Ville Walo’s solo performance, Mortimer, is a contemporary circus theatre performance where juggling and electrical sensor technology come together. The focused, subtle performance juggles sound and video projections, brings small fluffy things to life and laughs at mortality. The performance’s soft hint of breath brushes the viewers’ skin.
Walo juggles with video projection and plays music by juggling objects equipped with movement sensors. Sensor technology and programming turn the stage into an interactive electronic instrument that reacts to Walo’s movements in perfect unison. Although the performance relies on sophisticated real-time computer controlling, its visual style is far from technology oriented sci-fi aesthetics. The stage is filled with humanely warm and clumsy everyday objects and jerky hand-drawn animations that create an intimate atmosphere.
Although Mortimer is a solo performance, Walo is by no means alone is the stage. He communicates with the objects he holds in his hands, with the puppet figures that share the stage with him, peculiarly assembled form various bits and pieces, with the skeletons and birds of the projected animations. Together they form the population of this special universe.
It’s a twisted little fairy tale world filled with death, naivety, playful cruelty and dark humour. Mortimer is a performance that provokes silent internal laughter.
Mortimer was first performed on the 16th of September 2010 in Kiasma Theatre, in the Museum of Contemporary Art, Helsinki, Finland.
Creation: Ville Walo, Anne Jämsä
Performer: Ville Walo
Lighting design: Meri Ekola
Music and sound design: Samuli Kosminen
Programming and projection design: Matti Niinimäki
Set design, costumes and drawings: Anne Jämsä
Choreographic assistance: Jyrki Karttunen
The next cat out of the bag. Mortimer. A performance piece coming to Kiasma Theatre in September.
“Feather light or dead serious?
Ville Walo’s solo performance, Mortimer, is a contemporary circus theatre performance where juggling and electrical sensor technology come together. The focused, subtle performance juggles sound and video projections, brings small fluffy things to life and laughs at mortality. The performance’s soft hint of breath brushes the viewers’ skin.”
Can’t really say much about this yet. You will have to wait until September. All that I’m saying is that I built some custom toys for Ville. Including a real-time projection mapping system and some juggling birds embedded with wireless sensors. The dates and more info here: http://www.kiasma.fi/index.php?id=2639&L=1
I built a little robot for the Jättömaa festival that happened a couple of weeks ago in Kouvola.
It was hanging by its neck from a tree in the festival area. You could power it up by turning the handle on its chest. This would cause it to come back to life and then die again by hanging.
I wanted to play with the idea of life and death of artificial beings – especially when it was the festival crowd that gave the robot its life and then left it to hang to its death. The theme also suited the festival site as it was used as an execution site during the Finnish Civil War.
Jättömaa was a nice small festival with interesting bands and artists, including Joose Keskitalo, Jaakko Laitinen & Väärä Raha, Katja Tukianen, Sara Milazzo (the lovely lady appearing on the video above) and many others. I have some random video clips from the festival that I might edit together in the near future.
The idea of the workshop/installation was that anyone could participate in the workshop by walking in, drawing their own character and then animating that character just by moving their own body.
This video shot by YLE for Keski-Suomen uutiset illustrates the process. (In Finnish)
The dances were streamed live to the internet. The first video (the last dance we did) has all of the characters on screen at the same time.
You can also browse all the videos over at the bambuser channel http://bambuser.com/channel/animoituliik. Unfortunately due to some technical problems, some of the dances were not recorded. Another issue is the sound. On some of the videos the sound is clipping very badly and on some of them there is no sound at all.
Almost 90 people came and drew their characters, 94 dances were recorded online and probably double that amount came just to see what was going on during the three days this project was running.
The movements of the participants were tracked by a custom built solution based on tBeta and Quartz Composer. The participants wore infrared “beacons” on their ankles and wrists that were being tracked by an infrared camera. The information was then sent over to Animata to animate the characters.
The infrared light can be seen weakly in normal photos as well:
Photo by: Sirja Moberg
Here are some photos from the workshop and behind the scenes. The first photos are from a little workshop that I taught covering the basics of Animata for some of our assistants.
A HUGE THANK YOU to Live Herring and all of the other people who made this possible.
Last week, I took part in the SenseStage workshop at the Hexagram BlackBox in Montreal. http://sensestage.hexagram.ca/workshop/introduction/. It was a workshop designed to bring together people from different disciplines (dance, theatre, sound, video, light) and cooperate in a collaborative environment with interactive technologies.
