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Richard Caceres (M)
Los Angeles, US
Immortal since Jan 19, 2007
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AS3 Independent Study Work
why is there why and not just what?
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    A series of rambles by SpaceCollective members sharing sudden insights and moments of clarity. Rambling is a time-proven way of thinking out loud,...

    Proposal for a multimedia...
    A musical mindstorm on the nature of sound, light, space and subjective experience powered by locally produced energy, heralding the ending of the...
    Now playing SpaceCollective
    Where forward thinking terrestrials share ideas and information about the state of the species, their planet and the universe, living the lives of science fiction. Introduction
    Featuring Powers of Ten by Charles and Ray Eames, based on an idea by Kees Boeke.
    As a kid growing up, my favorite video games were multiplayer games. Having spent so much time playing them, it is no surprise that I still desire multiplayer experiences. This NES controller to MIDI converter is another exploration of the connections between sound/music and play/games. It is an interface for sonic collaboration and entertainment.

    When used by one performer, the interaction takes on a whole new direction. The performer finds ways to use all the controllers at once. This can be done with the feet, elbows, palms, head, etc.

    The controllers as instruments can be used to trigger anything from sonic explosions to calm meditation.

    Example Recordings:

    Two arpeggiated mbiras with kettle noises and door squeaks:

    Improvisational duet with melodious second half:

    Noisy upright bass and kitchen noises:

    Example video:


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    MIDI (Musical Instrument Digital Interface, IPA: /ˈmɪdi/) is an industry-standard protocol that enables electronic musical instruments, computers, and other equipment to communicate, control, and synchronize with each other. MIDI allows computers, synthesizers, MIDI controllers, sound cards, samplers and drum machines to control one another, and to exchange system data.

    MIDI does not transmit an audio signal or media — it transmits digital data "event messages" such as the pitch and intensity of musical notes to play, control signals for parameters such as volume, vibrato and panning, cues, and clock signals to set the tempo. As an electronic protocol, it is notable for its widespread adoption throughout the industry, and for continuing in use since its introduction in 1983 (Musical Instrument Digital Interface).

    Most people know MIDI as the cheesy sounding music files that were popular in the early days of computers and the internet. Imagine a midi version of Christina Auguilera's "Genie In A Bottle" that suddenly loads and pollutes your sound space. Or maybe you have memories of downloading MIDI versions of your favorite video game tunes like the Super Mario World Overworld 2 song.

    During the days of dial-up internet, MIDI files (.mid) were popular because of their small file size. The file simply contains a sort-of musical score that gets played by built in sounds on your computer, which are known as General MIDI sounds (GM). Now that most people use broadband internet, MIDI files are no longer popular, because people just download compressed audio formats such as MP3. The majority of people who download and listen to MIDI files do so for less pragmatic than nostalgic purposes.

    Even though MIDI files are no longer popular for the consumption of music, they are still popular for the creation of music. Most music composition programs can import/export MIDI files. See Finale, Ableton Live, Pro Tools", and List of Scorewriters. MIDI files act as mediators between different software programs.

    The MIDI file format is only one implementation of the MIDI communication protocol. If you take a look at just about any synthesizer, sequencer, drum machine, etc. created after 1983, you will find up to three MIDI ports (IN, OUT, THRU).

    These ports allow communication with other electronic instruments. For example, a music studio could sync all their sequencers to a central computer. The play button on that computer could trigger all the other sequencers to start playing in unison. The stop button would stop them all.

    The most popular use of the MIDI communication protocol is to use a MIDI controller to play an external sound module. This is like using a video game controller to control a video game system. The controller sends information that is interpreted by receiving device. Using a MIDI controller is almost essential for laptop musicians who need a way to control software synthesizers. The most common controllers are piano keyboards such as the M-AUDIO Oxygen 8. There are other kinds of midi controllers such as drum pad controllers for playing rhythms such as the Korg padKONTROL (released in 2006). On Korg's website, they describe this machine as
    The all-new padKONTROL joins Korg’s expanding line-up of MIDI studio controllers. Adding another dimension beyond traditional keyboard control, the padKONTROL is the most expressive and versatile pad controller ever! (Korg padKONTROL)

    Even though it is old, the MIDI protocol is still widely used and being developed for.

    Most commercial MIDI controllers stay within the realm of keyboards, drum pads, and/or knob/slider boxes. With a few exceptions such as the Korg MS20, the most exciting MIDI interfaces are homemade or produced on a small scale. An advantage of building a homemade MIDI controller is that it can be designed to meet an exact requirement. Artist Laetitia Sonami, is a excellent example of an artist who has invented her own electronic instrument for performance. She calls it "Lady's Glove". It is made of "five microswitches, four Hall effect transducers, pressure pad, resistive strips and two ultrasonic receivers" and "a mercury switch on the top of the hand and an accelerometer which measures the speed of motion of the hand" (Lady's Glove). The video C74 Perspectives: Laetitia Sonami on Youtube shows her describing and performing the instrument.

