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Golan Levin on software (as) art

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Imagine spending seven years at MIT and research laboratories, only to find out that you're a performance artist.


I'm also a software engineer, and I make lots of different kinds of art with the computer. And I think the main thing that I'm interested in is trying to find a way of making the computer into a personal mode of expression. And many of you out there are the heads of Macromedia and Microsoft, and in a way those are my bane: I think there's a great homogenizing force that software imposes on people and limits the way they think about what's possible on the computer. Of course, it's also a great liberating force that makes possible, you know, publishing and so forth, and standards, and so on. But, in a way, the computer makes possible much more than what most people think, and my art has just been about trying to find a personal way of using the computer, and so I end up writing software to do that.

Chris has asked me to do a short performance, and so I'm going to take just this time -- maybe 10 minutes -- to do that, and hopefully at the end have just a moment to show you a couple of my other projects in video form.

Thank you.


We've got about a minute left. I'd just like to show a clip from a most recent project. I did a performance with two singers who specialize in making strange noises with their mouths. And this just came off last September at ARS Electronica; we repeated it in England. And the idea is to visualize their speech and song behind them with a large screen. We used a computer vision tracking system in order to know where they were. And since we know where their heads are, and we have a wireless mic on them that we're processing the sound from, we're able to create visualizations which are linked very tightly to what they're doing with their speech. This will take about 30 seconds or so. He's making a, kind of, cheek-flapping sound.

Well, suffice it to say it's not all like that, but that's part of it.

Thanks very much. There's always lots more. I'm overtime, so I just wanted to say you can, if you're in New York, you can check out my work at the Whitney Biennial next week, and also at Bitforms Gallery in Chelsea. And with that, I think I should give up the stage, so, thank you so much.

Video Details

Duration: 14 minutes and 40 seconds
Country: United States
Language: English
Genre: None
Producer: TEDTalks
Views: 229
Posted by: tedtalks on Mar 24, 2009

Engineer and artist Golan Levin pushes the boundaries of what’s possible with audiovisuals and technology. In an amazing TED display, he shows two programs he wrote to perform his original compositions.

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