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March 31, 2009

Ray Lee Presentation

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Umfeld - Artist Presentation by Joe Kane

Umfeld is an audio/video duo comprised of Jochem Paap and Scott Pagano. They produce works using sites and sounds from specific locations. The two focus on feeding off each others energy and syncing their works together with extreme precision, creating a far more immersive experience.

A terrific biography and description of their work can be found here:


The second page contains a list of all the software and hardware that the artists use.

Their website:


Here you can find clips of their work. Their full length video is also available FREE for download from their site.

Scott Pagano has also produced music videos for This Binary Universe, an audio/video experience created by BT, a world-renown DJ. Those videos can be viewed on Pagano's website:


March 27, 2009

Ben's Sound Artist Presentation - Marc Em

Well I started looking through audiogames for the blind, here are a couple of sites.
But I quickly learned that this was definitely not the finest frontier for the world of audio-centered interactive art. I was reminded of the older video game called Frequency for the ps2, it was such an interesting experience with sound that it made the average audiogame look light years behind. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Frequency_(video_game)

So branching out from my original topic I came across a French Flash designer/composer named Marc Em.
I really enjoyed the interactive possibilities of Marc Em's work, and I hope to steer my own work in the class more towards the interactive realm. I found that Marc Em's work often attempted to apply a sense of physicality to sounds, with Crash Test and Boxing Trains he really emphasizes the visceral impact of sound. On the blog, sound artist Stephen Vitiello says that the line between sound art and music is that sound art relates to a sense of place; I think that in examples, such as the Webcam "game" on Marc Em's site, this place is the picture of your face where as the interactivity in the other pieces connect the audience and their physical world to the logic of the piece itself. Stephen Vitiello also comments on the open-ended nature of Sound Art, whereas music is a lineaer and strictly timed experience. The interactivity presented by Marc Em really expands music into more of a tangible and malleable experience. I also thought that Marc Em's work becomes interesting in relation to Annea Lockwood's comments on John Cage's weakness, she feels that the goal of sound art is to get one invested in the piece or to "enter the work of art" while John Cage's sequence of sounds become a puzzle to the human ear, that we can't help but think of the sounds as a continuing narrative rather than each as a distinct experience. I feel that Marc Em really embraces this notion of humans connecting dots between sounds and that is what leads him to do a lot of audio work that directly affects a visual component. We become so invested in the piece, due to one's narcissistic energy that comes coupled with any interactivity, that we become connected with the "beauty of the sound" in a more pure state than the supposedly disconnected sounds that John Cage may produce. Why not embrace the human ability to create a sequence and logic out of the sounds we experience? Marc Em's work lets one experience the power and beauty of a sound in relation to the visual world and also in relation to one's real, physical world; each pieces potential is dependent upon the viewer, and the time we spend manipulating it playing with it fuels the connection between our lives and the beauty of the sounds.

March 24, 2009

John Oswald

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Oswald Radio Interview
Wikipedia Oswald
Wikipedia Plunderphonics
Burrows Mixer
A Time to Hear for Here
A Bunch of stuff about Oswald

To describe John Oswald's work is to define "Plunderphonics". "Plunderphonics is audio piracy as a compositional prerogative." Basically, Oswald appropriates (plunders) recordings made by others, most often without copywrites, and remixes them to make his statement. The links above highlight his most successful projects.

Oswald was born May 30, 1953 in Kitchener, Ontario, Canada. He studied at Simon Fraser University in British Columbia and York University in Toronto under mentors such as R. Murray Schaffer, Barry Truax, Casey Sokol, and James Tenney.

What caught my interest for John Oswald was that he coined his own genre "Plunderphonics" and that his first major album was seized by the government for breaking copyright laws.

Two examples of his work are the Plunderphonics album and Jack O Scan. They are both examples of Oswald's attention to detail. He breaks down rhythms and lyrics to make them convey his own idea, which is a theme in all his work. This work is similar to artists like Christian Marclay and Negativland in they way that they sample music. However, Negativland uses obscure music that few have heard of, while Oswald purposely uses popular, recognizable samples.

Oswald's work is important to me as it breaks down what is old and uses its components to form a representation of a new idea. This is a reoccurring theme that can be utilized in any art medium. Even in architecture, as technology advances, there are standards that have been used for hundreds of years. Some say that there are no new ideas (when it comes to architecture) to be had; there are only old ideas that can be reshaped to fit contemporary circumstances. Oswald is doing that with his music and showing artists that it is ok to use old things and bring them back to life.


Special Guests :: March 24th :: Bring Sound Toys and other Battery Powered Audio Play things

will be introducing circuit bending with their unique style and verve.


