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September 30, 2007

Sound Mapping

The area I chose was inside my apartment as I got ready to leave for the day. I picked my particular area because I knew there were sounds there that I never had truly paid that close attention to. I thought that this would be a good way to highlight some interesting sounds that never really get listened to. I discovered that some sounds that I thought would be interesting turned out to not be that good when they were recorded. Conversely, there were sounds that I did not expect to use but I ended up using them. I organized my sounds in a somewhat chronological way. I started my day and continued until I was outside of my apartment recording along the way. I used a fair amount of stereo effects to create a sense of movement and location. I also used tempo and pitch effects in order to get particular sounds to create a more musical effect. The process came a little less naturally than I had originally expected. The program was fairly easy to use, but that does not mean I did not struggle trying to get the sounds I wanted to. In the end it was fun, but I feel I could spend more time expanding on what I have.

September 28, 2007

A book review

0afundament.jpgThere's a nice review of The Fundamentals of Sonic Art and Sound Design, by Tony Gibbs over at WMMNA. If you have an interest in sound art, you might look into this book.

How to submit Project 1

Here's a recap of how I want you to submit your first project.

  1. Export your finished audio piece as a "WAV" file.
  2. Upload it to Mediamill. If you don't remember how to do this, take a look here.
  3. Once you upload it, include the following items in your your description:
    • Title: Pick a meaningful title for your piece (i.e. NOT "proj1" or "alsdkjaljkd").
    • Credits: Full Name, < UofM Email Address > (i.e. Jane Doe,
    • Description: [1601-001, Fall 2007][Project #1][Sound]
    • Credits: Give credit where credit is due.
    • Copyright Info: Consider licensing your piece with Creative Commons. More information here can be found at the Creative Commons website
    • Make sure you check "Accessible to the public?"
  4. After you input the meta-data, create a "Flash Audio, 128kbps" derivative.
  5. After the derivative is created, share it with me by clicking on the share icon. Just enter my username bakercp in the share box (more help here).
  6. Please write a short blog entry (~200 words) reflecting upon your first piece. This process is intended to help you gather your thoughts before the critique on Monday. Your reflection should address questions like:
    • Why did you choose your site?
    • Did you discover anything unexpected?
    • How did you organize your sounds? Why did you do it that way?
    • What kinds of effects did you use? Why?
    • Reflect upon the process: did it come naturally? Was it difficult, fun, enlightening, horrible?
  7. Consider drafting your response in a normal text editing program like Microsoft Word. Remember, this is a college-quality writing and should be grammar and spelling-error free and readable.
  8. At the top of your blog entry, embed the flash sound file you created in step 4 above (recall how you did it with your wordless stories assignment).
  9. Make sure you categorize your with your name and "#1 Sound Mapping" under the "Done" section.
  10. This all needs to be completed before the start of class on Monday at 9:05am.

Please disregard the mapping instructions I gave you on last Wednesday. We will "map" the pieces on Monday before the critiques.

Earworms, Neuroscience, Sound and Musicophilia

An interesting interview with neuroscientist Oliver Sacks about music, sound and the brain was just published by Wired Magazine. You can read the article here.

September 24, 2007

Art Responses

One of the pieces I picked was the labor Camp A audio switch board. I liked it because it worked by plugging in the cable into any of the slots and the songs, that are labeled on a brochure, would play in a loop. If I enjoyed one more than others, I was able to listen to it in loop for as long as I wanted. I feel as though the brochure is necassary for understanding the piece because of the information that ties together the audio. Another piece that interested me was something labeled Guangdong 1991. It portrays a middle aged woman stressed out while at work. Her face is the focus of the picture and the 'rocus' around her had become blurry and tiresome. Her arm is propped up on some surface and her hand is stretched across her eyes. Its depressing to look at for too long because all you can see is her pain and stress, and nothing else. The caption states how cheap products drive the Chinese economy and the chinese workers are forced towards manufactoring jobs. My final piece was Jianyxi 1998 by Zhang Xinmin. There are a group of Chinese workers who were obviously waiting at a train stop and their low standard of living can be seen by the way their tearing apart at eachother to climb into a train window. The caption talks about how people travel great lengths to find and hopefully keep a job. However, the unemployment rate is very high in China. The large group of workers fighting to climb into the tiny train window is a way of showing how only one of them may actually become employed in the months to come, while the rest of them will have to linger behind and wait to fight for another train to board.

SAD responses

Many of the pieces in the SAD exhibit at the Weisman were moving but the two that I reacted to most were the Good Morning Good Night and the Labor Camp Room B. The first was interesting because of the concept behind it (showing how everyday phrases loose their meaning over time and that is shown in the tone of voice). The second grabbed my attention because of the morbid subjects of the people speaking.

