David Wexler (Dr. Strangeloop) 10/26/16

CINEMA OF THE VOID : strange aesthetics and the evolution of visual music

davidwexler

The following sentence is false. The previous sentence is true. This self-referential paradox that cognitive scientist and philosopher Douglas Hofstadter describes as a “strange loop,” a phenomenon that occurs when one moves through real or imagined levels, but unexpectedly arrives where he or she started.

The works of David Wexler, a graphic artist who also goes by the stage name Dr. Strangeloop, are directly inspired by Hofstadter’s analyses of infinitely recurring objects in his set designs for Flying Lotus, Erykah Badu and the Rolling Stones.

David Wexler will discuss how different visual music sequences from films inspired him to create visual shows for concerts.

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30 thoughts on “David Wexler (Dr. Strangeloop) 10/26/16

  1. “The realm I like to work in is ambiguous, visceral animation that has familiar qualities, but is hard to define. I don’t want what’s happening to be explained, instead it should spark questions.” – David Wexler

    Interestingly, his statement brought to mind some relevant words of wisdom: “The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source of all true art and science.” – Albert Einstein

    David Wexler’s attraction to the mysterious struck three main chords with me (not including my love for Flying Lotus), those chords being my experience as an audience member, musician, and conceptually driven artist.

    As someone who enjoys attending music festivals and shows, being an audience member in the moment, it can be tricky not to see the video elements that are part of the performance as pure spectacle solely meant to enhance the experience. For David though, it’s not only about the physical and subconscious experience, but reaching the emotional level and conscious mind, inviting people into inner inquiry.

    In the spirit of inner inquiry, what I appreciated most about David’s presentation was that he went into depth about his thought process behind creating cinema around the sonic atmosphere musicians compose. The relationship that the visual and auditory worlds share is where magic happens, but understanding how to successfully conjure it is another thing. David’s spell of choice is the conceptually driven abstract. As an artist, I’m very conceptually driven. However, I’m still learning how to see strong conceptual ideas in the abstract (which is why I usually have a harder time connecting with abstract pieces), and David helped demystify that a bit more. The more I understand, the more I’m attracted to exploring abstracted storytelling in my own way. For David, choosing to use generative animation for the space he works in is a smart choice to convey the mysterious; the audience collectively – even the animator – is sharing in this state of enigma, not fully being in control or knowing exactly what is going to happen.

    The particular power art has to communicate ideas and instigate questions is why I decided to make it a career, and David’s presentation was an encouraging, as well as enlightening, reminder of that. And the next time I go to a concert, I’ll experience it in a more meaningful way!

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  2. Having David Wexler this week was very interesting and refreshing. Usually animation is an art done in solitude. When the time of the screening comes, we see the vision of the artist, but the artist itself disappears, unlike other performative arts, like dance or music, where the artist is always present. In the case of David Wexler work, this “artist’s disappearance” is reverted because the way he does animation is through a form of performative art, that also happens in space. Unlike the traditional animation, there’s not a seated public that is in the performance just for appreciation the artist labor, but is an uneven inflamed public, and that’s the public David works touch not through rationality, but through sensations and suggestions. I would like to have a more extensive talk about how hi company works, but I guess it would be in another time.

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  3. David’s lecture is really interesting and bring me another thinking about making film. I think what David show to us is very cool, the strong moving sequence improve take huge power to the music, and rhythm to be stronger. I love music, but actually I do not have any thought about utilizing my film making skill into the music, but David gives me this thinking and I really want to try in the future. Also, David reminds me that there are other way show our film, to exhibit what we want people to feel. The film can be exhibited in the space, can be play with the live music, can be reacted with thousands of audience who are not just set on their seat but really react with the live music and the picture showed on the screen. We can let audience to join our film without the cinema but a real space, a vivid live atmosphere. Thanks David for share his film and his experience about how he explore this field!

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  4. I felt David Wexler was one of the more inspiring speakers for me. I am interested in pursuing a career in video performance and live animation so it was refreshing to have a speaker who is more in that field. It was insightful how David explain his approach in creating his visuals and the usual pipeline when he gets a client. Even though I personally don’t take any state altering substances I’m fascinated in translating the subconscious and psychedelic imagery. Before when I use to go to music festival I would mainly center my focus onto the visuals. I wouldn’t be so interested in the actually music but I would get immersive with the abstract imagery. I find animation as an ideal medium to take audiences into a journey. I appreciate how David Wexler started off his talk showing us examples where abstract animation is seen in films. It was a good method in conveying on how visual music is also a cinematic form. I felt rather excited when he said his studios accept interns.

