Session review [category]

Snippets, quotes and links from the Energy Music panel - Jamie Allen [again]:

Thursday, December 11th, 2008

Performance energy:
own project: boomBox, a flight case with sensors in it, performance of manipulating and playing the box.
other peoples’ projects: Remko Scha and Arthur Elsenaar

Energy purification:
[taking power and moulding it into music]
own project: circuitMusic
other peoples’ projects: Toshimaru Nakamura: no input mixer.

Material and energy autonomy:
own project: Art Generator
other peoples’ projects: Rory Nugent: Square Band, Jeff Fedderson: Earth Speaker, Michel de Broin: Shared Propulsion Car [pedals].

What are our technology options?
Energy harvesting, piezo, solar, water/wind.
System concerns data, efficiency battery power.

Sine wave turn table, made with Jo Kazuhiro [using a generator to power an amp but also using the sine wave signal as audio source].

Jamie got a craclebox from michel and went to the park and played it outside.
Circuitmusic machines - a portable player being made right now - 6 different versions with different energy sources.

There were lots of questions:
The relevance of russian aura photography?
How involuntary is the autonomous nervous system?
Is it reductionist to want to bypass gesture in music?
How long is for ever?
Is miniaturization actually driven by the desire to stop you from being able to fix things?

Snippets, quotes and links from the Energy Music panel - Brian Degger:

Thursday, December 11th, 2008

Getting of the grid and getting over the embarrassment of being environmental.

Bioacustic ecology:
Example: David Dunn: listening to the bark beetle - indicated the level of stress in the tree and also the signal from the beetle itself.

Is sonification the poor brother of visualization?

Examples: Katie Patterson, a telephone connected to a glacier. Marko Peljhan Microlab, placing themselves in fragile environments and generating their on infrastructure [like a satellite].

The are too kinds of environmentalism: work that is shouty and preachy or work that illustrates an environmental process but does not preach.
Milkproject by Polak/ Auzina
Helsinki Power Station by hehe, visualizing the energy consumption on a smokestack in Helsinki.
the lake by Julie Freeman, visualization of freshwater fish.

Is there an end to innocence and aesthetics? Can we get from navel gazing to shoe gazing?

Snippets, quotes and links from the Energy Music panel - Ben Knapp:

Thursday, December 11th, 2008

Can we take you off the grid? Harvesting energy from motion: we spend a lot of energy moving around. On the micro level we can harvest from blood flow, body temperature and biochemistry.

The word ubiquitous is becoming ubiquitous. It is a very active field now with lots of work being done.

The bio electric signals of the body: The nervous system as a self powered communication source. Wanting to get closer to the source, the metabolism. These energy sources are not big enough provide energy for music but we can amplify the signal and use it as input to music.

Examples of early work:
1965 Alvin Lucier “music for solo performer” [EEG, brainwaves]
1978 Dick Raaijmaker, a man get of his bike very very slowly, the EMG, EKG GSR and nasal microphone records the exertion and energy it takes to do this.

How can we measure emotional energy while playing music?
Systems for measuring CNS activity and the somatic nervous system [movement], autonomic nervous system [breathing, temperature etc], autonomic nervous system [EDA, electrodermal activity]

The ECG signal is the largest electrical signal in the body, it is almost big enough to power something.

How do we use this in musical performance?
The desire to move from pieces that use the body’s energy for power to a point where we are using the signals from the body to create the content of the music itself. Wanting to remove the physical layer and get to the point where we can make music with our thought and emotions.

Snippets, quotes and links from the Energy Music panel - Jamie Allen:

Thursday, December 11th, 2008

“We make tools and forever after they shape us” McLuhan
The energy and the tools we use is a part of the broad ecosystem of our lives.

Musical and performance “energy”  enables expression.
Energy and information [signals] are precisely the same thing.
What are we plugging into? a handful of coal is enough for burning a light bulb for 24 hours.