TA Hours

Please stop by TA hours if you need some assistance.

8:00-9:00 AM and 12:30 - 4:30 PM Tuesday and Friday

"TJ" is your TA.

SAD Responses

Shotgun Landscape
Jason Sapfford, HDVideo, 15min

As I was first looking at this piece it really didnt make me sad or depressed like some other people I had talked to. If you havent seen it, in essence its a piece of black wood that is slowly getting shot away to reveal a landscape behind. While I must admit that the landscape wasnt the most "beautiful" thing I have ever seen, and that I assume it was filmed durring the months b4 winter b/c all the grass is brown and the tress are barren, by all means I cant feel that the scene was depressing. If anything when I was watching the video it made me feel happy, b/c you have a beautiful scenery emerging from complete darkness. It remineded me of going for winter to spring, winter is extreamly cold and depressing then suddenly it opens up into spring (all be it a very gray spring).

Labor Camp Room B
Piotor Szyhalski

This piece was very interesting as it required interation. You put on a set of headphones and then like the old telephone switchboards put 2 pegs(on for each side of your headphone) into a slot to listen to a video clip. One thing i found interesting is that the experiance is diffenernt for everyone depending on what your listening too at any one given time. Out of all of the works that I looked at this one prabably made me feel the most depressed, mainly b/c as I was moving pegs around I found a rather desturbing combination. In one ear I was listening to a UN speach about how people should be nice to each other and everyone in the world should get along. While in the other I was listening to a Nazi prapaganda compain or a recording of 911. Just found it a bit desturbing, but the experiance is different for everyone.

365 Good Morning and Good Night
Molly Roth

This one was easy to miss if you wernt looking out for it. Basically what it was is a loop of the composer Molly Roth saying Good Morning and Good NIght over and over in a loop. It is delievered via a mic that is placed above you (haging down from the celling). From all over the area you can kinda hear it but then you get right under the mic and it focuses and you get the real experiance. If you sit there for a bit the recording actually makes you feel really good, or it did for me. Good Morning/Night are usually good things to hear and thus should make you feel happy. After a while of sitting there though an odd thing happend. Im not sure if it was the tone of her voice but while Good Morning still made me feel good (which is wierd, I HATE mornings), Good Night started to sound demening and mean. Might have just been the way she was saying it or I was just listening to it for too long.

September 23, 2007

3 responses of the SAD exhibit

Theresa Handy
Twins, 2007
For me this piece was a great representation of how dark and bleak the colder seasons in Minnesota can seem. The piece was dark, gloomy, and barren apart from the twins in the water in the upper left. It was very effective at giving off the depressing mood that the seasons can hold for people.

Chris Larson
Shotgun Landscape, 2007
This piece really struck home with me since the landscape depicted looks very similar to how the country side i grew up in looked during late fall. The landscape in this piece again shows more of a barren open area surrounded by woods. Most of the plants in the landscape look dead since the trees are devoid of leaves and the grass is brown. Again as with the last piece i talked about the barren and dead look to everything gives off a depressing atmosphere. There are no real signs of life during the film so it also seems like a very lonely place. The way at which the landscape was revealed was pretty inventive i think. It also goes along with country life (at least where i grew up) where you go out and shoot target practice for fun on whatever you have around.

Kathrine Turczan
Hidden Beach, Mudman, 2003
To me this one really portrayed sadness and loneliness. The man in this photo is just standing there expressionless and with slouched shoulders which conveys a lack of energy and joy. In this picture he is all by himself on a wooded part of the beach which helps make it seem like he is all alone. The fact that this picture was in black and white adds to the mood it portrays but not brightening things up. This goes for the rest of the hidden beach series of photos that the wiesman had as well. One thing that i really liked about the series is that no one was smiling in any of the pictures even though they were at a beach where people would tend to have fun.

Lowery Stokes Sims Artist Visit

Artist Visit: Lowery Stokes Sims
September 19th, 2007

Lowery Stokes Sims talked mainly about the culture in the United States and the great amount of time and energy we spend thinking about color and races of people. One comment that impacted me was when she said people take “on a desirable ‘covering’ and jettison it when it is convenient.? I agree with Miss Sims on this issue whole-heartedly. I have seen this numerous times in my life. Mostly I have seen this in social situation where someone will act a certain way to assimilate to one group of people and then when they need to change for the next situation. This is simply a way top appease more people without ever fully embracing their our personality.