March 13, 2009

Environment and Soundscapes

Pages 72 - 133 in Sound Art: Between Music, Between Categories- by Alan Licht - focuses on Environment and Soundscapes. Ideas of place and time, noise and scale were considered anew in the works described in this chapter.

As you read this chapter, reflect upon our current focus on embodied sound and post your description of the role of embodied experience as it relates to one of the sound works described in this chapter.

We will begin our class discussion with your observations when we meet on March 24th.

March 12, 2009

John Oswald

Hey it's Jared...just want to give you a heads up that I'll be presenting on John Oswald on March 24.

March 10, 2009

Drew on John Cage

- Background information about the sound artist.

John Cage (1912-92) was an influential American composer of the 20th century, a pioneer of chance and a primary influence of minimalism within modern western music. His work inadvertently, but fundamentally, dismantled the precepts of western music; he ultimately redefined the titles of composer and sound artist since his work so frequently required both.
Cage was introduced to music when he began taking piano lessons as a child. He initially developed an interest for sight-reading, and opposed studies in the compositional elements of his music. Initially, he intended to become a writer but after dropping out of college, he traveled to Europe where he studied contemporary art. His time there also introduced him to the music of Johann Sebastian Bach, which spurred a new interest for composing . After a year and a half of roaming Europe, he returned to America and continued his composition studies under Arnold Schoenberg, notable 20th century composer.

Cage talking about Schoenberg:

"Schoenberg said, 'In order to write music, you must have a feeling for harmony.' I explained to him that I had no feeling for harmony. He then said that I would always encounter an obstacle, that it would be as though I came to a wall through which I could not pass. I said, 'In that case I will devote my life to beating my head against that wall.'"

Cage ended his studies with Schoenberg after two years. He then established himself in Seattle where he began experimenting in composition and electronics.

His personal discovery of Taoism and Zen Buddhism led him to begin using chance in composition, and this method became the cornerstone of his work thereafter.

Cage considered chance as a means to remove expression and identity from his music. Some of his compositional decisions employed the tossing of coins.

This lack of control agitated many of his fellow colleagues and composers and the performers he worked with.

One of Cage’s scores that employs indeterminacy:

- Discuss what attracted you to the work of this artist.

I was introduced to John Cage after reading an article about one of his later works: “As Slow As Possible”
A musical piece written for organ with no set time limits which began posthumously in 2001 and is set to last 639 years. It is currently the longest and slowest performance in musical history to be undertaken.

- Highlight two examples of this artist's work and use these to describe the artist's relationship to ideas.

Most of Cage’s work dealt with his ideas of chance or indeterminacy:
In 1951 He composed and arranged a piece entitled Imaginary Landscape No. 4 which utilized twelve performers with twelve radio receivers. Although he provided specifics instructions of time and space for the performers, he had no control of what signals would the radios would receive.

Cage also constructed works from his notions of sound, music, and silence:
4’33 (1953) is a composition of three movements written without a single note. The performers are to remain inactive for 4 minutes and 33 seconds.

-Describe how these works relate to the artist's larger body of work.

Cage called his music “purposeless play,” and so, appropriately, he focused his creative process in removing meaning from sound.

In this sense, his larger body of work deals more in appreciation of sound rather than music.

4’33 assumes any music from the performers is an interruption to the ambient sounds of the environment and audience in which it is set.

Similarly, Imaginary Landscape No. 4 removes control from the composer, allowing chance to guide the work; there is no predetermined theme, idea, feeling, or destination as there would be in music.

- Relate this artist, via content, process, technology, perspective, etc. to that of another contemporary artist or artists from another time period.

Steve Reich, a contemporary composer--shares a similar rejection of the confines of early western music--a pioneer of minimal music, who became known for tape looping audio tracks of sounds he would catalog, and composing works of repetition often for only one voice, as well as experimentation in electronic sound.

- Discuss how this artist's work informs your own thinking.

I found an affinity in his attitude towards sounds.

Cage perceives music as talking; talking about feelings or ideas connected to relationships. In contrast, when he hears the sound of traffic, he hears sound that is acting not talking.

Cage concerns himself with the activity of sound not its meaning:

“I love sound just the way it is. . . I don’t want a sound to pretend that it’s a bucket, or president, or in love with another sound.”


March 3rd

Ryan Murphy presents Raymond Scott

March 10th

Joe Kane presents Umfeld, primarily involving Scott Pagano's portion of their work.

Brain Larson presents Soundlab

Drew Anderson presents John Cage

Jonathan Kaiser presents Christian Marclay

Tim Krause presents

March 24th

David Donovan presents

Ben Hanson presents

Haley Champion presents

Jared Nelson presents John Oswald

March 31st

Broc Blegen presents

Kelsey Bosch presents Bernhard Leitner

Meng Tang presents Ed Osborn

March 9, 2009

wave shield guide

Limor Fried, founder of Ada Fruit and designer of the Wave Shield offers a step by step construction guide.

