[ MadMapper ] Please tell us about yourself, your artistic journey. Who is NON Visuals & Subhaze?
[ Christian Hannon ] My name is Christian Hannon, a.k.a. NON Visuals. I’m a new media artist & director, co-founder of Subhaze Studio in collaboration with Composer Ricardo Romaneiro and the co-creator of the project Myth of an Atom (MOAA) in collaboration with producer/musician Fallen Atom.
[ M ] How did you come up with these names?
[ C ] The name NON Visuals comes from the prefix non: not: nothin: the absence of: or “not of the self.” It’s become an allegory to my creative process depicting this sensation that I’m not the one creating it. Also its the last three letters of my last name haha.
SUBHAZE: Invisible Dimensions was actually the name of an early performance in 2016 that Romaneiro & I were collaborating on with musician Vasko Duvaski & sound engineer Leo Leite. It was one of our first shows together where the main focus was performing the audio & visuals live. We were really intrigued by the space & tone we could explore together in that context and how different it was from a music performance that has visuals. Continually referencing back to that show over the years made the name stick out when we decided to name the collab.
[ M ] Who and What was an influence most to become an artist?
[ C ] Drawing pictures & images with anything I could find are my earliest memories. I was fortunate enough to have a family that really motivated me just to make things. To me, it seemed very natural. I was always intrigued by practices that involved observation, & a level of improvisation or performance whether that be a jazz musician rifting or an artist sculpting the model from life. I like this idea of questioning the nature of reality while playing with it. I always felt art & music really embodied the spirit of that. I have a strong love for philosophy, mythology, psychology, architecture, mathematics, science, & technology. “New Media Art” has become the perfect device for me to explore all of these concepts. The relationship between sound & light, human perception, as well as micro/ macro investigations, are my general subject matter.
[ M ] How did you get into Audio-Visual performance?
[ N ] I went to school for Classical fine art – painting, drawing, & sculpting the figure – but the music was always an important part of my life. I grew up going to a lot of concerts and some of my closest friends are musicians & producers. I was always envious of the immediacy of music. I wanted to have the same instrumentation as a musician but with light & visuals. Merging those two interests was finally possible in an A/V context. I tried to play bass in middle school but it never really stuck. I taught a couple of chords to a classmate in our visual arts group who would end up becoming a touring guitarist and producer. That classmate was Fallen Atom. My first exploration with A/V performance was with our project ‘Myth of an Atom.’ We were in our early 20’s; he was learning production & using Ableton and I was losing interest in traditional mediums and transitioning to computer-based art and digital media. It started off with me making animations for his music and eventually we just started creating things from scratch together. Other people saw what we were at doing at our apartment in Brooklyn and eventually I started doing live visuals for other bands, producers, & events. Soon after that led to making tour visuals for a living, but I was more interested in the unique areas of sound you could explore in an A/V context. Seeing artists like Joanie Lemercier, Tarrik Barri, Robert Henke, Ryoji Ikeda, & Amon Tobin helped show that it was possible. I was really interested in the relationship between sound, light, & space in general. Finding collaborators that wanted to explore that in different ways became the most important agenda. That’s how it all started.
[ M ] Where do you show your work mostly, corporate events, clubs, art galleries, festivals, or any other?
[ C ] Set & setting is very key for this type of work. The scale is such an important factor, especially for the visuals. Creating installations & performances is a great way to benefit from the art & music world. Generally, I show my work in more of an art gallery, music venue, or festival context.
[ M ] Tell us about your .ZIP: Unzip the Future Performance.
[ C ] Artist Cao Yuxi was curating an exhibition called .ZIP: Unzip the Future at 3LD Art & Technology Center in NYC. I had spoken with him online for some time so I was excited to see what he was up to in person. He decided to start a Live AV Series separate from the weekly exhibition and invited me to perform both my Subhaze & MOAA collaboration during that series in 2018. The following year we were invited to put a piece for each project in the exhibition rotation. That was one of my first experiences having a large scale AV installation up for the long term. It was also my first experience with floor projection which is very fun to play within both a performance or install context. He’s become a dear friend of mine and I’m happy to have him in this community of artists.
[ M ] Tell us about 4:3?
[ C ] 4:3 was an idea I wanted to do for years but it was never convenient to do. I saw that the use of translucent material and holographic effects were getting increasingly popular and I felt it was time to make it.
