Most people…still cling to what I call the rearview-mirror view of their world. By this I mean to say that because of the invisibility of any environment during the period of its innovation, man is only consciously aware of the environment that has preceded it; in other words, an environment becomes fully visible only when it has been superseded by a new environment; thus we are always one step behind in our view of the world.

Marshall McLuhan
Playboy interview, March 1969

Video: Buster Keaton in a scene from Steamboat Bill, Jr. (1928)

(via theremina)


Imminent Shift 002 (Performance Excerpts) - Phillip Stearns from Phillip Stearns on Vimeo.

2014.07.11 @ the Burchfield Penney Art Center - Buffalo, NY

Light and sound performance/installation.
32 Fluorescent light fixtures, Arduino, Pure Data, custom electronics.

Imminent Shift is a growing body of work exploring the expressive qualities of shift registers[1], basic computational blocks for data storage and manipulation. Creating a feed back loop using shift registers produces a circuit with unique musical properties. Data circulating through the register has a fundamental frequency equal to the clock frequency divided by the length of the register. XOR logic can be used to connect an external signal to the register input, allowing for the modulation of the register contents. Such modulation can produce arpeggiated sequences of tones. XOR logic can also be used to combine multiple shift register outputs and return them to the input. The result is a Linear Feedback Shift Register [2], which is useful in producing spectrally complex tones and pseudo-random noise.

Imminent Shift 002 features a software based approach to creating and manipulating shift registers. Using the Arduino platform, an array of 64 boolean (true/false) values is treated as the main register, which is divided into two parts: addresses 0-31 for the left channel resonator, addresses 32-63 for the right channel resonator. GUI controls were created in Pure Data and serial communication are used to control various aspects of the register as implemented in Arduino.

Sound is produced by connecting output pins of the Arduino corresponding to the input states of the left and right sections of the main shift register directly to an audio mixer. Light control is achieved by expanding the Arduino outputs to drive 32 Solid State Relays using 4094 CMOS shift registers[3]. The left channel register reads from right to left across the 32 lights, while the right channel reads right to left. XOR logic is used to overlay the right and left channels.


“ Toute la différence entre un fou et un sage, c’est que le premier obéit à ses passions et le second à la raison.
“ Since her death in 1979, the woman who discovered what the universe is made of has not so much as received a memorial plaque. Her newspaper obituaries do not mention her greatest discovery. […] Every high school student knows that Isaac Newton discovered gravity, that Charles Darwin discovered evolution, and that Albert Einstein discovered the relativity of time. But when it comes to the composition of our universe, the textbooks simply say that the most abundant atom in the universe is hydrogen. And no one ever wonders how we know.