Aug 2016

Square Root of Sin - Exhibition'16

Square Root of Sin - Exhibition'16

Exhibition took place back in 2016, as end point of our three month marathon Touchdesigner course in Mars Centre.

Curators & educators: Eugene Afonin, Yan Kalnberzin


Moscow-based artists and new media producers Yan Kalnberzin and Evgeny Afonin (as Curiosity Media Lab) have been conducting TouchDesigner workshops in Moscow for a number of years now. What began as short, intensive sessions evolved into week-long workshops and eventually into three month marathon sessions which culminate in incredible showings of the students' work. We were blown away by the exhibited work and also by Yan and Egevny's continuous efforts to teach TouchDesigner and to share their considerable knowledge and experience.

We asked them why they do this and then we asked the students about their experiences in class and working with TouchDesigner. Here is what we learned.

Yan Kalnberzin: We were first invited to make some small masterclasses on Anja Intektra's PLUMSFEST event 3 years ago. It turned out to be a lot of fun, and it made my brain work another way. Rethink and reformulate how and what I do and I liked it much. Students were asking questions and I couldn't sometimes give answers. So I had to dig into some new fields (and I still do).

Then we made some intensive week-long masterclasses and that was also cool. But I felt that only few of students had enough time to get used to the interface and concepts of TouchDesigner if they started from scratch. So we decided to make an experiment and make a longterm course. Last year was the first 3-month beginner's course and then there was another 3-month advanced course. At the end of their study the students made an exhibition of their works and in spite of all our expectations it was not trash at all. I was inspired by their ideas.

Tutors Yan Kalnberzin and Evgeny Afonin

You ask why we do it :-) of course we get some money from it. But also I personally get a lot of inspiration communicating with people, trying to find a way to pass knowledge. Try to make myself more straight and structured, aware of how people receive information.

And my dream besides all this is to create a community of media artists speaking the same language, capable of helping and teaching each other. I know very well what a boost you can get with the good advice of a professional who is open to sharing.

This year we also made a 3-month beginners course and had an exhibition of students' works in the end. This time I was even proud of some of the works!! Even though in some cases it was not our achievement. There were really talented students who went much deeper then we could even imagine. Probably soon they will make their own masterclasses here.

We are lucky to have this base in MARS GALLERY. It's a really cool ground for organizing educational events. And the staff helped us a lot with the exhibition.

Kristina Karpysheva NOTHINGNESS Performance

Kristina Karpysheva: The workshop was unique experience for me. I have acquired knowledge which I can use in the future projects. Yan and Evgeny have given us practical knowledge that it is very important for my development in the sphere of visual programming.

I created the project with rooms where the rooms are a state of mind of each person in the performance.

Melancholy-pasion-love-procrastination-distraction-absolute. The main idea was to create a space, an environment that could help to reveal the above emotions from our characters and not to make them play it. We were looking for the natural contact between them or even the lack of it, so there were almost no rehearsals in an attempt to keep it real, keep it true. We created a few room-projections that were looped together with a piano-ambient-noise mix. we wanted this audio-visual symbiosis to affect on our performers to make them live through their own feelings. In the end it was truly beautiful, 100% unpredictable and we were touched to the core.

Ilya Derzaev TRANSFORMATOR Installation / Performance Video to Sound Converter

Before I got to know Curiosity Media Lab my patch-creating experience with TouchDesigner was "one way": I did'nt know how to get the program's response to my ideas. I would just create nodes, wire them in a way that looked reasonable to me and then only plead that "one and only" TouchDesigner would somehow guess what I meant to do. Needless to say my final result was usually unexpected and not in the good meaning of the word! So I wanted to learn how to do things properly.

Three months of TouchDesigner course in Curiosity Media Lab with Yan Kalnberzin and Evgeny Afonin have totally reloaded my approach. The course gave me insight on the inner logic of the program - which was precious. Most important of all was the opportunity to put to practice everything that we have learnt in the classroom.

The final students' presentation in form of an av/live exhibition in Mars Center was great to take part in, as it gave a true feeling of what it means to work with TouchDesigner under strict deadlines. This was a perfect possibility to real-live test all that I've learnt during the course, and I am grateful for it.

