With a little delay, I finally managed to get my hands on some 2.4SINK Sensors by Instruments of Things. Two of them to be more exact, together with one receiver, the 2.4SINK Eurorack Module. Other than the SOMI series that is to be released this summer, the 2.4SINK kit natively only works with control voltages (CVs), to be used in a modular setup (or literally any setup that works). The kit that my university kindly provided, which is currently standing on my desk, sits in a Doepfer casing, where it is connected to a power supply and an Expert Sleepers ES-8 USB audio interface. Furthermore there is an input expansion module on this rack, the Expert Sleepers ES-6, increasing the interface inputs from just four to ten.
Now that the semester is coming to an end, there is finally a little bit of time to reflect upon what has happened in the last four months. And talking specifically about this project, it has come quite some way. In the past weeks I have finalized my exposé (which you can view and download below), worked more on the vision I have, laid out some basic design context and presented it to various people. I will keep this blog entry rather short and just touch upon some of the next steps.
I have been talking about wristbands in most of my recent blog entries and even mentioned that there is an own entry to come, dedicated to the wristbands. Well, here it is- the wristband post.
The choice of wristbands might seem like a small choice, but it actually had quite an impact on the conceptual design progress. To recap – the wristbands are supposed to measure motion data, which is most easily done by accelerometers and gyro sensors. And they should send this data with low latency (so basically in real time) to any module that can be interfaced with a computer.
Since I rely a lot on self-recorded samples, I wanted to use this opportunity to re-sample my cajon (a Schlagwerk CP-4011). Cajons seem to be rarely used in a sampled manner, since they mostly give the benefit of transportability compared to a drum set. However, I really like the intimate sound, which makes it a great add-on in projects that require a special non-commercial percussive touch. The outcome should be an extensive sample library that I can make into a digital instrument, which creates an intimate and acoustic vibe that makes musical pieces sound more like recordings than just samples in a sequencer.
It was difficult to find a reference track that captures what I wanted my samples to sound like, since different cajons, like most other musical instruments can sound extremely differently. Additionally, compared to other instruments, there is only a small amount of material available on the internet. However, in the following video, I like the vibe and how full the cajon’s bass sounds while still providing a very crisp upper end of the spectrum.
During my research about reference works that I discussed in my last post (Reference Works 1) already, I also specifically looked for published articles in scientific journals. While I did not stumble over an installation that I would deem very closely related to mine, I found various aspects that bear great similarities to what I imagine The Emotional Space to be built upon. In the following text, I will touch upon four projects that were published in scientific journals that I chose as reference works for my installation.
Most often, [interactive art installations] are works that explore social, political, and experiential boundaries of digital interfaces. They manage to break tradition, ask new questions, and explore new venues.Nam & Nitsche (2014, p.189)
While for my Walking Soundscape concept (that I wrote about here) it was almost too easy to find existing reference works, now for my Emotional Space sound installation, this proves to be quite the challenge. But to draw inspiration and build upon knowledge from previous works of other people is such a valuable asset that this step should clearly not fall short. I managed to gather a collection of reference works that I affiliate with different aspects of what I want The Emotional Space to become. While in this post I will focus on installations that I found through various resources, I will dedicate my next post to the same topic, but present the findings that were approached in a more scientific way and got a paper published about them. (This categorization is purely made for reading convenience and does definitely not aim to assert that any of the works below are unscientific).
[…] an arrangement is created in which visitors take on an active influence. Rhythm and variance, like in music, are essential components of the installation […]ZKM NEWSROOM about “resonate”
It is a very compelling idea to me to create something generative and non-deterministic, that makes subjective experiences even more unique. And while there does not need to be a reason for that, I still started wondering why that is. What is it that interests me in this? Is it maybe the feeling of creating something alive and dynamic? Or is it the sense of cooperation with other things and beings? Or maybe it is just a spark of artistic insecurity that manifests in the urge to not have total control over ones creations? It could also be the desire to bring some randomness into a never truly non-stochastic, digital world. But most probably, it is a bit of all of those, and more.
These questions might say more about myself than about my vision for the installation, but that is where I think I need to start. I assume that an artistic vision is the reason why an artist creates something, which makes it extremely personal and will therefore in many cases never be known to the public. However, my current study program is called Sound Design and the discipline of design implies a thoughtful intention for creations. Additionally, my project is developed in an academic environment, which calls for an approach that is grounded in research. While this does indeed sound a little bit constraining, I do not think it is necessarily contradicting or even too confining. In the next paragraphs I will lay out what drives me to create The Emotional Space and conclude with what I expect from it.
I already painted a metaphorical picture of how I imagine my currently merely conceptual installation from a visitors perspective in The Emotional Space | #4. This time, before diving into technical details, I will provide a more straight forward view of what I want The Emotional Space to look like and the necessities to make it work.
Essentially, I want to create an audio-visual installation, which requires its own room. As an entrance, I would rather have a thick curtain instead of a door, because a door, in my opinion, seems a lot less inviting to visitors, especially if sound can be heard on the other side of it. Entering the room should only be possible after putting on a wristband, which is handed out right in front of the room.
In this blog post I will share my thoughts to an interesting paper published at the 2021 NIME (New Interfaces for Musical Expression) conference. The paper carries the title Living Sounds: Live Nature Sound as Online Performance Space and was written by Gershon Dublon and Xin Liu.
One of the remarkable aspects of the experience was that small, otherwise inconsequential events, such as a bumblebee flying around a microphone, could bring distant, isolated listeners together in the continuously unfolding story.(Dublon & Liu, 2021)
Living Sounds describes itself as “an internet radio station and online venue hosted by nature” (Dublon & Liu, 2021). It essentially streams the sound of microphones that are installed in a wetland wildlife sanctuary around the clock on the homepage livingsounds.earth. Furthermore, the project regularly invites artists to perform on the stream, using the live sound from the microphones via a self-built online interface which provides the artists with the raw multichannel audio stream to work with.
With my newly revised concept, I finally felt the kind of enthusiasm that I was missing for my other three ideas. I now feel like I created the outlines of a new kind of playground that I can freely shape to my liking. In the following lines I will try to paint a picture of my vision from a visitors perspective of what I now call The Emotional Space.
Your experience starts in front of a door, or maybe just a very thick curtain hiding a door opening. You might hear the tame roaring of a subwoofer from the other side of it. Before you enter, you follow the friendly instructions and put one of the provided wristbands on. Not knowing what will wait for you behind the heavy curtain, you carefully pull it aside and squeeze by it into the room. You are immediately greeted by a dreamy light composition and an immersive and calm soundscape, creating a cozy atmosphere. You realize that there is nobody else in the room yet, which makes you feel at ease – a nice chance to explore the space by yourself. The room is not too big, you could probably fit around ten people in here comfortably. There are some cushioned furniture elements standing around, melting into the light composition, looking like design elements, but inviting to sit or lie on them at the same time. The sounds and lights are coming from all directions – there is no obvious front or back of the room and the curtain has vanished into the wall again.