Audiovisual Environment Suite
Systems for Fluid Abstract Expression:
for Audiovisual Performance
MIT Media Laboratory, 1998-2000.
Audiovisual Environment Suite (AVES) is a set of five interactive
systems which allow people to create and perform abstract animation and
synthetic sound in real time. Each environment is an experimental attempt
to design an interface which is supple and easy to learn, yet can also
yield interesting, infinitely variable and personally expressive performances
in both the visual and aural domains. Ideally, these systems permit their
interactants to engage in a flow state of pure experience.
The AVES systems are built around the metaphor of an inexhaustible and
dynamic audiovisual "substance," which is freely deposited and
controlled by the user's gestures. Each instrument situates this substance
in a context whose free-form structure inherits from the visual language
of abstract painting and animation. The use of low-level synthesis techniques
permits the sound and image to be tightly linked, commensurately malleable,
The AVES systems inhabit a domain at the juncture of art, design, and
the engineering of tools and instruments. As artworks, they extend an
established Twentieth century tradition in which artworks are themselves
generative systems for other media. As a set of tools, the AVES work represents
a vision for creative endeavor on the computer, in which uniquely ephemeral
dynamic media blossom from a close collaboration between a system's user
and designer. Detailed information about the design and context of the
AVES systems can be found in my Master's
Ars Electronica 2000
I presented Scribble,
a color-music performance which uses the AVES instruments. In this concert,
composed and developed in collaboration with my colleagues Scott
Gibbons and Greg
Shakar, our trio created sounds and dynamic visuals which were
at times carefully scored, and at other times loosely improvised.
Scribble has since appeared, or will appear, at Opera
Totale 6 (Venice, 1/01), the Berlin
Transmediale (2/01), and Interaction01
The AVES instruments are available (for Windows2000) from the Ars
Electronica Center Store, as part of a DVD-ROM compilation
which documents the premiere
More information about the DVD is available here.
This work was made possible through the generous support
of Professor John
Maeda and the Aesthetics
and Computation Group at the MIT
Media Laboratory. The
contents of this page are © Copyright 2000 Golan Levin and the MIT Media
is interested in creating artifacts and experiences which explore
supple new modes of nonverbal expression. He graduated in September 2000
from the MIT Media Laboratory, where he studied with John Maeda in the
Aesthetics and Computation Group. Prior to MIT he worked at Interval Research
Corporation on the design of tools and toys for multimedia play and production.
(1999) permits the user to create and manipulate a shimmering,
nebulous cloud of color and sound. This glowing formlessness
rapidly evolves, dissolves and disperses as it follows and
responds to the user's movements.
(1999) disperses and deflects soft-edged tendrils in response
to the user's movements. Sound granules in a circular pitch-space
create chorused drones as the tendrils grow. [image
Yellowtail (1999) repeats
a user's strokes end-over-end, enabling simultaneous specification
of a line's shape and quality of movement. When placed into
an 'inverse spectrogram', these
marks are sonified by an additive synthesizer. [image
(2000) allows the user to create animated compositions of
glowing blobs. When a second cursor is played over the surface
of the spots, it produces tones and chords from a Chebyshev
waveshaping synthesizer. [image
an animated score around the spine of a user's mark. As the
marks are perpetually redrawn, they are sonified by a curvature-sensitive
FM synthesizer. [image
photograph of the AVES systems installed at the OK Centrum
in Linz, Austria, September 2000. Photo: Otto Saxinger [image
Award of Distinction [2nd Prize]
Prix Ars Electronica 2000.
Mention (Software Art),
Berlin Transmediale, 2001.
Medal, ID Magazine
Interaction Design Awards, 2000.
Interactive Design Annual 6, 2000.
of Interactive Category,
BitByBitDigital juried exhibition, 2000.
Information and Images
Master's Thesis Document
(photos by Tanya Bezreh)