Sound artist Ben Houge transposes his ambient, algorithmic structures into the visual domain for the first time, inviting viewers to experience the link between the two media with a live performance
Sound Currents and [the studio] are pleased to present 29 Giraffes, the first exhibition of visual art by composer and sound artist Ben Houge. 29 Giraffes is a selection of algorithmically generated digital prints, created using a custom computer program to reshuffle snippets of photographs into kaleidoscopic new constellations. Ben’s program, written in Max/MSP, functions as a kind of elaborate and very specialized paintbrush that he uses to paint his images on the screen, a process analogous to the granular synthesis techniques he’s been applying in his sound pieces for years. The photographs used as source material for these works were taken along East Nanjing Rd. at night, providing a bright, neon palette, ripe for digital manipulation; the intricate, pointillistic images that result range from sparse wisps to rich fields of subtly-shifting color.
The opening reception features a live performance by Ben Houge and doubles as a release party for his new CD Radiospace 040823. Radiospace is an ambient, algorithmically-structured montage of Shanghai radio broadcasts, in which familiar snatches of music and speech disintegrate and re-emerge in surprising new juxtapositions, transforming melody into harmony and speech into soundscape. The work is a real-time computer program, designed to function as the basis of a sound installation, and this recording represents just one of an infinite number of possible renderings. The 29 Giraffes opening party presents an ideal opportunity to experience the same idea manifested in two media at the same time.
Ben Houge is a 13-year veteran of the videogame industry, where issues of real-time, non-linear, algorithmic systems are a matter of day-to-day business. He recently completed three and half years as audio director of Tom Clancy’s EndWar, a role-playing game for Xbox 360 and PS3, developed at Ubisoft Entertainment here in Shanghai. Previously he worked for Sierra and Microsoft in Seattle, WA, USA, contributing to such games as Half-Life: Opposing Force, Leisure Suit Larry 7, King’s Quest: Mask of Eternity, and Arcanum. Since arriving in Shanghai five years ago, he has been an active participant in the new music scene, performing at the 2Pi Festival in Hangzhou, the Shanghai eArts Festival, the Zendai Museum of Modern Art, RESO, and several NOIShanghai shows. His sound installations have been exhibited at Beijing’s Today Art Museum and Shanghai International Creative Industry Week. Back in Seattle, he founded the Sound Currents concert series and was a member of the Seattle School composers’ collective from its inaugural performances. Please visit www.benhouge.com for all your Ben Houge needs.
[the studio] is a shared workspace for creative business, located in an old lane house in the heart of the French Concession, whose mission is to connect creative professionals from all fields with each other and with a broader, like-minded community. To this end, [the studio] opens its doors for creative events, establishing a creative hub via talks and discussions, exhibitions, film screenings, art classes, workshops, and happenings. More info about [the studio] is available at www.thestudio.cn.