Meandering River is a collaboration between Funkhaus Berlin and onformative that saught to represent the fast-moving world through gradual, rhythmic movements rather than a snapshot. onformative used a custom-written algorithm that reinterprets fluctuating river patterns based on the sounds that are generated form the river. They take this data to then generate a colorful river landscapes (that are changing real-time) and project them onto screens. This type of data visualization is common amongst onformative’s works, which can be found here :
Another onformative project that can best exemplifies sound art is its project titled Porsche Blackbox. In this project onformative takes the sounds from a blackbox in a Porsche and uses that data to visualize what driving the vehicle was like at that time. Their work has really inspired me to explore what artists can do with data like sound, or even other senses that are not sight related.
More on the Porsche Blackbox project is in this link below:
On the subject of sound and computation, I recently downloaded an iOS app called Seaquence that composes music using petri dish of life forms.
The app by Okaynokay uses a custom physics engine to develop the lifeforms. The creatures’ tempo and waveform are represented by their antennae and tail respectively. I admire the game developers’ visualizing of sound in such a unique way; relating them to living organisms.
The interface allows you to adjust scale, octave, and rhythm and apply transposition and delay for each life form. Before playing the game, I assumed that the UI would be extremely complicated and it would be difficult to produce pleasant sounds. The fact that I was wrong makes me respect the effort put into finding a large range of sounds that work together and applying different parameters to each.
Sample music produced using Seaquence by Okaynokay, 2017.
Creators Gabriel Dunne and Ryan Alexander combined their acoustic and visual artistic sensibilities to develop an algorithm that intricately weaves together the parameters for sound.
Apparatum, a project created by panGenerator, is an “apparatus” that allows a user to create analog sounds via a digital interface. It’s a callback to one of the first studios to create analog sound, the Polish Radio Experimental Studio. With a description in words, the machine sounds completely unattractive; however, seeing Apparatum and hearing the sounds it produces will give you a completely different sense. The appearance is interesting, the interface is simple (albeit a little abstract), and the sounds are amazingly diverse.
The generation of the sounds, or rather, the movement of the parts in the apparatus are controlled in length by choosing the corresponding widget and elongating its width. The algorithms for this would probably track the width of the widget and translate that to a certain length of time to move the part associated with the widget. While not the most advanced, even useful, application, there is a clear and close relationship between the user’s digital input and Apparatum’s analog output.
“Volume” is an interactive and responsive sound and light installation designed for a popular NYC festival, Panorama. The installation is a series of responsive mirrors formatted in a cube; these mirrors rotate individually in response to the presence of people (in this case, excited festival goers), which then redirect light and sound as a result. The mirrors process presence and rotate using cameras, and the LED lights change in response to the changes of sound around them. This data is then converted via DMX, and to the motors via OCP and Arduino microcontrollers.
Although the final result of the project seems to be “created” or “formed” by the viewer (ie. festival goer), the team, Softlab, showcased their own artistic voice by choosing exactly what medium Volume was created in –mirrors, LED lights — and what mediums Volume chooses to interpret — sound and physical movement. I think Volume is a playful installation that is affected by aspects we find fairly simple — sound and movement, but utilizes intricate data interpretation which then creates an elevated and dynamic environment.
Destin Sandlin, well known for his Smarter Everyday youtube series, is also the creator of a video series titled The Sound Traveler. This series combines point of view (POV) video, with binaurally recorded audio to create an immersive experience. The videos produced in this manner stand out from other typical POV videos in one key way, the sound. In most videos the listener can hear the audio coming from the center or to some degree of left/right. But the special way the audio is recorded in Destin’s videos allows the listener to hear sounds as coming from all axis, front, behind, and even above and below. This slight change causes the entire range of hearing ability to be utilized, causing a feeling of sincere immersion.
The videos are recorded using an odd microphone setup that causes the sound to interact with an artificial ear before it hits the microphone, allowing the small nuances of the (fake) human ear and ear canal to augment the sound in the same way a real ear would.
Video from The Sound Traveler Exemplifying Binaural Recording
For this week’s Looking Outward post, I chose to write about The Classyfier. The Classyfier is a table that recognizes sounds from beverages (the clink of a wine glass, a can opening, a spoon stirring tea, etc.) and automatically plays appropriate music.
I admire this project because I think it’s a really creative use of AI. Even though I don’t think this is the most urgent or influential project, I think it’s cool that we can use this technology to create more projects in the future; A smart music playing table might not change the world, but we can use this technology to make something that will. In the article linked above, it says that they used Wekinator, Processing, and the OFX Collection. I also found it cool that they used processing because that’s similar to p5.js. It’s inspiring that projects like this are being made in a language very similar to the one that we’re learning, meaning that we are that much closer to creating this type of stuff ourselves.
I was initially drawn to this project simply through how surreal the documentation video is. The size of the crowd gathered under the laser show allows for an entirely more immersive experience. Upon reading into how the project was accomplished, and realizing that these glowing orbs of light are simply illuminated balloons being raised up and down my disbelief didn’t falter. Rather than the project losing its sense of wonder, my attention shifted to disbelief at how incredibly simple the physical setup of the show is.
In this moment, I couldn’t fully explain the algorithms behind this project. However, I have suspicions that the variables which control the movement are related to the pitch and tempo of the music being played.
Robert Henke, the project’s creator, expresses his artistic sensibilities in a raw sense through this project. A common motif in his work is the unwritten encouragement of metacognitive thinking. His work explores the intersection of sensory and how people interpret reality. This project’s ability to visualize the invisible is so spectacular and immersive that it is no exception to encouraging a perception of world in a different lens, even if for a moment.
This is a descriptive video explaining Christina Kubisch’s series of art installations involving sound
The project is art installations with an immersive experience where an audience can walk around wires and technology through space with headphones to listen to various and creative sounds that can be heard through the headphones. The theory behind this working is electromagnetic induction where fields are disrupted when electrical objects move near each other. I admire that this project involves discovery as well as a creative process. Kubisch was able to discover a phenomenon through curiosity and then applied creative process to turn it into an art where everyone can experience. I thought that this project was very unique and innovative in that it’s not really a known category of art- especially at the time that it was discovered. I admire these aspects because I’ve sometimes felt as if the boundaries of art are limited, and that we are limited by the tools that we have at hand, whether it be a paintbrush or styrofoam, but with discovery we are able to expand the boundaries of art far beyond what is it now. I suppose that the magnets that shake within the headphones are processed by the algorithms and then turned into sound data which is what the user hears. The creators artistic sensibilities are manifested into final forms when she designs various electrical constructs that allows users to experience various sounds generated by them. I think that with the broadness of technology there are so many directions that can be taken with this type of art.