Axo aims to build a software platform, including a library of functions

AXO is a research project (Art&D). Funded by iMinds, it ran from 01.04.2013 until 31.12.2013.

Project information

  • Partner: imec - EDM - UHasselt


Artists: Laura Maes, Tim Vets, Peter Beyls, Godfried-Willem Raes, Valery Vermeulen, Frederik De Wilde, Hendrik Leper and Kasper Jordaens Researcher: Johannes Taelman

The artists, listed below, want to be able to use AXO, but each in their own way. There is growing demand among artists for autonomous functioning software, not bound by a central system, but ‘in the actual world’. AXO will be expressly developed for that purpose.

Laura Maes (1978) is currently working on a PhD in the arts, as a researcher at the Music faculty of the School of Arts (Hogeschool Gent). The subject of her dissertation is Sound Art. She has presented sound work both in Belgium and abroad and plays as a musician in several ensembles. She has published papers in the Journal of Artistic Research and the Computer Music Journal.

Tim Vets is both a musician and a visual artist. As an artist, his main interests are: live electronics, the development of miniature synthesizers, installations, animations, and the spaciousness of musical patterns and songs. One of his recent projects, ‘Volusonogram’, consisted of a volumetric, moving light sculpture. The installation depicts sound waves in moving, volumetric shapes, changing along with the composition of the sound waves. Vets is currently working on a PhD on extended techniques for guitars and installations.

Godfried-Willem Raes studied musicology and philosophy at the University Ghent, and piano, clarinet, percussion and composition at the Royal Conservatory (Ghent). He has published several critical essays, polemic and technical scientific papers in professional journals. In 1993, he obtained a PhD in musicology. In 2008 he was promoted to associate professor. Raes started composing in his early youth. Apart from that he is noted for his work as a designer and creator of all sorts of acoustic and electronic sound cultures. With this work, he has taken part in many international expositions and manifestations.

Dr. Valery Vermeulen is an electronic musician and producer, mathematician, new media artist and guest lecturer at several Belgian schools of art. In 2001 he obtained a PhD in pure mathematics at Ghent University, working on algebraic group theory. Since 2004, Vermeulen has been working as a multimedia artist on several interactive multimedia installations, in which the interaction between man and machine is the main point of focus. His installations and performances have been featured at multiple venues, both in Belgium and abroad. 

Film clip: EMO-synth (Valery Vermeulen) 

Since the seventies, Belgian artist/composer Peter Beyls has been working with computers and media. He researches how computers can be programmed as a medium for artistic expression and develops generative systems in music, visual arts and hybrid forms. Beyls was granted a PhD in Computer Science by the University of Plymouth, UK. He currently teaches theory and history of media art at the School of Arts (Hogeschool Ghent), coordinates research at the KASK Interaction Lab and gives lectures on Sound Art and generative systems at the LUCA School of Art in Brussels.

Frederik De Wilde studied Visual Arts and Experimental and Audiovisual Arts at Sint-Lukas (Brussels) and at the Royal Academy for Fine Arts (Antwerp). He also followed courses in architecture and studied philosophy at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB). He concluded his education with a postgraduate in New Media, Arts and Design at Transmedia in Brussels, which gave him his fist insights into software development. These days, Frederik works as a guest lecturer at Transmedia and is a permanent artist in residence at the University of Hasselt. De Wilde explores the borders of science, technology and art. The conceptual core of his artistic endeavors is made up of immaterial, inaudible and invisible concepts.

Hendrik and Kasper have collaborated on a series of experiments involving making music with vegetables. Hendrik Leper uses photography, video, sound, and new media and installations. He’s active in several collectives and organizations, both as a creator and as an organizer. Previously, he worked as project coordinator New Media at Kunstencentrum Vooruit.

Kasper Jordaens holds degrees in civil engineering and architecture. Following his final dissertation on hyper cities, he began his professional career as a designer for artist Wim Delvoye. He then worked at the VRT medialab, developing new media concepts for media consumers using Internet technologies. In his free time, Kasper enjoys photography and building synths and other electronics. Kasper joined iMinds at the end of 2011.

The main goal of AXO is to build a software platform, including a library of functions. The platform will make new, interactive audio applications accessible to artists on microcontroller hardware, that can be run independently from computers. Many audiovisual artists use software environments like Pure-data (open source) or Max. The goals is to build a similar, modular environment that is both open source and platform-independent. The resulting program should be uploadable to autonomous microcontroller chips. Subsequently, a similar system will be developed focused on audio processing.

The use of microcontrollers offers distinct advantages over regular PCs in direct connectivity with sensors and actuators. They are more reliable and durable, show better energy efficiency, and are more compact and cheaper. They can be easily integrated and are highly responsive – since they don’t require a full operating system –, making for a much more natural experience. The adjacent picture shows a prototype of AXO.

The different partners involved in this project each have their own artistic identity, but share a common need for a similar platform. They engage themselves in this project as pioneer users, but also collaborate (‘co-design’) on the creation of this open platform for a broad audience of audio-artists. This proposal has gained broad support, through the participation of different partners, resulting in a broad range of possible applications for AXO.