r _Web.log

tag: installation


Living Symphonies

A new year always seems like an appropriate time to push new projects out into the bright lights of the world. So, after almost a year of R&D, I'm very happy to be able to announce a major new work that will be occupying much of my 2014.

Living Symphonies is the latest collaborative work by Jones/Bulley. It is a sound installation based on the dynamics of a forest ecosystem, growing, adapting and flourishing in the same way as a real forest's flora and fauna. Modelling the real-world behaviours of over 50 different species, it will be installed in a series of English forests over the course of summer 2014, adapting to the inhabitants and live atmospheric conditions of each site.

In the heritage of Variable 4, it will be heard as a multi-channel musical composition of indefinite duration, with precomposed and generative elements intertwined through a web of algorithmic processes. Here, however, the dynamic model underlying the composition is quite beyond anything we've done before. It is based upon a simulation developed in conjunction with Forestry Commission ecologists, extending models produced as part of my evolutionary dynamics PhD work. And because each forest has a drastically different ecological makeup, the resultant composition will sound completely unique at each location — site-specific by its very nature.

We are in the process of mapping out the precise ecological makeup of a bounded (30x20m) area of each forest, charting its wildlife inhabitants with a 1m˛ resolution. This map is then used to seed an agent-based simulation, which links each species to behavioural and musical properties, spatialised across a network of weatherproof speakers embedded throughout the canopy and forest floor.

We'll next be dedicating a great deal of studio time to recording thousands of musical fragments, with orchestral musicians playing short motifs corresponding to particular kinds of ecological processes. These will then be processed by the compositional system and linked to the ecological model's current state, supported by further generative processes to create live interactions between each musical element.

Thetford Forest

In September, we carried out a successful outdoor prototype of the project in East Anglia's Thetford Forest. Though still in its embryonic stages, it was pretty enthralling to hear these sonic organisms roving amongst the undergrowth.

Supported by Sound And Music and Forestry Commission England, and with the support of an Arts Council Strategic Touring grant, Living Symphonies will be touring four different forests between May and September 2014:

Thetford Forest (Norfolk/Suffolk), 24 — 30 May 2014
Fineshade Wood (Northamptonshire), 20 — 26 June 2014
Cannock Chase (Staffordshire), 26 July — 1 August 2014
Bedgebury Pinetum (Kent/Sussex), 25 — 31 August 2014

Much more news will be available on the forthcoming Living Symphonies website, launching imminently.

Radio Reconstructions (2013) at LimeWharf

An extended version of Radio Reconstructions is installed at new art/science space LimeWharf over the next six weeks. It's the first in a series of temporary residencies hosted there, and resonates nicely with their general ethos:

LimeWharf is an evolving project that aspires to immerse guests and practitioners alike in thematic journeys. The core values of our programming are centred around building a positive relationship to the future, connecting the old and the new, meshing crafts with technology all in a non-market driven process-led series of experiments...

It's been a good opportunity to reflect on how the piece links together the history and nostalgia of analogue radio with the futurist technology of digitally-controlled tuners and algorithmic analysis. I expect that when the Mac Mini controlling the installation has gasped its last bits, the venerable radios distributing the audio will be still going strong.

Radio Reconstructions at LimeWharf

It has also given us the opportunity to think about the separation between the physical apparatus of the installation, and the sound that is heard through it.

We have started considering the installation itself to be akin to a semi-autonomous instrument, which has a particular space of timbres and behaviours associated with it -- in this case, the space of locally-receivable radio broadcasts, and the capability to record, arrange and analyse those broadcasts into pitched fragments.

We can then compose scores for the piece which determine the dynamics of these behaviours over time. Here, we are scoring for grain amplitude, duration and diffusion, and two EQ parameters.

Separating score from instrument means that we can write multiple distinct scores for the installation, exploring different capacities and approaches. We have composed two new 30-minute scores for Radio Reconstructions, which are designed to be played at specific times and capitalise on the fact that we know in advance what is scheduled on major FM stations -- so, we can navigate between programmes with an awareness of the kind of content that will be played, juxtaposing talk radio chatter with distant shortwave broadcasts with local Citizens Band static...

Both of these scores will be broadcast on art radio station Resonance FM. Listen in on their website at 8pm on Tuesday 12 March and Tuesday 19th March.

Maelstrom at FutureEverything

The third iteration of sound installation Maelstrom (James Bulley and Daniel Jones, 2012) can be found from now until June 10th at FutureEverything 2012, in the incredible 175-year-old surrounds of Manchester's Museum of Science and Industry.

Maelstrom at FutureEverything

It generates a continuous piece of music purely using audio fragments taken from YouTube and other media-sharing websites, using new material that is constantly being downloaded, fragmented and categorised based on tonal attributes.

The consequence is that it is an extraordinarily strange system to compose for: we score the dynamics, pitch and spatialisation sequences, but the timbral properties of the sound are constantly shifting beneath us. Each repeat of the same section may thus be radically different, rendering it an ever-changing, amorphous hyper-instrument.

Maelstrom at FutureEverything

The whole of the FutureEverybody exhibition revolves around ideas of collective action and participatory technologies, with many other great works. Ollie Palmer's Ant Ballet draws on ideas from cybernetics and self-organised behaviour to create a multimedia showcase of his experiments with artificial pheromones to influence the movements of real ants, symbolically conducted by a robotic arm.

Jeremy Hutchison's Extra! Extra! elevates Facebook wall postings into analogical headlines, using sandwich billboards from the Manchester Evening News. It's one of those pieces where the actual visual impact is quite different to how it sounds on paper, highlighting the different modes that our mind places itself in when absorbing information from different contexts. The absurd ring of importance that the piece gives to the utterly banal ("Emma Russell: Having An Okay Day").

Visualisation is one of those tricky areas where it's easy to fetishise the beautiful over that which gives real insight, but Stefaner, Taraborelli and Ciampaglia's Notabilia is one of the more . In general, the curation of the exhibition (by Glaswegian Deborah Kell) is top-class, avoiding the typical trappings when staging a show that's firmly tech-centred and focusing on works that are asking significant and engaging questions, resonating deeply with Manchester's history of decentralised growth and social sprawl.

Ordering #1 (Sans/Soleil) at M∴M∴M∴, Apiary Studios

From next week till mid July, I'll be showing some new work as part of M∴M∴M∴, over at Hackney's Apiary Studios.

Ordering #1 (Sans/Soleil) is a reworking of Chris Marker’s "Sans Soleil" (1983) in which the film’s frames are sorted in order of luminosity and projected as a loop. It cycles from the black frames of its opening to those of maximal brightness, and again in reverse.

More information: M∴M∴M∴

gridlife.1

K http://www.theoburt.com/index.php?page=gridlife1

Theo Burt's gridlife is an audiovisual hardware installation based on cellular automata, developed solely using open-source technologies. CA artworks are not a new concept (likewise for swarm models), but, for a digital grid of deterministically pulsing lights, it possesses a great deal of warmth.

It also makes interesting use of the perspectival listener to generate time-delayed microrhythms, evident in the creepy-crawly sounds towards the end of gridlife_audio_extracts.mp3. The subtly-phasing quantization effect suggests an insectoid mutation of Steve Reich.