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  5. The abstract animations based on music are always hard for me. It’s amazing that they can bring up the music and the atmosphere with the visual arts! The one he made base on the opening of the ghost in the shell is interesting. I love that movie and really familiar with the opening sequence and the background music. I never think of there is another way to interpret those images. However, David Wexler did it. He turned the sequence into a totally different piece and bring up a new atmosphere. I guess it can be a good practice for me to start to do some animation based on music. I can choose a sequence of animation or other kinds of films and try to make it a total different piece based on the editing and music.

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  6. David is using established technology in visual music but manipulating it in novel ways thanks to his cinema background. I found it particularly interesting that he said his designs were “grown” and then “curated”, rather than linearly designed. My initial reaction to this statement was one of surprise, but upon further consideration, I believe that this organic growth is probably a player in all of our works, as we all have had characters, stories, etc., that took us down roads we had not expected. I look forward to see David’s future work in film, as I probably will not be going to any music festivals any time in my life… (but I am now more interested in learning about visual music!) Even in returning to film, it seems that he is planning to continue manipulating established methods in novel ways. This time, however, it will be taking the established art of film and transforming it to suit the novel technology of virtual reality.

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  7. There is definitely something mesmerizing about the kind of work that David Wexler produces. I think it’s fascinating for me to see this style of work, mostly because my brain does not work in that way whatsoever. I was also intrigued by his statement that he sometimes uses a generative process to make his work. Perhaps that’s part of what’s so fascinating with it. It’s not something wholly created by a human mind, but by processes totally unfamiliar to it. It produces a feeling similar to how I would imagine viewing artwork created by some other species would feel. A window into another world.

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  8. David Wexler/Dr. Strangeloop’s ability to take a series of images, then encapsulate a feeling through their presentation is a stunning endeavor to behold. To program an animated sequence and play it as you go in front of a live audience sounds like fun, if somewhat stressful sounding! I found it fascinating some of Wexler’s inspiration for his style came from films with a narrative behind it. I sort of geeked out when he mentioned that 2001: A Space Odyssey was among such inspirations. The film has some abstract sequences to it, and the star gate sequence is a perfect reference to base animations around for a live show. It goes to demonstrate that animators can draw from various sources to stimulate their creativity, and absorb other animated forms to forge their own style.

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  9. The animation which matches the music is really cool. These video made me feel full of energetic and passion. To create a music and animation in the same time is pretty hard, however, David did that. The visual shows which in the concert is really fun. It looks great, has enough showmanship to keep the viewer interested and work a crowd. As for music in a film is also important that would express the motion of the character or the whole story. David’s visual music show gave me lots of inspiration of my next short animation film. I would consider more of my background music. All in all, this visual music show is really wonderful and leave us full of happy memories.

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  10. David Wexler’s presentation was great. I was amazed that he works with a variety of media, ranging from stop motion to full on CG to generative work. He is using variety of his skills. Combined with his beautiful electronic melodies. I like the opening of ghost in the shell. It’s shamanic, post-genre, and totally intuitively psychedelic, in a very natural way. I admire that he always looking to bring something different and inspiring into the mix. And he works with many different styles, instead of focusing on one style, such fractals, bio-mechanical forms, semi-abstract and sci-fi narratives, he did a really good job on shifting his style that based on different aspect.

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  11. I’m always fascinated by this type of work – the blend of music and visuals brings so much emotion and transports you to another world. It stuck with me how David Wexler, aka Dr Strangeloop, said his work is grown and curated. You can really see that approach in his work, especially with how he uses a variety of techniques and styles. I feel this rings true with artwork and style; you have to keep growing and cultivate your work, and when you stop or feel ‘comfortable’, that’s when it dies.

    I also found it very interesting to see how big of an impact the music can make on your work. It adds so much to your visuals, and is something I feel like a lot of us either forget or sometimes put secondary. (I know I have, when I’ve been so focused on trying to create the artwork and then realize I don’t have the proper music or sound behind it.) I’d like to make that a bigger focus when moving forward. Last but not least, I enjoyed how Wexler discussed the films that have made an impact on him and his work. It was nice to feel a connection with a fellow film nerd. I’m looking forward to seeing what he does in the future, and to continue to be inspired by his work!

