Jason E Geistweidt

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for want of forest

for want of forest is large-scale, telematic audio-visual installation (currently in production) comprised of 40 two-meter acrylic tubes suspended vertically at varying heights across a darkened gallery space. Each object is illuminated internally by a a strip of addressable RGB LEDs, such that each tube becomes, effectively, a very low-resolution 1 x 60 pixel display. Collectively, the installation is conceived as a distributed, 3-dimensional assemblage of 2,400 pixels which the viewer may enter into and observe from various angles and vantage points.

Driving this display is a set of 4 to 6 networked cameras placed throughout the city of Buffalo, focusing upon scenes chosen for their color palette and varying amounts of activity, e.g. the horizon at sunset, a busy intersection, a large stand of trees. As the installation switches between camera feeds, the images are relayed back to the gallery site in real time, the resolution downgraded to 60 x 40, and the pixels mapped accordingly across the 2,400 LEDs of the installation.

Though a one-to-one correlation between the captured image and the colors displayed is retained, the installation is not intended to present a coherent depiction of the video source. Rather, the installation works against this, rendering the content as a slowly evolving, discontinuous color field that changes throughout the day. The audio component of the installation is similarly derived.

Microphones located at each camera site capture live audio, feeding this content back to the gallery where the streams are blended and blurred in the spectral domain. This is a digital process by which the ‘weights’ of constituent frequencies — much like the hues of the pixel data — are evaluated and averaged over time. The resultant digital signal is re-synthesized and diffused into the space to create a complementary mashup of tones, a slowly-evolving drone changing in response to sounds occurring at the remote camera locations.


Twittage is an automatic technique for generating images from visual assets found in the open Twitter stream, the so-called ‘firehose’. A portmanteau of Twitter (the subject) and frottage (the technique), twittage pulls images from Twitter in real time, as they are posted, layering them upon one another. By varying the alpha value of these images, the number of layers, and the blending algorithm, the process creates a range of results from abstract fields of color to complex media collages/barrages.



netChimes is a wind-actuated instrument comprised of a collection of 20 globally-distributed wind chime sensors. These sensors are connected via the Internet to a collection of physical chimes (a carillon of sorts) located at a public venue. When a remote sensor is triggered by the wind, a corresponding chime is struck at the installation site. As conceived, the installation sonifies and visualizes ambient wind activity, rendering those intangible things — the Internet, the global village, the wind — tangible. Visit the project site here.

Reliquary: the body of Preston Bradley

The work takes the form of a lamp, a guiding light, a lamp of knowledge. It serves as both lighthouse and homing beacon, intended to calm the minds and uplift the hearts of lost souls, in much the same way that Bradley attempted to do in his secular writings. My experience is that he was somewhat a cross between Dr. Phil, Jesus, and Buddha, spinning yarns, extending parables. In its current state, the lamp is a computer driven object housing 12 liquid crystal displays driven by a statistical process which generates quotes from 4 of Bradley’s self-help texts. At times the quotes are pure Bradley, at other times the program produces nonsensical koans. The object is lit internally and rotates through differing color/brightness progressions. This work continues as a social intervention as @RevBradleyBot on Twitter.


In Zoetrope, an investigation built in collaboration with student Kenza Statuoa, a dancer's motions were recorded in the motion capture studio and rendered into simple 3D models using the Processing sketching language. Individual frames were exported and printed on a MakerBot fabricator and affixed to a rotating platform, mounted inside a container with a window cut in the front. A combination of magnets and a single Hall Effect sensor strobes the array of 10 LEDs via an Arduino microprocessor as the models enter the window.

Video documentation is available by playing the embedded media to the left and also here.

Cubes 2009

The CUBES 2009 Project, developed along with students Gary Kupzcak and Laura Thompson, is an interactive, computer controlled sound installation presented at the Hokin Gallery as part of the Columbia College's Manifest Festival in 2009. The installation has since been installed at Electronic Music Midwest (2010) and the Art.on.Wires Conference in Oslo (2011).

A video overview is available by playing the embedded media to the left and also here.

Social Media


@GuyDebordBot is generating texts from Guy Debord's Society of Spectacle and produces complementary twittage images from the Twitter firehose. This bot uses the Rita natural language processing library within the Processing sketching platform. You may read the bot's complete timeline on Twitter @guydebordbot

August 2016

August 2016 is a deck of 101 cards outlining instructions for realizing, witnessing, and reporting the completion of a unique situation. Anyone who wishes to participate may select a card from the top of the deck and – in their own time and manner – realize the event outlined on the back of the card. Upon completion, the participant is asked to provide a brief testament on the back of the card, as well as secure an individual to serve as witness to the unfolding of the event. Both performer and witness should sign the card, at which point the card may be deposited into any United States postal box to be processed and archived.

