Zenon Olenski began work as a product designer but, becoming disillusioned with the way manufacturers were obsessed with bottom line rather than durable functionality, moved into software products.
Photosynth began as something of a throwaway experiment with little practical purpose, but when Gawain Hewitt (Drake Music’s head of R&D) saw it, he convinced Zen of its potential as an accessible instrument.
The idea is simple: controlling a classic synth using colour and motion.
Dancers with glow-sticks, coloured clothes or light sources can direct the music, as well as affect the video on screen.
This means that Photosynth could be used in schools to make collaborative music, with no other instruments or prior music-making knowledge needed for participants.
Accessibility is not always a physical issue. For many young people, their home situation means that time to make music is difficult to find.
Photosynth is browser-based, so it could allow people to simply ‘dial in’ to a jam session from wherever they are. For Zen, this is a core part of the vision.
‘Music,’ he says, ‘is unparalleled in the positive effects it can bring to people’s lives. This is technology that allows me to have fun, and music is the best excuse for that.’