During the workshop, there were tons of sensors – light, floor pressure, accelerometers, humidity etc. – all connected to little microcontrollers which in turn were all wirelessly connected to a central computer that gathered all the data and sent it forward as OSC to any client conected to the network.
Basically, we had 5 days to complete an interactive performance sequence using the data gathered by the sensor nodes. This is what our group came up with.
We call it Treasure Islands and it’s a bit twisted interactive performance/game where a girl finds herself in a weird world where she is floating on a donut in the middle of the ocean with a mermaid talking in her head. She has to travel to all of the different Islands around her, and collect sounds from them in order to open a portal into this strange dream world for all her friends. Sounds like a good concept, doesn’t it? Check out the video and you’ll see that it actually makes sense.
There was a lot of sensor data available, but we ended up using just the pressure sensors on the floor and camera tracking. With a bit more time we could have evolved the world to be more responsive to the real world, but I’m pretty happy with the results we were able to achieve in such a short time. Our group worked really well together, which is not always the case in such collaborative projects.
Sarah Albu – narrative, graphics, performance
Matt Waddell – sound, programming
Me – animation, programming
And I guess I need to include some more technical details for all the people who check my site for that kind of stuff (I know you’re out there).
We used camera tracking with tbeta to track Sarah and used that data to move the doughnut and to make the environment responsive to her movements. All of the real-time animation was done in Animata, which really is a perfect tool for something like this, because it allows me to animate things really fast without compromising in quality. Max was used as the middle man to convert the TUIO messages and the OSC from the sensor network into the kind of messages Animata needs to hear.
We sewed some IR LEDs on the hat to help with tracking in a dark space.
Each island is an instrument that you can play with. Stepping on a certain area would trigger loops, add effects to your voice etc. Matt could explain the sound part better than me, but the video should make it pretty clear. it doesn’t reproduce the effect of the quadraphonic sound system we used though. Some visual clues were also triggered in the animation based on her movements on the sensors.
That’s pretty much it. If you have any questions, leave a comment and I’ll try to get back to you as soon as possible.
The second installment of my Mixed Up series has now seen the light. Let me introduce you to the Mixmaster 1200.
The Mixmaster 1200 is a wireless scratching device for the turntablist who prefers to deliver his/her scratches like a 5 star chef. As you can see, the Mixmaster does not have any beaters attached to it. This is because it has small laser powered plasma emitter beaters that actually heat up the airwaves around the device itself producing the unique sounding aural explosions.
Have you ever wondered what a banana mixed with a strawberry sounds like? Or how about kiwi-watermelon puree? Watch this video and you will find out.
I found this old blender from a flea market and noticed that the names of the different blending modes are very similar to the terminology used in DJing. So I decided to turn this kitchen appliance into a DJ mixer.
The audio tracks are triggered by inserting different fruits into the blender. The buttons on the front panel control the mixing modes and you also have two different types of transformer switches for cutting the sound in and out.
Not many people know this, but Concordia University in Montréal also has a toon department deep inside the maze that is known as the EV building. The university officials would prefer to keep this knowledge as a secret, since the brutal self torture that goes on inside the faculty would shock many people. In the same way that the Average Joe or Jane does not want to know where the meat inside his/her burger comes from, no-one really wants to know the shocking truth about the stories behind your Saturday morning dose of laughter.
When watching cartoons, people rarely think about the amount of time and dedication the cartoon characters spend on perfecting their sketches and routines. Unfortunately, consumers love to see toons getting hurt. There is just something special about dropping heavy anvils on the heads of unsuspecting cartoon characters that appeals to the majority of viewers.
Like in all fields of entertainment, the competition in the cartoon business is also very harsh. You are only as good as your last fall from a huge cliff. That´s why all the aspiring cartoon students at tooniversities across the world practice new and inventive ways of getting themselves hurt.
A group of activists from PETT (People for the Ethical Treatment of Toons) have been able to sneak a spy camera inside the Tooniversity facilities at Concordia University. Because of their brave action, all the dirty secrets inside the Tooniversity will be exposed. Please go to http://tooniversity.originalhamsters.com to find more information and sign a petition to stop this madness.
Here is a quick solution on how to get the analog inputs from an Arduino into Quartz Composer. For now, this only supports the analog values. Reading the digital input pins is not hard to implement, but I still haven´t decided what is the best way to do that.
Sending serial data from QC to Arduino is a little bit trickier, but I will definitely try to work on that also.
What do you need for this to work?
The Kineme Serial patch for Quartz Composer. Available here:http://kineme.net/release/SerialIO/20091206 (You will need to register and check the “I would like to beta test new and updated patches.” box in your user profile.)