Páll Thayer

pallthay@gmail.com | Reykjavík | Iceland | CV

Stuff (that I haven't gotten around to posting with descriptions and images):
On Real-Time
Abstraction, Automation and Subjectivity In Interactive Artwork: An Annotated Bibliography
On the Art Experience and the Natural Attitude
The Art and Craft of Open Source
Autodrawn: Sketching landscapes seen through my windows
A painting of three places
On narrative, abstract and location: a few words on location based data in art (pdf)
Trans-Cultural Mapping: Iceland Inside and Out
Location aware video/GeoCinema
Hlemmur in C
Test application for java enabled cellphones (Midp 2 only). Connects to PANSE project below (download zipped sourcefiles + .jar)


The SuperGooger

The SuperGooger will allow you to build a composite satellite image from Google Maps in whatever size you choose. Google Maps are created by lining up a number of image "tiles". SuperGooger lets you choose how many horizontal and vertical tiles you want. So if Google's limited viewer-window is bothering you, give SuperGooger a spin (source-code available at site).

The SuperGooger site

2007 CodeChat

Codechat is a chat system based around code and is intended as a means to discuss the conceptual and aesthetic implications of coding methods in computer-based works of art. What I hope to achieve with this is more open discussion between artists about the importance of code to this type of work. Original comments will inevitable be technical in nature but resulting discussions should gravitate away from the technical towards the conceptual and/or aesthetic, allowing those who do not have an understanding of the code itself to learn about its implications and also allowing them to join in the discussion as it becomes less technical. Hopefully this will help to develope a "language" for discussing coded artwork.

CodeChat home

The Carpenter's Level Dashboard Widget

A PowerBook accelerometer hack that became world famous

Level widget home


2011 Self-Portrait

An auto-generated, real-time self-portrait. My laptop is set to snap a photo every two minutes and then upload it to a server. There it gets vectorized and then "painted" to a web page.

The Self-Portrait Page

PHP, Javascript, HTML5

2009 Microcodes

Microcodes are very small code-based artworks. Each one is a fully contained work of art. The conceptual meaning of each piece is revealed through a combination of the title, the code and the results of running them on a computer. As works of art these are the creative work of Pall Thayer. As programs they may be copied, distributed, modified and used under the terms of the GNU General Public License v.3 or (at your option) any later version. GPL v.3.

The Microcodes website


No imagery available

2008 Exist.pl

exist.pl is work of software art based on an introspective metaphysical and ontological examination of existence and being from the standpoint of a running process on a computer. The software attempts to examine its own existence and state of being based on a variety of known philosophies combined with the physical aspects of being a computer program.

The Existpl project site


No imagery available

2000/2008 Sunset/Sólarlag

This piece was originally created in 2000 (see below). In 2008 I was asked to recreate it for a solo exhibition at Mejan Labs gallery in Stockholm, Sweden. The newer version worked out far better than the original. See time-lapsed video at http://vimeo.com/3000354

Pure Data
miscellaneous other open-source software

Sample image from Sunset/Sólarlag

2008 Nude Studies in Aleatoric Environments

Automated nude studies abstracted through geological intervention. Simultaneous geophysical interpretations of notions of nude-ness in the real-time of natural forces. Tectonic ripples through the core of the Earth.

open Nude Studies in Aleatoric Environments


Source material:
IRIS-BUD Seismic network

Sample image from Nude Studies...

2006 On Everything

"On Everything" generates a real-time audio/visual presentation of everything by appropriating material being shared by the worldwide public in the form of shared images and diaries. The source material is endless, thus the work goes on forever. Material is synthesized, mixed and, ultimately, abstracted, to allow for varied interpretation. "On Everything" knows nothing of the content of these materials. It reflects everything while reflecting on nothing. That is up to the viewer.

open On Everything


Source material:

Sample image from On Everything

2003 PANSE

PANSE is an acronym and stands for Public Access Network Sound Engine. It's a streaming audio program with a built-in tcp server. It's meant to be an open platform for experimental interactive audio-visual netart and is open to all. So-called "modules" (clients) can be created using Flash, Java, Perl or whatever else you can think of. Messages can be sent to it to control the highly flexible audio that is set up as two 16 step sequencers, a monophonic synthesizer and an effects generator. But it also streams out numerical data about the audio being played. This data can be used to control visual representations. It's very interesting to see how the design of an interface effects the way people interact with such a project. As with my previous projects, PANSE is multi-user based, so if more than one person is interacting with it at the same time, they will see and hear what the others are doing. This is why I prefer to call them modules rather than clients. It's like a modular synthesizer where seperate units control seperate aspects of what's going on. In PANSE, not all of the interfaces allow control over all parameters. In fact, currently there is only one interface that allows control over all of the different parameters.

open PANSE


The PANSE logo (a pansy!).

