Comments and Questions about the Chromaccord

Chromaccord Performance as Vusic

Vusic is kinetic visual art that can be performed live and aspires to be functionally analogous to music. The term has been adopted by software makers to mean "music-visualization software."

The chromaccord experience is a form of visual stimulation that does not exist in nature. It invokes neural responses that are normally used only to support other visual processes. A hunter, for example, detects the movement of game in an otherwise static visual field of forest or meadow because an afterimage is suddenly superimposed on a different retinal area causing a flash of sequential contrast. The chromaccord produces a concentrated color experience, but is this adequate to constitute a medium of vusic?

One day while playing the chromaccord I discovered an ecstatic state of oneness with the instrument and its visualization. Like finding the "zone" in music, the skill and sensitivity of playing became completely intuitive and fulfilling. On that day I knew that it was a real instrument, not just a contrived gimmick, but the question remained - what is the chromaccord?


Live Control vs. Structural Complexity

The 1999 chromaccord is an assemblage of lights and dimmers; it is non-digital. It sacrifices figural motion and pattern complexity to support live control of color, and to avoid mechanical systems. Amazing mechanical systems for live visual performance were built by Christian Sidenius, a student of Thomas Wilfred. I was fortunate to see some of these at his Lumia Theatre in Connecticut in 1979 and was amazed, but I never wanted to build mechanical structures. If motion could be added to the chromaccord it would be like turning a flute into a pipe organ!

My current user interface is a dimmer board with 18 dimmers, which enough for one performer to operate. The control space for color is 3 dimensional. Anyone want to engineer a better interface to control at least three color areas?

Eventually I expect that a digital chromaccord will be made with color and spatial motion control, but interface issues may remain. On the other hand I have never used a Wii.


Psychological Effect and Artistic Limitation of the Chromaccord

Watching the chromaccord by focusing on the center point, as intended, tends to produce a light hypnotic state. Some of us may find this interesting, but it is not particularly entertaining. This effect limits the role the chromaccord can play in the field of vusic.

The brain has different objectives for processing sound and color. Human survival benefits from acute differentialtion of sounds; not necessarily so for colors. A tiny change of pitch is quickly detected, while color changes often seem illusory. While playing chromaccord, I have noticed that small color changes sometimes seem to have no effect.The visual process of "color constancy" is the brain locking onto an object to maintain its identity in spite of color changes, which usually result in nature from lighting changes. This is a deep neuralogical survival mechanism that works against a perceptual art of color-change. Again, the neurological effect of the chromaccord limits its role in vusic.

Contemplating the peculiarityof chromaccord vusic, I condensed this conceptual generalization: on a primal level, auditory perception is used for communication, and visual perception is used for identification. Sounds started as cries, laughs and moans, which all transmit information about one's condition - they communicate. Vision is used to identify a plant, animal, or person by seeing its shape, color, and movement. This difference means that vusic can never play the role of music. Vusic is, however, finding its own role as an artistic endeavour.

The chromaccord is a strong instrument in its own right. Understanding its limitations as well as its unique power helps indicate directions for growth.

April 2009

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