André et Michèle: new musical improv. project

15 May 2013

Starting in late December, 2012, I’ve been jamming weekly w/ my singer/songwriter/guitarist friend, Michael Glenwright.  The premise was to merge my drum machines and dj’ing with his guitar and synth act.  It took a few sessions to iron out the set up, going from a dj looper -based set-up to using Ableton Live as the glue to handle live looping of Mike’s guitar/bass/synth/ebow and sequencing/mixing my percussion via various drum machines.

I’ve added a dedicated page here on this site, and detailed info about the set-ups is included in the respective notes for each set/track on our Soundcloud and Mixcloud pages.

Happy listening!

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LED Christmas Tree 2012

14 December 2012

With a string of Adafruit LED pixels sitting on my workbench just waiting for a project, I felt a crafty urge to make an LED Christmas Tree, despite Adafruit’s aversion to such things ;)

I wanted to limit the project to a single evening, so my idea for a laser-cut, acrylic tree would have to wait until next year . . . Luckily I had some 1/8″ MDF project board lying around, though I did have to buy a 31/64″ drill bit to accommodate the 12mm pixels:

The hole pattern was planned out by eye so it would be somewhat random and the MDF board was easily cut with a handsaw.  The 12mm pixels fit well enough in the 31/64″ holes with a bit of slack, yet snug enough to hold the pixels in place.

A single coat of acrylic paint made for a scratchy finish, perfect for a pine needle look:

Some scrap pine serves as the base and a hidden mounting bracket to connect the tree to the base and hide an Arduino to control the lights.

As exciting as it was watching the paint dry, I used that time to program a few simple animations before inserting the LED pixels:

Wow, those lights are bright!  At full brightness, the tree was pretty blinding so I’ve adjusted the settings so it doesn’t hurt when you look at it.

I imagine I’ll be adding to the animations over the holidays and will hopefully get some video of the tree in action.  In the meantime it’ll be accompanying me on my holiday traveling and visiting.

I’m happy w/ the crafty look of the tree as it reminds me of a wooden tree my mom made for me some years back with traditional incandescent string lights.  Next year I’ll start work earlier on some fancy laser-cut versions . . .


Very tempted to try connecting my tree to the Cheerlights project . . .

Re-blogged by Adafruit here.

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Illuminating Cube Gallery’s sign

11 December 2012

We’d been talking about it for years, and a few weeks back, Cube Galley owner, Don, and I finally coordinated the animated LED lighting of his gallery sign:

More pics and video here.

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Random_ish cover art

6 December 2012

This is the cover for my latest DJ mix, and I thought I’d share the story of making it:

The mix itself is mostly a random collection of recent music I’d bought, and was one of the few times I’ve just thrown a recorded mix together like this — usually I come up with a theme beforehand or record a live DJ set somewhere — so it seemed appropriate to have a cover that was somehow randomly generated.

My attention immediately turned to Processing since it’s the perfect platform for quickly exploring visual ideas like this.  At first I imagined some sort of grid of randomly coloured squares, but I then remembered I had an experiment in progress over at OpenProcessing (an on-line version of Processing for quick experiments or even putting together a portfolio of Processing sketches):

The above animation is a sequence of random ellipses, slightly offset by a small random amount from the centre of the sketch, drawing atop of each other, while slowly erasing the previous the ellipses; it was attempt to recreate the effect of this album cover that I discovered while previewing some new tunes, solely has an exercise of interest.

For contrast, this is the same sketch except that the previous ellipses are erased ten times more slowly:

After revisiting the sketch, the aesthetic of this bunch of random traces (or tracks!) seemed a perfect fit for a mix based on a random collection of music tracks, so I enlarged the animation, inverted the colours, and grabbed a screenshot of the resulting animation:

In this review, I’ve realized how closely my mix cover resembles the original cover art inspiration, but I’d like to think that I arrived there in a roundabout way, as opposed to literally copying it. This is something I love about Processing: starting out w/ an initial idea and then plugging away with various revisions and tweaks on a theme; simply experimenting to come up w/ something appealing or interesting . . .

I’ll certainly be using Processing to generate more cover art in the future.

And if you haven’t already, please enjoy the mix!

