Johnny Tomasiello is a multidisciplinary artist and composer-researcher living and working in New York.
His work employs methodologies across media, and is informed by research into history and technology, neuroscience, and social movements.
Drawing on custom-built instruments and software, his work references mechanisms of expression and experience through storytelling, translation and abstraction.
Starting his artistic career as a painter, Johnny Tomasiello simultaneously began his work focusing on the psychophysiological implications of interactive artworks as stimuli in the 1990s,
assisting with, and performing, medical research on heart rate variability biofeedback. This represented a move away from making objects to making processes, and was the beginning of an
exploration of the validity of using the scientific method as an artistic process. This evolved into research and artworks that investigate the neurological effects of modulating brainwaves
and their corresponding physiological processes through neuro- and bidirectional feedback.
Concerned with maintaining a balance between the mindfulness an experience was meant to inspire, and the meaningfulness of the result, he has continued to refine his work in
interactive computer-assisted compositional performance systems and Brain-Computer Interfaces (BCI) that create, manipulate, and deconstruct audio and visuals,
as well as physiological responses, and has lectured on the subject, and performed around the world.
moving towards synchrony
moving towards synchrony is an immersive audio and visual work whose purpose is to explore the reciprocal relationship between electrical activity in the brain, as well as other biorhythms, and external stimuli that has been generated and defined by those same physiological events.
Ultimately, the aim of the work is to present an interactive computer-assisted compositional performance system as an installation artwork and to teach participants how to influence a positive change in their own physiology by learning to influence the functions of the autonomic nervous system. In addition to the neuroscience concerns mentioned above, this work is designed to explore the validity of using the scientific method as an artistic process. The methodology will be to create an evidence-based system for the purpose of developing research based projects.
The project collects physiological data through non invasive neuroimaging by means of a Brain Machine Interface (BMI) designed in Max 8. Brainwave and heart rate data are used to generate realtime and interactive music and visual compositions which are simultaneously experienced by a subject. The melodic and rhythmic content, as well as the visuals, are derived from, and constantly influenced by, the subject’s EEG and heart rate readings. A subject, focusing on the generative stimuli, will attempt to elicit a change in their physiological systems through their experience of the bidirectional feedback.
moving towards synchrony detail
detail from moving towards synchrony
moving towards synchrony live hardware performance
live hardware performance of moving towards synchrony, my brainwave to music translation project.
moments in moments
moments in moments explores the concepts of reducing melodic performance, over time, to select frequencies, and how those results can be used to rebuild a work in order to distill it to its most simple and significant components.
After the introduction of the thesis melody performance, granular synthesis algorithms, time warping, equalization, and micro edits are utilized to isolate the most representative elements of the passages. Those results are then arranged with the intention of reasserting the melody in a more pure form and are introduced as new passages evolving from the original in a single work. These refined passages are again manipulated, further unraveling the melody and marking time through movement and metamorphosis, instead of melodic complexity or performance. In addition to the piano melody, the introduction of an analog oscillator further emphasizes this concept through a reduction in the frequency of its modulation, resulting in a transition from a complex waveform to a simple sine wave.
This piece is intended to have an exponential reduction in complexity over time. To achieve this, minor earlier representative elements are reintroduced each time the melody is scaled back, and newer, simpler elements are added. This serves not only to guide the listener from one movement to the next with something familiar but also to underscore the change in complexity and definition by way of direct comparison.
I developed the granular synthesis algorithm based on the needs of this project, and it is something that I plan to develop further as I refine this concept in future iterations. Another planned experiment would eschew melody and time altogether, by isolating the harmonic frequencies of a single note.
non-arbitrary construct explores movement and evolution in geometry and sound when each is influenced by the other.
The work was composed in Max/MSP/Jitter. After an initial starting point was chosen, control over characteristics of that shape was defined and changes to it were derived from sound. The sound was similarly created, where rhythm, frequency and modulation qualities were decided in advance, then affected by changes in the geometric shape. The final work creates a non-repeating feedback loop whose qualities are represented both sonically and visually.
