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By Owen Kelly

In 3 elements, this article offers: a short heritage of the electronic revolution; an exam of ways electronic know-how is now getting used within the arts; and an outline of a few attainable conseqences and advancements of this paintings.

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The space, then, becomes an instrument of considerable subtlety, which is capable of reacting to speed, for example. Running around the space will cause sounds very different from those made by a slow deliberate movement – just as hammering the keys of a piano will produce a different sound to gently stroking them. Moreover, the space can be divided into zones, each of which will trigger different sounds – which may be musical notes, unpitched noises or speech. The space will react to all movements within it, and so a group of people will create a different effect to a soloist.

On an Apple Macintosh or a PC, a detailed image which is being rendered and ray-traced can take several hours to complete, as the program works out the intensely complex mathematical calculations needed to describe the movement of light over the surfaces, and the resultant light and dark. On most games consoles, however, a simplified version of this process happens in real time. On games such as Super Mario Kart or Starfox on the Super Nintendo,20 for example, the environment within which the game takes place is a wireframe construction which can be viewed from any angle, and is constantly being texture mapped as the game proceeds.

In addition to the capabilities already described, the MIDI specifications 32 Tools and protocols allow for 16 ‘channels’. A string of notes can be assigned a channel number in the same way that a musician might record a string of notes onto one channel of a multi-track tape recorder. When the music is played back, each instrument can be set to receive data on a different channel, so that each instrument can play a separate, but related, string of notes simultaneously. For example, one plays the bass, while the second plays the strings.

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