December 2011 Archives

photo-theremin

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Hey this is a neat little project that I tried building for this class. I was initially going to use it in my site sound project as a way to record the visual information obtained when riding the bus at night, but it's not quite sophisticated enough for that. But, I still think it's a fun experiment. Check it out:

Photo-theremin by Forrest Mims for Radioshack, 1976.

Reflections on anechoic chamber

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The trip to the anechoic chamber was one of the highlights of this class. I loved having the experience of sitting in the room all by myself, something which was somewhat meditative except that tiny little details such as the light from the camera would become major distractions. I also loved spying on people with the infrared camera as they had their individual moment in the room.

Some pictures (I'll remove these pictures if the subject prefers not to have them online, just let me know.)

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bakken entry and embodied sound

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In addition to my original post reflecting on the Bakken trip, some notes about how it relates to embodied sound:

I found the early scientific and medical explorations of the body and electricity really interesting. From the models in storage that would be filled with salt water and have nodes and wires attached to them as a way to map how electricity moved through the body to the more modern statement of praise of electro-shock therapy that was on display in one of the exhibits. I just think it's fascinating that while many of the properties and characteristics of electricity have been figured out, much of why it works particularly in the body remains mysterious. That's an idea to explore for a future embodied sound.

artist presentation

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Pietro Riparbelli and Massimo Bartolini.

I presented on these artists because I was initially interested in a piece that Bartolini had helped construct of a giant theremin that monitored audience interaction with a painting:
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Beyond Entropy

I found it hard to find information about him, so I turned to another artist whom he regularly collaborates with, Pietro Riparbelli. Riparbelli is an Italian artist and philosopher interested in phenomenology and perception and the visible/invisible landscape that can be explored through sound. He has done recordings of the ionosphere (as have others), but the pieces of his that I found most interesting were recordings that he made of ancient gothic churches in Italy. I liked how he thought of these places as sites to be explored, as sites of immense invisible energy, and potential. I was reminded of both Alvin Lucier's piece "I am Sitting in a Room" and some of our course readings about the role of field recordings.

An example of one of the church recordings

Some other work he does.

I think I was drawn to his work because I was having a hard time conceiving an idea for the site-sound project and so much of his work is based on a particular site, whether physical or not. As I reflect on this though, I don't know that I'm really inspired by this artist beyond this assignment. I should have taken more time to find someone whom I felt more of a connection to beyond a particular assignment. I think now I know that I appreciate more conceptual motivation behind a work, something a bit more innovative perhaps? Or maybe just something that exists beyond sound? I'm not quite sure.

Independent Project

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My independent project was an experiment integrating sound into other work that I do. I am interested in exploring the performative in everyday behavior and using long exposure photography as a remnant and document. For this project, I integrated sound recordings as a document as well. I think that, by far, this was my most successful project this semester.

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There were two photographs hung in the room with a corresponding set of headphones and media player. Each photograph was created over the duration of one night-- exposure ranging from 6-8 hours. One was of me sleeping, the other of me trying to finish a research paper the night before the deadline. While the photo was being taken, a recording was made simultaneously. The audio players next to the photographs play the full, unedited recordings.

I had initially planned on editing down a more finished, consumable product from the original recordings. Yet, as I reviewed them, I found myself waiting for something to happen, trying to find patterns, wanting to stop listening, ending up really appreciating the recordings after hours of listening and committing myself. I did not want to spoil them. So, for easy sharing I chose one excerpt from the sleeping recording to play for the class that I felt exemplified the whole. I also tried to edit together a piece that would represent the narrative of the working piece.

Sleeping:
sleeping 3-02.wav

Working:
working-02.wav

Some things I found exciting about this project:
-How the amount of visual information did not correspond equally with the amount of aural information.
-Patterns, especially in the sleeping piece. How breathing patterns would only become noticeable after a loud truck passing or other noise. How this seems to correspond with the stillness of the photograph.
-How failure, the theme of the working piece, is evident in the photograph's underexposure.
-How nerve-wracking it is to me to listen to myself work.

