The Piksels and Lines Orchestra is an experimental performance system for graphic design.
The image industry populates our visual culture, yet it exists in a world with an inner life that is invisible to most people. The orchestra shifts the focus from the end results to the actions and decisions that take place during the creative process.

By turning the tools of graphic design, the software applications, into instruments, the active labour and the operational gestures of designers are converted to sound. Actions like painting, cutting, setting text, adding layers, drawing shapes etc. are reflected by sonic events within a score.

At the same time, the system brings the audience visually into the everyday work environment of the designer by exposing the application interfaces as they are used.  In order to make the necessary software modifications, the applications used in this project are all free and open source software.

The end goal is to produce a noise opera, combining elements of traditional narratives with computer music which illustrates and interrogates the technical and social systems that operate within the microcosm of graphic design.

Code and project log
Source code repositories for the PLO performance system including modified versions of MyPaint, InkScape, GIMP and Scribus are available from GitHub. Here you will also find the complete project log.



The initial idea for the Piksels and Lines Orchestra, or PLO for short, was explored during the 3rd LGRU research seminar Piksels and Lines held in Bergen (NO) in June 2012. A full report from this brainstorming session can be found here.

PLO workshop

These ideas inspired the content criteria of an open call for a commissioned work developed throughout a research residency in Bergen. Here an artist and one developer were invited to work together to explore the performative and collaborative aspects of free open source graphical software. The Piksels and Lines Orchestra commission has been carried out by media artist Brendan Howell and software developer Jon Nordby, initiated by a residency supported by Piksel and USF AIR.

A technical demonstration of the system was presented at the Piksel [X] festival on the 24th November 2012. The final performance will be given at the LGRU Future Tools conference in Madrid April 2013.

The project is hosted by Piksel as part of the EU-funded LGRU-project, and is supported by Artist in Residence Bergen at USF Verftet, Bergen City Council and The Norwegian Art Council.