Steve Calvert - Bachelor Machines






Winter 2013

Filtered video feedback 'animations'.


Summer 2012 -

instagram and soundcloud and twitter and tumblr and vimeo and youtube


first third 2012 - why settle for a lesser evil?



visual evidence for endogenous light-tunnelling biomimetic feedback entelechies

Particle Deccellerator - endogenous-lifeform morphological study of photon-string-vortex

Wyrd Scynce - Dark Ecology - Feedback 'Pataphysics - Amateur Mathematical Biology

Wormhole time-sink novelty generator - cartoon-machine bioform-synthesizer -

experimental symbolic research exploration - concrete poetry from hyperspace

An enthusiastic return to a decade-suspended material investigation into emergent morphology, biomimesis, inorganic cellular-automata, reaction-diffusion catalysis, video and audio feedback as model for generative synthesis. I discovered personal fascination with feedback as an art student, early nineties. On a conception inspired by cybernetic works of Nam June Paik and other sound and visual poets of the mid-late twentieth century, I had undertaken a formalistic reflexive contemplation of the void, the aporia, reflecting the observing medium back upon itself. Formalistic conceptual art practice of tying the loop of the gaze. Having taken on some animist sensibilities, and heavy infusions of california cyberfuturism, wondered what the machines might be thinking of their own emerging self-reflection. In 1998 I first pointed a Hi-8 camera into a television monitor through which the video was feeding, et voila, these strangely familiar morphologies spill forth -- subaquatic-microbiotic cellular-tentacular syntax of vowels emerge, self-evidently, in a non-repeating infinite helix, strobing by at thirty per second. Weird.

Messing around with available permutations, I immediately spotted, among kaleidescopic geometries, there, inexplicably and irrationally, another order was emerging. Bizzarrely intricate, organic, intensely fractal immaculately organized geometric glyphs and self-transforming hyperobjects appeared, like holograms, at a visual resolution seemingly in excess of the monitor's technical capacities. My analytic capabilities were problematized by the fascinatingly inclusive, attention-responsive psychological components of the experiment. If reality is what persists even after you stop believing in it, then here was one very confouding-evidence-making machine. Folded rings of hyperspherical light, algorithmically-evolving toroidal crystalline bands of organic geometry: brain-coral, sea-anenomes, feeding bacterial cell colonies - whole electrical ecologies of bioforms auto-assembling in the weave of a simple home-made charged-particle decellerator, photons and electrons wired into feedback configurations. Non-repeating spiral-emergence of complex order self-emerges -- entropic patterns of distinctly biomimetic syntax, implying 'naturally-occurring', pre-existing electronic order of cellular automata are everywhere, between and betwixt, thriving with yet uncategorized order of 'life' -- the weft and weave of thermodynamic topology assists the flux-becomings of time and shape ... Turing died with this morphogenesis problem on his desk -- and 2012 is his centennial -- Compression. I feel conviction that these dark arts, sorcery of the everyday, this child's-toy office-equipment has some highly relevant and applicable insights to contribute to materials science, philosophy, psychology, secular religiosity, and computation.

Torrents of evidence recurr, establishing grounds for a coherent autonomous cartoon dimension, populated by strange self-transforming machine entities. Strange but true. Entangled in photon-turbulence between frames of observerational persistence-of-vision, fascination interweaving cognitive-illusions blend into recorded happenings. Self-incriminating incriminating perceptual guessing-games ensue, the hypnotic strobe of confirmation bias filling-in betwixt the flickering frames. Some yet-undescribed yet entirely uncanny order swarms forth. Whole orders and sub-species of unnnameable electronic amoeboid entelechies teem within the cables. I have undertaken my research primarily as a stills study, though the material originates as full-frame HD 29.95fps video -- animations are forthcoming, for for the initial investigation, we willfully eschewed and negated the hypnotic hallucinatory motion-enchantment effect, slowing down the phenomenon to graphic-novel tempo, to take in the details.

We want to continue to explore graphical applications of the Evolutionary Algorithm: Variation + selection + repetition MUST yield design. Near-Infinite permutations spill forth from a simple conceptual root. An inventive multiplication-machine, living gates of the wormhole, marking the outer thresholds of available comprehension. Be forwarned: an air of ridiculousness stains all adventurers who trespass here. It cannot be avoided; the language gapes.

