Mirror Sound/Sound Mirroring 3

Posted in Sound Art, Theory, Transmedia Research by tpdr on December 26, 2009

‘Transparent Sound’

As I said before it still seems that ‘transparent sound’ would be ‘silence’. The volume in dB would then be the indicator for the degree of ‘transparency’. Nevertheless this seems a bit too simple?

If we see noise(containing all frequencies) as the most physical sound, containing the most matter, the most filtered noise would be ‘transparent sound’. If compared to a ‘normal physical transparent object’, we say that there is matter present but in a way/material that allows us to see thru it. If a material is completely transparent, like lets say a normal clean glass window without any scratches, there is matter, we know there is glass but we could as well ignore it as we can look thru as if it were not there. Glass, in itself, can be so transparent that we don’t see it anymore (if for example the borders are hidden in a way that they don’t disrupt/interrupt the illusion). Taking this into account and talking about what could be ‘transparent sound’, we would have to say that there should be a source of sound waves but that the sound waves should be (almost) imperceptible. this leads us then to the ultrasonic and infrasound sounds. Transparent sounds would therefore be sounds/frequencies above 20 000 Hz(as we get older this barrier might drop to 15 000 Hz and 10 000 Hz) and below 20 Hz.

Note: Dogs and bats can hear well over 20000 Hz. This range is referred to as ultrasonic. In contrast to this is the infrasound range, which is lower than the bottom of the audible threshold – i.e., between 0 and 20 Hz. This range is perceived by us as rhythm. The infrasound therefore could be more interesting as there is still something perceived even though we don’t define it as sound but rhythm. An interesting thing to think a bit more about.

‘Mirror Sound’

When thinking about ‘mirror sound’, two aspects should be taken into consideration.

1) A reverb could be seen as reflected sound. When talking into a microphone and getting this sound back through monitors (maybe with an almost imperceptible delay) could feel like a ‘mirror’. Working with the panning of the sound this could add to the effect.

2) Simply mirroring a sound sample, inverting it/playing a sound back in reverse, could also be a ‘mirror sound’.

Because if we analyse what happens when looking into a mirror, we see a reflection of our image but this image is also ‘mirrored’/reversed. Therefore the combination of reflecting sound and reversing it at the same time would be ‘mirror sound’.

When taking this further one could add a few parameters such as distance and the shape of the ‘mirror’. For example hollow mirrors enlarge the image you see while rounded mirrors make the reflected image smaller and enlarge the visual range (show more of the environment). Again adding some variety in volume, band width, using low-cut filters, etc. could make this experiment/thinking more interesting.

Hopefully I can do some experiments soon to try out both ways of looking at it, first separately and then try to combine them and afterwards start experimenting with some additional parameters, filters, etc.

Mirror sound/Sound mirror – 2

Posted in quotes and advices, Sound Art, Theory, Transmedia Research by tpdr on December 26, 2009

Reflecting a bit more on this topic and while doing some tutorials learning about music/sound and Pure Data, I had an interesting thought about ‘noise'(well for me it was interesting because thinking about sound is quiet new for me…maybe for the more specialized people when it comes to music this is a quiet dull post…).

Apparently Claude Debussy composed as follows: ‘I take all the chords and leave out those I don’t like…’ You could say that he thus, when we make a parallel with digital sound, he would have taken ‘noise’ and filtered out all the frequencies he didn’t like. This was exactly the way I was thinking about starting to work with sound for 2 reasons.

1) If you take a look at my video of my first experiment with light and sound and the see-thru-mirror foil, it has a sort of filtering aspect.

2) My interest for mapping and cartography take  into account, filtering is something I constantely have to do (even as a ‘regular’ graphic designer). Especially doing mapping and creating any kind of map (even a personal/subjective map) is actually try to filter out all the information/data one doesn’t need in relation to the theme of the map or the needs of the creator (if one is creating his/her own map).

For these two reasons starting from ‘noise’ and try to filter out certain frequencies would make working with sound more intuitive, natural, … especially since I am making a certain shift now coming from a more visually oriented background.

