This autumn ten new candidates entered the Programme for Research Fellowships in the Arts. They have decided to start a shared blog. At the moment it lives here but it will probably move to a more permanent adress soon (and I’ll try to remember to update this post).
Blog archive for December 2006
In 1940 Walt Disney’s Fantasia was the first film to be released in a multichannel format called Fantasound. Some important innovations are as follows:
- the click track
- dispersion-aligned loudspeaker system with skewed-horn
- the pan-pot
- control-track level-expansion
- overdubbing of orchestral parts
- simultaneous multitrack recording
- and the development of a multichannel surround system.
I finally got around to see the exhibition of Rodney Graham at Bergen kunsthall yesterday. It is closing in a few days time. Some of it I found quite interesting.
Corsucating Cinnamon Granules is a looping 16mm film recorded at his own kitchen lights turned of while dropping cinnemon onto a heatened stove. The resulting movie is analogue black with white pixel dust as the cinnemon lights up in the tradition of experimental film from earlier in the 20th century. It is presented in a purpose-built chamber with cinema seats. So far so good but to me the back side where the looping of the movie was exposed was more interesting. The film spilling from the camera folded itself as a continuous drawing moulded and erased at the bottom again as it got sucked into the film projector. It also seemed to have gotten into the habbit of folding at the same places every time giving a sensation of a layered prolonged memory. It not only remembered the action initially imprinted on the film but also what had been played back recently and in a more distanced past maybe all the way back to how the film first started folding when the installation was initially built and first displayed.
Torqued Chandelier Release is another looping film this time of a chandelier with electric light bulbs wounded up and let go so that it starts rotating. It primarily caught my attention because it resembled a section of the video work from “Concert for Greenland” by Verdensteatret. The Verdensteatret section is based on one of the rotating objects on stage mapped as textures onto a multitude of OpenGL layers in Max/Jitter. Initially appearing as a small video projection it gradually grows to enorumous size. Obviously biased I have to say that I found the Graham piece less subtle and complex.
It is interesting that they were both made at more or less the same time (2004). Waking up today and browsing through news feeds more chandeliers popped up in the blog by David Byrne. The artist Timonthy Horn is apparently having a show at Todd Hostfelt gallery at the moment including pieces of translucent plastic based on old engravings of jellyfish. Yet another chandelier showed up recently in a self-presentation by Bull.Miletic at the Art Academy. Maybe it is the zeitgeist but I rather assume that as one starts working on something one also becomes more sensitive to similar phenomena appearing elsewhere connecting them. Anyway it is part of what makes life interesting.
Phonokinetoscope is yet another film controlled by a record player. This time Graham himself is on a combined biking and LCD trip.
To me the most interesting aspect was a direct responce to reading Spatial Audio by F. Rumsey on the bus into town. More specifically I was reading about virtual source positioning in stereo why amplitude panning works source positioning using delays and the precedence effect. Phonokinetoscope using a stereo sound track provided an instant playground for testing what happens as I move away from the sweet spot. I didn’t have to take more than one step to the left or right before the precedence effect caused spatial spread to collapse to the nearest speaker. But the really interesting thing was that in order to be positioned at the sweet spot I had to stand in front of the film projection casting a large shadow so that I couldn’t see the film. From an installation point of view I found this a fascinating strategy of self-contradiction: Positioning medium relatively to each other in such a way that you will never be able to have an optimal experience of all at the same time. Moving around the space at least one of them will always be cancelled out by the others. This I am keeping for future use…
The rest of the exhibition I did not find equally interesting. British rock musicians from 60s and 70s to often have a tendency of ending up wandering in the direction of weird conceptual fascination for King Arthur and a Middle Age that never really existed. I am not to thrilled about that. This exhibition had a bit of that combined with a tendency of getting to “PÆN” for my taste. And sorry I don’t know how to translate “PÆN”.
Two other recent exhibitions worth seeing (both down now) were the 75 year anniversary exhibition of Bildende Kunstneres Forening i Hordaland at Hordaland kunstsenter and the exhibition by Brite Hindal at USF. Her video installations impressed me in particular the one with videos of bouncing ping-pong balls projected onto plexiglas cubes.
AFAIR this is the first generally available software solution that I have seen for doing spatialisation using wave field synthesis: WONDER (Wave field synthesis of new dimensions of electronic music in realtime). WONDER is Linux.
“Learning Linux” is a hot candidate for a new years resolution and this was yet another argument. Early next year I am starting working at BEK again. In the later years support and encouragement of open-source software has been a major concern at BEK with the Piksel conference a big yearly event. All I want for Christmas is a MacBook Pro so that I could boot into OSX Win and Linux at the same computer. I belueve that would make it a lot easier to use all platforms interchangeable (although the only real reason for using Win would be occational use of Aurora). I know that in order to be able to work with a system on a day by day basis I have to be able to carry it around. I have had Demudi installed on a shuttle for some years now but that PC tends to end up staying at a different place than myself e.g. shelf high up on a gallery wall.
Google has added patent search. MusicThing has been googling for some stuff of interest including patents by Moog Chorning Theremin Fender and Kraftwerk.
This is a patch made today while reading about interaural time differences and sinusodial lateralization in chapter 2.4.1 of Blauert: Spatial Hearing. The Psychophysics of Human Sound Localization.
The patch should be listened to using headphones and demonstrates how phase offset of one channel cause a perceptual lateral shift of localization of the auditory event. It also demonstrates how this effect weakens as the frequency gets higher than 800 Hz with a frequency of 1600 Hz leaving causing little or no lateralization effect whatsoever.
The patch can be downloaded here.
Lately I have stumbled accross several software solutions for signal metering correction and more:
- The Faber Electroacoustics Toolbox (FEaT) is a modularized multi-channel dynamic signal analyzer and data acquisition platform for the Mac.
- Metric Halo SpectraFoo Standard is a collection of high resolution metering tools in both standalone and DAW Plug-In configurations. SpectraFoo includes basic sample-accurate metering triggerable waveform display power balancing and phase analysis.
- Roger Nichols Digital has several plugins for metering and mastering.
- (((acourate))) corrects for loudspeaker-room interaction anomalies in ways speaker designers cannot possibly anticipate. With extensive design and modification one can optimize a room to minimize effects on sound but generally at great expense. This means realistically one optimizes room-response and layout as far as aesthetics and practicality allow but the sound falls short of “acoustically correct.”
(((acourate))) allows the user to ascertain the speaker in-room response and correct for the deviation incurred. Further the program can provide precise individual speaker driver-time-alignment and linearize driver and overall loudspeaker response and then provide compensating real-time correction filters for playback.
- CDP Multi-Channel ToolKit is a collection of command-***line***
tools (for Windows and OS X) for managing and playing multi-channel soundfiles.
If you have a few minutes to spare take a look at the videos by Karl Kliem. He does the visual part for the Live Performances of electronic musician Jan Jelinek as well as working with other musicians like Carsten Nicolai or Thomas Köner. I have only peeked into a few of them myself so far but the videos for music by Alva Noto and Ryuichi Sakamoto are stunning.
Prof. Ruth Litovsky have done extensive research on the ability of humans to function in their environment using sound. Most environments in which we spend time have complicated acoustics with echoes coming from many directions and with multiple sounds occurring simultaneously. We are therefore faced with the challenge of interpreting sounds at they reach our ears learning to ignore echoes and other irrelevant distracting signals. Some common examples are classrooms restaurants playgrounds and “cocktail parties”.
The 1999 article by Litovsky et al. seems to be the most recent thorough review of literature on the precedence effect.