Example: “field” by Richard Box

Energy Music

Thursday, December 11th, 2008

We’re not talking about the kind of Sundance sustainability issues in a showbiz fashion says Jamie. What we are talking about are issues of the performer and the body. The context of the enviornment and the ecology of communities. Jamie is keen to point out that his discusion is about how to relate these issues strictly to music and art practice. Jamie points out there are three ways of looking at technology, the antagonistic approach, the folk sensibility and a third way concerned with the idea that we use energy constantly in the process of living and that the real issue is in how we route it and choose to use it. This idea purports that we are part of an ecology concerned with the use and transmission/reception of energy. As an ex-physicist this is an idea I feel worth relating to. Jamie talked about Michel’s sense of energy and exertion on stage, he was motivated to start the discussion by seeing how Michel was physically tired after performances. He had put energy into creating the music that had depleted him in the process.

Jamie’s first assertion is that energy and information signals are really the same thing and that as artists we are already concerned with the routing of this energy and signal information. Jamie talk about the importance of self-reliance, this motivated his his desire to raise the energy discussion. Jamie is also interested with the idea of exclusionary technological domains and cites artistic examples of an ethically grown leather installation and a site specific piece concerned with lighting up bulbs beneath power lines using only the energy gathered from the high intensty e.m. fields that were (freely) available there.


One Man Nation

Wednesday, December 10th, 2008

With “organisational centre-pin” Taku gone to set up the turntable concert and and Jorgen electing to not present his sequencers himself (a choice I fully support, even if I wished I had known about it sooner; in the end it worked out fine) it seemed up to Marc (One Man Nation) and me to organise the sequencing session ourselves. It was starting to look like the daring session on popular music was getting a bit more daring still….


Kassen: improvising house music

Wednesday, December 10th, 2008

Kassen starts with demonstrating some analog sequencers from and prepared by Jorgen Brinkman, STEIM’s instrument designer and trance music producer. He mentiones the elaborate preparations necessary to ‘program’ the sequencers, which make them difficult to use in live performances.

About Ableton Live: it’s an easy to use software when you prepare your setup, but it’s more difficult to make pieces on the spot. New musical ideas are difficult to implement live.

Kassen uses the programming language Chuck to make music, initially triggering events using keys on the computerkeyboard. When making housemusic there are 8 beats to a loop. He’s using the Arcade controller, with the 8 step joystick, to place sounds on the 8-step grid.


Kjetil Falkenberg Hansen - The techniques of scratching

Wednesday, December 10th, 2008

Kjetil comes from the KTH Computer Science and Communication where he is a PhD researcher. He burns for scratching and loves the sound but after practicing for an hour he decided that he was no longer interested in learning to scratch. His interests are in scratch analysis and interface design. He shows us a fascinating video of his own practice which centres on the designing interfaces for new scratch style music.

Kjetil outlined the mix of old and new technology that makes up turntablism. He claims that hip-hop has demanded a new form of instrument that is now concerned not just with rhythm but also melody. On the topic of the turntable metaphor, differing from Taku he does not believe in the rotating disc metaphor for media playback. He believes that scratching has reached a turning point in popularity after its high in the 90s.


Session 4: Turntable music

Wednesday, December 10th, 2008

The 4th session on turntable music started with Taku himself talking about the history of turntablism and his own work.

Taku explained his talk was based on his 2006 paper on this topic, he started by attempting to define turntablism; “a musical practice of using the turntable as a instrument for the skillful playback of media”. Next the history was covered, the emphasis on virtuosity and the strong community. He covered the history of the technology as well, from early recording devices to modern turntables aimed specifically at this type of performance. Not only do we now have these specialized hi-tech turntables, there is also a large range of digital playback devices that are inspired by the possibilities of turntables or tries to emulate them, for example for the playback of CD’s or the controlling of computers.


Other Multitouch sensor interfaces

Wednesday, December 10th, 2008

Related to Andy Schmeder’s talk about micro-OSC yesterday, during which he showed his multitouch pressure fabric prototype, I was reminded of a couple of other similar projects with slightly different aproaches. The “UnMouse” prototype from microsoft research uses custom FSRs to do the sensing, and Randy Jone’s “multitouch prototype 2” just uses copper strips and a multi-channel audio interface for input. Randy’s post brings up a point for discussion:

“You need a 1 kilohertz sampling rate to capture the nuance of live musical performance.”

This of course depends on what type of mapping is employed, and how a controller is used musically - but using audio rate sensor input clearly lends itself to certain situations.

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