Contact Mic recordings

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contact mic and a whoopie cushion:
contact mic whoopie.WAV

contact mic on the bus:
contact mic on bus.WAV

another contact mic on the bus:
contact mic on bus 2.WAV

Embodied Sound

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This was a project that I had some fun with. I wanted to take the idea of embodied sound and use the physical body but allow participants to determine how much of their body would be employed. One could be completely detached, or one could be all-in. I liked the idea of a communal art project where the audience would determine the experience from my framework; this is an idea that I think a lot about in terms of studio art classes that also are founded in this you get out what you put in kind of arrangement.

For this project, people were to partner up with another classmate and share a contact mic and mini-amp. People would serve themselves food, like real comfort food, not costco snacks. As they were eating, they were supposed to explore the sounds of the food, of eating, of their utensils, etc.

Some pictures:
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Recipes:
Macaroni and Cheese:
14 oz Cavatappi or other tubular pasta
32 oz Whole Milk
8 oz Sharp cheddar, shredded
8 oz Mozzarella, shredded
4 oz American, shredded or small cubed
4 oz Grana Padano or Parmesan with rinds
4 oz Butter
4 oz Flour
1 t Dried thyme
1/8 t Cayenne
1 Large sprig fresh rosemary
1/4 C vegetable broth
Salt & Pepper to taste

Cheese sauce:
Melt butter over medium heat. Add in flour and stir. Reduce heat to medium low and continue cooking flour in butter for 5-10 minutes, careful not to burn. Return heat to medium and slowly whisk in 1/2 of the milk. Stir milk until it begins to thicken. Reserving a bit of cheddar for topping, begin adding cheddar, mozzarella, and american by the cup into the milk mixture. Allow each addition to melt into the sauce before adding the next. Add in the vegetable broth and 1/2 of the remaining milk. Add herbs and spices and cheese rind and salt and pepper as needed. Simmer over low heat. Sauce will continue to thicken a bit, add rest of the milk only as needed. Sauce should be thick enough to hold onto the back of a spoon.
Cheese sauce can be used right away or refrigerated and used later (recommended).

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cook pasta in a rolling boil with 1 T salt added to the water. Drain when a firm al dente. Shake off excess water. Return to pot with cheese sauce and mix well. If cheese sauce is cold from refrigerator, reheat on stovetop with pasta to reduce baking time. Add pasta and cheese sauce mix to a baking pan. Top with reserved cheddar and grana padano or parmesan. Bake until cheese on top is melted and golden brown. Serve hot.

Salad:
Dressing:
1.5 T Fresh Tarragon
2 T Lemon juice
1/4 C Roasted garlic olive oil
1 T Grain Mustard
1 Clove Roasted garlic, mashed
1 t Salt
1 t Pepper

Potatoes:
5-10# red potatoes, washed and cubed
Olive oil
Salt & Pepper
Fresh Rosemary
Toss cubed potatoes in a light coating of olive oil, s&p and chopped fresh rosemary. Bake until tender and lightly browned at 350 degrees. Cool.

4 # Green beans, lightly blanched, then shocked in ice water.
5 Hard boiled eggs, peeled and rough chop
2 Heads Boston Bibb lettuce, plus one other head of greens of choice

Mix all ingredients together or reserve toppings on the side for people to add as they desire.

Site Sound

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People were asked to sit in rows in the middle of the room as if in bus seating. The audio track played over the 8 channel system so as to mimic movement around listeners fixed in the room. This was a pretty literal interpretation of the bus, but I was drawn to all of the bizarre sounds buses make: squealing, popping, hissing, beeping, etc. rather than just driving sounds.

I do wish it had been longer; this was mostly an experiment with editing files in audacity which I utilized in my final project.

Audio:
site sound tracks 1-4.wav

Embodied Sound/Independent Project

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I combined my Embodied sound project and my Independent project. I used the embodied sound project to experiment with understanding how to "create a space". I was interested in figuring out how to create a particular emotion with the use of space and environment. My presentation I did for the class for my "embodied" project I felt was unsuccessful. I received plenty of feedback, however most of it didn't feel encouraging. I was hoping with my project to create an environment that makes people feel comfortable with dancing. However, I don't know if I personally was taking a big enough risk on my projects. I'm not sure what I would have done differently, perhaps more screaming and breaking of glass bottles. I'm not sure what the point would have been though, other than to have a selfish vent at my extreme displeasure and frustration towards most of life.