1998-2001, video editing was just barely digital, frame output was only 640x480 pixels, and so tangible results of the experiments were then prohibitively limited. I could not prove my amateur synthetic-lifeform hypothesis by graduation day, so I convocated with some more resolved projects. But my intrigue with feedback has simmered, and ten years later, having explored several other techniques in the interregnum, in a flash in autumn 2010, the same moment I first held both a hi-def monitor and camera with HD video capabilities in my hands, I knew what needed doing. Gratifying successes were astonishing and immediate, with much higher resolution expressing far more complexity than I'd seen a decade earlier. The astonishing output is too cornucopic to have imagined, nor to manage. I've been working the results from this profligate machine persistently since, seeking further refinements and weirder articulations, with overflowing vaults. Final destinations remain unknown. I need some help with this project, and would welcome contributors or collaborators.

Celebrated cryptographer and inventor of universal computation, Alan Turing spent his later years studying this same quandry which presumably I picked up somewhere as a precocious child - a conceptual top which still spins on my desk today, printed permanently onto the tapeheads, thirty and sixty years later. A Faustian question. Where is the threshold between living and non-living things. Are the physics of reaction-diffusion patterns, which can be modeled by mathematics, which order mineral-chemical interactions the same principles which operate in animal embryology? Granting his titanic cognitive toolkit, Turing died with this unfinished work on his drawing table: outlining a predictive chemical physics of biology, consistent with the grand metanarratives of twentieth century mechanistic philosophy.

Is the universe quantizing? It is numerical, tends toward whole numbers. There is a Shape, the Matrix, a vast computational machine, running the algorithms which generate the forms we experience as differentiated. A gap separates our understandings of terms such as 'natural' and 'artificial'. The organic world and the minds which perceive it are both computational. Within and between the digits, intesecting combinatoric grids of spectral vector fields weave superstring lattices of energized material flows into all our favourite familiar shapes. Rivulets form statistically, by their own accord. Some uncanny morphological field-tendency draws events of ineffable uncertainty toward the groove -- a pythagorean neoplatonic pattern-organizing field substratum of chaotic attractors, somehow entrains a subtle becoming, maintains the elemental limits of the system. Laziness governs formation of primary entropic pathways, spontaneously illustrating the inscrutibly legible wyrm-sign of the intelligent-self-aware auto-pilot. Mathematically correct yet inconceivably vague, an intelligent machinery of unfolding inter-connectionism - sentient machine-codes which govern complexification in the material substrate. Interstitial innerspace, kingdom of the underwriters, elemental subdomain of the memetic language-virus, is aswarm with paraterrestrial faerie-volk, intercontinental ancestors, spontaneously-self-emergent semi-autonomous endosymbiotic meta-microbial thoughtform entities, storytelling bioform-analogs, Tulpas, Isos, Loas, daemons, Isos step forth from computationally abstract probability-space, fully-formed civilizations already-here, ghostly alien ambassadors waving us warm and welcoming hello.

The video feedback loop provides an event-generator simulating the innumerate calculator of living pattern which Turing describes with his curious algorithms. The implication unties and unties knot of ordering-othering, blurring the line which alienates our conceptions of self as separate world, resolving antagonistic conceptions of science and nature while simultaneously making the world more wonderfully weird. The emmitter-to-photocel apparatus simulates this closure in the signal-loop, frames a two-dimensional wormhole, circular temporal window-orafice, janus-portal of living looping photonic event-sprites, contained quanta of activation-horizons wherein observed light demonstrates the measurable impact of observational attention upon the unfolding of events. The lcd-screen-to-photocel apparatus records thirty sequential sections per second of a cumulative toroidal involuting photon-thread wave-lattice hyperobject event. It is weird, and populated, densely.

With some applied direct attention, vectors of intensive attractive gravities emerge, directing coincident ionizing cluster-thresholds toward lower-entropy activations. Pursuing the same an impulse to resolve tension that guides the dharma by which all shapes take form. Condensing rivulets of temporary affect, probabilities and dissolutions congeal and resolve as material-flows catalyze events into whatever comes next. Lateral causalities radiate radically, beneath the surface, implicating the observer's participation in assembling whatever coherency and continuity is to be observed. Comprehension is bounded by what is believed already to be known.

