Melancholy Machines

© Victoria & Albert Museum, London

Last Friday we welcomed Maike Zimmermann and former sound artist in Residence Jason Singh to the V&A for a public workshop around their ongoing project, Melancholy Machines. The project investigates the relationships between improvised sound and video projection, cut-up aesthetics and the collaboration of their talents in VJing, beatboxing and sound design.



Attending the workshop were musicians, visual artists, students and a composer who all wanted to get an insight in their creative processes and get an understanding of using VDMX, software that allows you to create sound reactive visuals on the fly. The day began with Jason and Maike improvising a piece and then breaking down their process and how they created it, how they reacted to each others cues and how they used Jason’s mountain of effect units, samplers and triggers to produce the soundtrack. While discussing the possibilities opened up by using technology creatively, it was suggested that “Joyful Machines” might be a more apt name for what was happening in the project.


Working on VDMX to create visuals © Victoria & Albert Museum, London

© Maike Zimmermann

Ideas began to flow thick and fast and everyone’s different skills and backgrounds shone through. Jason laid down each person’s samples onto Ableton ready for the afternoon session when the work on the visuals would begin.

After picking through the seemingly infinite possibilities of working with VDMX and live sound, the free session and jam began. Have a listen and look at what was created below…






Find out more about the project at the Melancholy Machines Blog.

The project is supported by funding from National Lottery through Arts Council England.