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Sunday
Jun162013

Murmur

“Talking to walls” is the tagline for Murmur, a video and sound installation which translates sound waves into visuals. The audience can talk into the Murmur ‘echo chamber’, and a direct visible interaction with the visuals on the walls becomes apparent. The visitor’s murmurations become visible. 

Murmur was created by a multidisciplinary group of French artists. It’s an interesting experiment, exploring visualization of sound interactively. What the direct relationship between the spoken words and the resulting visuals are remains a mistery though.

Wednesday
May292013

329 prepared dc-motors in a toluene tank

Zimoun has done it again. His installations seem to get bigger and bigger, and all based around the same principle: many small prepared dc-motors spinning endlessly like a flock of insects. This time in the form of 329 prepared dc-motors, cotton balls, toluene tank.

The sound installation is designed very clean and well. The lack of visual disturbances such as cables enhance the feeling of autonomy of these things. The tank, located in Dottikon, Switzerland, melts the gentle knocking into a cloud of sound, like rain on the roof of a tent. 

The tank from the outside. Nothing seems abnormal here.

Also read Zimoun’s answers to the ‘five sound questions’ I asked him three years ago, back in 2010. See his website to read more about his projects. 

Monday
May272013

Trinity

An audiovisual interactive dance piece from Electronic Perfomers. We’ve seen some of their work before, and Trinity explores the sonification and visualization of movement further, in a refined, beautiful way. 

What I love most about this is the way dance, sound and visuals come together and interact, with the dancer’s body as leading force. And while we know a lot of technology is needed to accomplish this, the result is clean, alive and organic, as you can see in this short video of the piece: 

Saturday
May182013

Music for Forgotten Places

Wandering around a city we might encounter these forgotten places - a vacant lot, an old ruin, a building no one lives in anymore. These spots always fascinate me, make me fantasize about their history and former inhabitants. Inspired by their mystique, Oliver Blank composed pieces of music for them - Music for Forgotten Places. 

Visitors and residents can call a phone number found on a sign at the forgotten place they pass, and listen to its music. A mindful moment in a busy city. The project is created in Coruña, Spain, but Oliver will visit cities across the world to discover and compose for their forgotten places as well. 

Find out more and listen to a piece of music at musicforforgottenplaces.com.

Tuesday
Apr022013

3845 m/s

Korinsky Studio consists of Abel, Carlo and Max Korinsky. They mainly focus on their shared passion: exploring the possibilities of using sound in vertical surfaces. 3845 m/s is their newest installation using their own software, in a former coal power plant in Berlin. See the Korinsky Studio website for more information about their work. 

Thursday
Mar282013

Volumen Sintetico

We all know those white earphones can get pretty loud. And when they do, many times it’s not just the listener who enjoys the music, it’s the whole bus or train. So why not make use of this and create a piece of sound art made with 1629 of them? It’s called Volumen Sintetico and it’s created by Chilean artist Ariel Bustamante.

The earphones are embedded in a 180 cm wooden ‘antenna’. Its parabolic form creates a sonic hotspot right in front of the installation, and the composition played in the movie below is created using abstract sounds, designed to make use of the rooms’ resonant features. Volumen Sintetico deliberately translates personal audio to the public space. 

Wednesday
Mar202013

Orchestra Da Camera

We’ve seen work of the Quiet Ensemble before. Now I don’t like the use of animals in art installations, but the mice in Orchestra Da Camera seem to have quite some space, and while they run around they can play a lullaby by Brahms, Schubert or Mozart. 

Visit the Quiet Ensemble website to have a look at more of their work. 

Saturday
Feb022013

DrumTime & the perfect metronome sound

Most sound designers probably won’t get very excited when they’re asked to create a metronome sound. No sticking microphones onto fancy cars to record their roaring engines, no impressive out-of-this-world explosions. But I guarantee you, that metronome sound will reach the listeners ears many times more than those sound effects! After I started selling minimalist ringtones over 1.5 year  ago, I started focusing my sound design on simplicity and effectiveness. From that perspective, creating the perfect metronome sound for the newly released app DrumTime offers a nice challenge. 

DrumTime is a Mac App created by Siemen and Felix of badRabbit, a small startup located in Amsterdam. It connects to MIDI enabled percussion devices (electronic drum kits, drum modules), analyzes a drummer’s input and gives visual cues about the timing. The metronome is flexible - it can be set to every beat, or less if the drummer is getting more confident and needs less guidance. 

The design of a metronome sound to be used with drums only comes with a few requirements to keep in mind: 

  • There should be the least interference with the sound of the drums as possible. The sound should not get masked by whatever the drummer is playing;
  • This means a broad spectrum has to be present in the sound - a drum kit covers a large part of the sonic spectrum and its sounds contain a fair amount of noise;
  • That said, the sound should still be pleasant to listen to during an extended practice session. So it’s all about finding the right balance between loud, clear and present on one hand and subtle and pleasant on the other;
  • There should also be a clearly distinguishable tone in the sound, so the first beat can be indicated with a higher pitch. This might not sound like a problem, but while focusing on the other requirements it is easy to forget about the tonal aspect of it. 

With this in mind I started working on some examples which could be tested in the app. After a pre-selection three sounds were chosen, of which finally one proved to work best during ‘field trials’ with drummers. I received feedback like “good frequency spread but muffled, it lacks tone. Hurts a bit when played loudly”, or “during the sound the glass tone sweeps down a bit, it sounds wacky to us”. After some more testing it was the wacky one which got revised and made it to the app. You can get an impression of it in the introductory video below, and you can read more about the app on the DrumTime website.

Wednesday
Jan302013

FS/Partial

Teaching Music Technology brings back additive synthesis, year by year. For some students the concept of every harmonic sound being a multitude of frequencies is hard to grasp. Visualizing it is always a good way of crarifying things. FS/Partial would come in handy during those lessons. 

FS/Partial is an instrument created by Dogo Tudela and is meant as a visual way to perform additive synthesis in live contexts. Eight partials can be controlled by the user, by pushing the columns up and down, increasing and decreasing the volume of the sine waves:

Saturday
Jan122013

SPINE

It’s like the building comes alive, it moves and shivers and moans. This is caused by SPINE, and interactive installation consisting of twenty glowing cubes which move around in fluid motions. The sounds you hear, as well as the movement of the cubes, is influenced by visitors who come nearby. 

SPINE was created by Kollision, a Danish ‘design office’, and was displayed during the Media Architecture Biennale 2012 in Aarhus, Denmark.