I Love Flashing Lights – Design Journal – Nov 8, 2010

As a self-proclaimed nighthawk, it would be only natural that I would be drawn to flashing lights. Absolutely, I love the sunshine, but I’m at my best when the the sky is a deep shade of navy velvet.

I’m also a big fan of electronic music and all that that entails. It’s not even just electronic music that uses flashing lights but it’s where I find myself turning, 9 times out of 10.

There’s a misconception about techno, that isn’t really music because it’s based in binary versus analog. I couldn’t disagree more. Why? Because when people go to see a band, they thrive on the entire display, not just the music. The sound is only one aspect. The entertainment factor is another. People don’t just go watch a big DJ to see a guy stand there and spin records. There are visual displays great enough to nearly blow a mind like mine. In fact, it may have been done once or twice. These mixed with the music creates the environment die hard techno lovers flock to. The composition and mathematical equations that go into making electronic music require a certain type of brain that’s wired to ‘hear sounds where they are not’ or use the silent breaks in songs, as an instrument. I can attest that good electronic music is a very intelligent means of communicating feelings, usually without words.

I’ve recently learned of a company called Derivative in Toronto. They are creators of a program called TouchDesigner, it’s used for building 3D art and visualizations. Not only is it used to create some electrifying light shows in the entertainment realm, it does live character puppeteering, it has interactive surfaces for architecture, live show controls, it’s a visual programming language for building applications, and a whole mess of other things I really am trying to get my head around.

I’ve been checking out Derivative’s site for days now and am amazed. I really think I need to know more. I actually need to learn it. I want it.

I’m including a short video that shows just a ‘touch’ of what TouchDesigner can do. This video is from the Plastikman Live Tour 2010 (DJ Richie Hawtin from Windsor/Detroit area). Think about the fact that a DJ spins for hours at a time… this is less than 2 minutes of lights. It’s a fan video but it’s fun and is much like what you’d see if you went to a big show. And please, please, don’t be deceived into thinking that everyone who is into this scene does drugs. If you look at the big picture of ‘lights and sound’, these two themselves are each their respective drug.

TouchDesigner, Derivative, check them out. Any media or design student should know of this new wave of the future.

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