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  12. David Wexler presentation of his career as a graphic artist was completely new to me. Coming from a family of film makers Wexler’s found his voice through visual music. What i found extremely interesting is Wexler visual music performances are live and not pre-recorded. As a live concert goer i believed the visuals would just play in the background to have some sort of entertainment for the audience. Since Wexler performs visual music live i saw him as a visual DJ who can match the energy of the music with complimentary visuals. Overall, Wexler is an amazing inspiration who followed his passion and found a way to express his voice.

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  13. Although I don’t have much experience in this field, I’ve always found visualizing movements from audio, especially music, really interesting and impressive. I am glad that we have David Wexler or Dr Strangeloop as one of the speakers for this class because it is good to hear from a variety of artists with different styles of works. Through his works, he really showed us how animation and music can work together and become something really amazing. When we think about that, it is amazing to see how how ideas and technology can support each others and create a limitless range of works. I was impressed when he shared his experience on his concert tours. Starting from the thought process and stroyboarding to the complete piece. I love how he always think about the stories and narrations behind his piece, even though they look abstract, but paying attention to the narrative thoughts really make them stronger. I also appreciate the part where he talked about accidents that can always happen no matter how prepared you are and it is good that we can learn from it.

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  14. At first, I was really confused about his work and what exactly David’s work process included. After he showed us how his keyboard was really a control panel controlling a mash up of many different sound effects, video clips and special effects, I was really intrigued. In a way, David’s special control panel was a unique way to perform live visual music, similar to performers who use code to create images that correspond to a beat or song playing in the background in real time. It reminds me of the “Noisefold” by Ravel Landscapes, a group that fuses generative image, created by visual artists with music, all performed live on stage. The cool attribute about David’s control system, is that it is very easy to pick out what he wants to play during a certain part of the song and transition quickly from one scene to another scene. I think it’s always interesting to control music or images with applications that one might not think of to use as a control panel.

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  15. David Wexler’s presentation was very succinct but informative. It was interesting to hear about his early influences. Visualizing philosophies, in my experience, is very difficult to do, especially if you want the audience to understand those philosophies. David cited philosophy as a major influence in his work but I found his explanation of this mechanism to be lacking and mysterious. If I remember correctly he explained that the visuals themselves are philosophies so we may have been confusing terms. David’s system designs are very strong and mesmerizing. The pressure of performance also adds an intriguing dynamic to the work. Overall his studio’s work is fantastic and I’d love to see an actual performance of theirs someday.

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  16. David Wexler’s presentation was interesting and refreshing. I believe abstract animation is the most perfect abstraction art an artist can achieve because it involves visual abstraction, movement and sound. I found David’s work well designed and intriguing but I think he does not use the movement as good as the visual he created. Among the projection artists who came to USC during these two years I liked his work the best. I believe we can feel the real experience of his work when we see it on a live performance.

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  17. As an animator/ artist ,I always have to think about sound or music. even thought Music plays an important role in my major, I tend to take it less seriously. By his work, on the other hand, Music shows up strongly and ,make me think differently.
    His presentation was interesting but I wanted to see his work more to see how he blends animation and music together, of course it would be fascinating.
    After his presentation, I would more carefully see the screen when I go to music festivals.
    It was a great time to see his work and a good chance to change my thought about music as an important source in making film.

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  18. I was very excited this week to have a speaker come in and talk about visual music. I definitely enjoyed looking at David’s inspiration and seeing how that has heavily influenced his work. The only think that was lacking from his talk to the class was how he got started. I know he explained to us how he met and worked with, who is now known as, Flying Lotus, but I just wanted to learn more about how his work started getting recognized and how he books such hugs gigs. I have always been interested in this line of work. Maybe not so much the live performance, but creating and generating animation for music and the performances. Very inspirational and I will definitely look into the internships that he and his studio have to offer.

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  19. David Wexler shared a great informative glimpse of his work, and small bit of his process. I appreciate what he is achieving with his work. The strobing bits are tough, but the imagery and range was interesting. I am sure that seeing his work in the environment that it was designed to be set would be fantastic. It was fun to here his reliance to his laptop. A tool that he would risk his life for. I look forward to seeing what is next for him.