Arduino intros

Here are some intros to the Arduino:

video guides from Make magazine

Arduino resources

Arduino central a resource that connects you with the Arduino
what it is, how it came into the world, what you can do with it and how you can do it.

adafruit industries is a great source for purchasing the arduino, arduino shields, tools to get started in studio electronics and more. Limor Fried's related ladyada.net includes detailed how to guides including:
the arduino
understanding electricity basics
the handy proto shield
the wave shield.

Tom Igoe's generous documentation was my initial "how to" inspiration.
Tom gives an overview of microcontrollers
a basic guide to understanding electricity
the basics of sending signals in and out of an arduino
and an extraordinary set of resources for physical computing

... another informative, accessible guide by Todd Holoubek.

other generous arduino community resources include:

todbot blog by Tod E. Kurt of ThingM

how to solder

Here is a video from MAKE magazine guide to soldering and de-soldering.

3.11 Ann Marie Barry

Bert Fraher mentioned this upcoming talk @ UMN

"Understanding Body Image: Sense of Self, Media Imagery, and Visual Culture": A presentation by Ann Marie Barry

Wednesday, March 11, 2009
4:00 PM - 5:30 PM

@ the Institute for Advanced Study

Where does our sense of self come from? How does our exposure to media images help to create that sense of self? Why is visual culture such a significant part of our sense of being and well-being? This presentation goes behind the "seen" to explore the role media and neurological factors - such as mirror neurons and emotional processing - play in both absorbing visual culture and creating self-image.

Dr. Ann Marie Barry is a professor of Communication at Boston College and Associate Director of the University Capstone Program. Honored with the lifetime Distinguished Research Award by the International Visual Literacy Association, and twice with the Visual Communication Research Award of the National Communication Association, she is the author of Visual Intelligence and numerous chapters and articles focused on the neurology of visual communication.

March 8, 2009

kinetic inspirations

Flying Pig introduces a range of playful mechanisms and movements that may be useful in your embodied sound project.

March 4, 2009

Ben's Site Sound - Public Patience

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March 3, 2009

Meng Tang

Meng Tang's presentation - Ed Osborn
Hi everybody,
I'm going to present on Ed Osborn on March 24th.

Raymond Scott

I have chosen Raymond Scott for my artist presentation.

Raymond Scott was a multifaceted sonic innovator and contributor. He was a big band leader and composer. His songs have been featured as the soundtracks to many of the original Looney Tunes cartoons, although he never wrote music with this intention, but was the case after selling a large chunk of his publishing to Warner Brothers in the early 1940's.

My interest in Raymond Scott falls more into his pioneering work with electronics.

"It is not widely known who invented the circuitry concept for the automatic sequential performance of musical pitches-now well known as a "sequencer." I, however, do know who the inventor was, for it was I who first conceived and built the electronic sequencer." - Raymond Scott (from an unaddressed letter, mid-1970's)


Circle Machine



I feel informed by this work in that Raymond Scott built these instruments and used them for his own compositions. In other words, he was not creating with the intention of selling a mass quantity of his inventions, but created individual pieces of equipment he would then use directly in his compositions. He was actually worried about the technology being stolen by others, because it was this technology which he felt gave him an edge in commercial music compositions.

Raymond Scott also developed two of the world's first multitrack tape machines. These could record seven and fourteen parallel tracks on a single reel. This idea of do it yourself from literally the ground up is inspiring, from building sound generating electronics all the way to the recording devices they are captured on.

Some people might want to check out his work entitled Soothing Sounds for Baby Vol. 1-3 who are interested in electronic minimalism and baby development. These three volumes were made for infants to fall asleep to and were released in collaboration with Gesell Institute of Child Development, Inc. Each long play record was intended for a different ages; disc one for 1-6 month olds, disc two for 6-12 month olds, and disc three for 12-18 month olds.

Raymond Scott holds a rather unprecedented place in music history. As a band leader he might be related to Duke Ellington, and it was said that his compositions attracted attention from Igor Stravinsky. As an sound engineer he pioneered mic placement that we had not seen before, and as we know the magnetic tape machine played a huge roll in the recording industry over the years and may still in the future. In his electronic musical instrument innovation he created the first prototypes of what musicians of today use to create electronic music. Raymond Scott may be a good place to start when looking at lines of musical innovations.

Meng Tang

Download file

March 2, 2009

Jonathan's presentation - Christian Marclay

Hi everybody,
I'm going to present on Christian Marclay on March 10th.