Sonia Yuditskaya,

The S0urce


I really wanted to learn Pure Data when I was a teen. The idea of a graphical programming language for making graphics just blew my mind. Plus the philosophy behind Pd was just totally mesmerizing and attractive, not only is it open source, but it's anarchist to boot! Sign me up. So I spend a couple of months just really immersing myself in it right after college.

And then I met this artist, Val Maracco at Interactivos 08 in Madrid. She is a dancer and a VJ and we really hit it off so I came to visit her where she lived in Amsterdam. For New Years she VJ'd a house party there, and she let me sit at her controls. And that's it--I was hooked!

The next day I made a whole VJ system for Pd and I've been running wild with it ever since.

My main influences are CJ and Benton Bainbridge. They just have the most beautiful dedication to their art and community. CJ and I in particular share a love of optics, so I learned a lot from him. My father, Boris Kelerman, also influenced me a lot tho he is a painter.

As some kind of counter point to his painting practice, he collected lenses and cameras and taught me all the things about light and how to fix it in place. So I grew up playing with optics and glass, and that found its way into my art practice soon enough once I was doing it on my own.

My hero-star-struck moment was when I got to work with Laurie Anderson. When I was 12 I used to lie on the floor and sing all her songs, and just fathom her work and the scope of it all and how brilliant it is. And then when I was 24 I got to work with her, it was the ultimate dream come true!

My favorite band ever is Ohmslice, they are Jane LaCroy and Bradford Reed. Bradford is a virtuoso musician, and he makes his own electronic instruments, he's most known for making the Pencillina, which he plays in Ohmslice. Jane is a poet and a prophet, she sings and improvises just the most amazing lyrics on top of Bradford's music.

My favorite DJ/Producer is Dima Markus, whenever we play together there is this perfect synergy, this may not make sense but: it feels like being in two places at once, and it's great! Dima's not a band, but dancefloors are totally key when it comes to spaces where you can make light show magic.

And there are many other musicians who are absolutely stellar who I had the great fortune to cross paths with. To be quite honest I can’t believe it all.

My all-star cast are Steve Pavlovsky aka Liquid Light Lab, CJ, Benton Bainbridge, The Sperm Whale, Douggie Lazer, and Captain Lazer Pants.

These are all NY friends, what a fabulous community we have here, and there are many more people to mention, like Katherine Liberovskaya, and Ursula Scherrer, and everyone around the Share community, and the Warper Party community, and all the Disorient VJs that ever were and will be including the formidable Josh Godberg, and oh I don’t know...I feel like this list could be endless. Finally I must list my closest collaborator, Ria Rajan, who sometimes goes by the name of Master Fader.

I'd have to make an honorable mention to Kurt Ritta, who I never played with but who has done programming/setup/and support for a number of events I was in, Kurt is a magician with the projectors and he seems to have no end of energy to keep it all running and supporting others, thank you Kurt!

I play under my formal name, like the one in my passport, which is pretty funny because I have so many aliases, and while aliases are earned through circumstance, the formal name is the most distant to me of all, it's the one that exists just for logistics. So that kindof amuses me.

As for my other performance name, it’s The S0urce, and I got it off a projector of course!

This one time, I was wiring up some screens on the lower level of ARS Electronica. I was attempting to make translucent LCD displays by separating the LCD from the backlight panel on a bunch of 15 inch monitors (this was a good 10 years before translucent LCD displays were a thing), and I eventually succeded!
So I was wiring them up, and ARS Electronica is the largest electronic arts museum in the world, it hosts a plethora of installations, each with highly eccentric power and networking demands. Every installation has its own breaker, and power cycling schedule, remote access and all that. It's very impressive because all this stuff is built by individual artists in no consistent matter, adhering to no protocol.

Anyway, I stick my finger in the wrong place and get a good 12V however-many-amps-a-screen-runs-on electric shock.

As I fall onto the carpet, one by one, all the areas on the level around me, I'm in a space that is hundreds of square meters in size, it's a massive exhibition hall and mezzanine, shut off and the floor is in darkness.

There's moans of dismay all around, confusion ensues! I'm lying on my back on the mezzanine and I can't really even say anything 'coz I just got this big shock, so I'm just listening to the chaos in the darkness.

Normally I would be in total dread...I mean this was a pretty bad fuck up, but it was a fuck up that was so bad it came out the other end and I just have to accept that freak accidents happen. I am sure the shock was helping me with my new found serenity.

Eventually someone got into the breaker room and resets everything. It was totally epic, (and shocking!) to shut down such a massive operation with one slip.

Nothing like that had ever happened, before, or since!

I started using an UC33 controller and Pd. I love and use, and teach, Pd because it's opensource, and anarchist and these are values I support in the world of software. The UC33 was the controller Val lent me, and it's pretty great, and stable which I still appreciate (I got my own since then).

Nowadays my rig really varies.
My most simple setup is a wii-mote as controller and VDMX for visuals generation.

I love and recommend wii motes to everyone as controllers. They are super durable, wireless, cheap, and have a wide array of inputs. The best part is you can give them to people in the audience and they have an accessible way of joining the fun.

Plus the accelerometer in it is very nice, so you can always stick the wii-mote in your back pocket and get on the floor and dance! It will send your movement data to the rig and you'll still be controlling the visuals :)

VDMX is a great piece of software originally made by Johnny DeKam, I believe it is now guided and mostly worked on by David Lublin with significant contributions from Vade. Please correct me if I am wrong! You can just use it out of the box, or you can open up the code of the effects and modify them or make your own. I appreciate a software ecosystem that has multiple layers of access, allowing artists to just make stuff intuitively, or get at the nuts and bolts and build their own parts from the ground up.

The most complex my set up gets is a huge assortment of crystals and films, sometimes I use an overhead projector along with digital projectors, sometimes I regularly use multiple digital projectors.

For controllers I stick to a korg nano and the wii mote, they are simple and durable--that's all I need.

I use a _lot_ of optics; optical films, crystals, lenses. Taking the films out of displays and projecting through them or the dichroics and wheels out of projectors and projecting through that is one of my favorite hobbies because it's so meta.

Finally, I love lasers, I have a range of lasers from tiny 5volt diodes to 5watt RGB projectors. Lasers are magical, they're as close as you can get, in embodied life, to seeing a geometric point and a pure frequency of light.

Sonia Yuditskaya - July 2020

Sonia Yuditskaya
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Sonia Yuditskaya