Second Prize and Featured Lecture at Bourges

MusInfo’s Art & Science Days will include a new work of mine, commissioned as a result of wining Second Prize in the Concours de Bourges. They also asked me to give the featured lecture on relationships between art amd science. I’m looking forward to visiting MusInfo and meeting violinist Emma Lloyd (Scotland/Paris), who will premiere my new work, in Bourges, France!

Sobre a eletrodinâmica dos corpos de trabalho

Inspired by Einstein’s paper introducing the special theory of relativity titled “On the Electrodynamics of Moving Bodies,” “Sobre a eletrodinâmica dos corpos de trabalho” offers a time-distorted view of the concrete plant in Quarry Maljoga in Dade from the Viseu Rural archive (the only sound source). It portrays the work as it echoes off the landscape in compressed time, frozen time, and smeared timelines. It is a reflection on the efforts of man-made forces, the persistence of natural forces over time, and the interfaces between them.

Note: Visual and aural clarity is way better in the original than on YouTube, so remember to go to concerts!

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The Magic and the Angst of the Road Not Taken

This work explores the complexities of the macro-, micro-, and inner-worlds of a walk in the woods. On the largest scale, many people, animals, machines will cross this path over the centuries although today it seems like a new discovery awaiting you. On the smallest scale, delicate sounds of footsteps are seen as catastrophic disruptions of nature’s mise en place. On the inside, such a peaceful environment can allow the wildest range of thoughts to occur, exposing new opportunities, some exhilarating, some terrifying. It is composed using only sounds from walking in the woods near the Avenue of Beehives in Vila Dum Santo from the Viseu Rural archive.

Note: Visual and aural clarity is way better in the original than on YouTube, so remember to go to concerts! The complex audio in this one gets especially fuzzy on YouTube…

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Raveshift

The voice of the machine / How our devices party when we’re away: Listen to the wide variety of timbres, rhythm, and textures that come out of a simple feedback loop and ONLY a 1 second delay—no other processing besides acoustic effects of the room and moving bodies around the speakers.

Developed while in residency at the Atlantic Center for the Arts, at I-Park, and at the Atlantic Center for the Arts again. Premiered in four channels at the Sound and Music Computing conference (SMC) in Greater Helsinki, Finland.

Here’s a demo of the four-channel version:

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Fast Standing Still for the Airstream Building in Chicago

The classic Airstream trailer looks fast, even when it’s standing still. Architect Edward Noonan amplified this effect when he installed an Airstream trailer on the roof of the building at 1807 W. Sunnyside Ave., because he “didn’t want to haul an Airstream across the country to go do things.” (It’s officially named the Gentle Annie Stafford Pavilion and Conference Center.)

Only visible to passing trains, this stationary trailer embodies Noonan’s statement: you don’t have to go in order to do. To people sitting idly on the passing trains, they feel like the stationary ones, with the world—and the Airstream— slipping past them.

This piece gives florid flurries and jazzy lines to low instruments to reflect the juxtaposition of smooth lines and heavy materials in the Airstream. The electronic sounds are derived from audiovisual source recordings from the site. All sounds you hear are “carved” from the source recordings of trains passing the building, and melodic and harmonic contours are shaped by video material taken from the trains as they pass the trailer.

The culminating quirky jazzy tune is a transcription of the safety message heard on one of the trains. Its text harkens back to Noonan’s impulse to do something out of the ordinary, his stories of how it confused people and frustrated authorities, and ultimately allowed him to take the trailer where he really wanted to go. The message encourages you to “[be] observant of your surroundings” and “report any suspicious behavior or items,” with the key slogan, “If you see something, say something.” While on the surface it raises suspicion of anything nonconformist, you could also take as encouragement to watch for the quirks of life like the Airstream as you pass by, maybe go inside and follow where you mind wants to go, see what you see in your mind’s eye, and share it with the world.

Reference:
Kelly Kennedy, “An Airstream on a Roof?” Chicago Tribune, August 27, 2005, updated August 30, 2005, http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2005-08-27/news/0508270054_1_airstream-roof-train

 

The melody was taken from the recorded safety message played on the passing train: Continue reading

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Sound Design for Journey’s End

journey's endTexas A&M University hosted the  World War I conference, “1914 and the Making of the 20th Century” and as a part of it, the Theatre Arts program produced Journey’s End by R. C. Sheriff, directed by Anne Quackenbush. I directed some exciting developments in sound design for the show, which you can read about here: link.

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Sonic Glimpses Art Installation

Created for the grand opening of our new building at TAMU, built by students, and covered in World Architecture magazine.

Sonic Glimpses is a site specific interactive art installation to celebrate the grand opening of the five-story Liberal Arts: Arts and Humanities building on the prestigious East Quad on the main campus of Texas A&M University in College Station, The building was designed by Brown Reynolds Watford Architects to meet the criteria of the Leadership in Engineering and Environmental Design (LEED) silver rating. The opening gala was held April 19, 2013, and the installation remained on display through July 15, 2013.

The art installation was designed to turn a trip up the grand staircase into an audio tour of the research and creative work being done in the building. Sound clips are triggered by traffic on the staircase, sounding near the location of each passerby. Faculty and students in the building contributed clips of their own creative work or the literature they study. Students in the Department of Performance Studies recorded the sound clips, performed some of the voice-acting work, installed the hardware, assisted in calibrating the software settings, and created the video documentation of the project. Creators Jeff Morris and Autum Casey worked with the building proctor, Environmental Health and Safety department, and the Audiovisual Surveillance Technology committee to ensure the installation satisfied concerns of all stakeholders.

The heart of the installation is a secure rack with Apple Mac Mini computer inside, along with multichannel audio interface, amplifier, and rack-mounted keyboard, trackpad, and video display. The computer runs a custom software program created by Jeff Morris in the Max graphic programming environment (by Cycling74). The rack is connected to two analog video cameras for control input (connected to digitizers inside the rack) and six bare speaker cones for audio output.

For aesthetic reasons and also to satisfy Environmental Health and Safety officials, especially since the grand staircase is the primary emergency exit route for most building occupants, we took efforts to keep the hardware minimally invasive. Most notably, we used only two video cameras for motion detection, mounted overhead, instead of sensors mounted on the stairs, such as pressure sensors, infrared tripwires, or infrared or ultrasonic proximity sensors.

The cameras provide vastly more data than such local sensors. This allowed for complex variations in the control data, resulting in the appearance that the artwork responds with a human-like whimsical character, with varying moods. The software turns cameras into motion detectors through frame differencing: calculating the absolute difference between each frame and the next, pixel by pixel, and summing the absolute difference of each pixel to yield a single number corresponding to motion. Since the staircase runs along a large windowed wall, natural light, changing throughout the day and affected by weather, influenced the artwork’s responsiveness over time, and differently so for each color. Further, the color contrasts and patterns of visitors’ clothing, skin, and hair and the ways in which they move each trigger the sounds in unique ways.

Designed by: Jeff Morris and Autum Casey

On the occasion of the Liberal Arts: Arts and Humanities building grand opening April 19, 2013 through July 15, 2013

Content contributors: Jayson Beaster-Jones, Michael Collins, Jeffrey Davis, Rayna Dexter, Mariana Gariazzo, Amy Guerin, Emily McManus’s Music in World Cultures class, Britt Mize, Rohan Sinha, Nancy Warren, Jennifer Wollock, Jaeeun Yi, Costume shop student workers

Content recorded by: Marco Pisterzi, Trent Tate, Casey Gilbert, Priscilla Lopez, Katharine Hinson Installed by Jeff Morris’s Intermedia Performance class and Autum Casey’s New Technology for Designers

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