I love people who tinker with stuff. I don't particularly call myself one of these, given that I generally get bored of things that don't do what I want quickly. It's the dudes and dudettes who play with bits and pieces, blend and contrast, tweak and stretch that I often find myself heartily impressed by.

Totally nicked this from Jim's blog.

Like the fabulous Jim Bumgardner, who I *just* had the pleasure of meeting. He wrote a beautiful thing he calls the Whitney Music Box - algorithmic animation based on the work of "the father of computer generated graphics", John Whitney. Apart from his musical wanderings, he's made a TON of Flickr Toys, including the Old Skool Colr Pickr, and some lovely tools for browsing around, like his Cover Pop Flowers thingy.

The Whitney Music Box is wonderful - it helps one "understand" experimental, algorithmic music because you can see it. As Jim says, "the eye likes surprise, and the ear likes comfort".

Things like this make me realise how little I know... in a good way.

Mary Ellen Bute - click to view largerPoking a little more into the idea of Visual Music, turns out the actual father mother of it appears to be a Texan lady called Mary Ellen Bute, who started looking into this in 1934.

I found this slightly bizarre and somewhat jaded description of what she was up to... I've bolded a few words that, for me at least, colour her accomplishments:

The diminutive Mary Ellen grew up in Texas, and retained a soft southern accent and genteel demeanor throughout her life. She studied painting in Texas and Philadelphia, but felt frustrated by the inability to wield light in a flowing time-continuum. She studied stage lighting at Yale in an attempt to gain the technical expertise to create a "color organ" which would allow her to paint with living light-and also haunted the studios of electronic genius Leo Theremin and Thomas Wilfred whose Clavilux instrument projected sensuous streams of soft swirling colors.

Sounds like she probably pushed shit up hill and kicked ass.