Calum McIlroy on Dark Matter : Light Cycles

As a musician (specialising in mandolin and guitar) who had never worked with visual artists before, taking part in the Dark Matter: Light Cycles has been a truly enlightening experience! I learned a lot about how art installations work, and visual art in general and I met some fantastic artists and people who were a joy to work alongside.

I gained a lot of knowledge from Kathy and Matthew, and one thing that I had a lot of fun working on was turning sound into light with my mandolin and a DMX light. I worked with Matthew on this idea, and he was fantastic at putting together the patches on Max, and controlling all of the technical aspects. Using its built in pickup, we ran my mandolin into Matt's computer and into Max, where it was able to analyse the pitches that I was playing and output them into the assigned colours of the DMX light that was also connected to the computer. We then recorded some short improvisational pieces on the mandolin and enabled Max to analyse the volume of the sound, which was then expressed by the brightness of the light. The final piece of our idea was the use of a floor pad to enable the audience to trigger the sound. The finished piece is the first thing the audience interacts with when they come down the stairs at Seventeen. Once they step on the floor pad, the sound begins and two DMX lights express the pitch and volume of the mandolin in colour and brightness.

I have attached a short video of Matthew and I working on the idea, and it was when we first managed to translate the pitch of the mandolin to the colour of the light.

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