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Yin~Yang – Nathan Villicaña-Shaw
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Yin~Yang is an interactive, audio-visual installation that examines balance and friction between two opposing forces. The meta-project Yin~Yang has been shown several times in 2015-16 with each iteration drawing from different source material to create a varying, yet unified, experience. While the underlaying media and exact presentation varies from gallery to gallery, Yin~Yang is always bound together with the same conceptual framework and technical realizations.


While there are variations in the way that Yin~Yang manifests itself, but the following qualities remain constant between instances.

  • 4-6 black CRT TV’s: utilized for both audio playback and video display.
  • The TV’s are stacked atop each other.
  • Half of the TV’s are wired up to the Yin system, while the other half are wired up to the “Yang” system.
  • Two MIDI controllers are set up to interact with the Yin and Yang systems.
  • Headphones for both the Yin and Yang systems.


The audio synthesis and processing takes place in Pure Data. Two separate machines, the Yin and the Yang, are each are given a single 20-50 second audio recording as source material. The software then proceeds to slowly playback the clip at a rate of between 0.001 and 0.1 percent  the original speed. The slowed audio is mutilated via an extensive effects chain that includes reverb, chorus, echo, and granular chopping. The combination of the playback speed and the added effects renders the specifics of the clip unrecognizable while simultaneously retaining the essence of the recording. The audio engine changes its makeup depending on the state of one of the two controllers which have access to nearly every part of the synthesis chain allowing participants to  sculpt the machine into a state they like.

The visuals are created in the Processing programming language. Several ‘Yin’ and ‘Yang’ clips are chosen far source material and are loaded into Processing. The program plays the videos back at different speeds and within geometric viewing windows. Before the installation is opened to the public, Martin and I draw ‘windows’ into the clips allowing the selected parts of the clip to become visible while masking out the majority of the video (see pictures and videos). Processing takes controller inputs from the installations controller as well to vary the playback speed, colors, and video effects.

The Woman in the Dunes

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The “The Woman in the Dunes” instance of Yin~Yang is inspired by the 1964 film 砂の女 (roughly translated into English as The Woman in the Dunes.) The installation draws on the film for both source material as well as theoretical inspiration.The themes of tension and serene hopelessness became guides for the sonification and visualization process. The themes of complacency and entrapment provided our Yin and Yang. This version of Yin-Yang was shown as a part of the Fall-2015 MTIID-MFA show at the ROD concert hall at CalArts.


This instance of Yin~Yang utilizes Nature and the City as its Yin and Yang. Field recordings of streams, forests, and oceans are contrasted with clips of bus stops, train stations, and city streets. The source videos mimic the audio as videos of deserts, forests, and oceans contrast videos of building construction, roadways, and the urban sprawl.

This version of Yin~Yang has been shown at the Oscillating Dream Space concert-installation night at CalArts as well as at the 2016 Digital Arts Expo.