You've never seen video games played like this before

Part DJing, part gaming: Watch an artist use a synthesizer to play both music and Mario Brothers

Published March 7, 2014 1:57PM (EST)

Illucia, a patchbay controller that connects computer programs, not only blurs the lines between different softwares, it also obscures the boundaries between computer programming, visual art and music. On his website creator Chris Novello calls it "sort of like videogame DJing." Though the actual science is more complex. Novello uses OSC (Open Sound Control) and a handmade synthesizer-like control panel with a series of interchangeable wires, to let computer programs send data to each other. The results are featured in one of Novello's many videos below:

In the FAQ section of illucia's website, Novello points out that some will think illucia is "stupid." His response is quite thoughtful:

So much of computer culture is made by large teams of people, usually with the goal of safely pleasing giant markets and offending as few people as possible. Quite often, this is a great thing. These massive technology corporations often make incredible contributions to human culture – some drastically reduce suffering and shunt us into exciting new frontiers – but –

What if computer software and hardware could also become a more radical space for individual expression and critical thinking?

Literature, visual art, and music all encourage this – are computer software and hardware not equally compelling mediums? Couldn't personal, creative technology prove meaningful and important to humankind? What would the world look like if more people were empowered and encouraged to unfold their own technological voice?

Novello thinks it is wonderful if you are critical of illucia, and asks that you put on your analytical hats to improve the product, develop solutions or create new uses for illucia that would interest the naysayer. He poses this question, "There are so many amazing open tools and free resources for learning new things. Why not take matters into your own hands?" And while illucia is not being mass-produced on a wide scale, you can purchase the hand-crafted synthesizer for just under $500. (Bitcoins accepted.)

By Sarah Gray

Sarah Gray is an assistant editor at Salon, focusing on innovation. Follow @sarahhhgray or email

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