Gathering Lore

interactive video installation

Gathering Lore uses real-time environmental information from a locally installed weather station to interface with a database of weather folklore. Acting as a bridge between technology and historical folklore, this piece analyzes temperature, humidity, wind, rain, solar, and lightning information in order to display weather lore that corresponds to current conditions.

In the great Asian Tsunami of 2004 many animals knew of the impending danger. They were said to possess a sixth sense which warned them of the coming calamity that sent them searching for higher ground. Any trace that humans possess this sense is revealed in folklore: “Red sky at night, sailor’s delight; red sky in the morning, sailor take warning.” This folklore, based on observation and experience, is in essence, a dialogue with nature. It is a conversation in which we are losing fluency, perhaps even affinity for.

Our electronic systems of gathering environmental information differ only in precision from the weathercocks and Cape Cod glasses of yester-year, yet our increasing reliance on electronic sensation is dulling the remnants of our ‘sixth sense.’ This is occurring as the need to understand and adapt to the changing climate of our world has never been greater.



Animalia is an inter-species fairytale about a girl who is disenchanted with the world and wishes she could fly. She joins the circus only to discover it is a secret military operation. She then runs away to the woods and falls under the spell of a mystical deer. When she becomes an antlered deer-creature, she finally achieves flying powers and enters an ethereal world of hybrid creatures. Animalia began as a multi-media performance created by inter-disciplinary artist C. Ryder Cooley. Now the story is coming to life as a unique animation and printed book. Collaborator Bart Woodstrup worked with Ryder, animating her hand drawn illustrations.

Alex (from You Cannot Survive the End of the World)

single-channel video

This is an excerpt from “You Cannot Survive the End of the World’ – a 14 minute video/film about the future, population, and the environment. It was written for the 1995 World Population Film and Video Festival for which it won first place. It is comprised of many short clips and animation. These clips include a commercial for “Save the Moon” – a fictitious organization dedicated to saving the “vast wilderness of the moon, our celestial nightlight.” A commercial for a “new, clear power (nuclear power)” is also featured, including aerial footage of the nuclear power plant in Byron, IL.

Samay Chakra

interactive sound installation

Samay Chakra is a computer-based weather interactive sound installation. It was programmed using the MAX programming language to perform music according to the basic rules of India’s classical Hindustani music. The fundamental unit of this music is the raag. Musically, a raag is a system of scales and melodies that is to be performed at specific times of day and during certain seasons. Using a weather station, Samay Chakra collects data from the surrounding environment and applies that information to the composition of the music.

The Wind Turbine Powered Flag Series

LED flag Series

The Wind Turbine Powered Flag Series consists of several flags with embedded e-textile circuitry (LEDs) that allows them to be visible at night. As such, the flags thematically represent celestial imagery such as constellations, space exploration, and meteor showers. The flags are powered by a small Lenz vertical axis wind turbine (VAWT) that is mounted to the top of a flag pole. All flags are 3’ x 5’ and are made from a durable nylon material suitable for displaying outdoors.

We Came in Peace

We Came in Peace is a tribute to the six flags of the United States that were placed on the moon by the Apollo missions (1969-1972). The LED’s on the flag form a map of these lunar landings. For the past forty-plus years the flags have been subject to a temperature range of -150°C to 100°C. Without an atmosphere to protect the flags from sun’s ultra-violet radiation the flags have likely been bleached completely white. While the Apollo flags are probably severely deteriorated, recent lunar images suggest that the flags are still flying (except for the Apollo 11 flag which was knocked down when the Ascent Module made its return to Earth).

Meteor Flag (after Chelyabinsk)

Meteor Flag (after Chelyabinsk) is in reference to the meteor that fell on Chelyabinsk, Russia on 15 February 2013. This meteor is unique because it was recorded by the numerous ‘dash-cam’ videos popular in Russia and that the videos subsequently went viral.


Called to the Sky

video performance

Called to the Sky explores narratives of hope, loss, patriotism and skepticism in the many periods and places where war makes citizenship a confounding privilege. Overlapping themes jump off the pages of the scores into the music, video projections, and the dancers’ skillful and athletic improvisation.

