a generative design system which, in direct connection with several musical instruments, will be able to create screen based live animations in constant harmony with the music played.


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Research QuestionAims and Objectives


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Music has always been a direction and a focus point both personally and professionally. The early interest in it and live performances has created an awareness of their transformation during the years. It is visible that this kind of events has been changing, especially the visual aspect. Great care is now given to the concert as a whole, not just the music.


U2 live concert concert. Coimbra, Portugal (2010).

Nam June Paik - PaikAbeVideo synthesizzer, one of the first video experiments ever created.

This phenomenon, generally associated with VJing, and its evolution has been evident in electronic and pop music for the last 30 years, but it is quite new within other music genres. ”Vjing actually came into existence with the rise of electronic music at the end of the 1970s, and broke through at the beginning of the 1980s with house music”. (Faulkner, 2006)

The musicians now approach the concert as an unique life experience, therefore they use new technologies to proportion remarkable and unfor-gettable audiovisual experiences. Music is, after all, not just a form of art but pure entertainment.

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Processing website - Some of the tutorials availabe

AntiVJ - 3Destruct3Destruct is an immersive installation, a large semi transparent cube that generates light an sound, and as the visitor walks through, he loses his landmarks in this non-linear uni-verse that destroys any spacial coherence.

Now more than ever, so many different and accessible technologies are available that it is possible for the musicians themselves, in direct col-laboration with visual artists, create the environment and experiences they wish. Thus, the objective is to apply a new and innovative graphic method of communication which can, hopefully, contribute to the future of live music and events experience. Although it is a area already highly explored, incorporating generative design systems in live music creation can be a new approach on how to create graphics for a live event. The intention is to create a system which builds a direct connection between music and graphics: a bridge between music and live visuals. By creat-ing this system the designer can be seen as the means for creating the audio-visual experience, absent in the process of creation.

Len Deighton has compared generative design systems with a recipe. By continuing this reasoning we can consider the designer as the recipe maker, while the musicians would be the cooks. In this practical case, the role of the designer is to create a set of rules using software applica-tions that would transform the musicians instruments sound into an unpredictable, yet in tune, visual outcome. Thus, musicians would always have the graphics synchronized with their music, since they would be the ones creating them. The way each one of them played, would directly and immediately affect the visual outcome.


To do so it is necessary to get holds on a free software called Processing, which relates software concepts to principles of visual form, motion and interaction. ”The Processing language is a text programming language specifically designed to gener-ate and modify images. Processing strives to achieve a balance between clarity and advanced features”. (Reas & Fry, 2007)

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As for the purpose of the project, it is known that music industry has suffered a metamorphosis and now more and more musical artists depend on ticket sales from live concerts to drive their careers. This transforma-tion is directly connected to its constant adaption to the evolution of technology and therefore to public demands. Technological innovations are not likely to slow down and the artists are increasingly using them to their own advantage. ”Old media have little choice but to play by the new media rules”. ( McLuhan, 1994)

So we are led to believe the natural tendency for concerts and live events is increasingly incorporate more visually artistry and technology is providing new and affordable experiences. “Today’s audience wants to be entertained in more and more exciting ways and concert visuals can do this.” (Faulkner, 2006)


Radiohead concert

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Battles live concertHMV Forum. London , UK (2012).

Since their lead singer left the band, Tyondai Braxton, the band adopted an intelligent approach. Once their last album with was played exclusively with guest voices. In live concert they have -as seen in the pic-ture- big screens showing videos of singers doing the acutal singing. This is a clever way to introduce the missing musician and it also adds a strong visual component to the show.


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Research QuestionAudience


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The target audience for the project is the public who will attend the live event. Although it is currently broad and not a well defined group, it will narrow down depending on the band chosen and it’s music style.

This proposal benefits mainly the musicians who would be providing a new and effective experience to their public. Also, the public would benefit indirectly, since the final outcome is made for their own enjoyment and to proportionate a lifetime experience.


Murcof + Simon GeilfusTheatre Maria Matos. Lisbon ,Portugal (2011).

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Research QuestionContext

D-Fuse / Beck TourFor this concert D-Fused designed a backdrop con-taining three transparent screens, using five projectors. The aim was to create a hypnotic 3D textual backdrop to complement the songs and performance.


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Before proceeding, it is important to briefly define VJ and VJing. Vj, abbreviation of Video Jockey, is the name given to the person who creates artistic practices related to visual performance in real time. The key features of VJing are the creation and manipulation of images in real time, through technological means, and to an audience in dialogue with music or sound.