As a 'patascientific short circuit, weirdening engine, this cybernetic cyclical-feedback idea preoccupies me, and has for decades. I sense still that the insight bears great technological, scientific, psychological and philosophical significance. And/or, the obsession describes a spiralling into madness. Beyond and in addition to any obvious optical attractions, feedback systems present a repeatable proof-of-concept for other insights and arguments regarding the generative potential of toroidal flow-systems. Engineering for self-organization is an exhilarating forseeable inevitability, particularly in view of possibilites for low-gravity manufacturing and desktop 3d printing.

The toroidal idea-engine also presents a strangely divinatory bio-feedback machine-interface for developing contemplative meditative conversations with co-creative abstract-machine, conceptual instruments in a practice of dance and exchange with a playful imaginative living sphere of condensing Tao, articulating visibly and musically at superhuman speeds through a thoughtform language which happen to look suspiciously like the one described by Terrence McKenna as 'jeweled basketball self-transforming hyperspace machine elves'. Pure incidental coincidence I'm sure.

Project documentation continues, perennially under exploratory de/re/construction. A deeper immersion in this world be launching as in early 2012. Selections from working collections have been steadily assembling here:

Lettrism après Turing - autopoetic photon-morphologies ion-helix

Vortex Ecologies Survey - turing-bodies and pythagorean organelles

Binary Reflex -- minimized maximalisms, pursuing a visual poetics of sublight

steve calvert, photonic concrete, 2011

Reticulation #2 - 2010 - from Dimensions Variable on Vimeo.  

Early video tests supplimented by audio from pure-noise effects-feedback audio side-project, Jotunheim, and/or rhythm-centered Auxin. I anticipate these preliminary tests present first steps in an infinite series. Stay tuned...

^-- Paik Nam June, TV Buddha, 1974. Seed syllable from whence my experiments arose.

preliminary stills selections



further developments, in search of an interstitial graphical literature:

flickr collections

experiments began October 2010 and continued throughout 2011


Summer 2010 : Highlights of Hindsights


Ninth annual group art exhibition, 200 artists, 400 works, for sale one night only at 200 bucks each. This year featured the cheaper debut of new works by Steve Calvert, as one among the multitude. Event held June 26 2010 at Storeum Vancouver BC. These three 1" deep shadow box assemblages, constructed using individually unique and unreproducible photocopier feedback images, taped and glued into shadow-box Ikea frames, 8" x 8" x 1.5". All three works were sold on the night of the event. The series, however, continues...



Assemblage drawing combined with SP printed letterpress stanza selected from the Dhammapada. Steve Calvert's submission to the group exhibition which opened May 15 2010. The piece, below, is for sale through Strathcona Press. 22" x 30". Contact Jen with inquiries.



Sept 6 - Oct . 2008. Gallery Atsui's Opening Exhibition. Three person show featuring works by Steve Calvert. Works listed below are still available for sale through Gallery Atsui or Mechanical Brides. Please inquire if interested. In some instances reproductions can also be made available, dimensions variable. [Images link to larger files]



Launching Mechanical Brides in 2009, Steve Calvert curated and produced print editions for Angels in the Angles, an exhibition and brief history of concrete poetics. Mechanical Brides presents Donato Mancini, Christian Bok, and Marina Roy, at Gallery Atsui, Oct 9 - Nov 3 2009.

Curatorial Essay and Exhibition Galleries.