This work, like my other piece Reactivate, juxtaposes the differences between the conscious choices of the artist within the limits of the medium, investigating the effect of choices that are proactive compared to those that are reactive. Some randomness is also introduced, in order to further remove the artist from the real-time decision-making process, and was assigned to both the audio and visuals using Brian Eno and Peter Schmidt's Oblique Strategies.
For this piece, the limits do not come from the physicality of the method, but from consciously chosen definitions of the palate available for the expression of the idea. The proactive choices are then mathematically derived from this subset of possibilities producing results that are familiar to the artist, but at the same time often surprising. Works that explore these questions are directly related to my overall interest in creating immersive pieces that derive their form directly from their concept, with real-time performance considerations being decided by interaction with the viewer, rather than choices by the performer.
reactivate was designed to begin exploring to what extent proactive processes may also be reactive.
The tempo of the piece is derived from the performer's heart rate in real time (via an Arduino heart rate monitor generating a clock for the modular system), while the melody is simultaneously improvised. Both the audio and the video of the piece were recorded simultaneously.
Besides the performer's conscious melodic choices, the tempo is affected by the emotional response of the performance as well as the physical actions of the performer's movements. Different properties of the sound are modulated based on both the performance and the tempo, as well as predetermined choices that define a range of, and a limit to the possibilities available during the performance.
The work documents variation of tempo and timbre with some changes being derived from conscious choice in presentation or limitation, and others from the extent, and also the limitations, of the emotional and physical reactions to the experience of creating the work itself.
Cities Blocks is a time based digital abstraction with motion and sound,
is a collaboration between the painter Samia Halaby and multidisciplinary artist
Cities Blocks: "Financial District" series I, 2022
Cities Blocks: "Parque de los Ninos" series I, 2022
Cities Blocks is a series of short digital films named after locations in cities. The
inspiration relies on the perception that cities are huge beings within which we, as
humans, collectively serve as the blood corpuscles. The beauty of their rhythms,
the daily ebb and flow of life, the noisy markets, street life, the aesthetic of product
displays, the beauty of their parks, their graffiti, traffic, and much more.
The short digital films, the blocks of Cities Blocks, titled after the many locations
impressed on our memory, are abstractions and do not attempt to reproduce
appearances but rather seek to equate the principles of motion perceived in the
great feast of experience that Cities present as living, pulsating beings.
Each block may be between 15 and 60 seconds long. They may be sequenced in
different ways to create a longer experience. As a time-based artwork, Cities
Blocks, does not attempt to adhere to principles of discreet artworks with a
preplanned scenario. Rather, the experience of any combination of blocks might
equate the experience of walking several blocks of a city or driving up an avenue.
Each piece is presented as a standalone artwork, while various combinations can be
sequenced to create new experiences.
Figure : pen & ink wash
Illustration : pen & ink
Figure Study : pastel
Anatomy Study : charcoal
Anatomy Study : charcoal
Lighting Study : oil
Light & Form : oil
Light & Color : oil
Figure : oil
Dynamics Study : oil
Still Life detail : oil
Portrait : cut paper
Sculpture : 2,000 gummy bears
Mechanical : vector
Street Art : stencil
hifi assassin Record Cover : digital
8 bit Boom Box : digital
Boom Box : vector
“Cities Blocks” exhibition at The Masa7a Gallery (in collaboration with Samia Halaby).
“Cities Blocks” exhibition at Kunsthall Oslo, in Norway (in collaboration with Samia Halaby).
published texts and lectures:
Lectured at NYU on his EEG music translation software and published work Moving Towards Synchrony, a Brainwave to Music Translation System.
Lectured at IRCAM, Paris on his physical motion translation software and published work A System for the Synchronous Emergence of Music Derived from Movement.
Publication of Moving Towards Synchrony, a Brainwave to Music Translation System in Performance on Backslash.lit.
Lectured at IRCAM, Paris on his EEG music translation software and published work Moving Towards Synchrony..
Publication of Moving Towards Synchrony, a Brainwave to Music Translation System in Performance on Cycling ’74’s website, the creators go Max/MSP, the softer used to create the project.