My final project went alright. I had a lot of people tell me they thought the music I was playing was great.. These people were all my peer's parents however. I felt like the perception of me was a nice boy, that plays nice music, to make people feel happy. This is not the person I wish to be, and not the persona I wish to present to the world. I do not feel any sense of inner power with this position. Thank you to Shannon Lee, Dan Dicken, Madelyn Lee for taking pictures with me at the end of the night! Also thank you to all my classmates that stopped by and said Hello. I was having a rough night and seeing you there to support me meant a lot.

Here are my pictures of the event. Photo credit: Shannon Lee

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MA††

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Justice is Xavier De Rosnay & Gaspard Auge. Formed in 2003, first full length album "†" released in 2007 to critical acclaim.

I will skip the details of why I think this is a great electro-house group and get into what I had skipped during my presentation. During the course of one of our readings there was a philosopher mentioning modern music, or, the change he thought we would witness in modern music. The author had said that our sound environment is now more filled with noise pollution. This is because of the industrial revolution, so now we have cars, factories, and hundreds of electronic machines that are apart of our daily lives. These machines all produce their own sound. The author described this passive existence much like an ocean or flour mill. If I live next to the ocean for long enough, after a while I won't hear the ocean anymore, unless I try to listen for it. If I live in a room with a computer, refrigerator, and like most people have lightbulbs, there is a static electric noise that these machines all produce. The author of this paper suggests that we too have begun ignoring these noises as static background. We are now adjusted to the age of machines.
The author goes on to explain that the timbre heard in a saw blade running can be much more interesting to the human ear than a full orchestra. We are fully adjusted to the sounds of an orchestra and to control the sound of machines is very exciting to us.
I believe that the first examples of this phenomenon are seen in early rock music of the 50's and 60's which used amplifier distortion as a way to create more timbre in music that wasn't heard previously. We have reached an end of this use of sound, now computers have helped in assisting us to make our sounds much more complicated. The age of computers creates real, controlled distortion, the use of sampling previous material at an infinitely open level, and all of this can be done essentially real-time. I believe Justice is the epitome of embodying this artistic paradigm. They embody much of the modern aesthetic of what is "cool" in the modern sound world. They also are very talented song-writers in the traditional western sense. Lastly, they take into account modern trends and old cliches of the past, and put all their pieces together with taste.

You may sample the album here:
http://www.mediafire.com/?o19gzcc3a3961kf

INDie PROG

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Photo on 12-28-11 at 9.47 AM.jpg1soundsofleds.m4a

here is the recording ^

whoophwoop

.......

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bbbbbb.mp3

computer speakers don't really work for this recording due to the low frequency range

Underwater guitar

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Photo on 12-28-11 at 9.51 AM.jpgDespite the leakage and buzzy tones created by the vibrations of the slinky against the wall of the PVC tube I feel as though the project was a success. The compontents I used to construct the device included a variety of PVC tubing components, a small 4ohm speaker, a little 3w amp, a slinky Jr, a rubber cork, a contact microphone and some silicone caulk. One of the most dificult aspects of creating the device was properly sealing the speaker without muffling to much. If i were to rework the piece i would mount it on a small motor or fulcrum so that it could be physcaly moved to modify the sound. The amount of water in the tubing played a direct roll in the sound created, by moving it around the sound could be modified while prefroming not to mention the sweet sloshing sounds created by the motion of the water.

MOONDOG

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Street Art is Sweet Art

What i like most about Moondog is how he embodies his preformance. sure life imitates art and art imitates life yadda yadda. Moondog's life is art. Moodog's art is his life. he manifested his own persona, sound, and instruments. Also his fluid sense of rhythm is something i identify with. It is a similar state of being and art which i hope to achieve through my work.

Sound Zen Garden Reflections (Pun Unintended)

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Well, I haven't yet gotten the official recordings from the Zen Garden Project, but I will speak to it as best I can without the documentation.

I do think the functionality of the garden and the effects that were generated with sound and light were highly effective, though like most things, they could still use fine tuning. I liked the idea about making the three self-contained, and producing a multi-pronged contact mic to closer simulate the rake of a zen garden. I also liked the idea of actually measuring out where specific tones changed with the liquid levels, though that would take some additional time and patience, but to know where water produced particular tones would greatly increase its useability.

In terms of the aesthetic, I do think it captured the general aesthetic we wanted well, with the single tone produced that resulted in sort of fractal movements. It also reinforces the meditative quality of the overall garden, since you had to effectively seek out the best ways to create the tone, which changed in shape and loudness as you moved the microphone "rake". I also would like to finalize the external appearance of the box that would house the speakers, perhaps putting around it an aesthetic like Japanese scroll paintings.

Occupy 1960 (also..)

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Final individual presentation by Candice and Christy. ( I was not sure if I had to post it again, considering Christy put one up, but just in case I'm doing it anyway.)

In this piece Christy and I explored the similarities of political movements across generations by drawing connections between various famous speeches of the 1960's civil rights movements to the Occupy Movement of 2011. Through the speeches given by MLK, Malcolm X, and JFK it is striking to find that although the 1960 presented a seemingly different struggle many of the preached ideas can be meditated on in our current political struggles. To portray this idea we pieced together what sounds like an old radio broad cast inviting our viewers to sit together and listen to the broad cast while viewing a visual representation of the piece with a suit case speaker and a collage of the Occupy Movements signs. This piece is not meant to protest on any political side, but rather to draw connections to the two movements.

If you would like to view the sound clip it is posted on Christy's version of this post.

Here are the pictures of the installation:

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Embodied Sound: Sonic Wind Chimes

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Through the sonic wind chimes I attempted to create a functional piezo amplified wind chime using recycled film holders and various other parts of a film cannester. Using the piezo microphone to amplify the sound of the clashing various film parts I was able to embody a wind chimes sound in a similar but different manner.

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Independent Project

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My last project was inspired by wanting to use sound to create the experience of not being connected to the ground. It was initially meant to be an interactive piece, but after rethinking the idea several times over, I ended up making a steth-mic to be used in an aerial performance. I used the mic to project the sound of my sister's heartbeat throughout the room while she demonstrated a modified aerial performance. My goal was to highlight the artist/athlete/performer's internal physical struggles in real time. Unfortunately I completely forgot to ask someone to take a video or pictures, so instead I am posting an image of the stethoscope mic (made by attaching a mini condenser mic to one of the stethoscope's earpieces). I've also attached an image of the aerial apparatus used by my sister during the project presentation. If I were to revisit this project, I would love to use a wireless mic and have it presented in a larger space.

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Bakken Museum

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The "Electricity is Life" machine was one of the most interesting parts of the museum to me because everyone had such different ways they wanted to interact with it. Some (like me) did not want to experience even the smallest shock on my hand, while others were experimenting with much stronger shocks to the gum, ear or eyeball. The museum made me think about how we normally experience electricity today. It is not something one can easily see or feel.....usually it just moves through wires and is away from us. I think that the difficulty in seeing electricity is precisely why people are fascinated with it at the Bakken Museum. The museum makes it "visible" through its effects on the human body with devices like the Leyden jar, Mindball, or the Electricity is Life machine, suggesting that electricity does not have to be confined to wires or individual study, but can be accessible to the public. This idea relates to embodied sound and makes me think of the contacts mic, which can introduce us to sound that is not normally audible.

1 minute sketch

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Independent Project - Occupy 1960

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Occupy 1960

This piece explored the intersection of the Occupy and Civil Rights Movement.

This clip doesn't include the leading in and ending crowd sounds, but is the bulk of the sound experience.

occupy1961.wav

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Independent Project - Sound/Movement

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My Independent project focused on how sound is necessitated by movement, a phenomena that is perceived visually, mostly. I wanted to find the limits of perceptibility between the visual motion and audible sound from an object in motion. Though the final project plan has not yet come to fruition, I've produced several investigative projects in the process that may help to at least spark conceptual curiosity.

1. Mic in pillow: Of course, there are infinitesimal worlds of movement that cannot be seen or heard without some amplification. There is perhaps this one instance where we've all considered that - as we lay with our ear to a pillow, we can hear the miniscule fibers rub and bend and stress and settle at a volume of eerie definition. With a piezo microphone, I amplified this world of tiny timbers gnashing against each other to get a closer listen at the sort of commotion that occurs on levels we may not consider.

2. Mic in ice: A similar sonic phenomena occurs when a microphone is encased in ice and allowed to melt. When amplified, we get to hear the ice stress and crack and drag across the surface of the piezo. There is an apt visual component to this if we can see the ice chunk melting and sliding across the floor at a barely perceptible speed. This is, on a small scale, what I wanted to produce for my final project (though I wanted to go further than simply lodging a piezo in a block of ice). Admittedly, it's not the traveling movement of the ice block that we hear, it's the block fracturing apart, but the visual and audio components would have referenced the goal of my concept.

3. Low Hz speaker: As a sort of inverse investigation, I explored the boundary when movement no longer becomes sonically perceptible and is instead only visually evident. I produced a sine sweep of frequencies from about 50 Hz down to ~3 or 4 Hz. As the 20 second sweep starts, we can both see and hear the speaker producing an extremely low tone, but as the vibrations of the speaker get less frequent, the tone drops low enough to become "invisible" to the human ear. Instead, we can only see the speaker breathing, pumping in and out silently but at an aggressive amplitude.

Embodied Sound - Project 2

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Documentation from my embodied sound project:

The sketch of each part of the project.
Photo on 2011-12-23 at 11.21.jpg

The mircophones were attached to each end of a wooden stick.
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We glued the cable to the stick at the area where the balloon tied, to make a smoother surface for the balloon to seal around.
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The glue and tape helped prevent air from leaking.
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After the stick was finished, we blew up the two balloons with microphones inside them while we were in the lab.
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Wireless mics transmitter.
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We filled one balloon with helium and one with regular air, to see if there was a difference in sound between the two.
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Packing up supplies to head over to West Bank.
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Tying on the two "lift" balloons that were blown on in the parking lot.
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Site Sound - Project 1

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Here are my six sound files that were presented for "Mississippi Portrait."
1009_2.wav
1010.wav
1005.wav
1009.wav
1017 mic against rocks_.wav
1018.wav

Embodied Sound - The Scale

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A scale is an object that people often ignore, avoid, or don't enjoy engaging with in our culture. People usually use it alone. Sometimes it just collects dust in the bathroom. For this project, I wanted to turn this everyday object into something that people could interact with or maybe have fun with in a social environment. I chose to present this project in the women's bathroom to make a stronger connection between the scale and its social connotations. This project also gave me the chance to learn the basics of an arduino. To produce sound, an arduino was connected to a chip that was secured underneath paper attached to the center rotation piece of an old scale. Whenever weight or movement affected the rotation, it changed the pitch of sound produced.

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Jt Bullit artist of the sound

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I found JT looking for an artist that I felt did things beyond conventional observation, making recordings of the earth etc. His scientific background and the further exploration of natural sciences through art is something I can definitely appreciate. He works with some very natural elements, that he understands given his background and makes them more universal through his art. Also I judge a lot about people from their websites, his was simple and intuitive, the way I wish many things could be. When I first stumbled upon it I instinctively was drawn to what he might be doing in terms of art. "Right here, right now, the solid Earth is moving beneath your feet." -Jt Bullit, I find this to sum up my appreciation for the earth, as well as for Mr. Bullit, his work puts into perspective our place on the scale of the planet. He transposes earthquakes, to become these unique auditory experience. This is why I relate his work to http://solar-center.stanford.edu/singing/#sing the singing sun whereby photographic imagery of the suns atmosphere is translated into an ethereal sonic experience. Taking things beyond our scale(or beyond our medium) of hearing and making them heard is awesome.

Jt Bullits website: http://www.jtbullitt.com/

Site Sound

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Here is the sound file from my first project, the sounds of Gun Lake (which ended up being more of a piece on the experience of being at a cabin at night with family.)
Gun Lake project mp3.mp3

Embodied Sound

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Video of Pianee in action

Code for the machine
MAchine.pde

My initial sketch for this device was to use an EEG wearable devices similar in principle to the MIND BALL device at the Bakken Museum. A headset would be worn, and through some abstract interpretation of the readings acquired from our brain waves a melody could be produced. Spending many hours attempting to use a arduino connected headset acquired from a Mind Flex toy, I discovered that some cheap childrens toy's are just simply to cheap to provide any kind of functionality. Upon discarding the EEG sensor's I went back to basics, duct tape and servos. Working on the fly I began attaching various percussive elements to my baby piano. Then I needed a behavior that encompassed the mysterious behavior I had envisioned. I therefore coded the jamming piano to play looped sequences whereby the tempo of the sequence, the length of the sequence, the instrumentation, are completely randomized(although Arduino random number generation is not actually random).