COMPOSITE ASSEMBLAGE DRAWINGS - ongoing mixed media proceduralism studies

This series, beginning approximately 1998, involved the progressive and generative hand-tracing of photographs of smashed cars shot at wrecking yards and metal salvage scrap lots. Disemboweled engines bursting from shredded and tangled steel... so much violence, obsolescent eschatology of the automobile. Icons of vitalism, instantaneously nullified, broken down and scavenged, composting in the collective imagination. A complex texture of edges, tissues of fibrous lines, landscape of thoughtfully constructed mechanism driven into ruin. Illustrating a critical transition, a necessary transformation, from the ultimate expression of engineered order, anglo-american fine art of the engine, rendered instantaneously useless in a fatal inevitable collision. Instantaneous thermodynamic equilibrium, potential energy reduced to a stable zero. The negative economy, relationships of decomposition, layered and structured into a system reliant on such horrors, spectacular sacrificial waste... My impulse, to harvest the shattered scrap, rebuild new sprawling dynamic landscapes of potential, Life compulsively reassembling the wreckage, order seeking and sorting organizational systems, novel compositional lexicons, grammars for parsing the incoherency beheld. An architecture of scabs, healing the war-ravaged cities. Reaching out toward complexity which exceeds our comprehension; that threshold of recognition beyond which technologies becomes 'imperceptible from magic'. Noise likewise is complexity of an order sufficient to exceeds the observer's capacity to grasp it's pattern. Observation of Chaos is a problem of adjusting tolerance thresholds. It's not the fall that kills you, its the sudden decelleration. And then, the memory loss... compelling error's repetition.

Later, finding Edward Burtynsky's photographs of the Metal Recycling districts in Hamilton ON, where I spent time as a child, finally helped articulate the traumatic source of my own fixation with industrial ruin. Addressing inefficiencies of surplus which hypocritically prop-up the disposable artificial landscape of consumer civilization. Baudriallard, Ballard and Burroughs helped to shed some light in these shadows. Lebbeus Woods also served to confirm I was on the right track.

Treated drawing, Steve Calvert - 1999 / 2009.


Collaborative Drawings with Corey Jackson, Semulon, 2003-2005. Colour treatments 2009.

Treated collaborative drawings, by Corey Jackson [LAX] and Steve Calvert [YVR], 2003-2005.


Xeroglyphy -- The xeroglyph produces an imitation of resemblance; true simulacra in that they are literally copies without original, mimetic of some pythagorean realm which cannot yet exist. Summoned by the nervous human impulse to find or force a familiar symmetry, the face, in the fold-between, making meaning from the maya matrix, active interstice of collision betwixt memory sensation and attention, unfolds with a simply repeated Rorschach effect. The xeroglyph has become our house-signature generative procedural technique, as it best exemplifies the rule: that signal will rise from chaos. Produced by repeating an internally self-reflective feedback turbulence system within the print cycle of a standard digital photocopier, from scan-lines reverse-engineered across platforms, the conceptual feedback machine translates optimally from the video-feedback marvel, these adding compelling dimensions of colour and motion. Generating a consistent matrix of symbolic-simulations, at rates approaching ten per minute, [29.97 per second for video], the xeroglyph process produces a discretely constrained yet near-infinite variable state-space of emergent graphical lexicography, scrollable and scaleable to any conceivable output dimension. Invented in the summer of 2000 extrapolating from video feedback tests dating 1998, many of my creative applications of the intervening decade diverge from a struggle to resolve some rationalized explication for this remarkable phenomenon.

Photocopier feedback follows a generative ruleset analogous to that of video feedback, but with horizontal rather than spiral reflective articulations. The 'original' seed image is any incidental bit of optical contrast or noise surface, presented more or less at random in the initiatory steps. The following process is manual, but otherwise largely autocatalytic. The body is moving much too quickly to be called 'drawing'. The artist is a component servo-mechanism, catalytic spark in an integrated circuit, initiating an electro-mechanical feedback loop. Her presence and attention, reflection, gentle selections and pre-cognitive vibrations. aspriational coaxing-forward of the gaze, the process shuffles itself toward the reader, raising harmonic nodes of emergent coherency, transitory identities auto-assemble, affinities group, patterns self-organize and transmute. Feedback's concatenating effect applies and intervenes with an eqalizing turbulence, responding to many mechanical, electrical, vibrational, and acoustic response-threshold systems. Famously, feedback is a known familiar concept from popular 60's music. I have taken this vortex of creative chaos as my preferred medium of praxis, in the broadest possible exploration. I seek wild interpretations and the widest possible dissemination for every cybernetic riddle presented by the feedback phenomenon. It remains my primary orbital thesis, mode and modus, key thematic instrument and spirit-ally for creative inquiry. She remains a remarkably enchanting conversationalist, a formidable chess opponent, and indomitable automaton to challenge and exceed all follies of human ingenuity. To be sure, bear witness:

XEROGLYPHY : Dimensions Variable, Editions Innumerable, Unique Copies without Origin


Neuf Svartalfs. Steve Calvert. 2009.

