bret battey • bat hat media


Clonal Colonies

Pierrot ensemble, computer-realized sound, and video (2011)
[flute, bass clarinet, violin, cello, piano, gongs]
Commissioned by The Avian Orchestra

Movement I: Fresh Runners

Movement II: Soft Strata


Clonal Colonies was commissioned by New York's Avian Orchestra for their botany-themed concert Vegetative States in 2011. The first movement, Fresh Runners, is a fast romp of densely interlocked textures, thrilling in the process of transformation itself. The second movement, Soft Strata, starts with an almost childlike simplicity, from which a series of gentle elaborations culminate in a not-so-gentle interjection. It returns to something akin to its original state, but impelled by evolution to exhibit greater richness and nuance.

A "clonal colony" is a group of genetically identical plants. Child plants are propagated by "runners" that emerge from a parent plant. Thus colony members may appear as individual plants above the ground, but are interconnected underground. The environment for each plant, which includes neighboring colony members, shapes the unique appearance of that plant. This is analogous to the computer algorithms used in the creation of the music. Each musical phrase can be thought of as the disposition of a single plant. All instrumental parts share the same underlying "genetic code". But each instrumental behavior influences and is influenced by the others'. This ecosystem, when tended with care by the composer-gardener, can give rise to engaging behavioral counterpoint, sometimes of surprising and hard-to-rationalize coherence. I trimmed and weeded the resulting acoustic garden while adding computer-rendered sound. The latter provides color settings, delineates boundaries, clarifies landmarks — and highlights the fundamental pulse of the landscape.

The video element extends my previous Brownian Doughnut Warper technique of algorithmic manipulation of points by adding Bézier splines between points, camera control, and post-processing routines. Complex patterns arising from the lines between points forms a further analogy to botanical clonal colonies.

Technical Details

I produced the sound for Clonal Colonies with the aid of my Variable-Coupled Networks (VCMN) algorithms technique (as described in the journal Organised Sound, 9(2), 2004), implemented in Max/MSP. The computer-realized sound was created primarily using SuperCollider, Max/MSP and Digital Performer.

I created the visual material with a custom plug-in for Apple’s Motion 4 video effects software, working in 1080p resolution. The connection between the sound and the image was created almost entirely manually — the relationship is not algorithmic.


  • Co-First Prize - MuVi4 International Exhibition of Video and Moving Image 2015, Spain
  • First Prize - Fresh Minds Festival 2013, Texas A&M University, USA
  • Honorable Mention - Punta y Raya Festival 2014, Reykjavik, Iceland