Another of Miss Sims comments that was interesting was that the world is “flattening economically but not interpersonally.? This was referring to the book The World is Flat by Thomas L. Friedman. His main focus was on the progression of the world economy. Miss Stokes’ theory is that the world is “flattening? economically but we still have work to do when it comes to interpersonal issues. In my eyes this makes perfect sense. It is clear from the ease of international business that we have flattened the world in the economic sense. However, we have not done as well when we look at social issues. Until there is no longer racism and bigotry among people our society will not progress. For instance, there are still people that see someone from the Middle East and think they are a terrorist. This kind of narrow-mindedness will continue to hold back our society.

Class Notes

Demo Links
Art Checkout Website
Audacity Tutorials
MiniDisk to Audacity

Spatialization Examples
Binaural (remember to wear headphones)

27-May-2003, By Christopher Baker (more info here)

The Quiet American : A collection of binaural recordings from all over the world.

Make your own binaural microphone.

September 20, 2007

Visiting artist: Edgar Heap of Birds

Edgar Heap of Birds is a contemporary Native American artist, who often visits and speaks to universities across the country about his art. I found his art to be a link between the history of the Native American people, and the contemporary world; in other words, he has a way of making our society aware of the history of what happened to the Native Americans. For this reason, most of his art is public art, in order to spread his message to the general American population.
He works with a variety of media, but one medium that seems very prominent in his work is simple text on aluminum signs. One of his more well known works was "Building Minnesota", in which forty aluminum signs were lined up down the bank of the Mississippi River, with words in bright red lettering honoring the names of forty Native Americans who were executed by order of Abraham Lincoln. I found his works very frequently intend to honor the dead. His work is also very controversial, both among white people and traditional Native Americans. For example, one of his works called "Mission Gifts" was 30 signs placed on city buses in California, with text in red lettering reading "Syphilis, Small Pox, Scarlet Fever, Forced Baptisms, Mission Gifts-Ending Native Lives". Another controversial aspect of his work that I found interesting was that in order to get the support from traditional Native American Leaders, he must follow strict rules of what his art can and cannot be. For instance, his work must not involve anything related to traditional Native American ceremonies, because it would be blasphemy to profit from his own cultural ceremonies.
Overall, I really enjoyed learning about Edgar Heap of Birds' art, because I find it so different from everyday modern art. He has a unique ability to modernize traditional Native American Art, and spread his message to the public. His art also definitely has a way of getting a white audience to see history through a different perspective.

lost and confused

September 19, 2007

Reading Assignment

Please read Quantum Listening, by Pauline Oliveros.

We will discuss this in class on Monday, 24 September, 2007.

September 17, 2007

Class Notes

Here are some artist links from class
Luigi Russolo
Hugo Ball
John Cage

In Space, Mapping etc.
Sound Bike
Janet Cardiff
R. Murry Schaffer, World Soundscape Project
New York Sound Walk
Audio Bus
Sound Map
Sound Seeker
Tactical Sound Garden

Weisman Art Museum Visit

We will be meeting at the Weisman Art Museum this Wednesday (19 September, 2007) at 10am. I will be around the art department if anyone wants to meet and talk beforehand.

After our visit, we'll go back to the art department and discuss the visit.

Here is the website for the art museum and a link to a map.

Weisman Art Museum
How do I get there?

Chaos in the city


Running Scared

September 12, 2007

Death Leap2

Waking up too late


Alien Landing

Construction Crash

Poisoning A Man

hemoglobin trotter

To the Bar

city streets/workplace noise

Men at Work

caught in a rainstorm

Sunday Drive

Bad guy gets clocked!

MIxie mixter

Audio Test : Testing 1 - 2 - 3

Project 1: Sound Mapping

Assigned 12 Sept 07

Your first project will be an introduction to working with sound - recording, editing, exploring presenting.

Our focus will be situated in an aural investigation of space, time, and physicality (or perspective).


We will be thinking about location loosely -- in fact your location might be changin (a route), stationary (a point), or diffuse (a region).

In choosing your "location", think about the atmospheric, cultural and historical elements of that place. What do you do there? How does it feel to be there? How do you interact with the place? These are things you might want to bring to your piece.

Physicality and Perspective

How do you move through this place? Are you still? Do you move with purpose or do meander? How do you want the listener to move through this place -- all at once? Little by little? What is the viewer's physical relationship with the sounds we hear? What is the perspective?


Is it a linear or non-linear experience? Is it narrative or abstract? How does it begin and end?

Ask yourself why you're interest in this specific location? Is it a contemplative or chaotic space, or something in between? What are the emotive elements? How do you feel being there? What is your objective in recreating this location in sound, or what is it that interests you?

