Solution

June 28, 2009 at 4:28 pm (MaxMSP/Jitter Progress)

Managed to find a solution to quick on-off triggering. Now, there is a timelapse after the initial seat-trigger goes on, which prevents any further input (e.g. on or off) for a period of time:

solution
Still need to think through other possibilites of triggering, so everything functions as intended.

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The Final Patch

June 28, 2009 at 12:55 pm (MaxMSP/Jitter Progress)

I’ve been working on my final patch in Max. It’s almost complete, though I still have to think through certain interactions with the seat-trigger. If someone triggers the number pad on and off in quick succession (perhaps by re-adjusting their behind!), then there is a fade in/fade out overlap which disrupts the whole patch! I’ll have time to smooth this out though, just need to think through some ways of gating the journeys fade object if this quick on-off occurs…

MaxPatch-F07

I am structuring the piece so that when someone enters the space, they encounter the River. When they sit down the journeys in to the city begin, as the light present fades down. The short journey compositions endlessly link together until the person stands up, which returns them to the River once again as the light fades up.

structuresketch

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7.1 (3/4.1) Set-up

June 24, 2009 at 8:12 pm (Logic Progress)

I’ve set-up in my room and have been working on my compositions in the last few days.

I will be able to do all my panning in Logic, since I can export each finished piece as ‘split files’ (one mono file for each channel). Then, in MaxMSP, I will route each file to the corresponding output.

I’m very much enjoying using surround. As I work I keep generating new ideas about how to utilize its potential to create more dynamic perspectives and motion. Logic has a very user-friendly surround panning interface, which hasn’t taken me too long to get my head around thankfully.

7.1

I’ve decided to be more selective with my material now. Since I have to mixdown everything I’ve created thus far again (in surround), I won’t have the time to finish entire journey compositions. Instead I’m composing several short pieces for each journey, derived from the most interesting segments of each whole.

I hope to have 30 short pieces for the ‘journey’ state of the installation, and 1 longer piece for the ‘River’ state. I feel this is achievable since I’ve spent a lot of time listening to and preparing material and I’m more certain about my approach to composition.

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Artist’s Statement & Reflection Paper

June 21, 2009 at 10:52 pm (Artists Statement & Reflection)

Artist’s Statement

…how do we listen to sounds never before noticed, sounds long vanished, or sounds that are not sounds, exactly, but more like the fluctuations of light, weather and the peculiar feeling that can arise when there is a strong sense of place?
(Toop, 2007: 112)

My work explores the dialogue between sound and space. More specifically, it focuses on the relationship between the soundscape and our perception of the urban environment.

I undertook this project to investigate this in relation to my own experience of London. I felt my interaction with the city was becoming increasingly dislocated and often dictated by routines of work and necessity. If, as Lefebvre presupposes, the city is expressive of a person’s being and consciousness, then this feeling of dislocation and lack of exploration could potentially sever an individual’s connection with their city and thus their self. (Kofman & Lebas, 1996: 11)

To remedy this I embarked on a series of journeys stemming from the River Thames, taking my influence from Situationist ideas of urban exploration; namely psychogeography and dérive. (Debord, 2006: 50) I didn’t plan any routes, I simply let the allure of the landscape and the sounds I experienced lead me towards my next location. These soundwalks, or sonic dérives, through London’s urban terrain were the initial steps I took towards freely recreating my experience of the city. It gave me the opportunity to examine how my perception of the spaces encountered was being shaped by the sounds present and vice versa. En route I collected and recorded the material I’ve used to create my final piece Sonorous City.

My methodologies and aesthetic decisions have been strongly influenced by experimental music and sound-based artistic practise; in particular Acoustic Ecology, defined by R M Schafer as:

…the study of the effects of the acoustic environment or SOUNDSCAPE on the physical responses or behavioural characteristics of creatures living within it. Its particular aim is to draw attention to imbalances which may have unhealthy or inimical effects.

