Instruments of the future past is a series of interactive instruments that use sound, light and animation - with an audience participatory character in the form

of interaction. Instruments of the future past has an experimental appraoch towards the tools and methods used to create audiovisual interaction in an online environment.

The "past" part, comes in the form of the presence of "animusic"

It is a form of computer-animated music produced by a company of the same name. While most music visualizers—the kind bundled into your iTunes, for example—simply generate loopy imagery synchronized with the music being played back, Animusic begins with computer-animated models which programmatically "perform" each MIDI instrument in each song. Virtual instruments with precision timing, they call it.

Animusic was founded by Wayne Lytle, a computer animator and computer scientist who created his first visual music animation, "More Bells & Whistles," in 1990, while at the Cornell Theory Center, now the Cornell University Center for Advanced Computing. Compared to the baroque textures of official Animusic videos, "More Bells & Whistles" is rudimentary, but the instruments Lytle invented—a CGI vibraphone fountain, synth laser, and self-playing xylophone—make appearances in many of his later pieces.

 

We've long since accepted the mutable line between the physical and the digital in contemporary music—I, for one, can hardly distinguish between soft synths, analog tones, plugins, or "real" tones anymore. But we still think of instruments in rough categories: synthesizers, guitars, drums. In Animusic videos, a bubble is an instrument.  Fiber-optic balls of light are an instrument. A robot is an instrument. In this rendered world, freed from the physiological constraints of the human body's capacity to grasp and play it, an instrument can take any dimension. 

Animusic isn't quite the music of the future. Visually, it looks as though the iconic Mind's Eye computer animations from the early 1990s never went out of fashion, and instead grew in sophistication along with the increased processing power of the machines on which they were rendered. It's driven by MIDI, a thirty-year-old standard. In this way, Animusic feels like the creative summit of an alternate timeline.

And yet the landscape of its world, with its instruments untethered by the limits of human physiology, playing impossible compositions for their own benefit, feels resolutely posthuman. After all, when machines compose music solely for the joy of it, to express impulses and ideas inexpressible in their native programming languages, we will know for certain that we have entered a new era. 

 

Instruments of the future is aimed to be a crossbreed between animusic and new emerging technologies. As a research incubator and maker-principle "Instruments of the Future Past" sparked a series of prototypes

for interactive audiovisual artworks, currently made me as prototypes.