The installation "Transformator" involves 2 cycles of sound processors and synthesis with an optical chain. They convert sound to visual depiction, distorting it to convert it back to sound again... and the whole process is repeated continuously. Each of 2 cycles of the installation includes the following devices: a projector, a plastic mirror, which can and should be distorted manually (by spectators), a screen, a webcamera, a computer with TouchDesigner program and an audiomonitor.

Alexey Nadzharov SUB2 Performance + Installation Sound + GLSL

I joined the course a little bit later so it was a couple of months of really intense learning and very useful information. Thanks again to Yan and Eugene for this great course!

Despite many new technical things I've noted a couple of ideas that seem important to me. First, it was really interesting to discover similarities in different media (as i have some experience in live electronics and audio programming) both in technical part (how we make patches, how we organize work etc.) and in the media itself (noted how my perception of interconnection between sounds and visuals is changing while I learned how to deal with video). Another thing: it was really great to discover a huge area to dive in and to get inspiration from many new exciting things and to see how I react on new things, how fast I accept that, or how much 'inertia' I do have in my perception.

In my installation I tried to focus on doing a couple of things that are new to me: more complex visual part and the installation as a form of art (as I usually have experience with process-in-time, not just a 'thing' itself).

The important TouchDesigner feature behind the technical part of my installation is its extensive 'metaprogramming' ability: the visual part is done as a raymarching shader that is built from multiple DAT nodes containing separate parts for geometry, lighting etc. that join in one shader code with a few Python scripts. But anyway, beside the technical part, it was really interesting experience for me to try to work with this form of art and understand which thing to do or do not work in that type of situation.

Katerina Pitz BUBBLEGUM CONSCIOUSNESS Installation

It was really helpful and successfully finished process of education. I got to the point to which I aspired when I started to study. The guys were really wonderful professionals and helped us to find the way to the implementation of concepts. The dreams came true.

It was my felicitous trial to use a Kinect in my experiments. And the class was really good! Everybody investigated into something in their own way, so it was also interesting to know students' experiences and results of research.

My final work is not the final result of the interaction with the program and the obtained knowledge. It's just the first step and show must go on! I wish to see the following results integrated to city life, big light festivals, etc.

Svetlana Mazova SEA OF MY MIND Sound-Reactive Video

I received the knowledge in the TouchDesigner course at MARS that has given me the inspiration and excitement for the possibilities of the program! My final work at the graduate students' exhibition is so very different from my initial attempts to convey the mood of a musical work in the form of lines, dots, shapes and movements… I do now know that if you do it seriously and for a long time, it is possible to reach the peak in creativity) Thank you very much to Eugene Afonin and Yan Kalnberzin for not letting us relax :) It really is a different world for me, an important part of everyday life!

Rustamo Yusupov WISTERIA TUNNEL Installation with Motor

Nutty lessons experience! Love TouchDesigner for the opportunity to connect Youtube with Photoshop, motor with fan or any neurons or internet ideas from my mind. This is what I dreamed about!

Project-teaser-research synchronizing fields of physical and not physical worlds, big fan and video projection controlled by one movement. The inspiration for this research came from the Wisteria Tunnel in Japan. In the final version of this interaction the parallax effect will be more deep between the two type of worlds.

Roman Gavrilov POLLEN WALTZ Installation

I liked the course of study of Yan and Evgeniy on TouchDesigner. I train with them for the third time on the introductory course, each time discovering new facets and possibilities on the platform of TouchDesigner. Repetition - mother of the doctrine! In fact, every student in these workshops are discovering something new when watching the approach and thoughts of the other students. Thank you to all the participants of the course and the team behind TouchDesigner! I have received a positive experience and a new world of pollen on TouchDesigner!


It is a dance of pollen in the generated 3-dimensional space under a classical audio composition. This is a virtual theatrical production based on material taken from the laboratory of biological department at the Moscow State University on studies of pollen and fungal spores.

The visualization is a theatrical stage on which there are generative 3D action particles reacting to music of different types of plants emitting pollen into the sky, where the dance of pollen swirling in the air along to Tchaikovsky's Waltz of the Flowers.

Konstantin Vetrov SONSGOHOD Projection on Heat Insulation
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