recent developments in a nutshell

Sorry it has been so long since my last post. It has been a really wild ride.

I find myself running full speed ahead so often, that sometimes it seems like to reflect on what I've been able to accomplish would result in some kind of an explosion. At the same time, my lack of reflection robs me of the perspective I need so allow myself to burst with these new skills in a satisfying way. And so, I sponged for so long, reacting and responding to ideas and growing ever readier to finally pinpoint that thing of all things, only to continue honing tangents and indulging obsessions. I feel that the time has finally come to take a step back and account for what needs accounting for.

I have started work on an ecosystem of small musical automata, each of which demonstrates a feedback system involving a 'crossing of levels'. The first one, pictured below,


uses a photoresistor controlled clock to time a regular spasm of movement to a shaker motor. the photoresistor reacts to minute changes in light, which may either result from the movements of the light organic material attached to the weight, or from the freewheeling motion of the entire system. The periodic shakes occur faster as it gets more exposure to light, and the entire sculpture emits a squiggly drone through a resonant cavity in its base. He is particularly fond of lamps. I cannot thank Jeramie Belmay enough for his help with designing the body. This is the prototype. This is the final being.

The second item in this series is currently being designed as a light-emitting being of similar stature, essentially a converse of the first. Instead of blocking ambient light, this automaton blinks. The sounds are more complex as well. They play together nicely. Documentation to come.

I created a simple biofeedback composition using in-mouth galvanic response in conjunction with control-level feedback structures called "Loop".
Asli Soncelly's short film "Lenore" was an amazing project to be involved with. She has a really sick mind, a powerful asset when working on a horror film. I did the entire project in free open-source software, including some patches i made in SuperCollider for spectral granular synthesis. Also designing reverb in SuperCollider was an interesting process. I eventually chose convolution as my method of choice, and recorded reverb impulses in my bathroom. I also had some fun with the ambient noises, since much of the original sound had been damaged during filming. Contact microphones and freesound became my friends very quickly. It won "Best Senior Film" at Wesleyan, due to Asli's bloody cinematic genius.

Mike Clemow and I have been building a linux cluster at NYU for the purposes of running sound synthesis and other high-level media production algorithms using OSC as a message-passing interface. We made an appearance at the ITP spring show to demonstrate some of its functionality in these beginning stages of production. Using Julian Rohrhuber's Just-In-Time library for SuperCollider, I livecoded on the cluster using my laptop as a head-node, controlling streams of wavelets in realtime. I have learned much about the architecture of SuperCollider itself, and really about networks themselves, from this project. I cannot thank Mike enough for bearing with me as I wrap my head around these machines.

The Arboretum, a 12-node linux cluster workstation, has birthed two much lighter, more transparent "dev clusters". Mike and I each own a few machines, and are building clusters to our own specifications. I named mine the "Cattri", Pali for the "four", as in the Four Noble Truths in Buddhism. Each of the four linux boxes is named the Pali word for a Noble Truth: Dukkha, or "The Nature of Suffering", Samudaya, or "The Origin of Suffering", Nirodha, or "The Cessation of Suffering", and Marga, or "The Way Leading to the Cessation of Suffering".

At this point I have set up a wireless network on which it is possible to livecode with these machines, which are piped through my monitors as well as through the loft's new sound system-- a pair of flat speakers and an amp we found in the trash, fixed, and mounted to the walls. Between those and the cluster itself, it's shocking to think what people throw out! In addition to composing recursively symmetrical granular structures on the toilet, it is possible to wirelessly control the house's music and have access to a shared music library.

I see myself currently working toward a greater capacity for spontaneity in my work as my skills get honed. Current obsessions include formal languages, networked microphones, analog electronics, wavelet analysis, improvisation and sculpture. I also see myself becoming more interested in extended vocal techniques. Of course, more musings on each of these will happen at a later point.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *