“The important point is that democracy is instituted and sustained by the dissolution of the markers of certainty. It inaugurates a history in which people experience a fundamental indeterminacy as to the basis of power, law and knowledge, and as to the basis of relations between self and other.” -Claude Lefort
The sonic environments I have constructed are a product of an interest about what sound performs and represents. These pieces contain repeating, complex sonic structures. I view them as process-actions, where sound unfolds not as a predefined narrative, but as the direct perception of the momentary interchange of sound and listener. This can be quite unlike the traditional method of sonic production, where the composer denotes narrative structure with exposition, climax and resolution. The interaction of the listener’s intellect to the complex, abstract and repetitive timbres of these sounds contain an inherent indeterminacy. This indeterminacy, complexity and non-hierarchical structure relies on a democratic approach to sound production. The elaborate milieu of sonic material creates the potential for the listener to “move about” the complex listening environment during the perceptive act. I also find abstract and "electronic" sounds interesting. I like the (science) fictional quality of sounds that weigh heavily on a palette of blips and beeps and other abstract, noisy timbres.
LOST SONIC WORLDS
Meanings are construed with the perception of sound. Just as there are different theories for a given dataset and content may support multiple narratives in a complex hybrid media project, there is always information to gather from our mediation of the sonic experience. This includes incidence like the communications of living systems or cues to location, proximity and environment. Speech communicates, reverberations tell us about the size of the space we are in, etc. We use this information to help us survive and prosper in space and time. Conception is often intentionally modulated within sonic production, as in a conversation or a modem. What is our perception of sound after we have lost the key to decipher meaning? Some of this work is an attempt to create a portrait of language, mapping or other sonic means of information transference and representation that has lost its meaning for us. As more and more languages become extinct and as corporate produced culture infiltrates and replaces indigenous, spontaneous, non-dollar centered culture, we may be left with recordings of these sounds as artifacts. What is the archaeology of sonic information? What is our experience of these sound “shells,” artifacts or speech that has lost its communicative meaning? How will we derive meaning from this loss?
SOUND IS FREE
Art commerce and institutions have discovered that sound is art.
Artists, such as composers, have known for years that the perception of sound is a creative endeavor, and long before film and video, sonic media was expressed in both space and time. Sound has a special relationship to both our experience of time, as well as how we perceive the environments we inhabit. What is interesting about sound is that is free of much of the baggage of vision. Yes, music has its own engine of issues. We still have painting, we have the figure, but the intrusiveness and complexity of sound that envelops us could lead us to an appreciation and analysis of the sensation and perception of sound. We only need imagine a busy urban environment or a sprawling horizontal suburb and the sounds in ever shrinking nonhuman wilderness in order to get a sense of the primal essence of sonic space.
Sound is always site specific and always architectural as it requires a medium (matter) to transmit the vibrations. Usually fluctuations in air pressure are how we hear sound waves, although we know that sound can happen under water, through walls, etc., and as long as there is a vibrating source and a media through which these vibrations can travel, there will be sound, regardless of whether one is listening. The sound that reaches our ears is a combination of direct sound from the emitter and reflected sound from the environment. Like a fingerprint, all spaces have their own interaction with sound, reflecting and absorbing sound’s changing air pressure waves. Even temperature and humidity influence sound waves. Just like light, our world is bathed in sound.
SOUND IS FOUND
Sound is free. Here is a recipe…
Get a box. Go through your home; your kitchen, basement and trash will do. Assemble items in this box that make interesting, rich, complex, sonorous, pitched, noisy, etc. sounds. This assemblage is your toolkit. You can modify it at will. Add a box of corn starch, a rubber chicken and some cabbage, grab some friends and you can re-perform your own Foley for your favorite media. Use your computer and Audacity to record sounds from the box, even your body and vocalizations, then manipulate them, edit them and create your own sound effects library.
Yes, this is the freedom of play. Get together with some friends who have open minds and do fun things with sound. You can grow your talents, share them and influence people. Sound is happening all the time. There is no need for music. We may need people like John Cage to remind us of the constant of sound. We may need Varese to teach us the music is “organized sound,” or Pauline Oliveros to teach us the depth of listening, “
Sound is open source. Here is a recipe…
Create your own digital audio instruments.
Download Pure Data
Pure Data is free/open source software for sound synthesis/sampling, as well as graphics and video. PD is a powerful multimedia tool that can be used in performance, installation or to just create playful experiments. Here is a wonderful tutorial for PD from Floss Manuals.
HACKING, BENDING, MODDING, GLITCHING
Creativity is is a process of intent and accident.
Often a brief fault in a system produces something other than what it is supposed to. These artifacts are then incorporated into another process, a process not of the original intent of the system’s producer. This moment is often called a “glitch,” from the German verb “to slip.” Such intentionally reproduced errors are used to create something new. These faults, errors, hacks, noises, mods and glitches occur in both electronics, hardware and in software. For example, circuit bending is the practice of short-circuiting DC circuits, often from toys or radios, in order to produce sound instruments for performance. Some artists even explore circuit-bending hardware from retro game consoles in order to produce glitchy audio-visual instruments. The practice is similar in software like games, where users spend time searching for glitches or programming bugs in the system in order to benefit game play or for creative purposes, such as creating glitchy images, sound art or machinima.
The practice of incorporating these intentional errors into individual practice is a subversive form of personalized media. Some gamers spend more time exploring how to deconstruct a system, than they do actually using it for the purpose it was created. This can be a very practical form of hacking, where the goal is not only to infiltrate the system, to produce an environment, a tool or product for a particular purpose, but also for the experience, freedom and autonomy. Glitches, hacks, mods, etc., relate to creativity in that they utilized accidents and intents that exploit anomalies in a system in order to benefit the user in a kind of pioneering act. Such practices represents innovative work in a new frontier, one that splits off and fragments freeform methods of media making.
DIY Electronics are fun. Here is another recipe...
Create your own electronic instruments. Get a battery powered toy with a sample chip or a radio and short circuit it in order to make interesting sounds. Start learning electronics and build your own synthesizer.
All About Circuits
You can use your Box of Sounds, your sample library, bent instrument and/or your PD patches to perform your own live sound shows. The audience can participate and interact in these environments. You can upload content to the web and share it.
Sound has always been art and it does not require much of you. Think of all the things you can do with such freedom!