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The Reverse Color Organ
with painter Ellen Hackl Fagan

2011, 2009


keywords (in alphabetical order): DSP; MIDI; attention; audio; borrowed intelligence; color; demo; generated score; installation; interactivity; music; music theory; notation; painting; performance; sensory substitution; synesthesia; web art

Perform paintings as you would a musical instrument by transforming colors into sounds. The viewer of painting wields a small camera over a painting. The information about the detail of interest is compared to the whole (the context) and translated into scale degrees in Western music theory (another context). The Reverse Color Organ borrows intelligent organization from machine-detectable features in paintings by Ellen Hackl Fagan, applying it to pitches. Initially, this program scrutinize the chosen painting, the "big picture". The computer takes that information and applies it to construct a context (a musical scale) and creates a timbre (the characteristic 'voice' that makes a violin sound different than a flute.) In installation, we hand people a camera . The online computer art version, grabs your mouse coordinates relative to the image, instead of camera view. live musical performance version with ...

bass (electric): Wilbo Wright
bass (bowed): Tod Hendrick
cello: Jessie Marino
clarinet: Claudia Dumschadt
flute: Rosemary Birardi
guitar: Mat Marple
krummhorn: Rob Lepre
oboe: Julie Dophin
piano: Margaret Mills
violin: Jim Altieri


* discussed in the book Behavioral Art
* presented at Musinfo Art & Science Days Program in France
* featured in paper for Leonardo Almanac
* performed at the New Art Center in NY
* featured at Sguardi Sonori at the Planetario in Rome, Italy; Ennio Morricone: conductor
* lecture presentation for LISA (Leaders in Software Art) and ICMC (the International Computer Music Conference)
* installation versions featured at Synthetic Zero, POOL, HOAST and ArtHarlem in NY


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