Micro-project III: Disembodied

By: Randall Packer |

The goal of this micro-project is to create a real-time performance/manipulation of your image using Max 7. This manipulation represents the way in which we enter into the “media space” each and every day, in order to examine the idea of disembodiment as we drift from the physical to the digital world.

Each day we enter the media space via our computers, smart phones, tablets, and various tele-communications devices. Essentially, we live partially in the physical world and partly in the virtual world: our image transported globally via web-conferencing software such as Skype or Adobe Connect. In this project, we will explore the effects of disembodiment, how our image is captured, manipulated, and embedded in the media space. We will explore movement, gesture, spoken text, and visual effects to create an immersive portrait of our digital selves. For this assignment we will use Max, a Webcam, and our bodies to create a short, approximately one minute performance performed in class.

Here is an example of a work of mine called Happy Immersion (2013) an excerpt from the project, The Post Reality Show, which demonstrates the idea of immersion and disembodiment in the media flow.

Description: Happy Immersion was performed in my studio using real-time visual effects in VDMX, with music created in Ableton Live. The piece is about the effects of inhabiting the media space: how we immerse ourselves and mediate our presence through the digitization of our everyday lives. We have in essence “become digital,” disembodied beings who live partly in the physical world and partly in the digital one. The text questions the effects of this experience, the idea of media ingestion, and how it might be altering our consciousness and sense of being in the world.

We will begin the Disembodied micro-project by first introducing everyone to  the Max 7 environment and the use of Vizzie objects, designed to simplify the process of learning object-oriented program. Drag the objects from the Vizzie menu of the Max interface, located on the left size, third from the bottom. Experiment with these objects by connecting them together in various ways in a modular fashion until you have a desired “disembodied” effect.

Screenshot 2015-01-28 08.49.42


  • Review the Max 7 Environment: If you mouse over all the icons you can see the functionality of the whole interface.
  • Max 7 is made up of the following: objects, patchcords, inlets, outlets, user interface, knobs, menus. As you preceed through the project, be sure you understand their function. Remember to always use the inlet on the left side of the object. The other inlets are for advanced use.
  • In order to drag icons to the canvas or to edit you must unlock the editor, in order to use the interface of each object, you just lock the editor. (CMD-E or the lock button in the lower left hand corner)
  • Accessing Vizzie objects: third icon from the bottom on the left side. Vizzie objects are simplified for easy use and for modular construction.  The following are all Vizzie objects except for JIT.PWINDOW.
  • GRABBR: Grabs the Webcam image and brings it into the Max environment.
  • VIEWR: This is used to display the video signal in the Max window.
  • Connect the above objects with a patchcord and adjust the size of the window
  • JIT.PWINDOW: a flexible window object: Access the above object from the “Objects” menu, second from top on the left, type jit.pwindow to find and drag onto the canvas
  • Working with effects: drag the following objects one at a time, connect to the grabber and the VIEWR or JIT.PWINDOW and manipulate the controls. Take notes regarding how these various effects seem interesting, disturbing, dazzling, strange, mysterious, etc., and how they express they idea of disembodiement.
  • BRCOSSR: controls brightness, contrast, and saturation.
  • DELAYR: Delays the image so you can stagger time.
  • FEEDR: Another way of delaying the image, but creates more of a blending effect.
  • FRACTALIZR: Divides the image into a grid.
  • INTERPOL8R: Resamples the video input to create abstract effects.
  • FOGGR: Creates “pixel dust” out of your image.
  • MULTIL8R: Multiplies RGB values to create a psychedelic effect.
  • PIXL8R: Adjusts the resolution of the image to pixelate it.
  • RECORDR: Records the video output as a movie or image.
  • ROTATR: Rotates and offsets the image vertically and horizontally.
  • SKETCHR: Converts the video into a handrawn image.
  • SLIDR: Smears the incoming image.
  • ZAMPLR: Resamples to create a “voodoo” effect.
  • Once you have tested all the effects and have decided which ones you like, trying connecting them in various combinations by chaining them together with the window as the last object.
Screenshot 2015-01-28 09.02.41


Note that in the above example I am using several objects to combine effects and I am also using the JIT.PWINDOW to monitor each effect as it accumulates.

By next week, you should have a patch configured with the effects and chaining of your choice. We will spend additional time in class completing and performing the projects. Think about gestures, spoken word, or other actions you want to carry out during your performance. You can also bring physical objects into play, etc. We will discuss some possibilities in class. Remember: the result is to express the idea of disembodiment in the media space.

Record your Project

Screenshot 2015-02-11 06.07.55

Connect the video output from your last module to the video input of the RECORDR object. Always the LEFT output and LEFT input. Then you should see the image in the little window on the RECORDR object. When you are ready, click on “Record” and save the .mov file to a folder and rename it if you like. Now you are recording! When you are done, click on the “Stop” button. You can now open the .mov file and you can see your video. Upload this .mov file to Vimeo, and then embed in your WordPress post.

Post your Micro-Project

Embed the video in your post and write a 200 word description about the concept of inhabiting media space and disembodiment. Reflect on ideas that came up in the reading, as well as the artwork that you wrote about.





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