Numbercult is a banner for the work of Craig Ritchie Allan. Using realtime immersive audiovisual installations, interactive digital scultptures and live performances, he currently explores communication between abstract sound and visual worlds.
Track taken from the forthcoming album Sort/Lave to be released 2nd November 2018 on Planet Mu.
Design concept: When I set about constructing the video, I wanted the visual elements to engage the dynamics of the music, it felt like there was something elemental about the acoustic elements, so I starting thinking about about travelling through inner space, sub atomic structures forming and splintering apart and electric flashes of colour. I finished off by dropping in some sci-fi inspired interface elements to give the feeling you’re in a craft traversing a microverse.
Computer algorithms already shape our lives in ways most of us will never understand. We live in an increasingly complex world where information outstrips human capacity for understanding, and where only the power of machine learning can hope to find patterns within this insurmountable deluge. Today a dwindling band of humans understands the algorithms and the inferences being drawn by these powerful machines, and increasingly a greater number of decisions are being made in the absence of human insight, often referred to as the ‘black box problem’.
At some point in the near future, no human will be capable of understanding much of what is discovered by these machines. As advances in artificial intelligence continue, the eventual evolution of artificial superintelligence will lead to exponential cycles of self-improvement on the AIs themselves. This will result in an ‘intelligence explosion’ where these machines will become vastly more intelligent than the humans who created them in a very short period of time. This point is referred to as the ‘technological singularity’, an event horizon on human understanding and knowledge, and the dawn of a post-human world.
I started the process with a literal black box, which would be suspended without context within nebulous ether. The interior of the box would contain glimpses of an inscrutable process: transient flux/abstract circuits/esoteric data-streams.
Music and Sound Design
The music had to represent the balance of the humanity and the machine. Micro-rhythms and percussion form the mechanistic backbone of the track while humanities melodic lamentation is expressed through piano and strings.
The word ‘Artilect’ was coined by Dr Hugo de Garis in 2005.
Siren Servers was a commission for Sonica 2017 that brought together 4 leading Scottish sound and digital media creatives isodesign, Butler Bros, Numbercult and Giles Lamb to create a subterranean VR installation at the heart of Glasgow’s Merchant City. Exploring real time graphics, sensing and 3D audio this is a journey through a series of volumetric tableaux, with reactive motionography and sound.
Above is an edited version of the original VR installation rolled out to a panarama and with a more minimal arrangement, music was composed by Giles Lamb then re-arranged by myself. A real-time generative animation reacted to the position of the viewer/listener, as well as the music and other digital entities within the performance. Binaural sound tagged the position of objects within 3d space giving added depth to the experience.
Max Cooper – Cyclic – Official Video by Numbercult
The original concept was to build an animation around the track ‘Cyclic’. The track has powerful layers of complex percussion which producing a building mechanistic intensity. This is counterbalanced with melodic weightiness and a sense of scale, which evolves in waves across the piece. Max pushed the design to include a shift from 2d to 3d, and I conceived of a mechanistic structure that becomes part a sort of (futurist inspired) clockwork solar system (based on the orrery).
Rather have a conventional linear narrative or ‘journey’ I liked the idea of the Schrodingers multiverse. Working on that principle, multiple unique versions of the original system were developed by first duplicating the original solar system multiple times. Each solar system then developed independently; they contain their own behaviours, geometries and relationships, yet all occupy the same space and share a common aesthetic.
The music guides the narrative as we journey between all the overlapping solar systems, the journey is between dimensions rather than across space which I thought fitted nicely with the ideas expressed in the music: deepening but retaining a common hypnotic template. Each of the solar systems is generative; the whole project is recorded in real-time with no post production. Each recording is entirely unique guided only by the rules that govern each component system and its response via FFT analysis and directly from midi triggers and clock
A graphical sequencer where graphical collisions create the percussion. The design follows my interest in trying to mirror the emergent rhythms generated by clockwork machines, Charles Babbages analytical engine provided some design inspiration.
Inspired by Cornelius Cardew’s graphical score for treatise and based a seismograph-like method of mapping visual motion to generative musical elements. Human imput was required to ‘shepherd’ and shape the generative composition via a custom made interface. The performance is never fully under control, injecting enough humanity, but retaining generative novely and unpredictability. The perfomance element was inspired by the Dewanatron Dual Primate.