Lola and Yukao Meet

Art & Technology

pic-LYM-alKemi.0014084 smallThe main purpose for Lola and Yukao when they started their collaboration, was to combine, in a very intimate and personal way, their two dream lands: sound and drawing. The combination of their sound and visual instruments is as intricate as two musicians in a band, the visuals echoe the music which is, in turn, influenced by the graphics. Both instruments are made of an analogical component (the cello for the audio and the tablet and the pen for the graphics) and a digital component (the sound effects for the bass and the graphical effects for the visuals).

Yukao´s Drawing Machines

Yukao has developed four so-called Drawing Machines which are based on the combination of the stroke of a pen on a graphic tablet and a digital program that produces digital effects and enhances the base graphical stroke. Each machine has been carefully programmed, mostly through the use of shaders, programs that run directly on the graphic board and allow for fast and versatile graphical processing. The drawing machines output has to be fluid, interactive, and reactive to the strokes and the music input.

Each machine has its own specificities. It is designed so as to match the artistic intention that goes with the project that it has been designed for. The NINE and the d-cONT machines are mostly 2D stroke augmentations based on spreading, cellular automata, particle system, and music-based stroke parameter control (color, brush size, pen location...).

The CityWalk machine is a 3D composer in which the stroke is placed on a virtual "screen" that is progressively displaced through a virtual space, building a kind of 3D wire sculpture. The CityWalk machine was designed for a stroll inside a city during which you progressively build a path in time and space, made of sensory experiences and  encounters. In the end you realize that your path inside this complex and emotional world has turned into a kind of 3D cinematic experience materialized by a sculpted wire scene.

While the NINE and CityWalk machines are single layer composers, the d-cONT machine is based on two inter-related layers: a drawing/particle layer and a cellular automaton layer. The cellular automaton is triggered by the stroke, but its output can, in turn, be printed on the drawing layer. The two inter-related layers are made to illustrate our ambivalent perception of our or other's presence to the world made of "objective" visions combined with deep and implicit feelings of aura, warmth, imprint, traces, memories of the past, angers, fears, and sorrows...

For alKemi and generative nights, the architecture of the Drawing Machines was once again redesigned into the Porphyrograph, a 3-layer graphic machine: a background layer with combined particle and cellular automata, and two drawing layers for tablet- and/or video-based graphics. Each layer has an asociated track that can be preloaded or recorded and looped in sync with the rhythm. Porphyrograph is the first rythmic and looping drawing machines that parallels the audio loops and tracks at the visual level. In 2016, we have released an OpenSource version of Porphyrograph on GitHub to share our resources with other artists.

Lola´s Sound Machine

Lola´s sound machine is consisting on mainly to parts: the backtrack with prepared sounds and the live instruments.

The backtrack is made by all the small sounds Lola finds around her where she goes. Most of the time she carries with her a hand-held recorder with which she records the sounds in the environment that she finds interesting. It could be atmospheric sounds from locations like on a street in a big city or by the seaside. It could be more specific sounds like snow falling or her finger tapping on a chair. Or it could be recordings of instruments playing or just making sounds.

Based oll these small samples of sounds, she patiently describes, names, and stores them in a big sound library on her laptop. From this sound library she can take the samples to make her backtrack. The way she works with the sounds is to import them in Cubase, where she cuts, extends, glues, reverts and plays with a lot of effects to create the kind of soundscape suitable for her artistic purposes. This is the basis for her compositions, that she prepares in advance for the live performances.

On top of the backtrack she plays the live instruments. Her main instrument is the electric bass, which she often plays with a bow. For the bass she uses a lot of pedals with effects. Her equipment is made out of two distortions, one compressor, one flanger/chorus, one reverb, and a loop-station. She also sings and makes sounds with her voice. Playing live, her loop-station is the basis for most of the compositions, that is half composed, half improvised. On this she can sculpt and built the multi-layered composition.

She re-composes the backtrack and the live-playing instruments many times, so that both can influence each other, to make them better combined and melting together, until she hears what she is satisfied with.