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Have you ever heard of codebending? I hadn’t. Apparently it’s the physical patching together of little bits of computer code, using jacks and patch cables, and then bending the resulting code-cum-sound. Nifty. And you’ve got to love this modular codebending console, called the illucia. It’s a gorgeous piece of geeky tech-art. And any code can be bent.

Video games can play other video games. Music synthesizers can control word processors. Feedback loops turn everyday software tropes into generative art. Simple AI is patchable. Anything controls (and can be controlled by) anything; in codebending, every system becomes an instrument with a unique voice, ready to control, and to be controlled.

Did I mention how gorgeous the console is?

Illucia: A modular codebending instrument

Gareth Branwyn

Gareth Branwyn is a freelancer writer and the former Editorial Director of Maker Media. He is the author or editor of a dozen books on technology, DIY, and geek culture, including the first book about the web (Mosaic Quick Tour) and the Absolute Beginner’s Guide to Building Robots. He is currently working on a best-of collection of his writing, called Borg Like Me.


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Comments

  1. Somewhat similar to my modular synth project, ADASYNTH, that’s based off of embedded chips being controlled by and producing analog voltages.

    Except this is incredibly well put together and I assume relies less on analog voltages to control it’s parameters. I hope to see more from this and dream of the day where this kinda thing really takes off.

    Here’s a link to my project: http://adasynth.tumblr.com/

    1. Chris says:

      Very cool project!

      Also, your intuition is correct: illucia doesn’t send CV like traditional modular synthesizers, rather, it uses microcontrollers to determine its state (knobs, buttons, and connections between jacks).

      Thanks for the very generous praise – and yeah.. you’ll definitely see more in the next few months!

  2. Dave Brunker says:

    I remember when PBS’s Nova did a show on chaos theory, two researchers had an analog computer that looked like illucia. A lot of the analog synthesizers I’ve seen also look like that.

  3. AndrewS says:

    where do these people get money to build these monstrosities?
    i don’t believe they have jobs.
    all these machines do is go bleep bloop
    noise is not music there is a difference
    does look beautiful, shame it doesn’t do anything worthwhile

    1. Chris says:

      money came from my student pocket – I wanted to bring a strange passion/idea to material life.

      this machine doesn’t make a sound. illucia generates a state in binary, which can be interpreted any number of ways. I use it to determine how computer programs get routed into one another.

      I disagree with your noise/music distinction, but I respect your ability to maintain that space.

      1. Anonymous says:

        Nice response chris. I wish the world was able to peacefully disagree in such a manner.

  4. I love everything about this. Excellent work

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