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  20. I really quite like the fact that David’s work builds a bridge between cinematography and music, as he draws inspiration from movies he likes and he tries to create narratives using just visuals, which is basically creating a story or a movie from a different perspective. I really quite like the dreamy spaces he creates using abstract patterns, it definitely brings the music to another level and it draws me into the immersive space as I hear and see my own imaginations. It is also quite interesting to know how “dangerous” live performing is as anything could go wrong at any second, and the fact that something will go wrong just makes it much more exciting and fun to do. I am glad to hear from someone who does not afraid to take the risk to create such beautiful and fun imagery we can dive right into and fully soak in. I like the fact that animation is quickly taking over all sorts of entertainment industry, it is less defined, its becoming a bit more mysterious and I am very curious about how many other directions it will lead us to.

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  21. Music and visual is always so much fun thing to do and watch. David Wexler shared his works and work process. He has a broad range of artistic styles and it was very pleasing to watch. I enjoyed “Ghost in the Shell”, such an interesting interpretation!
    It’s so glad to see that different aspect of animation besides traditional 2D or 3D(what people think what animation is). Thank you David for coming and sharing your works!

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  22. The thing I really took away from David’s lecture is embrace what excites you even if it’s utterly strange, no one cares about it, and just out there – and create from it. It’s not as simple as that one line suggests, but at the same time it is. Visualizing philosophy is seemingly impossible, but for david it opened up creativity up and ignited inspiration in others. It also lead him to a career that maybe didn’t exist 20 years ago, or if it did not in the way that it does for David and his aesthetics. I think David’s interest in these strange organic visuals leading him to his own interests in film making and creating is really inspiring. What I got from David’s lecture is that it’s important to seek, and keep seeking. There’s so much to be inspired from, but if you find that niche that excites you and challenges you – it might take you to places you never realized you could go.

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  23. David’s speech inspired me a lot. From his works, I feel like I can do some experiments just like him on animation based on music. The piece he made was so interesting for me, especially the opening of ghost in the shell. And I really admire artists who like mixing tons of media and doing a lot of experiments. When I do my own projects, I always be afraid of some new media or programs what I’m not familiar with. It’s an adventure to try something new. But in the future, I think I would try more technique to accomplish what I wanna do. Thanks for this inspiring speech.

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  24. From David’s presentation, I learned more about alloy of music and visuals. It’s really powerful when these two things work so well together in a live performance which can take audience to experience pure pleasure and excitement with visual and audio stimulus. Besides his works show how he blend different techniques together seamlessly from traditional stop motion to CG imagery making. He carefully explained how to build up the contents and keep the process organic and flow. All these things are very precious experiences from the accumulation of different performances and works he did. It is really amazing that we can have him to come and give an intriguing speech.

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  25. David Wexler’s works are so wonderful. they are strong, dynamic and beautiful.
    And I love he uses many mediums, and he has many styles, that they all works beautifully.
    I’m not a big fan of digital arts, but his digital works have essence of organic, He uses very established technology, and his sense for his art is sophisticated.

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  26. David Wexler/Dr. Strangeloop’s ability to take a series of images, then encapsulate a feeling through their presentation is a stunning endeavor to behold. Music and visual is always so much fun thing to do and watch. I really quite like the fact that David’s work builds a bridge between cinematography and music, as he draws inspiration from movies he likes and he tries to create narratives using just visuals.The cool attribute about David’s control system, is that it is very easy to pick out what he wants to play during a certain part of the song and transition quickly from one scene to another scene. Thanks for the sharing.

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  27. I had some experience in visual music when I was in university. In today’s seminar, I saw lots of works David made. I can see how he’s good at control technique and also combining his artistic style into it. What the most interesting part in visual music is that you can control your animation to fit with the music. When your piece combining with the music, its really exciting.

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  28. I really loved David Wexler’s talk. It was really inspiring to see how he weaves his film background into the art he creates. I can relate to his approach in many ways; I love film and narrative (including, of course, documentary) yet in the process of creating stories I find myself branching out down different paths and generating art pieces. I’m very interested in how to make this process more dynamic and Wexler reminded me that great things come from loosening up. I like the idea that Cinema doesn’t have to be limited to a concrete narrative; it can be a feeling and experience. Dr. Strangeloop’s lecture was definitely a major highlight for me this semester.

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  29. I really enjoyed David’s presentation, since I’m going to take visual music class next semester, his work and words really inspired me a lot. He’s work are so flow and organic. It was really interesting that he showed us his early influences, from his influences, we can learn a lot. I really like his design system. Can’t wait to create a music based motion graphic animation next semester, and of course, his work and words really inspired me a lot.

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  30. This is a field I’ve never set foot in (I rarely even go to concerts). A very good experience, his work is particularly suitable for playing in a club。

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