Performed by Clyde Forth Visual Theatre at Merce Cunningham Studio September 2009.

Choreography: clyde forth
Music: Kevin Salem
Video Design/Editing: Bart Woodstrup
Lighting: Thomas Dunn
Costumes: Mau Conceptual Clothing
Dancers: Alex Cohen, Katelyn Chakey, Tatyana Tenenbaum, Mat Heggem, clyde forth.

Three Children Lie

single-channel video

“Three Children Lie” was a compositional experiment. Each of the artists were shown words as they improvised on their instruments. These words were conceptual cues to make adjustments to their improvisations. Various treatments were made to the original recordings via software synthesis packages (i.e. SMS, SMSMK, SK8) running on a NEXT workstation. Three Children Lie was composed with the intent to morph, through the use of the computer, the talents of the three musicians involved.
collaborators: James Hendricks (piano), Brian Harris (saxophone)

Pardew’s Lament

single-channel video

Pardews Lament by Small Scale Collisions video by vodstrup

555 Ohm Book

light sculpture

Periodically I have worked with the Northern Illinois University STEM Outreach program to teach young people about art and technology. In 2012 the DeKalb Public Library received a grant to run a class that would result in a permanent electronic sculpture to be housed at the library. After a basic introduction to electronics, the class (3rd-6th grades) were taught how to build a circuit using the 555 timer. With the 555 we made a solar-powered sound synthesizer and several types of LED lights.

The sculpture is made from clear acrylic plexiglass that has been formed into the shape of a book. Along the spine of the book are several LED lights that use the circuit that the students learned in class. The LEDs illuminate images etched onto the pages of the book. On the left page is a schematic of the circuit used to operate the LEDs. The name of the inventor of each component (resistor, capacitor, LED, integrated circuit, etc.) used in the circuit is also etched into the image. On the right page is a formula wheel for calculating Ohm’s law.

Community invited to ‘electrify minds’ June 6

Under Saraswati River

video performance
2006, 2012

“Saraswati” is in reference to the Hindu Goddess of learning, science, and the arts. Devi Saraswati is considered a river goddess, because she is named for a river that once flowed in Northern India. She is often depicted holding The Vedas (the book of universal knowledge), a string of pearls (for meditation), a container of water (river, purity), and the veena (a musical instrument, which, due to its quality of sound and craft, represents perfection in the arts and sciences).

Under Saraswati River’s first performance was part of the Domeworks Series at the Children’s Museum of Science and Technology in Troy, NY – a presentation of visual and sonic art. The “Under” in the title refers to the fact that the viewers were under the dome, giving the effect of being under water. Images representing Saraswati were composited in real-time and video-projected into the planetarium dome. Curtis Bahn performed live sitar and dilruba, the sounds from which were synthesized with the vocals of Jayeeta Chowdhury.


single-channel video

Computer musician, James Phelps, commissioned the video for RickLicks. The music frequently transitions from the music of James Phelps, the music of John Lennon, and the sound of a Rickenbacker guitar – a reissue of John Lennon’s 1958 model 325 Rickenbacker electric guitar, humbly played by James Phelps.

Figures in the Landscape

Interactive Video Installation

Figures in the Landscape is an interactive video installation using custom video software. It is inspired by the works of Thomas Cole and JMW Turner especially in the relationship of natural landscape to technology and industry. Figures in the Landscape places the viewer in the video-projected landscape, and through the viewer’s movements allows the viewer to act as ‘painter’ of the landscape. As the viewer moves in front of the work, the outline of their body begins to transform the imagery by revealing images of human-made landscapes and architectures. Sound is also transformed from the natural sounds of birds and crickets into mechanical sounds and noises. The more the viewer moves through the space, the more the installation is transformed. As the viewer remains stationary, the imagery returns to a natural scene.

The Hottest Year on Record

data sonification on vinyl record
Data from the Global Mean Temperature Anomalies* (departure from the 1880 – 2006 base period average) are used to manipulate loop-based samples from George Harrison’s “Here Comes the Sun.” Each sound loop is a time sample representing one year. The speed at which the loop is played is relative to the Global Mean Temperature Anomalies for the year the loop represents.