    (from MAKE: Blog: Alternate MIDI controllers)

    In general, the interface that is used has a direct relationship to the creativity that is produced. This is a design issue. A generic all-purpose MIDI controller such as the M-AUDIO Oxygen 8 will not produce or incline the same creativity as for example Sonami's "Lady's Glove". Or take for example a piano compared to a trumpet. The main difference is that piano's sounds are created with only the hands, and the trumpet requires hands and blowing. Another difference is that the piano is polyphonic (multiple notes at a time), whereas the trumpet is monophonic (one note at time). Ironically, a MIDI controller that is designed for generic applications, will be less useful than a MIDI interface that is designed for a specific application. In other words, a MIDI instrument is better than a MIDI controller. Sonami successfully blends both interface and sound to create a unique musical instrument.

    Before the popularization of the DIY craft scene, interfacing to MIDI required a great deal more engineering skills. Now, creating homemade MIDI instruments is more accessible than ever. Websites such as Instructables and Make Magazine provide introductory guides for beginners and inspiration for experienced inventors. One of the easiest ways to make a MIDI interface is to use a special device such as Lada Ada's MIDIsense. This circuit has MIDI ports and connections for hooking up sensors - simply connect some knobs, pressure sensors, switches, etc. to a MIDIsense and a new MIDI interface will be born. This however, is not an ideal solution, because a MIDIsense costs approximately $50. For creating multiple projects, this overhead is too steep. If one instead uses the Arduino platform, overhead can be cut down to a meager $13 by using the low-footprint Really Bare Bones Board Arduino clone by Modern Devices and a 5 PIN DIN Jack (All Electronics # DIN-5C). Sending MIDI messages out of an Arduino is simple and explained in an NYU ITP Article on MIDI Output.

    The Arduino is the microcontroller of choice for the DIY and new media artist community. It is even being incorporated into the curriculum of many universities such as in the class Programming Media 2, which is taught by Casey Reas at UCLA's Design | Media Arts program. It is not the only microcontroller option, however.Youtube user "recotana" has demonstrated that it is possible to send MIDI with a tiny circuit the size of a thumbnail using a PIC microcontroller. The PIC platform remains complex with the lack of an online community that is comparable to the Arduino community.

    MIDI is a standard electronic musical protocol. The possibilities are endless. One could for example connect an old Palm V to a Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) by using Mini Music's Spin Pad software, a Palm to MIDI cable and Wayfar's NES MIDI interface. Or one could make his/her own electronic instrument that controls sounds generated in custom software such as Max/Msp or Pure Data. Custom-made MIDI instruments are more expressive than generic MIDI controllers. MIDI instruments are more interesting for both the performer and the audience as seen through the work of Leatitia Sonami. The overhead for creating MIDI projects is cheap, the programming is not as complex as it used to be, and there is a supportive online community.

    I hope I have shared my excitement and inspired you to create your own MIDI instruments.

    Further Reading:  (Sonami's "Lady's Glove")  ("old school" MIDI hardware designs)  (Arduino MIDI in schematic)  (Interesting research on sensors for instruments)  (Arduino MIDI output)  (Another Arduino MIDI output)  (Force Sensors)  (A article on MIDI Controllers)  (Gallery of devices made with the MIDIbox)  (Excellent homemade MIDI instruments)  (EBAY search for MIDI Controller)  (Create Digital Music blog tag=midi controller)  (MIDI to Sega Dreamcast)  (MIDI to NES)  (MIDI to GAMEBOY)  (Computer game that uses the MIDI protocol for multiplayer)  (Image of Nintendo DS to MIDI adaptor)  (Youtube search for MIDI Controller)  (Although not MIDI, an interesting electronic controller)  (Although not MIDI, an interesting instrument)  (Make Magazine article on alternate MIDI controllers)  (Palm MIDI software)  (Palm MIDI make)  (Palm MIDI make two)  (Palm MIDI buy)
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    I just spent the last three hours browsing the internet and trying to interface a joystick with Pure Data. I want to create a two-joystick software-based version of the joystick synth. Pure Data has been a frustrating program so far. First of all, there is hardly any documentation available on the web. The closest thing I found to an introduction were two video tutorials on youtube that were helpful, but still not enough to get me really started with PD. I keep leaning towards using MAX MSP because of the clean user interface and less steep learning curve. I am using PD-extended, and the HID joystick examples that it comes with do not work because there are missing objects.

    I am evaluating the benefits of trying to learn a complicated software (Pure Data) versus using software with a higher level of abstraction. I could for example, just route the joystick data to Ableton Live and use a pre-made software synthesizer or sampler. These however have a completely different sound quality than the barebones sine/square wave oscillators of Pure Data. But is the use minimalist synthesis just a trend, a sort of intellectual masturbation?

    I spend some time each day browsing the web and searching for new interesting videos and projects. Youtube is a good place to do this. While exploring these projects, I can't help but wonder what my and other people's motivations are. Some times I feel like the situation is a constant one-up competition to see who can do the most technically challenging feat. Other times I feel like each person thinks they are the next experimental music auteur - the next John Cage.

    The phrase "the next" has a dialectical relationship to history or the past. It refers to a previous who is or will no longer be because the next will take its place. The next would not exist without the past, and the past would not exist without the next. What happens to the present when we are preoccupied by the past and future? Is it ignored?