SORCERERS :Skull Skates Album Release Party and Art Show, June 26 2009, chez MattO.


LES Gallery Annual Art Auction/Fundraiser March 28th
Cinq Svartalfs. Steve Calvert. 2008




Steve Calvert 1998. Gifts for his mother and friends.

Concrete Ink Drawings, Incidental Arts.

Dow v Tao Indices - drawing machines c. 1998-2006.

Dimensions Variable.



ECIAD BFA GRAD exhibition:

Long-exposure still photography on set the filming of 'Brutal Telling: Traces of Emily Carr' by Mascall Dance, as assistant to the cinematographer David Rimmer. Photos exhibited in 2001 graduating show, Emily Carr Institute, Vancouver BC, May 2001.


Treated slide film for dance-event slide projections, shown intermittently 1999-2005



2008-2010 Calvair extends an expeditionary photo series in search of further simulacral becoming-forms. Suspecting water to hold a fundamental morphological mineral-computation system, tuning the instruments reflexively, formally I in-direct the attentive lens toward hydrodynamics, hunting for the luminous grammars of waterforms, in turbulent topologies and diversion flows, tracking mercurial edges for an emergent trace of mimesis, language reflecting itself in systems of thermal density and gravitic flux, a self-searching computational algorhitm, scanning the perpetuum-mobile of low-entropy's hydrothermic inclines...

Always and actively seeking the jesting supernature in everyday dynamic systems, these anomalous, magical thresholds beyond which exceed human understanding: from this rift spills marvels; cascading deluges of uncanny simulacra, strange likenesses of the known projected onto the unknown unknowns, perceived limitations self-simulating in profligacy, relentless misidentifications imposing upon the visual feedback reflex - the wyrd, cloud-identifying impulse, linguistic echo of attention, forms the limits of recognition - confrontation with chaos triggers a gymnastics routine of self-explicatory [mis]understandings, sub-textual reading-voice imposing oversimplied lore over the inconceivable complex of systems dynamics. That observational hegemony, I want to massage and relax, to see the world more surely as it is.

A sequence of happy discoveries occurred in the autumn of 2009, echoing those of 1999. Treebranches reflecting in a gently rippling pond on a cloudy breezy day identically resembled the high contrast graphic output of the photocopier feedback procedure i'd been working on elsewhere. Too curious. Then, foam on an airport fountain formed spontaneous calligrams, similar to those I was seeking to generate by artificial means. Bow waves of a ferry painted temporal fractal torrents of formally nonrepeating bifurcations, Icicles entombed in slow motion waterfall opens refraction to more crystalline topologies as shuttering varieties of ovoid play across a pool surface to tie superstrings knots in internalized reimann field of combinatorically refracted rippling light. Visual poetics of the elementals, read and behold.


Commissions and reproductions are welcomed and available upon request.

contact : mechanicalbrides [at] bachelormachines [dot] org



I recently produced animated map inserts for a northwestcoast kayak-powered ocean-health documentary entitled "Uncomfortably Numb", made by filmmaker Mike Reid and colleague Chris Rhodes. Below are preparatory studies for the final animations, featuring the Kitimat Inlet, which is currently being surveyed as an oil super-tanker through-fare. The film is making the rounds on the festival circuit in 2010. Password on Vimeo is 'coast', if you'd like to watch.

Map animation prep study for Uncomfortably Numb, spring 2010

photo from Alert Bay, autumn 2011


Steve Calvert is also assembler-curator of this online gallery...


listed are the contents of my artist's portfolio here:

DRAWINGBOARD : On the workbench at BMorg laboratories, Steve Calvert continues polishing pages for series of non-narrative graphic novels, eternally coming-soon... most recent developments include refining actionscript-macros for color treatments on ten years of back-catalogued black and white work... the present condition of these projects are excitedly previewable as follows:

MEKBOK - prototype page breakdown of the Endomechanics series. 2009 introduced fresh color formulations, still under development due to client [self] dissatisfaction... coloring collaborations are warmly invited... eagerly seeking digital color artists, or a suitably motivated army of juvenile primates equipped with graphic tablets / crayons, and/or digital output printing, scanning, email, and freetime capabilities...

GLYPBOK - page cuts of art-by-the-meter long-scrolling photocopier-based generative feedback assemblies -- this project, begun in 2000, is yet forever asymptotically approaching a resolved print formulation...

