SF designers create new art form with music, images

May 2, 2010 12:00:00 AM PDT
In San Francisco's Tenderloin district, social networks are leading to "social artworks."

In a brand new gallery and workspace, a community of designers is networking artware and software. It is the latest creation in the drive to discover a new art form.

"So, here you see this grid," said Daniel Massy. "You can sort of fill it in with notes."

On a 15-foot wall projection, Massey recently composed music using a tool developed with fellow artists Ryan Alexander and Gabriel Dunne. It's called Seaquence and it is at the intersection of music and images.

With it, you can build a sea creature by creating music or create music by building a creature. Changing the attack, sustain and decay envelope of the music changes the body of your creature.

Seaquence is the latest project of Gray Area, an organization brightening up one corner of San Francisco's Tenderloin. Josette Melchor is its Executive Director.

"Gray Area Foundation for the Arts is a non-profit," she explains. "We're dedicated to building social consciousness through digital culture."

Gray Area exhibits interactive works such as Robert Hodgin's new liquid screen installation and a laser scanner/projector by Aaron Koblin.

The next step is to exploit social networks. For example, two artists are using Gray Area to develop a web app to annotate works of art socially. Seaquence is also destined for the web, Daniel Massey promises.

"The idea is to create this environment in which people could collectively, online, create music and share music with each other in a playful way," he says. "So, it takes on almost a game feel to it."

If you can't buy it the way you'd buy a painting or sculpture, how do you know when this kind of art is a success?

"I guess you could see how many page views you have," Melchor laughs. "Or YouTube streams!"

In the end, she points out that good art spreads whether networked or not.

"It continues to further the community and further this kind of study, and get the word out so we're able to get more people involved. It's spreading. It's social," she says.

After all, Tweets are music too.

You can drop by the Gray Area installation to inspect Seaquence before it goes to the web.


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