The Hottest Year on Record, 2007 from vodstrup on Vimeo.


single-channel video

33akq5600 is a symbol for a cold, deserted wasteland. Where a harsh wind blows through dying trees. “33akq5600” is also the distance to travel through this land. You can not be accompanied on this journey; you must do it alone. With each step you’ll be reminded that you’ll never return home. Inspired by a poem of the same title, “33AKQ5600” was composed using the graphic programming language MAX.

The Crumb Madrigals Project

video performance

Composed by George Crumb in the 1965 (Books I and II) and 1969 (Books III and IV), this now famous series of pieces features fragments of beautiful poetry by the Spanish surrealist, Federico García Lorca (1898-1936). The succinct, ethereal texts evoke strong visual possibilities. At the same time Lorca was writing these texts, he also created a series of pencil sketches and drawings that offered further visual inspiration for this video. The music was performed by the Bridges of March.

The Sycamore Depot Project

site-specific, video projection mapping

The Sycamore Depot Light Show (2016) was a one-night event showcasing motion graphics animated by my students and myself to be projection mapped onto the historic Sycamore Train Depot in Sycamore, Illinois. The event was funded by a grant from the Speiser Family Foundation intended to promote the artwork of Northern Illinois University faculty and students. The depot houses the offices of the DeKalb County Community Foundation – an organization dedicated to managing the philanthropic resources for the DeKalb community. In addition to directing/producing the event I created an animation depicting two trains that would have passed this depot during it’s existence as a working depot. The images of the train cars passing by each had logos that represent area businesses which no longer exist.

The Festival of the Pumpkin

single-channel video

This short film/video examines the festival of the pumpkin in small town, mid-west America. A twist, however, is that this documentary, in homage to NOVA/PBS documentaries, mocks the traditional format and tone of early cultural documentary film. Thereby, subjecting the inhabitants to labels such as: “natives,” “indigenous,” “primitive,” and “villagers”.
collaborators: Kermit Stevenson, Krys Polinski, Dustin Risley (camerapersons)

Sarajevo Haggadah: The Music of the Book

video performance

Conceived by Merima Ključo, the Sarajevo Haggadah: The Music of the Book is a 50-minute (approximate) composition for piano, accordion, and video. The piece uses music and visual art to tell the turbulent story of the Sarajevo Haggadah – an illuminated manuscript from the fourteenth century. This sacred book was intended to be used during the Jewish Passover Seder.The motivation for the video was to create a visual backdrop to the music that would subtly interweave the imagery of the Sarajevo Haggadah with elements of the book’s history. The textures found in the illustrations, as well as the stains and signs of aging found in the book served as inspiration for creating similar “illumination” and deterioration effects seen in the video. The animations are almost entirely composed of imagery from the book, yet arranged in an abstract way that blend with the musical composition to make a unified aural-visual experience.

Laser Cut Paper

stained paper, laser cut and mounted in glass

In this series of laser-cut paper, the focus is on the collapse of the infrastructure that supports our current cultural phylogenesis. It is a paleontological observation from the future, where our plastic detritus has become fossilized, where the technology we glorify has become primeval and a sequestered Nature is restored. It is of a time in the Post-Anthropocene period.

La Comandante: SILENCIO

single-channel video

Havana is a city caught in a contradiction. It is loved or it is raped, and so it has been for centuries. The composition begins with the sounds of the nightly cannon fire from the La Cabana. The sound of the trumpet then arrives like tears of joy over a sound bed of a distant call from a colonial period slave. The composition then breaks into a mix of bongos, cowbell, timbale’, and woodblock. The sound of the marching drum follows, leading into a synthesis of actual recordings of Cuban musicians. The piece closes with the trumpet again over a sound bed of a distant singing voice.
This video was shot in the spring of 2000 in Havana, Cuba. Havana is a city on the verge – of what, no one knows. Whether capitalist or communist it has been a home to prostitution, gambling, and corrupt power. Through all of this the people of Havana remain strong. You may never meet such beautiful people in such a distressed place.
collaborators: Ian Torres (trumpet), Eric Schroeder (guitar)