The Positive Soundscapes Project, a detailed 4-year study nearing completion, has been trying to identify and find solutions to these imbalances in both London and Manchester. Similarly, the New York Society for Acoustic Ecology has spearheaded several community-based soundscape projects, such as Sound Seeker and City in a Soundwalk, which encourage participants to actively engage with their sonic environment and reflect upon its impact on their daily lives. (NYSAC, 2007: 55)

Although I have focused more on my own individual experience of London’s soundscape, I see my project as running parallel to those aforementioned. Whilst the agency of getting people to engage with a city’s soundscape via a composition within an installation space may differ from their methods, a common goal is shared; to heighten the sensitivity of our ears and help us establish a stronger connection with our environment through listening.

I strive to situate my work as Bill Fontana has done, existing ‘one foot in and out of contemporary music, one foot in and out of contemporary art’. (as cited in Licht. 2007: 274) Digital technologies allow me to traverse this tightrope. However, to me categories aren’t the important thing, regardless of medium the message takes priority.

Reflection

This MA has been a journey in itself. Like my dérives through the city, I defined my point of departure and let the interesting things I encountered lead me onwards. I further explored some familiar territory, but most of my trails uncovered what was new ground to me. Now that I’m at the end of this particular journey, I feel I have a better understanding of myself, my work and the possible routes I might embark upon next. New artistic opportunities linger on the horizon, which I intend to embrace with the knowledge, skills and ideas I’ve acquired through the course.

In my initial proposal I envisaged creating an interactive audio-visual piece, exploring the individuals relationship with the City. Whilst my final piece Sonorous City could be described along these lines, the agency has changed. Through practical experimentation and critical feedback, I’ve refined my approach to audio-visual composition by reducing the visual element to a minimum and focusing on sound as the main carrier of meaning. My research in to electroacoustic music and synaesthesia in art has informed my approach to soundscape composition, which I view as an inherently visual language. Much of the visual side of my work has relocated itself within my process: through both sound-drawings and documentation of spaces via a camera, as well as in the act of listening – in the right conditions our ears can stimulate spaces within the minds eye as vivid as those experienced in the ‘real’ world.

The interactive aspect to my work has also been stripped down to its essentials. I reconsidered my preliminary ideas about creating an interface using motion tracking or touch-screen technology. This was partly due to losing my computer and thus my time, but also because I didn’t want the technology to be at the forefront of the experience of my final piece. As my tutor Andy stressed, the interaction should be meaningful and not be a gimmick. Now, through the use of a seat-embedded trigger, the interaction has been simplified and will hopefully take on a more symbolic role within the work: when the audience sits the light present will fade to black, and a journey in to the city will begin. The act of listening becomes central to the experience, attempting to reveal how we can understand and engage with our environment through sound.

Within my project the historical aspect of London was discarded in favour of the present state of the city. Perhaps there was an underlying existentialist theme in this decision; I feel that I can only truthfully reflect upon the things I have directly experienced as an individual. This focus on the present lived experience was something that became more apparent as I undertook my main dérives and later attempted to describe these experiences in writing.

The use of surround sound was largely influenced by the lectures I attended at Goldsmiths. After hearing Westerkamp and Truax play their soundscape compositions on an 8-speaker set-up I realized the potential of surround sound. It can enable a more realistic depiction of how we experience sound in the real world by allowing the composer to play with notions of space and motion in more depth.

At the same time I’m excited and anxious about what the future may hold in terms of a career. I’d like to continue my creative practise through the means of artist residencies and collaborative exhibitions over the coming years, with the possibility of exploring my area of study within the framework of a PhD further down the line. Although the current financial crisis suggests finding work may be difficult, I’d like to establish myself as a freelance sound designer for film, with the long term goal of setting up and successfully running a small company. Also, over the next year I plan to start a record label as an outlet for both my experimental and dance-based music. I believe these different endeavours can exist in tandem and will definitely inform one another. If I approach each respective strand of my creative passions with the same dedication and openness to learning as I feel I have with my MA, then I will achieve my goals.

