I came to Steim for a two week residency from April 16 to May 3 to further develop an ongoing project, begun at moddr lab in Rotterdam World Wide Wave, that is done in collaboration with Dan Wilcox and the performer Valeria Marraco.
The project comes in two parts. One part is the development of a recreational application for listening to streams or databases of sound. The idea of making a player came about because since there is a an information overload, the structure of the database determines the relationship to its contents. I was unhappy with the relationship I had with listening to audio archives because they were organized in list based databases. The aural landscape is boundless, anchorless, and impossible to experience in its simultaneity. The main goal of the player is to steer users away from experiencing sound databases as linear classification and fragmentation to spontaneous pattern recognition. It is also an experiment in mapping, by plotting radio stations on the globe their underlying organizational structure emerges. For example the United States of America shines brightly on the map, while Africa is mostly coastline with a few glowing spots in the middle.
The player has a simple point and click interface.
It is written in processing. source.
The second part of the the project, was to develop a series of scenes for performance, with this player and its associated databases and maps.
Aural sources are mapped to a globe according to geographic location. The player interface is a virtual simulation of the simultaneous global happening of internet radio broadcast, and other non-live databases. It is an immersive reality, proper to the experience of sound, but it also gives the user an opportunity to literally distance themselves from the immersive environment and see the aural landscape as a whole.
Valeria and I will be presenting World Wide Wave as a performance at the Think Ahead:Open Platform. This particular incarnation of the performance is using the player with and custom built wearable controller, hopefully enabling the audience vicariously experience, the struggle for contact, and the development of contact from a singular signal, to vying points of view, to an availability of multi faceted voices, and finally coming the contradictory situation where every potential audience member is also a broadcaster, and an inversal of the monadic model occurs.
The outfit has embedded sensors inside that are activated by their proximity to a magnet. The sensors are placed at joints throughout the body.
The belt contains a wii controller, used for its accelerometers. I plan to get accelerometers when budgeting allows in order to eliminate the belt and have a closer integration with the body. Spaceship earth is mapped to the body in space by using input from the accelerometers.
The sensors. They trigger the changing of stations and other side effects.
Testing the costume.
My expectations were:
 to develop a lightwieght user friendly version of the player and
 optimize it not to be so CPU taxing
 score the aural output of the performance in more detail, get more control over World Wide Wave
 create a custom wearable controller for it
 write patch for the performance
What I did:
 kind of made working player
 conceived that it is nice to load different maps into the player
 started assembling thematically relevant maps
 made wearable
 created score and choreography for performance
 wrote reactible patches to trigger scenes (untill a more interactive, generative one can be written) for the performance on May 10
 figure our where to get aural databases and how to automatically update them for when samples are pulled off the internet or a station goes off line, or a new one pops up
 make better simpler ui for the player (current one is only okay as demo)
 integrate user determined map loading into new ui
 develop other stories to tell with these scenes and tools
 make a better player, faster, smoother, smaller
 make scenes more generative and less reactive
 maybe implement and option to stream the users mix back into World Wide Wave so that users can not only spontaneously manipulate the database but also feed back into it, maybe
Storyboard of Performance
The best thing at Steim was the atmosphere that the group of dedicated people there created. Everyone I met, from the staff to the other residents were singularly dedicated to their practice, and critically minded. Unfortunately this is a rare occurrence in the world. Finding Steim was like striking gold. Thank you so much for the great experience.
Thank you so much!
Val and Sofy