Wednesday, May 23, 2012


Recently Hays and I were invited to speak in Madrid at a 3 day technology conference with an emphasis on mobile and how apps are impacting our lives in fields ranging from education to entertainment. We presented a bit of our work alongside other artists, designers and developers who are doing very innovative things in mobile. Most notably, Jorge Drexler (best known for winning the Oscar for Best Song for the film Motorcycle Diaries) introduced an app he's been working on a mobile app that allows users to effect the flow of a song lyrically instead of musically -- aside from being a very interesting concept, the interface design was stunning and it gave us some new ideas of how to approach visualizing non-linear music. We also had fun chatting with Max Whitby, the visionary founder behind TouchPress -- they've produced such apps as Elements for iPad as well as Bjork's interactive app for Biophilia).

Above: The venue, which is also used as an arena for a circus.
Below: David Cuartielles, co-founder of Arduino, demonstrates a high-tech Ouija board he's working on.

Below: This was an incredible installation/game we happened to stumble upon near the festival venue. This is Hays holding up his cell phone and interacting with this full screen game that covers the entire side of a building with LED. The light from a cell phone is detected and then becomes the controller for a snake that roams the pixels of the screens, hunting for these 8-bit monsters.

Friday, April 13, 2012


This Saturday is the Lumen8 Festival in Anacostia, which we have a new work in entitled 'Sunshowers' that we collaborated with artist Evan Howell to create. 'Sunshowers' is an audio/visual installation in the elevator shaft at the center of the former Police Evidence Warehouse (now known as The Lightbox). For the installation, the elevator car is docked at the ground level and the ceiling has been removed, turning it into a viewing platform to experience the work which spans 4 floors above it. Upon entering, the viewer is surrounding by the sounds of rain from speakers on the ground level and on the floors above -- projectors on each floor cast images of drops cascading down run from top to bottom, transforming the circulatory system of the building into a virtual rain room. (These photos show just 2 of the projectors being tested). The doors to the shaft on each floor were pried upon to insert the speakers and projectors (this likely wouldn't work with today's elevators but this, being a pretty old elevator, had doors that open vertically and, with enough personpower, can be opened.)

This was a really great project to work on because of the unusual nature of the space and having to figure out creative solutions to almost everything (90 percent of the power outlets did not work, for instance). Rigging the projector at the top level, though, was a bit scary...was certainly the most dangerous project we've ever done for that reason -- it's amazing how, when we started, I would tip-toe towards the edge of the shaft from the top levels but, after a few hours, I kind of forgot about the height and would string cables down, reposition a speaker -- all without thinking twice. I think the result will be really very cool and am excited to see what it feels like with more people in it.

'Sunshowers' opens this Saturday at sundown and will stay up for next weeks Cherry Blast Party. More info on all these things here:

Lumen8 Anacostia
Cherry Blast IV

 Here's a photo of us that was taken just outside the elevator for

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Hirshhorn Talk

Thanks to everyone who attended our talk at the Hirshhorn on Doug Aitken's 'Song 1' -- it was an unusually frigid evening for mid-April but we enjoyed huddling around the Di Suvero sculpture with so many of you and watching 'Song 1' together. It was an honor to get to speak about our work in relation to Aitken's -- thank you to the Hirshhorn for inviting us!

Doug Aitken's 'Song 1' will be at the Hirshhorn every evening from 8 to midnight through May 13th.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Music for Yoga on the National Mall

Each year, thousands of yoga practitioners gather in front of Sylvan Theater on the National Mall as part of the annual Cherry Blossom Festival to take part in the largest public yoga practice in the area. This being the 100th anniversary of the gift of the cherry blossoms to the US from Japan, they are expecting an even larger crowd than in previous years -- as such, the organizers decided to do something a bit different with the accompanying music. A few months ago, we were approached about the possibility of creating something sonically that would have some relationship to the actual routine as it was being performed. After batting around some possibilities that ultimately weren't going to be feasible (ones that would involve the audience, for instance which wouldn't really work for obvious reasons) we decided on an idea of using the actual data from the instructors body during the practice as a basis for the music -- essentially, using the heart rate of the instructor as the map to which we would compose an original piece, based entirely on the ebb and flow of the actual routine.

Realizing this would be difficult to do live, we met with instructor Alison Adams (pictured below) who attached a heart rate monitor as she went through the routine that she had already planned for the event in advance. This data is then used as a tempo map for the hour-long session that, ideally, will rise and fall generally in connection with what Alison is doing on stage, even integrating the sound of the heartbeat at various different speeds at different points. It's been a very fun experiment in using a different set of parameters to write to. Interestingly, unlike previous events that we've held that require the participants to be aware, if not bring actual props to the event in preparation, it's likely that many of the attendees here will not realize what they are listening to -- and maybe that's the point. I remember reading an interview with a film director, saying that if the audience stops to take note of the music in a film, the composer didn't do a good job; meaning that it should serve to move the film forward and not be a distraction to the viewer. Not sure if I completely agree with this statement, but I sort of like the idea of being able to influence the experience of a few thousand participants without them knowing that, for instance, the music is speeding up at a more strenuous point in the workout or becoming more sparse during a more relaxing one. But for those that do know, perhaps it will add a new layer to the experience.

Cherry Blossom Yoga will be held on Saturday, April 7th 2012 at the Sylvan Theater Stage on The National Mall in Washington DC. For more information, visit their Facebook page. 

Monday, March 5, 2012

Click below for more info...

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

The Violet Crown (Austin, Texas) -- The Third Location-Aware Composition


Monday, January 2, 2012

THANK YOU EVERYONE! Great video from Ben Droz below. Also, a nice little video piece from The Washington Post here

Bluebrain & The US Botanic Garden present

Final Boombox Walk
January 14th at 3 PM Sharp
Free Event
US Botanical Gardens -- 100 Maryland Ave SW Washington DC
Original music composed by Bluebrain
RSVP and tell us your preferred format (cassette, CD or MP3)

SHORT -- Bring a portable cassette, CD or iPod enabled music device to the indoor conservatory courtyard of the Botanic Garden (located next to the Capitol building on the National Mall). PLEASE RSVP BY EMAIL ( & TELL US WHAT KIND OF DEVICE YOU WILL HAVE (this way, we can create enough cassettes, CD's or email you an MP3).

More details after the jump....