cVert is the result of an idea I’ve been kicking around for years, and took a few months of work to bring to fruition. The idea was to use a Geiger counter as a true random number generator to give a non-deterministic input for computer art or music. The result is a MIDI controller with a large amount of control removed - it plays a random musical note every time a radioactive decay is detected.

The idea of using radioactive decay to generate random numbers is not especially novel. Geiger-Müller tubes have been used to provide random numbers for many years in hardware random number generators. These are generally used to provide a greater level of security in cryptography, where true randomness is important and pseudorandomness would not be adequate.

cVert is an attempt to take the technique of detecting radioactive decay and apply it to an arts context, by designing an accessible, low-cost and open-source MIDI device. MIDI was chosen primarily because it enables cVert to play nicely with a wide range of software; natively it can communicate with Pure Data, Max/MSP etc. as well as any DAW, but it can also be used with environments such as Processing or openFrameworks via the correct libraries.

Clearly it’s not necessary to use a Geiger-Müller tube for the purposes of generative art or music, but it is really cool.”

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