NO CARRIER, or Don Miller, is a visual artist and programmer living in Philadelphia. He reprograms nearly obsolete videogame and computer hardware for use at live music events and installations. He primarily codes for the Nintendo Entertainment System and Commodore 64, creating visual works that incorporate both new and recycled symbols and patterns. Miller has performed, lectured, and shown work in the US and Europe. His work simultaneously speaks to the emerging DIY technology culture, and the reminiscence of a generation raised on interactive media technologies.
Blip: Before you began doing visuals, where you into doing any different types of art or music?
When I was very young, I used to draw all the time. My mother told me once that when I got my NES that I stopped drawing – she was really worried. I guess now that I do visuals with an NES she doesn’t have to worry anymore. Nintendo didn’t kill all of my creativity, I guess. I was into ANSI and ASCII art during the BBS days, which is where I got the name NO CARRIER.
Blip: How did you first become aware of the possibility of visuals, and doing them in the style that you are doing them now?
I’ve always enjoyed VGM and chip music. I liked going out to see chip shows, but I noticed that the musicians were sometimes paired with VJ’s that used high-res 3D stuff or even movie clips. I wanted to do something that was hardware based, like the chip musicians were doing on stage. I knew I had a lot of work to do, so I started programming and learning all about the NES. A few years later I started doing live visuals with a couple NES decks and EEPROM carts.
Blip: How does your background influence your current work?
Well, I was a DJ for years and it really helps. Having a good ear for tempo and knowing basic song structure goes a long way with visuals. I try to make most of my visuals match the feel or speed of the music in one way or another. I think it helps complete the experience for the audience. I also really like psychedelic imagery and music – so I like a lot of flowing, abstract patterns and flashing lights.
Blip: Where do you see yourself in the greater chip music/art/visualist community?
I really like doing live visuals – but I also really like doing workshops and releasing software. I want to keep on putting out software that people enjoy using and that teaches them about the consoles/code. Open source software is a great way to learn! I guess to answer your question: I see myself as a performer and kind of a resource, I hope.
Blip: Who are you most excited to see at blip? Why?
I am really excited to see my man Enso destroy it on visuals. He might be new on the scene, but he is so damn talented.
NO CARRIER is performing visuals on all three days of blip. More info here.