• Denholm Hewlett

[Music/Science] Robert Henke - CBM 8032 AV

An innovative German technical visionary and computer-based musical composer whose art encompasses engineering + software development. The impact and influence of Robert Henke's artistry is unmistakable.

Part scientist, part artist, Henke is one of the most influential creative minds in electronic music today. The impact of his work as Monolake blurred the genre-divide between techno, ambient and electronica. Most importantly, Henke was the head engineer behind the Ableton live music production software, which transformed the creative landscape of modern music.

Robert Henke is the head engineer and creative director behind CBM 8032 AV, a symbiotic audio-visual installation performance built around five of the oldest commodore desktop computers from the early 1980's.

CBM 8032 AV is a mesmerising symphony of acid-green geometric computer-graphic patterns and projections, paired with raw and crunchy 8-bit sound-bites reminiscent of old school Atari and Nintendo games.

This highly innovative and hypnotic installation is an unparalleled audiovisual experience that is simultaneously retro, modern, fluid and mathematically complexed. The soundscapes conjured by this modified retro tech takes the spectator through a hypnotising 8-bit wasteland of synthetic wormholes and hallucinations.

~ Check out the official trailer video of CBM 8032 AV live ~

These archeic commodore computers were never designed to support the creation of music. All five units featured in the show were restored and modified by Henke and his design team with new audio and video chip processors, combined with Henke's own bespoke coding softwares, to produce a synthesised digital synergy of obsolete technological graphics with retro-futuristic musical orchestrations. The whole project is pure 8 bit.

Everything presented within the project could have been done in 1980, but it needed the cultural backdrop of 2019 to come up with the artistic ideas driving it.’ ~ Robert Henke

CBM 8032 AV / Live at Barbican (2020)

All the images and audio of the CBM 8032 AV project are produced and calculated in real time by the computer's CPU. The synthetic heartbeat of Henke's code is translated into 8 bit audio and graphics. I witnessed Henke's CBM 8032 AV performance behind the cold brutalist walls of London's Barbican centre last year, the show was the most unique and extraordinary audiovisual technological experiments I've ever witnessed. After the immersive spectacle had finished, I spent a few moments contemplating whether or not my brain had just been secretly re-wired.

CBM 8032 AV / Live at Barbican (2020)

Check out Robert's website for more of his groundbreaking techno-musical projects. There's an incredible album by Monolake attached below and an in-depth documentary examining the making behind CBM 8032 AV.


CBM 8032 AV / Live at Barbican (2020)

~ Psychic Garden