Mark Bee's chamber of doom

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I really missed a majority of the explanation of what exactly they do in the lab, It is to my best understanding that they document frog reactions to sound. Being in the sound proof chamber was kind of exciting, I listened to the sounds of frogs, and I think that the rhythmic vocalizations of frogs is something worthy of exploring, the more interesting component of this was the acoustical explorations that the grad students created. I never used a bow to play cymbals before, but seeing/hearing/playing these in a sound proof room was far more interesting than a speaker playing frog sounds. I think that really awesome psychological effects of sounds and our mind state could be explored in these rooms, not sure exactly what I envision to be such an experience, and the lack of the surround sound that the chamber possesses was a slight disappointment.

Bakken Museum is electric

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My thoughts on the Bakken Museum:
The Bakken museum began as an exploration through the vault, containing a number of quackery machines, It was a fascinating experience to witness devices that astounded the people of the era, as well as exceeding the comprehension of the creators. I see a lot of potential for devices that employ principles unrelated to their intention. Perhaps devices that operate on black-magic. I find it very tempting to create things that operate on the unseen/impossible to identify their actual functions. Also the primitive sex devices incited my interests, being the first to combine electricity and sex would have been a remarkable at the time. The theremin was also exciting to see/explore, would really like to get intimate with one of those devices at some point. In many ways I was frustrated by this museum, I would prefer a similar type of place were you can touch everything. Albeit they had things that were interactive, The really wonky dangerous looking devices looked funner. Oh well.

Artist Presentation: Bill Fontana

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I've attached a document which includes everything I covered during my presentation on Bill Fontana, including links to his works.

Art 3605 - Sound artist presentation.doc

Dr TUBE

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Pretext:
My independent project "Dr Tube". Dr tube began as a concept to bring us a new medium of observing sound. The inspiration for this stems from my own personal fascination with talk boxes. Th principle is a speaker emitting sound through a tube such that it can be modulated by our oral cavities. What I was more fascinated with from my own experience with my talk box was the resonances of our bones, sino-nasal cavities etc. It began when I started a feedback loop with my own talk-box and the use of a contact mic. More so the importance of this method to me is the "feeling" the physical presence of sound within our bodies vs a primarily auditory experience.
Process: Although I do enjoy making things that are intricately involved with arduino, and the behaviors that micro-processors grant us, I cannot deny the analog mechanical process of sound production. I began with a speaker, and a concept. Then upon a inspirational journey to Savers, I found a Microwave pressure cooker, easily drilled and fitted with holes. Put tubes in the holes, and create a airtight connection between the speaker and the tubes....

For generation of the sound I employed a strange feedback loop created by a 7-8 inch speaker utilized as microphone. This creates a deeper stranger feedback loop. The Squid was driven by the Suitcase Sound System amp, and also a contact mic can be used for creation of the feedback loop. I wanted to make it even more interactive somehow such that everyone "on the tube" could be involved in sound production/synthesis.

The idea to suspend it came upon the realization that otherwise I would end up with a pot full of spit. In addition to the functionality of this I was pleased with how it performed visually.

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and more tube: 12202011300.jpg

This is a recording of feedback/body resonance with a single output talkbox, same phenomena of Dr Tube, just lonelier.
Sound clip 64.mp4
If this concept could be taken further I would go bigger, more tubes, and perhaps a more sanitary method of tubing, but I would never employ any disposable methods, enough things in this country are disposable...

Embodied Bird Party Documentation

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Here's the video of my embodied sound project, newly entitled "Trust."

Trust.AVI

Sorry, I can't rotate the video because I am simply TOO busy.

The polyethylene sheets worked just they way I'd hoped. I achieved a simultaneous transparency and opacity that left the source of the bird calls up to the viewer. Although it was admittedly pretty easy to figure out how the sounds were produced, hopefully people embraced the project enough for at least a moment to imagine that there really were birds inside the tower.

Ray Lee @ MCAD

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Ray Lee is in Minneapolis next week.

In addition to doing some research at the Bakken Museum, he will be giving a talk at MCAD on Wednesday December 14th at 12 noon - Auditorium 140.

ex astris, or ab astris

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Here's a picture of what i'm going for:superart.jpg

Let's see if I can trace the thinking behind this one.

