Introducing: Michael Romeo

Introducing: Michael Romeo

Michael Romeo is an exciting new addition to the roster of talented artists featured on Sedition. Romeo has already made a name for himself with his captivating live performances that blend computer graphics and audio in real-time as a multimedia artist, musician, and developer based in Brooklyn. 

Sedition introduced his first collection, Morphologies last week and we had the opportunity to chat with Romeo about his artistic vision, inspirations, and his approach to blending art and technology.

Sedition: Can you please introduce yourself and your first collection launched with Sedition, Morphologies to Sedition’s audience?

Michael Romeo: My name is Mike Romeo, and I use the pseudonym ‘Night Shining’ for all my live audio-visual performances, music I’ve released, as well as my visual and physical artworks. The collection that I’ve released exclusively on Sedition is entitled Morphologies. The works are hyper-synced audio-visual videos and still pieces I created using custom software. Each piece was generated in a real-time performance to create each of the outputs you see on Sedition. 

Sedition: Creatures or forms exploring beyond humans have been recurring themes in your practices. Can you guide us on how you come up with these ideas? 

MR: The forms themselves are inspired by the convergence of the organic and synthetic materials and the manipulation of these elements by humans within the Anthropocene. Effects on Earth's ecology due to anthropomorphic unabated climate change could itself be seen as a sort of global-scale experimentation. Additionally, the potential for future geo-engineering and / or direct manipulation of genetics with technologies like CRISPR. 

These types of themes are used as a catalyst for my work. I like to think of my creative output as an artistic form of cybernetics; the science of communications and automatic control systems in both machines and living things. The lines between mechanical systems and natural ones are becoming increasingly blurry. 

As an artist, I’m also very interested in the idea of creating digital “sculptures”. The pieces can be constantly reformed and redesigned using different algorithmic techniques I’ve developed. I create many different data flows to generate my work between disparate inputs and outputs such as sound amplitudes and control signals, video pixel data and 3D elements, or even electronics serial communication. There isn’t really one technique or software I use over and over, rather the techniques themselves I consider creatively improvisational as well. 

Michael Romeo's Performance

Sedition: What inspires, drives and shapes your work?

MR: As I’ve grown as an artist I’ve realized that the core of my creative inspiration derives from having grown up on Long Island, outside of New York City. The stark contrast of the beautiful natural areas that surround the island and the industrial runoff of the city is stark. There is a lot of folklore around the military remnants of Montauk that interests me, also Nicola Telsa was experimenting with wireless electricity out there, and even Brookhaven labs near where I grew up are shrouded in secrecy. 

There is also a very real history of toxic waste plumes left over from the military-industrial sites that employed past generations that have caused untold amounts of health effects on the population and environment. It all very much inspires the darker undertones of my work I’d have to say. 

I also find inspiration from artistic and technological techniques themselves. I tend to create work based on a sketch for a performance or interactive installation idea. Also, as a musician my whole life, I tend to create work that has its own arc with a beginning, climax, and then ending similar to writing music. The tools then give me the ability for visual as well as sound improvisation. I’ve just transferred these ideas to physical and digital works and across mediums.

Night Shining Album Artwork

Sedition: An algorithm is a big part of your creation - how did you break down the task of visualising these your ideas into sound or images with algorithms?

MR: I learned how to code and use a multitude of software to be able to create the ideas I had for these pieces. I am very interested in bridging data flows across many different inputs and outputs. For instance, sometimes the sound influences or generates the graphics content and vice versa. At the core of my work though, the technology aspect is a means to an end. I’m creating work that cannot be generated manually, but the computer is essentially assisting or collaborating with my input. 

Sedition: You’re also working with commercial projects as well as an artist; could you tell us how the two areas influence each other in your practice?

MR: For the past decade, I have worked with commercial clients, artists, and cultural institutions to integrate technology into experiential projects. I’ve had the opportunity to work with some very talented people in many different fields, everything from graphics programming, interaction design, electronics, and other emerging technologies like machine learning, virtual reality, and augmented reality. I’ve been able to take the knowledge obtained from working alongside these people and apply them to my own artistic practice. 

Also, If there is a mandate to utilise a specific technology, then I’ve had to learn quickly. Sometimes it can be frustrating to keep up with the fast-paced nature of change in the industry, but it also can be a benefit to my own personal work, opening up a new possibility I wouldn’t have known about otherwise. 

Sedition: Could you tell us what you’re working on at the moment, and what plans you have next?

MR: Currently, I am preparing for some events I have coming up in Japan in April, where I’m performing my latest live audio-visual set. In fact, some of the Morphologies' visual elements will be implemented into those live performances. 

The future plan is to create essentially physical embodiments of the ‘Morphologies’ series inspired by their forms. I am very interested in soft robotics, which are techniques that are used to create flexible electronics. I’ve already prototyped some embedded electronics and my own custom-made flexible circuits using different types of silicones and plastics. I’m excited by the idea of merging robotics techniques with the current aesthetics of Morphologies. 

I also plan to advance upon physical electronic sculptures I’ve previously worked on. These are made of rigid materials like plexi and embedded electronics. I plan to show these as installation pieces that synthesize sound internally or even display real-time generative audio-visual content. 

As our conversation with Michael Romeo draws to a close, we are left with a newfound appreciation for the intricate and multifaceted nature of his work. From his live performances to his software-based art installations, Romeo's creativity knows no bounds. 

We are thrilled to announce that he has upcoming events in April where he will be performing his latest live audiovisual works at Space Orbit and Tunnel Tokyo. If you're a fan of immersive multimedia experiences, you won't want to miss it. 

You can check out Romeo’s latest album ‘_as’ at the following link. 

Upcoming events are:

- 2023 Public Visuals x TDSW April 2nd at Tunnel Tokyo Venue

- April 3rd Space Orbit Venue (and)

Top Image: Michael Romeo

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Michael Romeo
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