Research and inspiration 27/03/2018

Discovered the artist Amulets this week. He works with cassettes, players, tape loops and effects , creating woozy soundscapes and atmospheres from these simple sources. Of particular interest is the physical aspect of what he does, manipulating the sounds and machines in real time.

Also reading The Oxford Handbook of Interactive Audio, with a view to developing a more theoretical approach to the sound that will be part of my final installation.

Currently experimenting with combining simple tones to make chords / walls of sound, using this for reference: Frequencies for equal-tempered scale, A4 = 440 Hz

Panned version.

Mono version.

Also read this piece recently on FACT – The Sound of Fear, which mentioned the Ghost Tape Number 10, which was unpacked in this podcast a while ago. An interesting example of using sound to play on people’s cultural preconceptions.

During the Vietnam conflict, US troops played a soundtrack known as Ghost Tape Number 10 against the soldiers of the National Liberation Front. Used as part of Operation Wandering Soul, the unsettling tape collage tapped into Vietnamese beliefs that ancestors not buried in their homeland roam without rest in the afterlife. This spooky mix of voice, sound and music was intended to haunt Vietnamese soldiers and encourage them to abandon their cause.

Quite intrigued by this visualisation of sound in space via AR. Discovered this while reading about the Weird Type AR app.

I have also been investigating a few options for networking and interacting with the objects that will be the 3D models in the installation.

One is X BEE – apparently “the Digi XBee3 Series offers design freedom with easy-to-add functionality and flexible wireless connectivity.”

Another is the Google’s Project SOLI, a sensor which recognises hand gestures.

And finally, a MIDI controller ring, The Wave, as featured on TechCrunch.

Sadly the last two will not be available for a few months yet.

The Quartet – a short story for an installation

This text was written as part of a workshop based on a series of five randomly-selected images that were originally sent into space as part of the Voyager Golden Record in 1977.

The Quartet. 19/03/2018

The quartet played in the parlour. They are interpreting the sounds they heard the evening before, when they watch the moon landing on their neighbours’ tiny black and white screen. They played from memory and the sound bounced around the small room repeatedly. For this reason, they played softly, sparsely, tenderly. The people stop outside of the cottage they are playing in stopped occasionally to listen to the sounds they made. Without the context of the screen and the flickering moon shots, the sound made little sense. But they found it beautiful, and intense, despite seemingly-random and scattered notes. 

Families gathered outside in the street. At the gate. Stopping for a while to take in the music. Many others also came to listen. Standing still. They wondered at the sound. They too had seen the moon landings. But it took some time to connect the sounds of the instruments to the pictures from the night before. The grainy capsule. The crackling voices beamed down, announcing the moment that would change us all. Or at least most of us.

 

Out in the Desert, a lonely figure wandered with this horse, scanning the horizon for signs of life. At his side was a small listening device. A radio, tuned to static, waiting to receive some sound. Occasionally the rider stops, tunes, looking for signals. As he tunes, he once again see scans the horizon. Once or twice he looks back at his trail. Where he came from. As he had little idea where he was going. Just had to find the end to this desert. He rode, stopped, tuned, rode again. He had food and water for a few days more.

 

Hopefully the signal would come before then. Another day passed. More static, more water, more food, some rest. And then, slowly, as he turned the dial of his receiver, he had it. The sound he had been searching for. The concert have begun. Sat on his horse, still, squinting against the Sun a little, he heard the sound of the violins, the cello and the bass. Being from another place, and sounding like another time.  An easier time. Before space was conquered. Before we landed on the moon. The sound was being beamed around the world. Into space and back again. It was his cue to ride towards home. He had found the signal and reported back to the city that the mission was complete. He is unsure of the purpose of the mission, but he knew the part he played.  Had to relay the message home, and the council would do the rest. 
There will be a fanfare. A celebration. A parade of vehicles of all kinds. Some riding horses. Some driving. Others on foot. But all happy that finally they could leave this place and fly to the stars.