Peter Berdovsky speaks about the Shpongletron Experience
Shpongle takes the choicest peaks of each genre of music and mashes it together to produce something so unique and creative that its completely unrivaled. And although Shpongle is not actually playing a full set in Boulder anytime soon, the Shpongletron Experience will be coming through. This enormous, glorious and all-around psychedelic visual massage is the offspring of Peter Berdovsky, aka Zebbler, who has amassed great skill and knowledge in the art of 3D mapping and visual experiences. Westword caught a few words with him between deconstructing Eoto's visuals, performing on tour and setting up for the Colorado run of the the Shpongletron Experience.
Westword: Shpongletron is a full experience -- what inspired the visuals projected and perceived?
Peter Berdovsky: Pure psychedelia. As well as the Shpongletron structure we came up with. It imposed shape constraints on the visuals. It also imposed the challenge of projecting on a 3D surface. All individual elements were crying out for their own show -- the Shpongle mask, translucent bottom screens, the eye and the wings, and the artist booth. I just listened to their little whimpers and gave them what they wanted -- a blanket of visuals. But the aim is also to bring the overall structure alive with pulsing, 3D-mapped, audio-responsive visuals.
How much technology goes into the Shpongletron Experience?
The bottom three scaffolding cubes are each wrapped into translucent screens, the custom-sculpted by Zebbler six-foot Shpongle Mask is also a three-dimensional projection surface, then there are two sets of custom-welded, projection-fabric-covered wings. The DJ booth itself is also wrapped in projection screens on three sides, and the top of the structure is crowned by a custom-welded eye, also wrapped in projection material and an embedded laser. In addition, all of the scaffolding is painted white to act as a projection surface. And we're also about to add stairs to the 3D video-mapped mix!
What inspired the creation of these sorts of images?
Shpongle music is the direct amazing inspiration behind the visuals. I tried to visually represent in Shpongletron what I hear in the music, to mirror it visually. Besides that, I just honestly imagine myself as being in the audience. What I've always craved in festival performances is the enhanced sense of synesthesia. Sounds and light combined to weave one tale, something you almost feel with your full body, rather than process with individual senses. This is really what I am going for -- if I were in the audience, would I enjoy this? Shpongletron is an immensely fun canvas for me to play with. It continuously evolves. It breathes.
You've mentioned an app in development. Who would utilize this, and how is it different from previous software?
Zebblertron is the software controlling Shpongletron. It already runs lighting. But because it's fully custom, with help of my coder, interim_descriptor, pretty much anything is possible. Lately on our EOTO tour, my performance partner Encanti and I have been exploring porting Zebblertron via OSC to Ableton Live. Having additional MIDI controllers and complete OSC sync with Ableton as well as porting video effects and live video via Syphon are the next round of upgrades that are coming over the summer.
Exceeding expectations with a structure like this shows that you can always improve. What would you like to see revised, or even completely new, in the future?
I am not totally sure. I kind of have to wear out my new clothes before I start looking for new ones. I think forty shows later, I'll have lots of new ideas. With that in mind, I think there's still a huge variety of 3D content that could be added to the structure as the tour develops. If any of your readers are talented 3D video designers that want to submit a video piece that really creatively uses the structure, feel free to point them to this site: http://shpongletron.blogspot.com. Videos could still be submitted to me throughout the tour, although, since we are fully ready, I will accept only best of the best.
Catch the Shpongletron Experience tonight at the Bluebird Theater, Friday night in Vail and Saturday night at the Boulder Theater.