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Blogger profile

29 November 2012

Local Ottawa newspaper, The Kitchissippi Times, interviewed me recently in a blogger profile.  The interview saw me recalling that I’ve actually been blogging in some form or another since 1999!  I started with a GeoCities site that had a “news” section that I regularly updated; next was a site that just had a news/event front page (on a beautifully tacky wooden background); then came Blogger, where I blogged about everyday observations and annoyances (how original!) . . . and after a hiatus I started the blog you’re reading now, focusing mostly on the technical side of my lighting art.

Maybe one day I’ll dig up those old sites.  In the meantime, though, you can peep the article below (click to expand), or open it as a PDF.  It provides a nice overview of my artistic practice.

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Bronson Avenue Public Art Shortlist

1 November 2012

It’s official!  I’ve been shortlisted for a permanent, public art project for the Bronson Centre, as part of Ottawa’s Bronson Avenue Renewal Project.

There’ll be a public consultation on Thurs. Nov. 8, 6-8pm at the Bronson Centre (211 Bronson St., Ottawa) where you’ll be able to see sketches and models of the proposed projects and provide your input and preferences for the jury to consider later this month!

Here’s a sneak peak at some experiments with my model:

I’ll follow up w/ more details after next week!

Update #1

Here’s a photo of my maquette:

I’ll post some more pics and video soon.  In the meantime, you can see some pics from the public consultation, along with a video of myself and the other artists explaining our concepts here.

Peter Simpson of the Ottawa Citizen also produced a video featuring the artists and their proposals.

Here‘s an article from EMC Ottawa West newspaper (PDF), and articles on local blogs, Modal Mom and West Side Action, both hoping my proposal is chosen.

Update #2

I’m thrilled to announce that I won the commission!  The installation will be called Community Channel, and I’ll continue to blog about my progress here.

Here’s an announcement on the Big Beat art blog.

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Under construction

9 October 2012

I’m in the process of migrating content from my personal website over here so I’ll have an integrated blog and portfolio site . . . please excuse any broken links, half finished pages, or formatting goofs in the meantime :)

Feel free to share your thoughts or make suggestions in the comments . . .

Thanks for stopping by!

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Upcoming Lighting Installations

19 September 2012

I’m happy to announce I’ll be lighting up the city with two unique and innovative interactive installations:

“Thank God for the Weather” @ Nuit Blanche Ottawa


The first installation, “Thank God for the Weather” was created especially for Nuit Blanche Ottawa 2012 — to make a bold, accessible focal-point for the Wellington area.

The interactive piece features larger-than-life-sized projections, cast onto both sides of the Irving Greenberg Theatre Centre building (corners of Wellington St. and Holland Ave.)

The projection is composed of a dynamically changing sky that darkens in conjunction with the falling night. The sky fills with cartoon-like clouds that move faster or slower, depending on Ottawa’s actual real-time wind speed. Twitter messages — generated in real-time through audience interaction — fly by with the clouds. Additionally, key words from Tweets, like “beautiful” and “nuit blanche,” trigger the appearance of special animations, such as rainbows, lightning bolts, or logos from local businesses.

This captivating artwork directly reflects the local environment of Nuit Blanche both literally — by controlling the sky color and clouds from weather data — and figuratively by displaying public sentiment of the event expressed on Twitter.

Everyone is encouraged to interact with the animation through their Twitter accounts by using the hashtags #NBO12 or #NBO2012.

The installation will only be running on Saturday, September 22, staring at 6 p.m. to 2 a.m.

Check it out while you can!

“Color Clicker” @ Architecture Week 2012


The second installation entitled “Color Clicker” is a showcase for Architecture Week 2012, taking place September 24-30.

This interactive, “data driven” piece allows users to control the color of the building’s lighting through their smartphones.

Users click on a QR code that brings them to a simple web application where they select the lighting color they’d like to see displayed on the building.

The lighting instantly changes to the color selected. It also shows a history of the average colors selected over the event, to serve as a visual indicator of audience preference. When nobody is interacting with the piece, the previously selected colors cycle through in an animated fashion.

This dramatic, but temporary installation will only be running during the evenings of September 24-29. It can be seen at St. Brigid’s Centre for the Arts (302 St Patrick St.).

Enlighten yourself by illuminating an old church!


These projects are graciously supported by The Ontario Arts Council, Artengine, Wellington West BIA, Lumilux Lighting, Leviton Lighting, the Great Canadian Theatre Company, Morris Home Hardware, and 120 Holland Lofts.

More info

The official press release is available in PDF here, including Andrew’s contact info for media requests.

Nuit Blanche Ottawa:

Architecture Week 2012:

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