The project that we’re about to take can be seen as VJing. “VJs enhance the overall atmosphere by visualizing sound. Improvising with various digital media, vjs enable us to experience new forms of expression in live visual performance. More than any other art form, VJing is about the now. An instant reflection. A moment in time...”(Faulkner, 2006). But for many, VJing is an eye candy for the clubbing generation, an audio-visual wallpaper. We see it more as a way to enhance the overall atmosphere by visualizing sound. A profound audio-visual art form distinctive to performance in the digital age.

Exploding. Plastic. Inevitable.Live concert.This band, alongside with Pink Floyd, was one of the fisrt bands rock bands to introduce a visual spectacle during the live concert.


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Considering the project similarities with VJing and it’s direct relation with generative design systems, we can state that this proposal is inserted in two areas of study; Design Process: Investigating practice, methods, media and materials; and Visual Dialogue: Time, image, sequence and narrative structure. Within these two areas, two subjects will be studied in depth. In the Design Process we’ll be focusing on generative design systems, while on the Visual Dialogue focus will be given to the evolution of the screen based visual arts and VJing.

In order to accomplish the project proposed it is essential to clearly define generative design systems and how to approach them. By doing so, we’ll be not only understanding it’s history, but also how different from traditional graphic design it is and how it has evolved. According to ‘One One Studio’, generative design systems represent a shift in the way graphic design is practiced. Instead of envisioning and shaping a definite visual form, the designer is able to create a space of possibilities from where and endless set of forms can be generated. In this approach the algorithm becomes the actual design object. These different generative processes that create the algorithms can be divided in two groups: order (system) and disorder (chance, error, collaboration). All these notions need to be taken in consideration and studied. The success of the project relies on how appropriate are the design sections or generative processes to the music chosen.


Brian Eno - 77 Million PaitingsThis work consists of a software that cre-ates the randomized music and images that emulate a single screen of one of Eno’s video installation pieces.

Sound Input Lines

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JPEG Fuck*erDisorder - Error

Sound Input CylinderDisorder - Collaboration

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Along with generative design systems, it is crucial to study evolution of audio-visual experiments and how they are connected with specific music genres. Both the evolution of audio-visual experiments and the impact of new technologies on the music industry should be understood. Not only how they directly affected the sales, but also how it has been changing music itself and live concerts.

Attention will also be given to semiotics and how it relates to music genres. Analyzing compositions, sounds, styles, genres and bands backgrounds in order to craft a concept that will visually enhance the overall performance with environment, texture, emotion and story.

This project can be seen as a hot pursuit of the ideal interaction between music and visuals. An installation that creates an intense symbiosis between audio and video, making the concert a true experience for multiple senses.


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AntiVJ projection.ANTIVJ is a visual label focused on the use of projected light and its influence on our perception. Clearly stepping away from standard setups & techniques, AntiVJ presents live perfor-mances and installations, providing to the audience a senses challenging experience.My intentions are to approach AntiVJ with my proposal for a collaborative effort.


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Action Plan


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In order to this project achieve its objectives, it must first define generative design systems and how to approach them. Then, focus will be given to music graphics, semiotics, music live performances, visual art and artists that explored live animations. Simultaneously, when the musician/band is chosen, time should be also spent lis-tening to their music and looking at their music graphics history. Other musicians in similar music genre will be inspected as well.

Only after analyzing the topics previously mentioned the program-ming starts. It will be necessary to learn how to use the software Processing for the project purposes. Also very important, and prob-ably one of the most crucial parts of this proposal, is to successfully connect the instruments with the software created.

A written concept for the project to clarify the concept will then be written. It is essential to convey an idea in its simplest form, without preconceived notions of colour or aesthetic choices. This idea will then be used to start generating visual designs.

With this in mind, producing the visual materials will be the very last phase of this project.


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Action PlanBibliography


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Faulkner, Michael (2006). Audio-visual art +vj culture. London: Laurence King Publisshing / D-Fuse.

Helfand, J. (1997). Six (+2)essays on design and new media. 2ª ed. New York: William Drentel.

Heller, . S. & Drennan, D. (1997). The Digital Designer: The Graphic Artist's Guide to the New Media. New York: Watson-Guptill.

Klanten, R; Ehmann, S; Bourquin, N; Tissot, T (2010). Data Flow 2: Visualizing Information in Graphic Design. 2ª ed. Berlin: Gestalten.

Reas, C. & Fry, B. (2007). Processing: A Programming Handbook for Visual Designers and Artists. 1ª ed. Cambridge, Massachusetts: The MIT Press.

Shaughnessy, A. (2010). How to be a graphic designer without losing your soul. 2ª ed. London: Laurence King Publishing.










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