Artist Interview: Chris Speed Visuals

Chris Speed is an audio-visual artist from London who creates visual abstractions across moving images. His work is a cross-section of 3d, audio-visual design and synthesis – resulting in some pretty mind-bending art! Chris has worked on a variety of projects from music videos and promos to live projections for art and music events.

Recently I spoke with Chris about his project Error 404 and he was kind enough to share a bit about himself and also what went into the making of his Error 404 video project.

Who are you and what do you do?
My name is Chris Speed I go by Chris Speed Visuals and I am audio-visual artist.

Why do you do what you do?
I got into video art through college and have always been a fan of abstract filmmaking. While at university I learnt more about the history of Vjing and visual music. Then I realized this is what I wanted to do, since many of my friends are DJ’s so adding a visual element to their performances seemed like a natural progression. However I have always kept an interest in making my own audio-visual art projects as my career has progressed.

What art do you most identify with?
When I first started I identified with artists such as Nam June Paik, Norman McLaren and Andy Warhol. But as time has passed I look to modern motion graphical artists such as Max Hattler and Jesse Kanda.

What are some things that you find inspiring?
I look to many different places for inspiration such as Brutalist architecture, light, colour, technology and nature itself.

Are there themes you pursue in your work?
Reflecting on my work it seems that certain themes emerge such as monochrome vs colour, nature vs technology and reality vs simulation possibly? I like to leave it open to interpretation as I think that is what makes art so powerful.

Chris shares some of the process behind creating Error 404 in greater detail:

My process for this project was based around a brief for an art exhibition in which glitch was the thematic structuring point.

So basically, after mentally storyboarding the project, I started by creating monochrome scenes, characters and animations within Cinema 4D then rendered them as PNG sequences with Alpha Channels. I then imported everything into After Effects then composited/rendered them as video files along with the opening scrolling code which I learnt how to do using a basic online tutorial.

Then I brought these mov files into VDMX where the real fun begins! Basically I set up a patch in VDMX with four layers, one for the characters, one for backgrounds, one for a syphon input and one as a main pass to control the video feedback. So with the pre-rendered videos set to their respective layers, I then created a custom patch in the video synthesis software Lumen and output it to VDMX and vice versa via the Syphon protocol.

I experimented with the blend modes for each layer till I got a colourful result I was happy with. Then with VDMX & Lumen already creating a feedback loop with each other; I wanted to add some more analogue texture and chaos to the distorted images.

I then sent the VDMX output to my Edirol V4 video mixer using the Intensity Shuttle capture card by Blackmagic Design. I also placed a BPMC Basic Cable within the signal chain for extra video processing. From here I spent hours using the effects on the mixer with the basic cable until I got a collection of results I was happy with. I edited together all the captured footage using Premiere Pro.

Finally, I wanted to make the experience audio-visual so I spent some time developing complementary sound for the project. For the majority of the opening segment I used a online Microsoft Sam speech emulator which I then warped and stretched with Ableton Live.

To match the analogue feedback of the images I wanted to do something similar with the audio so I used a contact microphone to pick up the electromagnetic waves from my speakers then fed that into a Korg Monotron Delay. I recorded the jam into Ableton and to conclude I synced the sound to the video back in Premiere Pro. The final result is Error 404!

For upcoming projects you can follow Chris on Vimeo, or check out his next project Pas De Trois below.

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