If a return address is provided and the card arrives at the specified address, a letter and certificate of completion (suitable for framing) is returned to the participant confirming completion of the event. This work was part of the Embodiment Show at the Preston Bradley Center in October of 2016. Cards began arriving November 2016 and will be processed over the coming year.


The Loop

Documentation of JacksOn4′s performance of the global feedback instrument, The Loop, at NIME 2011. From left to right, Alain Renaud, Jason Geistweidt, Tom Davis, and (not pictured because he is many kilometers away) Jason Dixon. A paper authored by the performers included in the conference proceedings can be found on the research page.

Video documentation is available by playing the embedded media to the left and also here.


Algorhythm is the the sonic component of an interactive work developed by Paige Cunningham and Erin Feiler at the Dance Center of Columbia College Chicago. The work is a Pure Data (Pd) composition which reacts to the actions of dancers tapping, landing, stepping, pounding, or touching six piezo sensors attached to pads at the lip of the stage. It is the interaction of the dancers with the sensors which both generates sonic events and progresses the work forward.

Video documentation is available by playing the embedded media to the left and also here.

Cubes x5

Though not designed for the stage, the CUBES 2009 installation was adopted by the Dance Center at Columbia College as an integral part of the dance work Cubes X5.

Video documentation is available by playing the embedded media to the left and also here.



incommunicado is comprised of private sounds, intimate vocalizations we share with ourselves. Only the individual can know what these sounds mean, if anything. From these sources, naturalistic environments are established, some approaching reportage, others moving toward the surreal, or perhaps hyper-real. I am contemplating the artist’s inability to communicate effectively, the obscurity of language, the beauty of internal, small sounds, and the intimate nature of observation.


méchanique was written in response to a call from 60x60 to produce works of one minute in length. The overwhelming majority of the original source material is derived from contact microphones affixed to a large cast iron bathtub located at my father’s house in Hilda, Texas. The remainder are contact microphone recordings of my grandparent’s old upright piano which sits in the living room at dad’s place. There are also sounds of our aluminum kitchen sink here in the Chicago apartment. There is little manipulation of the source material, just a good deal of editing (this is my preferred working style). This work appearedd in the 2007 60x60 Midwest Mix.

Customer Assistance

During 2008 I made a collection of field recordings in and about Chicago to use in class as listening exercises for student. This one strikes me as somewhat haunting and sterile, with textbook of examples of discreet, periodic, and discreet activity, all culminationg in a narrative that activates the imagination of the listener.

Combine (after Rauschenberg)

Robert Rauschenberg began attaching found objects to his abstract canvases in the 1950′s. At first these were merely additions to a two-dimensional flat canvas, but eventually, these combines (as Rauschenberg referred to them) left the gallery wall entirely, becoming free-standing 3-dimensional assemblages. By incorporating found objects such as ‘Coca-Cola bottles, clothing and newspaper clippings,’ the artist not only ‘broke down barriers between painting and sculpture,’ but questioned the barriers between ‘art and the outside world.’ Combine incorporates vinyl recordings collected from charity shops in Belfast, Limerick and Galway. This work, like Rauschenberg’s ‘combines’, is a free-standing assemblage in which diverse sources acquire new meaning and context through ever-evolving juxtapositions. Spatially, I chose to dispense with the typical front/back orientation of the concert hall; thus, the focus of the work is continually moving around the space.

A letter from the trenches of Adrianopolis

In his manifesto, The Art of Noises, Luigi Russolo incorporates a letter from his colleague, the father of The Futurist Manifesto, F. T. Marinetti. In this letter, a description of the battlefield, the poet endeavours to relate the sounds of “the orchestra of the noises of war” via onomatopoetic text. In A letter from the trenches of Adrianopolis . . . Marinetti’s prose is presented in English translation by five individual voices. The readings have been transformed and reworked to convey the sonic milieu of the battlefield. The composition works in multiple layers with distinct fore-, mid- and background regions. This dimensionality is further heightened by the use of horizontal movement complementing the gestures of individual events. A letter from the trenches of Adrianopolis . . . progresses between external examination of events and internal reflections of the observer. This work was the recipient of the 2005 emsPrize from Electronic Music Sweden and premiered 22 October 2004 at the Belfast Festival.

meditation, mediation, meditation

Originally commissioned from The 9th International World Harp Congress as a request for a work for harp and live electronics, this work was subsequently recorded by harpist Cliona Doris and is available on A Pale Yellow Sky, a compilation of new works for harp released by RTE Lyric FM in the Republic of Ireland. Meditation treats the sounds of the solo instrument, using both classical and extended techniques, to establish a conversation between the live electronics and the instrument.