SUBHAZE was commissioned by the ‘House of Creatives’ Music & Arts festival 2018 in collaboration with Lucid Screen: Santiago Ramos to do another installation for our second year. I brought the idea up to Santiago and he was like “why aren’t we doing this for the festival!?” He was a key component in helping the vision of 4:3 come to life. It could be used for both live performance and installation that people could walk in. I always wanted to create a mobile immersive structure or space that could I perform the visuals within. It incorporated a quadratic surround sound system. Both Romaneiro’s and my performance is very much based on knob turning, buttons, and sliders. We both felt it carries more weight to the live aspect of our performance vs the traditional 2D screen. Having a setup that wasn’t going to change from venue to venue allowed us to hone in on the content & performance.
We also liked the idea that we could place the set-up centrally, with a 360-degree viewing angle for the audience. Being surrounded by the visuals & sound while we’re performing creates a different attitude. We make different decisions live in this context. Ultimately, we chose the name 4:3 because it embodies concepts that can be found in music & visuals that revolve around the square or cube. After we performed 4:3 for the first time, Subhaze immediately started getting more attention.
[ M ] How do you assemble your set-up?
[ N ] We generally send a tech rider that involves sound rentals & the frame is built out of basic wood & then painted. We carry our 4 projectors and custom screens. The projectors are placed on top of the frame. Eliminating the need to rig or hang projectors in the physical spaces we’re going to is very helpful. Having the visual & sound tech all in one place without the “need” for FOH has its advantages. I took a different approach to the design of 4:3 and chose what projectors I wanted to use & then designed the installation based on the projector specs. I feel that this really helped with quality control and avoiding a situation where you push the lumens to far on the projectors.
[ M ] Tell us about your performance at Artechouse? How did come about?
[ C ] When Artechouse approached me last year about their Immersive Showcase room in the Miami Location during Art Basel, I thought it was perfect for Ricardo & I to do a Subhaze Installation. We received a wonderful response from the piece that kept it in circulation there for two months. Artechouse recently started a Live AV Series and we were delighted when they invited us to perform at the massive D.C. location. Having the audience and well as the performers immersed in the AV space in a setting like that is something we’d like to play with more.
[ M ] What do you use for your performance?
[ C ] For software, I mainly use madmapper, touchdesigner, and in some cases modul8. I use an Akai Apc 40 to midi map all my parameters & settings for the visuals. My collaborators are generally using Ableton. There are different linking and triggers we can create with both software platforms.
[ M ] How do you use MadMapper?
[ C ] I use the software heavily for complex mapping for multi-projector setups but I also house a lot of the performance directly in Madmapper. The shader material/ editor, video effects, queue system, & video player are a huge part of my process. There are so many ways to have madmapper communicating with other software & other computers in the performance realm which makes it such an important tool. I’ve been using madmapper for a long time I’m very comfortable with the software. I took a madmapper workshop, Mappathon™ with the artist, CHiKA in 2013, I remember speaking with her about what I was looking to create and she said something to me that really stuck – “Oh! You want to be a human sensor” – and I think that really helped me understand how important the performance aspect was to my A/V work.
[ M ] What do you listen to when you work?
[ C ] Generally I’m listening to the music of whatever collab or show I’m working on repeat, haha. I really sit with the sound to see where it wants to go; I feel the sound has a motive and expresses how it wants to be depicted visually in space. That’s why I think it’s important to collaborate with people coming from the same tonal space as you or to pick a theme or concept you want to explore together. My music taste is all over the place but lately, I’ve been heavily listening to Flying Lotus, Bonobo, Shigetto, Thunderkat, & Amon Tobin. I love a variety of electronic, hip-hop, funk, soul, and ambient music for working. Sometimes I really need to zone into work, almost becoming it, other times I like to playfully dance around my studio – I guess that probably depends on the deadline.
[ M ] Any request for MadMapper future development?
[ C ] I’ve been really impressed with the direction Madmapper has been going in. I feel like every update solves something that I wanted or needed in the past. Madmapper being cross-platform (PC & MAC) with the addition of the shader material/ editor was a game-changer. I feel that continually pushing the creation of real-time content directly in the software is the move.
[ M ] Have you ever use our miniMAD?
[ C ] I have not been able to get my hands on a miniMAD yet but I feel like it would be super helpful for my installation work! I’m really intrigued by what I’ve seen and research about it.
[ M ] What is next for you?
[ C ] After working with such incredibly talented sound collaborators I’ve been inspired to create my own sound & music. My plan is to create my own solo A/V Installations & performances along with continually pushing Subhaze & MOAA. One of the most important things I’ve noticed working with projectors is at the end of the day it’s still a light source. I really want to explore light, sound, & space in general. I’m dying to get my hands on some LED by Garagecube. The capabilities of using LEDs within madmapper look incredible!
[ M ] Thank you, Christian Hannon from NON Visuals & Subhaze!
[ C ] Thank you