Cinematic, Narrative, Abstract, Linear, Non-Linear, Space, Mapping

Steps to success:

1. Choose a "location" (i.e. route, region or point) in which to make a recording. This will be a kind of audio record of that place. Hone in on as many individual sounds as possible, as well as the overall "tone" of the environment. Move around if you need to. "Zoom in" and "Zoom out". Get the microphone close to things or move it away. Think ambience -- what is the ambient or "average" sound of this place? Consider "activating" the sound space -- think rubbing, scraping, striking,

2. Import and edit your audio

3. Review, add effects, spatialize the audio

4. Export and prepare your project for presentation. Listen to it in the critique space.

5. Map it!

6. Prepare your ideas for class discussion and present your work.

01 Oct. 2007

Visiting Artist Assignment

Assigned: 12 Sept, 07

Attend 2 of the Visiting Artist talks (or 1 talk and one outside art event).

Click here to get a schedule of the talks.

Within one week of each talk, post a clear, well thought-out, response on the class blog. You should treat these with the same care as any college-level writing assignment (i.e. check your spelling, grammar and readability).

You might find it helpful to pick one or two comments that were made by the artist that either inspired you or upset you. Discuss your interpretation of the comments and explain why you agree or disagree with them.

Due date:
• One week after the talk/event: Post the response online
• 12 Dec, 2007 Both must be completed by this date.

Artist Presentation Assignment

Assigned: 12 Sept, 07

Each of you will pick out a single artist or collaborative group of artists (e.g. Ben Rubin vs. EAT) whose work is concerned with or employs digital media. Choose an artist that you care about - one that inspires you. The artist does not have to be alive. Plan to become an “expert? on your artist. If you can't decide on one, talk to me and we'll come up with some ideas based on your interests.

Once you have decided on an artist, you will prepare a short 10-minute presentation on your artist.

Begin with background information about the artist -- birthday, residence(s), education, awards, type of work (media used), and general themes in the art. Help us understand their context.

Present THREE specific works including title, media, date, dimensions/duration, etc. Describe and interpret the work. What is it about? What elements lead you to your interpretation? Does it relate to other people's work in any way? Finally, tell us what led you to choose the artist for your presentation.

Before you give your presentation, you will write a brief, single paragraph summary about your artist and post it on the blog. You should be sure to include helpful links to further info, the artist's website(s), or reviews.

[Be advised, you only have 10 minutes -- so be concise and give the presentation a practice run in front of a friendly audience].

Due dates for the presentation:

• 19 Nov 07 Let me know who you are thinking about presenting
• 03 Dec 07 One paragraph blog summary and 10 minute presentation due


Other questions to help you along ...
• Why are you interested in the work?
• How does it make you feel? Is it beautiful? Does it make you think?
• Is the work "about" something?
• How does the artist work? In a group? Alone?
• What medium does he or she use?
• Was this person always an artist? How did they become one?
• Are they well-known? If so, why do you think so?
• Where is the work shown? Museums? Festivals? Conferences? Pop-media?

September 10, 2007

Wordless Stories

Assigned: September 10, 2007

For this quick in-class assignment you go out into the world-wide-web and collect exactly 4 of the following sounds. You may not find the exact sound, but think of ways that they might be creatively interpreted. When you finish, you will use these sounds to create a short story without words. The final sound file should be no more than 30 seconds long, freesound :: home page

1. Squeezing
2. Flushing
3. Laughing
4. Working
5. Drinking
6. Breaking
7. Thumping
8. Rolling
9. Draining
10. Eating
11. Talking
12. Thinking
13. Driving
14. Collapsing
15. Primping
16. Posing
17. Running
18. Jumping
19. Computing
20. Nothing

Please make a composition with the following features:

0. Copy/Paste, moving things in time
1. Fade in/Fade out
2. Overlapping audio tracks
3. Echo/Delay
4. Pitch Change
5. Speed Change
6. Your choice!
7. Normalize it when you are done.
8. Save it as an MP3.

Due: 12 Sept. 07

September 5, 2007

Mobile Microphone Network

For your first experiment, we will be thinking about the role of of the mobile phone in society and attempting to invert its normal use.

So, here's what I want you to do.

Before next class period (10 September), make 6 short sound recordings (between 10 and 30 seconds) of sound-making objects, events, or happenings that you encounter in your everyday life. What do you hear when you are walking around campus, at home, in your car, on your bike, etc? These recordings can be made in public or private spaces, and may include spoken word, found sound or a sonic performance of some kind.

When you want to make a recording, call 612.501.2598 and simply leave a message. You may need to point your phone at your subject. Think of it as using your mobile phone as a mobile microphone.

Remember that the microphone on a cell phone is not a "high-fidelity" microphone. So make sure the sound isn't too quiet. If you want to test this, just call a friend, make the sound and ask the other person if they can hear it.

If you do not have a cell phone, talk to me and I'll show you how to use the the digital audio recorders available in checkout.

We will use these audio clips in class next week.