Syzygryd: Public Sculpture

Syzygryd Software Preview from nicole aptekar on Vimeo.

Syzygryd is a town square for the collaborative creation of music. It’s a public space, it’s a sculpture, and it’s a professional musical instrument. It’s the most beautiful expression we can imagine of the joy we take in community, music, technology, fire, sculpture and architecture.

Three large custom hardware grid sequencers. Each controls a single instrument and they share a clock, so they’re all synchronized. By controlling time, pitch, and harmony, these devices make it easy for people with no musical training or talent to create melodious compositions.

The consoles are arranged at three equidistant points around a 60′ diameter circle, far enough apart that the participants can see one another but can’t communicate verbally. Each console reflects the state of the others. Three people collaboratively create a continuously evolving piece of music without communicating, except through the music itself.

The center of the circle is a huge metal tornado of cubes, pulsing with synchronized sound, light, and fire.

Such a massively collaborative and multidisciplinary installation requires a rethinking of the traditional strategy for building large scale art. To this end, Syzygryd is being built not by one single arts collective, but by combining forces among a number of discrete arts communities.
IA – Interpretive Arson
FPL – False Profit Labs
AHI – Ardent Heavy Industries
GAFFTA – Gray Area Foundation for the Arts

Our current design and build crew, and a bit about everyone’s background. Names are alphabetical by last name. As the project progresses, we’ll add lots of people to this list!

Nicole Aptekar
Fancies herself all manner of maker, with a blatant love for color and light. Has been an instrumental force in large scale arts experiences since 2005, from fire art at Burning Man, to custom glass sculpture installations around the globe, and even fireworks shows in the SF Bay Area. She specializes in translating design concepts into CAD drawings.

Mike Ashmore
A renaissance geek; an all-purpose hacking fixamaholic. Writes all manner of software, only occasionally hurts self with things involving electricity. Cut / chipped artistic teeth on Spurious Causality. Trained by the US Air Force to repair avionic systems on F-16 aircraft; also holds a B.S. in Computer Science. Specializes in odd conversational tangents and detailed technical discussions.

Ian Baker
Founding member of Interpretive Arson. Has taught flame effects, fire performance, and fire safety classes at The Crucible and AHI Camp since 2006. Produced flame effects for The Crucible, The Nekyia, Copper Lantern Fire Theater, and others. Specializes in wearable propane devices. Works as a software developer, broadcast engineer, welder, machinist, fire performer, EMT, and photographer. In his spare time, enjoys flower arrangement and aerial acrobatics.

Tom Cavnar
Audio Engineer. Comes from a professional theatre background; 12 years experience in live sound for theatre and the performing arts. Experienced sound designer, recording engineer, and audio editor. B.A. in Theatre Design and Technical Production; MFA in Theatre Sound Design. Employed by major audio manufacturer doing technical support and service for their digital audio product line. In his (not so) copious free time he climbs on rocks and tries to play guitar.

Ben Chun

Steen Comer
Has been stringing cables and/or pushing buttons at events since 2002. Specializes in realtime video, generative design, and interactive electronic art. Works as a Flash developer, VJ, and lighting/video tech. Physically incapable of attending an event without trying to work it.

Emma Dannin
Has a great love for all things artistic: musical, visual and synesthetic experiences rank extra high. Since the age of 5, Emma has played some manner of instrument, starting with classical piano and clarinet and then moving on to more electronic forays. Emma also has a background in human computer interaction and cares a great deal about good user interface design. B.A.s in Cognitive Neuroscience and Music Performance, with the inklings of a Masters in Cognitive Science. Currently, Emma spends her days building useful and intuitive software and her nights making video art, photography, electronic and acoustic music and killing zombies.

David Fine

Mary Franck
Mary Franck is a new media artist who explores the aesthetic and social possibilities of digital technology through interactivity programming, digital video, and physical computing. Her work combines the digital and the tangible in order to create new relational environments: work that is adaptive, responsive and unpredictable. She is especially interested in programming anthropomorphic behavior into technological works, computer code as language and the stories that can be woven out of interactivity.

Ed Hunsinger
The web guy that helps manage much of the virtual presence of Interpretive Arson. Has worked on and helped run Dance Dance Immolation, 2pir, and his own personal flame effect. Has a B.A. in Computer Science, runs a web media company, and enjoys pranks and hijinks in his spare time.

Matt Hornyak

Morley John
Founding member of Interpretive Arson. Has produced playa art installations independently (1:2.7 Billion, 2004; Letters to a Young Poet, 2006), with Interpretive Arson (Dance Dance Immolation, 2005-2009; 2PIR, 2008), and with Michael Christian (Elevation, 2008). Specializes in volunteer coordination, project logistics, and flame effects. Has a Masters degree in Civil Engineering and works as a geologist and engineer.

Michael Juarez

Iris Lapalme
Artist specializing in Intaglio printmaking, with a background in construction and a B.A. in art from UCSC. She has also worked in other forms of printmaking, painting, sculpture, mixed media, installation art, performance art, photography, and enjoys building things. In her spare time she swims and looks for people to play water polo with.

Chris Macklin
Requisite physicist on hand. Has worked in theatrical lighting and sound for a while and produced a few big parties back in Ithaca. Working on a PhD in building quantum computers from superconductors and another in audio mixology using a pair of turntables.

Scott Parker

Nathan Seidle
Founder of SparkFun Electronics. Specializes in embedded electronics including PCB layout, circuit design, microcontroller programming, designing for manufacturing, and reducing labor and part costs through commercial contacts. Professional herder of cats (currently 72 employees). Worked with Jen Lewin on Pool installation (BM 2008 and 2009). Created specialized wireless bootloader to remotely reprogram 120 Arduino+LED installations saving hundreds of hours of labor. Holds a B. S. in Computer Science and Electrical Engineering.

Jascha Sohl-Dickstein

Jonathan Stray
Founding member of Interpretive Arson. Specializes in software, electronics, and project management. Has a master’s in computer science and worked as a technology lead and project manager for Adobe Systems for nine years. Designed and built the Dance Dance Immolation safety systems and coordinated with government authorities to obtain all necessary permits for DDI’s run in Denmark in August 2009.

Jean Rintoul

Mike Thievoldt

Currently runs a commercial audio recording facility and music production company. His background includes a degree in classical guitar and composition from Vassar College and many years working QA for audio and video software as well as large scale collaborative systems for audio and video editing.

Apr 14, 2010
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