Mother - The Visualisation of Music


Mother – a description

From the colour organs of past centuries, built to represent sound in a visual medium, to today’s Vjingartists and scientists have shown perpetual interest in the live performance of visual imagery. The limited aesthetic flexibility permitted by existing tools, however, has meant that artists striving to differentiate their work have most often been the inventors and creators of the tools they use.

To address these obstacles, Lab of Misfits in collaboration with Illias Bergstrom has developed the Mother programme, which is a set of tools that makes use of and extends the popular Processing open-source multimedia programming environment. Together, these tools enable artists without the skills of computer programming to significantly influence the content of their visual performance, while also keeping the programming of new graphics algorithms accessible to those seeking greater creative control.

The project’s most innovative and distinctive feature is that the resulting graphics are primarily controlled through the musical instruments played by a group of live musicians. Which means musicians can effectively create images by the way they play their instrument or the way they move their hands, which has the potential to feed back and alter the kind of music that the musician plays. In this way, musicians can discover new music by being able to experience their playing through senses other than hearing.

Visuals from the project

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Click on image for slideshow.

Further information

For more detailed information, we encourage you to read our related academic paper-
Mother: Making the Performance of Real-Time Computer Graphics Accessible to Non-programmer

The software used to create the visuals shown here is Mother 0.3, a free open-source programme developed by Ilias Bergstrom for VJing with multiple Processing sketches.

The latest version of the Mother programme can be found, along with the most recent news relating to its development, on Ilias Bergstrom’s website The animated graphics are procedurally rendered in real-time, and are controlled primarily through musical notation data (MIDI).