Sunday, April 13, 2008

Futuristic Design Challenge Gets Going

In the prior entry covering the Kromatron, I made a passing reference (with linkage) to the fact that it was being entered in a control surface design challenge being put on by Yuri and company of Create Digital Media. Well, the entrants have been registered and assembled, and likewise the judging roster has been released. Included on the panel are the venerable Roger Linn, synthpop maven Liz Enthusiasm of Freezepop, Create Digital Music progenitor Peter Kirn, and sound design instructor Matt Ganucheau of Expression College for Digital Arts.

Included among the entrants are the Kromatron, a whacked-out sawblade, an audio device made from a deconstructed bicycle and a tape player, and more. In addition to Komega's device, Evan Morris of fame has also entered "The Box", a visually reactive custom device built to control Reaktor, while also eliminating the need to look at the computer screen. Another exciting entrant is Ammo Box, the brainchild of Nathan Ramella, also known as the guy who hacked Ableton Live-- an under-described turntable/midi hybrid setup that's short on specs, but has an impressive youtube video. An altogether ecclectic mix of homebrew hardware, each of these devices seems to explore and exploit answers to fundamental questions about how music is controlled, and how it could be controlled. To put it simply, the manufacturers of music hardware simply never exhibit the kind of raw creativity seen among the entrants of this contest. Built by a mix of established semi-pros and previously unheard of garage wunderkinds, none of them are "safe" enough in terms of marketability to ever see the light of day under any other circumstances.

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