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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 3-02.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.


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

here is the recording ^


Independent Project


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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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.


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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.


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...

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.