Sunday, January 20, 2008


Another great meeting today for MakePhilly. I believe it was the 12th meeting. Not only was it a good topic, but it was also one of our BIGGEST turnouts ever! We all thought last month was a big turnout at 60+ people, but this month we had 80+ people RSVP. I didn't bother to do an official headcount, but there were lots of people. To be honest, I kinda prefer the smaller meetings but having so many creative people show up is also a positive so I'm not complaining.
It was a cool topic. We had Don Miller give a presentation on 8-bit video art. Don (who reminded me of a young Mark Mothersbaugh) is also known as "No Carrier" for his video performances. In a nutshell... he has self taught himself to hack the old Nintendo game system to create new and visually dynamic video art. This form of art goes hand in hand with a new (gaining popularity that is) type of music called chiptunes. These guys (I've not seen a woman yet, but they could be out there) use old video games to create music (generally electronica, trance type music). What Don does is provide a sort of music video to accompany these performances. At this meeting he joined up with Dino Lionetti (aka Cheap Dinosaurs) who provided the music and keyboards.
Don gave a really in depth explanation in how the Nintendo games can be hacked to do what he does. I'll be honest, a lot of what he said went over my head, but it was still cool because I had a vague idea what he was talking about. Things like: bits, bytes, sprites, color pallets, color cycling, rom chips, etc...
After his presentation, he was kind (and cool) enough to provide all the software and basic graphics to anyone who brought a PC laptop to the meeting. Where the "maker challenge" was to create your own hack of the art on some of these old Nintendo games (Like Mario, and Bomberman).
In addition to that, we had a couple other musicians show up who brought a few pieces of equipment. I saw these really COOL new pieces of equipment from Korg called a Kaossilator. He had another one next to it, but I forget the name of that one. These are like small laptop trackpads that let anyone create a musical sound, and includes some loops. The guy looked like he was really enjoying himself! I might have to see about getting one of these things someday just to play on. A bit pricey though around $200.

So, in my renewed interest in electronic music this stuff made for a really interesting and fun meeting today.

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