The Green Machine

 Green Machine by Ben Neill

Green Machine is an interactive installation/performance work which incorporates live electro-acoustic music and MIDI controlled slide projections. All of the sonic and visual elements are integrated according to principles of resonance and controlled through a unique interactive computer system. Green Machine explores a wide range of environmental states modeled on ideas of order and chaos found in nature. Visual artist Chrysanne Stathacos has supplied 720 images for the projections. The images are details from Stathacos’ ivy, rose, hair and marijuana paintings from 1988-94. The projection architecture and color effects were designed by Jim Conti.

In my musical compositions of the last few years I have frequently used a natural tuning system known as just intonation to determine pitch relationships as well as rhythmic, durational and formal structures. In Green Machine this approach is being extended to the visual realm. The entire piece is constructed from four integers (6, 7, 8 and 9) which provide the pitch material (the four tones and their harmonics), tempo structure (each tone/overtones have their own corresponding tempos) and larger formal parameters.

Two sets of four slide projectors are used in Green Machine. Four color filters and four sets of images correspond to the integers 6, 7, 8, and 9. The projections are controlled according to the same numerical structures as the sonic elements. The dimming of the lamps and the advancing of the slide are communicated to the projectors through the same interactive system that controls the music. I am able to play the projectors with the mutantrumpet either by playing acoustically or by touching force sensing pads which are mounted on the instrument. Dynamics from my acoustic playing may also be used to control lamp brightness, tempo or the shape of the dissolve curve.

In performance, I interact with the system, introducing random or unpredictable elements to the structure. During times when I am not performing viewers may interact with the sound and visuals through the use of control pedals scattered around the floor.