douglas at music.columbia.edu
Thu Apr 7 15:17:34 BST 2011
I'm teaching a couple classes in Berlin this spring/summer, one called
Feedback and one called Transduction. It occurs to me that they're both
related to Phil's recent call for non-software-based generative art and
the sonification thread. Descriptions below if you're in Berlin and
looking for things to do this spring! (I'll ask you all for feedback
suggestions in another email.)
One question I like to ask about sonification/visualization projects is
whether they're actually sensitive to the _content_ of their inputs.
I think of things like iTunes visualizers as basically tuned filters --
it really doesn't matter what you feed into them, they're going to ring
as long as there's some energy in the appropriate part of the spectrum
(literally or metaphorically). You can't undo a filter -- you lose
information when a signal goes through it, and lots of different signals
can cause the same or very similar outputs. The effect of the filter's
parameters overwhelms the content of the signal.
So what's the alternative? One problem with systems that are sensitive
to the content of their inputs is that they're a LOT harder to create.
The more tweaking you do to your system to make it sensitive to the
content of particular inputs, the closer you get to a more traditional
notion of composition. I think that in many ways tone poems were vaguely
generative examples of this
(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Symphonic_poem) -- one particular painting
or poem or ? generates one particular musical work.
The contemporary work that I find most interesting tends to be somewhere
between these two extremes. Somehow generative and "live", but at the
same time not simply a filter. Messa di Voce is a lovely example:
(Berlin classes below)
This class will examine the physical, electrical, and conceptual aspects
of feedback that are at the core of many mechanical and algorithmic
music/art-making systems. It is a very hands-on, process-based course,
and we will build physical, electrical, and virtual feedback systems,
play and invent feedback games, and create artworks that use feedback as
an organizing principal.
In this class we will treat sound as an intermediary, translating back
and forth between text/image/motion/thought and sound. We will explore
the practice and pitfalls of mapping information from one domain to
another, and will approach current trends in data visualization and
sonification with skeptical eyes and ears. This will be a largely
code-based class, and students will learn basic techniques for the
collection, analysis, mapping, and synthesis of data in a variety of
media and formats.
>> To add a critical voice, Sarah Angliss offers some insight into data
>> 'No, no, no. Generative spam is more markov-based.'
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