Onyx Ashanti is a biohacker, inventor, sonocyberneticist, futurist, advocate of the open – source philosophy, programmer, circuitry designer, 3d print designer, and musician.
He created Beatjazz, a multidimensional musical expression modeled on biological processes.
The instrumentation Onyx invented fuses technique and technology into a full-body musical system, playable with hands, arms, mouth and body.
The first Beatjazz controller was born from the convergence of cheap technology, crowd funding, and open source hardware and software: a wearable 3-way wireless network (two hand units and a mouth unit) played like a saxophone except leaving head and hands free to move in any direction. Movement is sent to a computer running custom software, which translates it into musically relevant information. Onyx integrated 3d printing into the process in a later innovation.
Beats are electronically derived rhythm. Together with jazz as improvisational sonic investigation, they create a sonic construct for investigating rhythm, harmony and melody interactively.
Onyx expresses this as sound and performance, as well as projected visualization, light color sequencing, robotic parameter feedback and CAD design, all multiple dimensions of a singular expression.
Onyx’s featured presentation is The Sonic – Fractal Matrix
Currently Onyx is developing Sonocybernetics, a system to enable multidimensional communication, with “dimension” defined as mutually exclusive realms of expression.
The elements weaving all the dimensions together are sound, binary logic, computers, 3d printing and basic electronics.
The basic structure of Sonocybernetics rests on a core toolset, and a philosophy to embody open source, as the structure cannot thrive if one has to ask permission to use any aspect of it:
• A computer running linux (preferably the raspberry pi platform) As Onyx says, “this is powerful, not because it is easy but because it is NOT easy (note: its not hard either, its just strange, which some mistake for hard) and currently, the world runs on linux.”
• Pure data, specifically, pd-extended (chosen as a gateway to programming in other languages, which can be used to create pd objects.)
• A Reprap 3d printer- (Onyx designed one out of spare parts that is handheld, requires no CAD software, and uses pure data, running on linux for control and is built around an arduino.
• The Arduino platform: understanding the arduino allows one to program functions directly into their own machines, as in the above example. Learning how to create better faster microcontrollers is part of the process.
These tools form the basis of a multidimensional language allowing one to speak sound, physical form, code and and current simultaneously, thereby revealing an increasingly malleable programmable reality. Through this, there is the possibility of developing completely new kinds of thought.
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