This project is to be executed under a vastly different time constraint than previous projects, and the idea of simplicity was offered as an overarching theme to help soothe our creative souls while we look for inspiration. This simplicity was offered as an element to clarify the work, not a negative form of obfuscation through simple design; what this means to me, then, is that less is more; and so I ask, why not always more? Why can't we explain things in simple terms?

To me, realistically, this idea of beauty-in-simplicity is a way to avoid a trope in art. The suffering artist. I see simplicity as an avenue by which the artist could express themselves honestly, but the dimension of "I worked hard, I dedicated a period of my life to this work, I have thought about it deeply, I sacrificed for my art the time I spent making it, a section of my life." is obscured, or negated.

It seems to me then, that time is a limit. Time is a constraint; would the greatest masterpiece of all time be a work that a person continually "suffered", or worked on, for their entire life? One huge message, abbreviating all that a human life can endure?

Or can things be more simple? What are we looking for in that great experience, anyway; what do we hope to gain from an artists' art, be it "simple" with no time spent, or "complex" with volumes of context surrounding it.

This is the essential relationship we have with reality; an interpretation of something that is already there. thanks to my English degree, I am aware of Kenneth Burke's "unending conversation" metaphor, which says just that; we are born into a context too large for our brains to comprehend, and life is figuring out our relation to it. We join the conversation, and then we leave it, but others will always continue it; there is always succession. A flood of context.

I wanted to make a simple version of all this information. The extremely basic "shape" is shown above; I want to make a starmap with a clock superimposed upon it.

The clock will have one hand, which will move in a neverending cycle, controlled by an arduino to look like a nice pace. This mechanical, "perfect" motion is classically understood to be separate from an action a human is trying to repeat. I'm not going to model it after any "real" or "conventional" measurement of time; I will just choose what looks like a nice pace for the hand to rotate with. This signifies the arbitrariness of the measurements we make, that we base science off of, or knowledge, or the unending conversation.

The astral theme and title are included, because star stuff or star dust is an amazing place for evolution to have begun. Recently I took evolutionary-historical thought beyond the primordial ooze; our consciousness began as star stuff, that smashed into itself to form a planet, and out of that, life, and RIGHT NOW, our present-moment consciousness. We are consciousness out of star dust.

it is possible to think one step further, what made the star dust, but a star map is a recognizable circular object, which has all those wonderful "cyclic" connotations surrounding it. It also makes the clock superimposition fit together as a composition quite nicely!

The act of observing this artwork is a controlled piece of the theme, too. The audience's act of interpreting it represents our consciousnesses "joining" the unending conversation; whatever your interpretation of it is, that is what you have taken from or contributed to the conversation. The patron essentially approaches a microcosmic universe, and is free to interpret it however they feel, without reward or penalty. I intend on telling the audience to simply let their thoughts settle in, while just regarding the piece as whatever whole they think it to be.


I have been playing with one other dimension regarding this piece, that dimension being sound, or the idea of hollow noise. An extra undetectable (to humans) dimension could be added to the piece, which would realistically be that i would play a track of music through the surround sound system in the performance space. the track would be silent. People would be aware of this, try to hear "the track i am playing", because I would explain before the piece "begins its official life as an artwork that you may interpret" that I would initiate a sound track to go with the piece. In this manner, people would listen for what isn't there; people would listen for silence, which is something you can't hear. This is another dimension added to the "consciousness out of nothing" aspect to which the art speaks; where we came from had no atmosphere, had no sound (at least that is audible to our limited terrestrial ears), and I could replicate that by "playing" a blank track, which is ultimately doing nothing but making the audience listen to nothing. (Which is all paradoxical; you can't hear nothing, or silence. This paradox is postmodernism, or something. I'm not sure, but I like paradoxes in art. They seem to suggest a search for balance, and don't get me started on writing about balance on such conceptual levels.)

I might print out the star map graphic (stars + clock superimposition) on oversized paper, and pierce it with the motor/clock arm that will rotate through it.

I haven't thought about hiding the arduino; with all that nice circular balance, it might look very out of place, but hey, that's the ebb and flow of life. Nothing can ever be perfect, and if it is, you would probably be branded insane for thinking so.