Joe Diebes > live sampling and opera

I just spent a week at STEIM being introduced to the technologies and resources here, and it’s been very productive. The introductions to LiSa and JunXion by Robert van Heumen and Frank Baldé were clear and allowed me right away to start thinking about ways to integrate them into my current practice, in which I mainly use Max/MSP.  I greatly enjoyed the artists talks and demonstrations by Robert, Daniel Schorno, Tao G. Vrhovec Sambolec, and Ivo Bol.  Each artist has unique technical and aesthetic approaches to live sampling, electronic performance, and sound installation that opened up a lot of areas to think about.
My own interest is in the area of live vocal performance, and possible uses of live sampling in a theatrical or operatic context. I spent most of the week thinking about how the paradigm of LiSa, and of randomly accessible sample buffers in general, can have a meaningful relationship both conceptually and musically with the human voice. One direction I specifically started thinking about was entropy and information loss with sung or spoken words – how quickly semantic information can morph (or evolve) into pure sound, and perhaps then return to recognizable words, or even form new verbal structures that sort of sound like words but aren’t. Another specific experiment I tried involved singing into the buffer then playing back a fragment which I then tried to imitate. I kept replacing the buffer with imperfect attempts to match the previous generation, which resulted in interesting mutations of the original. There’s a whole world to explore in experimenting with setups in which the human / machine relation is clearly figured in an audible process, while having sonically compelling material.
The world of sensors and non-MIDI interfaces is brand-new to me, and I’m still digesting the possibilities that junXion offers to integrate Wii control and video / audio tracking. I’ve used simple audio tracking to control a previous project, but would like to go further with this. Also, the video tracking seemed to offer some interesting options.
All in all I’m leaving with a lot to chew on, and look forward to the surprises, mistakes, and discoveries to come. . .

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