Bibliography

Books

Collins, J. & Selina, H. (1998) Heidegger for Beginners, Cambridge: Icon Books
Debord, G. (1977) Society of the Spectacle, Detroit: Black & Red
Debord, G. (2006) Introduction to a Critique of Urban Geography, In: Knabb, K.
Situationist National Anthology (Revised and Expanded edition) AK Press
Debord, G. (2006) Theory of dérive, In: Knabb, K. Situationist National Anthology
(Revised and Expanded edition) AK Press
Kofman, E. & Lebas, E. (1996) Lefebvre: Writings On Cities Massachusetts: Blackwell
Publishers
Licht, A. (2007) Sound Art: Beyond Music, Between Categories, New York: Rizzoli International Publications
New York Society for Acoustic Ecology (2007) New York Society for Acoustic Ecology, In: Carlyle, A. Autumn Leaves: Sound and the Environment in Artistic Practise, Paris: Double Entendre
Satre, J. (2008) Being and Nothingness: An Essay on Phenomenological Ontology, Oxon: Routledge
Schafer, R. M. (1977) The Soundscape: Our Sonic Environment & the Tuning of the World, Vermont: Destiny Books
Toop, D. (2007) To Move Within Sound, In: Carlyle, A. Autumn Leaves: Sound and the Environment in Artistic Practise, Paris: Double Entendre

Lectures & Performances
Cusack, P. & Westerkamp, H. (2009) Art and Soundscapes: Part 2, Goldsmiths Lecture and Performance
Truax, B. (2009) Art and Soundscapes: Part 1, Goldsmiths Lecture & Performance

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Jitter + projection

June 18, 2009 at 9:05 pm (MaxMSP/Jitter Progress, Visualisations)

I built some Jitter patches to test in the room today. Initially I wanted to generate a colour and have it fade to black, then up again when it received an input. This would serve as a model for the seat trigger. I came up with a couple of working solutions with a different assortment of objects:

j1j2

In the end, I found the easiest and most flexible solution was to hack an example patch, adapting it to my needs. After getting to grips with a few new objects I created the final patch, which allowed me to crossfade between 2 videos (one blue circle and my ear/window music video), as well as adjust hue, brightness, contrast and saturation:

j3

I’m thinking of layering subtle moving imagery underneath my colour, to add texture and motion to the feel of the space. Previous experiments of projecting a still blue felt a bit static, as if the objects illuminated by the light were frozen in time – even with my compositions playing. In contrast, todays tests with moving image restored the sense of time and the space felt more inviting, which is what I want!

blueplinth3

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Max MSP and surround

June 18, 2009 at 8:46 pm (MaxMSP/Jitter Progress)

I’ve still got a fair amount of work to do with the surround sound set-up, but since the physical construction is well on it’s way, there will be plenty of time to do this. Well… not plenty, maybe just enough! Been testing various patches I’ve made within the room. This is a picture of a patch that uses the pan4s object, allowing easy panning possibilities for rotary motion.

m1

In theory I might actually be able to do all my panning in Logic (6.1 surround), then export split surround files – e.g. one for each output, so 6 mono files. Will test this over the weekend.

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Construction

June 18, 2009 at 8:39 pm (Visualisations)

Over the last week or so a lot of progress has been made inside the room, largely due to my Dad’s help. Instead of painting the entire room black to acheive darkness, I’ve opted to create a room within the room. This eliminates any risk of people accidentally bumping into equipment, radiators, etc, as well as shaping how someone might experience the space in a more interesting way. (hopefully)

room-stitch

A wooden framework has been constructed from which I will hang black cloth to create the walls and ceiling, eliminating light. A projector has been secured on wooden beams across the top of the space, allowing for vertical projecting with a mirror.

bluefloorredstonebluestone

So far, I’ve tested a few projections of colour on collected objects and a potential ‘seat’, accompanied by sound.

In everyday at the moment, so plenty of opportunity to keep testing and adapting my work. However, time is slipping away fast, so I must stay focused and keep up the pace!

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Collection

June 18, 2009 at 8:34 pm (Main Derives)

pebblepebble2

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Ma Digital Art Show Reel 2009

June 17, 2009 at 4:47 pm (Final Show)

I’ve finished the sound design / music for the show reel. Quite pleased with the results, just wish I had more time to fine tune it:

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Sketches for construction

June 12, 2009 at 6:27 pm (Visualisations)

sketch2sketch3sketch4

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