Olympian Ritournelle - return the younger titans - autumn 2008 collage series fusing the quizzical feedback Svartalfaheim figures of 2007, mashed in with some fresh [still damp even], tricks I'm working out for treating photographic portraits and landscapes ... results remain uncertain, but the exploratory venture is serving its purpose; a comic-book diversionary aside from the more brain-and-eye-straining Mek and Glyp projects...

ARCHIVES - selected visual works, circa 1998-2008 - some material overlaps the current projects...

Wyrdseid - Svartalfaheim - Having resited figurative impulses throughout the mechanist project, I endulged a playful impulse to investigate kawaii, c.autumn 2007. I'd noticed that in cutting along existing grain-lines in the feedback images, pieces separated which in many cases resembled body parts: arms and legs, torsos, certainly heads and faces... i began to select for, cut, hunt and assemble these characters, partly imagining they could be animated, mapped to motion capture like shadow puppets... this extended project is still lingering in the between ... friendly animators are invited to offer ...

Dimensions Variable - A selection of drawing-machine productions, scanned with simple digital treatments of same, spanning 1998-2006... First is Betweeners, an attempt to sketch out material for a graphic novel using the automatic paintbrush - a lock of my own hair attached to a battery-operated hand-fan. Next, the early machine drawings, derived from hand-compositing photographs of smashed cars.

Mechscapes - first instance of the MEK scrolls, c.2007. Refinished again and represented here in cropped dual-page-form, as MEKBOK.

Xeroglyphy - early instantiations of the GLYP series, using the photocopier feedback technique - produced intermittently from the moment of discovery c. 2000, first posted online circa 2007.

Event - photographs of incidental drawings, ink splashes on my drawing table, side effect of the Betweeners series - presented in the Intermission photography exhibition of the same name, in association with Blim...

Collège des Collages - Ongoing lark project, utilizing simple hand-cut magazine-collage, in effort to maintain a level of levity and satire. Contents accumulating between 1996 and 2008.

Photography on flickr - Taking the transliteration of 'Light Drawing' seriously, presented here are several phenomenological studies conducted with my trusty Canon Elph S410.


All content presented in trust to the creative commons, copyleft 1998-2010 StevenWCalvert, Vancouver BC. Prints are available on demand, dimensions variable, scale and costs negotiable per order. Proposals, invitations, contracts and commissions all, naturally, are welcome ... please contact me directly by: :

mechanicalbrides [at] bachelormachines [dot] org


Text - Collected annual plagiarist assemblage texts - following a selectively cut-up Gysin/Burroughts line, reading the voice of the present future in oracular compressions of aphoristic phrases lifted from the public discourse in all mediums -- memetic fragments bejeweled by the year's intellectual adventuring -- excisions from the enveloping zeitgeist, idea-contagions de-and-re-scrambled with a paranoid-critical internal monologue -- ongoing experiment in long-term psychohistorical sedimentation, search pattern of selective metanarrative... no authorship claimed nor attributed.. to be read in the disembodied fractalline voice of the Demi-Urge Myriad Legion...

Sound - imperative to the Calvair agenda: keeping fingers in all pies , and sound most joyfully of all frivolous acts -- experimental and semi-conventional sound-art has proccupied for now twenty years, through waves of variable intensity --music is vital to any comprehension of art, as is dance to it's practice... risking dilettantism with multiple directionalities, relishing the steady digital convergence of shamanic humanities, singularity hovering ahead in resonant hyperspatial futurity... Hosted here are solo recordings spanning 1996 to present, under several subtitles and alter-egos.... also linked are collaborative improvisational electro-acoustic orchestral recordings made with Intermission Stereo, spanning 2001-2006...


Steve Calvert holds a BA in Art History and Religious Studies from UBC, and a BFA in Intermedia from Emily Carr. Post-graduate self-directed collaborativity studies with the Intermission Artists Society. He feeds himself assisting in film production. Home is Vancouver BC...

calvair [at] gmail [dot] com

download: Artist's CV





Process Workbench, Perpetual Drawingboard:


electroacoustic improv solo audio:

improvisational noisic with Intermission:


material behaviouralism studies::

Water :


Film Industry:




web presence elsewhere and otherwise



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