Presentation Details and Materials


  • Fresh Runners: 6:45
  • Soft Strata: 8:45



  • Live Performances
    • May, 2014 - Vienna Independent Shorts, Gartenbaukino, Vienna, Austria [5.1 live remix of Movement I by Richard Eigner]
    • Apr, 2014 - New World Symphony / Network Performing Arts Production Workshop, Miami Beach, Florida, USA
    • Sep, 2011 - The Cell, New York City, USA [The Avian Orchestra]
    • Sep, 2011 - The Barn at Flint Woods, Greenville, Delaware, USA [The Avian Orchestra]
  • Touring Shows (fixed media)
    • The Best of Punto y Raya 2014
      • Dec, 2014 - ZKM, Karlsruhe, Germany
      • Aug, 2014 - Espacio Fundación Telefónica Lima, Peru
      • Aug, 2014 - Waterpieces Festival, Riga, Latvia
      • Jun, 2014 - Cinémathèque Québécoise, Montréal, Canada
      • Apr, 2014 - Kolorac, Belgrade, Serbia
      • Mar, 2014 - Kino Muza, Poznan, Poland
  • Screenings (fixed media)
    • Feb, 2021 - Center for Visual Music: Oskar Fischinger, Early Motion Graphics and Visual Music, Yebisu International Festival for Art & Alternative Visions, Tokyo Art Museum [Mvmt I]
    • Oct-Nov, 2020 - Center for Visual Music: Oskar's Legacy: Filmmakers Influenced by Fischinger, Anifilm Festival, Varšava Cinema, Czech Republic [Mvmt I]
    • Aug, 2018 - Center for Visual Music: New Visual Music, San Fransisco State University, USA [Mvmt I]
    • Sep, 2017 - Center for Visual Music Salon, Chroma Gallery, Santa Rosa, CA, USA
    • Dec, 2016 - live@CIRMMT, Schulich Concert Hall, Montréal, Canada
    • Nov, 2016 - Technarte Los Angeles, USC School of Cinematic Arts, Los Angeles, USA
    • Nov, 2016 - Center for Visual Music Salon, Los Angeles, USA
    • Oct, 2016 - Center for Visual Music Salon, Oxford University, UK
    • Oct, 2016 - Punto y Raya Festival, ZKM, Karlsruhe, Germany [Mvmt II]
    • Sep, 2016 - Arte es Digital, Digital es Arte, Museo Vostell Malpartida, Cáceres, Spain
    • Jun, 2016 - New York City Electronic Music Festival
    • Jan, 2016 - Digital Attraction Festival, FZ Fifteen Gallery, New Taipei City, Taiwan
    • Oct, 2015 - Montana State University
    • Sep, 2015 – International Computer Music Conference, Denton, TX
    • May, 2015 - Fifth International Congress "Synaesthesia: Science & Art”, Alcalá la Real, Jaén, Spain
    • Apr, 2015 – Montreal Videomusic Fesival, Espace Notre-Dame, Montréal, Canada
    • Nov, 2014 - Southwest Electronic Music Festival, Arizona State University, USA [Mvmt II]
    • Nov, 2014 - XXI Festival Internacional de Música Electroacústica Punto de encuentro, Valencia, Spain [Mvmt I]
    • Oct, 2014 - GLEAM Festival, University of Glasgow, UK
    • Mar, 2014 - Lotusounds — Festival of New American Music, Jacksonville University, Florida, USA
    • Jan, 2014 - Reykjavik Center for Visual Music / Punta y Raya Festival, Iceland
    • Nov, 2013 - Seeing Sound Symposium, Bath Spa University, Bath, UK
    • Nov, 2013 - Frequency Festival, Lincoln, UK [full dome projection]
    • Oct, 2013 - Bulldog Bytes Concert Series, South Carolina State University, Orangeburg, South Carolina, USA
    • Sep, 2013 - Fresh Minds Festival, Texas A&M University, USA
    • Aug, 2013 - 2nd International Understanding Visual Music Symposium, Buenos Aires, Argentina [Mvmt I]
    • May, 2013 - Collider Artslab / Elektrical Séance, Northampton,UK
    • Apr, 2013 - Fylkingen, Stockholm, Sweden
    • Apr-May, 2013 - Maritime Museum, Bilbao, Spain
    • Apr, 2013 - Technarte International Conference on Art and Technology, Bilbao, Spain
    • Mar, 2013 - Bulldog Bytes Concert Series, South Carolina State University, Orangeburg, South Carolina, USA
    • Jan, 2013 - SoundImageSound 9, University of the Pacific, Stockton, California, USA
    • Dec, 2012 - MADATAC IV, Madrid, Spain [Mvmt I]
    • Nov, 2012 -Sacramento City College Festival of New American Music, Sacramento, California, USA
    • Oct, 2012 - Cartes Flux Festival, Espoo, Finland
    • Jul, 2012 - East End Film Festival, London, UK
    • Apr, 2012 - Visible Bits Audible Bytes, Phoenix Digital, Leicester, UK
Fresh Runners  
clonal image clonal image
clonal image clonal image
clonal image clonal image

Click the thumbnails for full-sized images


Soft Strata  
clonal image clonal image
clonal image clonal image
clonal image clonal image

Click the thumbnails for full-sized images


clonal performance gongs

Avian Orchestra rehearsing Clonal Colonies at The Cell, New York. Visible: Chris Nappi, percussion; Blair McMillen, piano.