    Just because the earlier pioneers of electronic music used sine waves and square waves because that was all the had, does not mean that we still have to use them with our advanced technology with which any sound is possible. Innovation can draw from history, but it must be about the present, because the goal is, after all, to communicate with people - to share experience and ideas.

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    At one point I was in a experimental trio with musicians Cynthia Payne and Leaf Tine. We would get together and play experimental music over Internet 2 with Stanford CCRMA and Rensselaer. Leaf's primary instruments were a circuit bent keyboard, amplified rocks, and a joystick synthesizer, which I was always envious of.

    Since I am now acquainted with electronics, I created my own joystick synthesizer. It is a modified pc joystick with a built-in square wave oscillator and lowpass filter. It is an excellent sound source to use on its own or feed into effects. I have posted the schematic and parts list so that you can build your own (I take no responsibility for damage you cause to your speaker or yourself ... etc)!

    Joy Stick Synth Part List

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    This camera sequencer was made by Gijs Gieskes (see : He is one my favorite new media artists and inspirations. I also wouldn't mind owning one of his gameboy bricks.

    Another one of my inspirations is Toshio Iwai. He is most famous for creating the Nintendo DS game Electroplankton and also for his interactive musical installations (see :
    Sun, Feb 10, 2008  Permanent link

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    cialis 20 mg how to use generic , online pharmacy for cialis .
    Tue, Dec 25, 2007  Permanent link

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    ${mac osx}

    + download (zip .1mb requires mac os x 10.4 tiger or higher)

    + tap into your computer's dreams with this program. install at your own risk.

    + This program was made in collaboration with Jamie Burkart while living at the
    Crystal Palace for our server


    / WARNING!!!!
    1.) This program can potentially publicize private information. Please use the provided widget (dreaming.wdgt) to toggle private mode if you ever temporarily need to be private. Please remember to disable private mode when you are done!
    2.) We are not responsible for any damage this program causes to you, your computer, or to anyone/anything! INSTALL AT YOUR OWN RISK!

    Please note, that this software requires Mac OS 10.4 or higher.

    1.) Open dreaming-install.pkg
    2.) Open dreaming.wdgt

    1.) Open

    Dreaming of You was realized by Jamie Burkart and Richard Caceres in 2007 while living at the Crystal Palace in Santa Cruz CA.

    After you install this software, you must wait about a week before there is a noticeable effect. It is best to install it, and then forget about it until your computer starts to dream.

    We want this program to work, so if you are having trouble, please contact us. And for more information, see:  (temporarily unavailable)
    Jamie Burkart & Richard Caceres 2007
    Wed, Oct 17, 2007  Permanent link
    Categories: software, collaboration, dreams
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    I don't remember from where I salvaged this record, but I found it in my closet the other day. It's actually pretty interesting. When I listen to it it is like I'm transported back in time to when space travel was still a novel idea. The tone of voice of the narrator is also interesting. The funniest part of the whole thing is when mission control recaps the daily news to the astronauts. Why do the astronauts need to know about yesterday's baseball game? Another interesting part is when the president of the United Stages (Kennedy I believe), congratulates the astronauts.

    Basically, I thought the community might get a kick out of this record. Why not leave it on while you surf the web.

    Side A:

    Side B:

    full size

    full size
    Mon, Aug 13, 2007  Permanent link
    Categories: space nasa sound recording
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    I found this video on, a website that seems like a cousin of This video is not too scientific, but its an interesting talk by a man who really wants take space exploration to a new level.

    "Bill Stone, the maverick cave explorer who invented robots and dive equipment that have allowed him to plumb Earth's deepest abysses, explains his efforts to build a robot to explore Jupiter's moon Europa. The plan is to send the machine to bore through miles of ice and swim through a liquid underworld that may harbor alien life. And if that's not enough, he's also planning to mine lunar ice by 2015."

    I could not resist posting this video too. This one might even be more interesting than the preceding video.

    "Here's one of those talks that can change your view of the world forever. Starting with the deceptively simple story of an ant, Dan Dennett unleashes a dazzling sequence of ideas, making a powerful case for the existence of "memes" — a term coined by Richard Dawkins for mental concepts that are literally alive and capable of spreading from brain to brain. On the way, look out for:
    + a powerful one-sentence secret of happiness
    + a compelling insight into terrorists' motivation
    + a chilling view of Islam
    And just when you think you know where the talk's heading, it dramatically shifts direction and questions some of western culture's fundamental assumptions.
    This. Is. Unmissable."

    Thu, Jul 26, 2007  Permanent link

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    I try to resist posting every cool video I find on the web, but this one is relevant to my previous posts.

    Here's another video of a someone playing Dr. Mario on their circuit bent NES. I like how he still plays even when the machine is glitching out. I also really like the music, because its an awesome original chiptune.

    I don't think this is the freshest stuff that's happening these days, but I do think its a good way for our generation to make meaning out of the "goo of childhood" (1).

    (1). This is a phrase coined by my friend John Acquatro aka Goodbye the Band, see
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