The Spirograph[d] control module by Neil Jenkins.

2002 Looking for the new universal harmony

This is the next of my 'web-based, multi-user audio-interface' pieces. In this one, the user has less control over his own interaction with the work. Some factors of it are based on the users IP numbers. It's interesting to note that the vast majority of users play around only with the sound and, it appears, could really care less about what is going on visually. I had to limit the number of records that the visual part retrieves on loading, so what you see is actually the last 80 records and then whatever happens while you're logged on. To get a really interesting image, try opening the site at the beginning of the workday, leave it running in the background all day and then take a look at the end of the day. It's very colorful.

Specific information on the work can be found on the page itself.

Access LNUH here


LNUH visuals

2002 Intercontinental spontaneous jam session

With this project I've gotten back on track with my audio-visual abstraction work. What ISJS is is a single web based musical instrument that controls an image on the web as well. The instrument can be played by many at the same time and it's somewhat akin to 10 people, playing simultaneously, on the same guitar. The piece was inspired by an older project of mine that involved sending midi recordings back and forth between Scotland and the USA and building up musical collaborations. Some of the material was released on tape in 1995 under the name, "The intercontinental jam sessions".

Access ISJS here.
Read my interview on soundtoys.net

Icecast MP3 streaming server

Read a reaction to ISJS

ISJS web interface.

2001 Choirpiece for four computers

This piece was basically an attempt at "humanizing" computers. In this piece I have five networked computers, one of which is the choir director and composer and the remainder forming the choir. The director is composing the music as he goes along but it's not purely random. This choir has a sense of aesthetics, so the director is very critical about the notes he chooses. Though he examines the possibilities of all notes, only notes fitting within a certain scale are actually accepted. Upon accepting a note, he randomly chooses a choir member, sends the note over the network and on the choirmember screen a mouth opens and we hear the note. The whole arrangment is based on making the computers look somewhat human and behave accordingly. The piece has been exhibited three times, once at the the Living Arts Museum in Reykjavik, once at the NIC2001 conference exhibit in Copenhagen and once at the Atlantic Cultural Spaces conference E-lounge in New Brunswick, Canada. The first time I exhibited it, I used a bunch of old Macs and I must say that the "humanizing" effect worked out best with them. The choir was arranged in a circle gazing upward at the director who was on a pedestal. It was quite serene, almost religious. But the computers had a really tough time handling everything. I ended up having to display the singing "mouth" in a tiny little window. At the other two exhibits, I used iMac's. These handled the graphics quite well and the "mouth" was displayed full-screen. However, the over-all impression was not quite as good. The iMac's were a bit too "clean" and lacked "personality" and "character".

Soundforum softsynth
Ethernet hub
5 Macintosh computers

Choirpiece at NIC2001, Copenhagen. Photo courtesy of Electrohype.

Choirpiece at Living arts museum, Reykjavík.

2000 Sunset:

In this project I was focusing on coming up with something that relied first and foremost on the internet. The idea was to create a constant stream of live broadcasts of the setting sun by switching from one part of the globe to another at predetermined intervals. At the same time, each of the broadcasts was creating it's own unique soundtrack. The reason for the soundtrack was that the Icelandic word for sunset is "solarlag" which could also mean "song of the sun". This of course gives this otherwise global project, a specific cultural significance understood only by Icelandic speaking people. Another factor was using subject matter that's been attempted by many but usually turns out a bit kitsch. So instead of trying to capture a single, definitive sunset moment, I thought, why not just use the entire thing?

Home-made Applescript
Various participants throughout the world

Screen capture from Baltimore, Maryland.

Screen capture from Reykjavik, Iceland.

1999 Inside a-minor:

In this piece I invite the viewer to experience an a-minor chord as if it were a three dimensional object. The installation consists of a white room with a speaker mounted on three of the walls and a notestand, with an empty sheet of note paper, standing in the center. When the viewer approaches the room, there is silence. Upon entering, a low a minor chord is heard, coming from nowhere in particular. However, if the viewer approaches any of the three speakers, one of the three notes making up the chord, is heard an octave higher than the ambient lower chord, making that single note discernible from the whole of the chord. Thus, by traveling around the room, the viewer is able to experience different aspects of the chord as would happen if one traveled around an extremely abstract three dimensional sculpture.

2 synthesizers
2 stereo amplifiers
3 speakers
1 MIDI translator
1 Macintosh computer

Inner corner of room with notestand and one speaker.

View of speaker and camera used for motion tracking.