Representative Student Works

Digital Design Foundations (Undergraduate)

Patrick Hamilton, Self Portrait
Kailey Gonzales, Self Portrait
Jose 'Bernie' Reyes-Facio, Self Portrait
Do you miss the rolling hills of Mars?
Kailey Gonzales, Scanography
Aljane Sion, Scanography
Nina Nguyen, Scanography

Visual Environments (Graduate)

Untitled (Bananas) – Fruit Too Spoils in Foreign Countries

Yeinier Gonzalez, MFA candidate

Untitled (Bananas) is inspired by my experiences returning to Cuba after many years living outside the island. During those travels, I realized that something as simple as eating a banana felt different, they tasted otherworldly, they felt more right. The more I ate bananas in the United States, the less they tasted like bananas. Nothing could compare, and it became apparent that even fruit too spoils in foreign countries.

“But, even when you do return home, home is not the same. Home exists somewhere in the middle, floating by a thread. Home becomes an ideal that is far impossible to achieve. This installation explores the idea of dislocation. The bananas that appear to be ripe and ready to eat exist in a state of suspension. They hover and sway over the reality that lies below them, the eventually state of these once they fall forms the shape of the map of Cuba. Referencing both the reality of the myth of home but also, referencing the decaying state of life on the island for most Cubans, these bananas were products of a failed attempt at preservation.”

Video documentation of this work may be found here.

How to Have a Natural Experience

Elaine Catherine Miller, MFA candidate

How to Have a Natural Experience is an acknowledgement to my own disillusionment and passivity towards the natural world. In front of my TV, I can escape to the Serengeti, Himalayas, and into the scariest depths of the ocean without leaving the safety of my couch. Eating handfuls of chili pepper & lime flavored Takis, gulping mouthfuls of Strawberry Crush, I can go weeks without having digested a single real fruit or vegetable.

Huddled under a mountain of blankets while the air vent above sends a direct stream of blowing heat down onto my cold, frigid body, I can forget what standing on the edge of a hill with a gust of wind at my back feels like. I don’t need to seek wildlife when I already have a slew of small, domesticated animals running rampant around the limited 500 square feet of space my partner and I inhabit. Out an open window in my kitchen, I can hear the neighbor’s dog barking, the birds chirping – I know the outside is there, and yet, I have everything I need here – inside.

Video documentation of the installation can be found here.

The video “Hurricane” featured in this work can be seen in its entirety here.

Digital Obscura

Scott Vaughn Tavitian, MFA candidate

Built with the ubiquitous technologies of our time, Digital Obscura uses webcams, LED screens, video cameras, and projectors to transform the literal world through multiple representations. Referencing the cameras ever-present nature in our society, I aim to use its powers of surveillance and limited resolution for positive ends. I want to revel in the forms of color and light that result from the live feed of Chicago as it is altered through each piece of equipment it passes through. This project is an effort to push back against the simplistic idea of technology as only blurring or dampening our experience of the real world, I wanted to use the inherent qualities of a digital image and its consumption and presentation mediums to counter the increasingly strategic and controlled nature of society. The question becomes not whether technology distorts but how we are going to use it for our own ends. The low-resolution imagery frustrates easy perception, slowing down the participant to suggest a more mindful and contemplative mode of viewing.

The inspiration for this project was a desire to understand how the technology we use in our everyday lives, whether a computer, led screen, camera, or webcam, alters our experience of the world. By using simplified versions of these devices, and then intentionally blurring or distorting them through qualities inherent in the device, I want to bring their effects to the forefront. Rather than make a simplistic judgment about the negative aspects of digital technology as limited or removing us from experience, I wanted to explore the possibilities for using that process of simplification to bring out the inherent beauty present in the world. This project is a suggestion that more detail and clarity is not always necessarily better, only by understanding how the devices we use everyday shape our experience of the world can we use them to positively affect the world.

Video documentation of this work may be found here

Introduction to Performance Capture (Undergraduate)


Kenza Statoua, BA Game Development

This work is an abstraction of performance data captured by the student in collaboration with other members of the class in the motion capture studio. The data is subsequently visualized in Processing using a purpose-built library. The segments are then composited in After Effects and Premiere, in this instance cut to the pop song "Ghosts" by The Mystery Skulls.

Kenza and I collaborated on the Zoetrope project which can be found here.


Samantha Greathouse, BA Interactive Arts

An example of motion capture data visualized by Samantha Greathouse, a student in the Introduction to Performance Capture class. This data was captured from a live performance in our motion capture studio, visualized in Processing, and composited in After Effects.

Coding for Artists/Art+Code (Undergraduate)

Portfolio reel: The Art of Code

Creative Coding Students, UIC

A portfolio reel of small works developed in Processing by students of the UIC New Media Art program for public display in venues at the Art Villarte Festival in West Chicago Fall 2015.