Then again this doesn’t solve my question yet when thinking about the auditive equivalent of mirroring and transparency. If we start again from ‘noise’ we could say as it contains all possible frequencies, it is actually very similar to white light. So if we would take this to the level of transparent objects, these would not change the light so much except maybe for ‘breaking’ the waves up revealing the full spectrum, like a prism. Corresponding to this on a sonic level we could say a transparent object, filter would let all frequencies pass through, resulting in noise in front of and behind the object (an ‘audio prism’ would then be an object that would break up the noise into all frequencies in a way that these are revealed/separated). A ‘transparent object’ when talking about sound wouldn’t necessarily need to be a ‘visually transparent object’. A simple example would be to say that some kind of textile that doens’t let any light/visual data pass could very well let all the noise pass through while a very thick glass window could be visually transparent but block all sounds at the same time. (Here we could also discuss the fact that sounds can auditively connect spaces which are visually separated and certain materials can keep a visual connection between spaces intact while separating them on the auditive level. But that might be all discussed in a following post.).

Similar to this we could say the same thing for reflecting light(visual data) and sounds(audio data). Some surfaces will reflect light, others will reflect sound waves. Some materials will reflect both light and sound, some only one of these two.

Discussing objects to be transparent/reflectors or not on the visual and the sonic level, is interesting and will probably be useful too, but it doesn’t yet help to define ‘transparent sound’ or ‘mirror sound’ in an interesting way yet. Lets keep this for a 3rd post.

Blueprint – Hans Demeulenaere & Esther Venrooy

Posted in Sound Art, Transmedia Research by tpdr on December 24, 2009

This project took place in Ostend (Belgium) starting from 28 March till 5 May 2009.

According to Hans Demeulenaere and Esther Venrooy, all architecture
is alive. Taking this as their starting point, the artists built a site-specific
installation in a grand, vacant belle-époque-era mansion in Ostend,
Belgium. The architectural and acoustic qualities of the house were
analysed with the purpose of being reconstructed and transposed to
spaces across the building. Through their collaboration Demeulenaere
and Venrooy attempt to reconcile architecture and sound in a suggestive
and poetic manner, whereby memory of and movement through the
space will dictate the subjective, physical and mental experience of
this unique house.

Hans Demeulenaere (1974, Ostend) is a visual and installation artist.
His work has been featured in Be-Part (2006, Waregem) and BUDAFest
(2007, Kortrijk).

Esther Venrooy (1974, Rosmalen, The Netherlands) is a composer
and sound artist working in the field of electronic music.

(text source If you are interested you can also have a look at this pdf)

What I found interesting is that I also came to the same conclusion that all architecture is alive. Even though I came to this thought under the influence of reading about Toshiya Tsunoda, a quote from Georges Perec one can read in the pdf was equally inspiring especially since I like questions that can not be solved by chewing bubblegum. Perec’s quote ends with ‘The problem is not to invent space, and certainly not to re-invent it … the problem is to question space, or even more simply, to read space’. … I would already add ‘…let space trigger you’…but this would take me to far from the actual subject.

What I wanted to add is that Esther Venrooy has started a PhD with the subject Audio Topography and is especially interested in the sculptural/physical value of sound. Being interested in cartography, mapping, … she had me at ‘Topography’ but connecting it to ‘Audio’ or sound…that was really making things interesting as I decided not so long ago to pay more attention to sound when working on my own research in creating some sort of personal/subjective spatial map.

Another interesting riddle by Georges Perec, taken from the pdf mentioned before to end this post maybe? …‘If, in a given room, one changes the placement of the bed, could you then say that you have changed rooms or not?’

Toshiya Tsunoda

Posted in MediaArt, Sound Art, Transmedia Research by tpdr on December 16, 2009

Long time since I made a post here, but that is also because I have been looking for inspiring artists and works. Since a few months I have been focussing on reading about architecture and sound. Doing this I got interested in Japanese sound artist Toshiya Tsunoda. His technique to do field recordings using contact microphones to capture the vibrations in different materials that are present at a certain location (or should I say in a certain ‘field’), captured my attention. Especially the fact that he focusses on these environmental vibrations points out that our environment is constantly in motion, it is alive. Also buildings can suddenly be thought of as ‘living things'(e.g. in 2000 at the ICC in Tokyo people could listen to the walls, to see pics and read more click here).

To hear some samples of one of his albums Solid Vibration click here. Inspired by his work I started thinking more about vibrations and the fact that even all we believe is immobile, our environments are in constant motion. Of course in some cases it is quiet clear that they are in motion, evolving, in flow, etc. But this is not always the case. Thinking about this I started wondering whether this could be somehow combined with my passion for mapping and cartography, taking into account that I have been working on a subjective mapping project in the past that was all about setting up a dynamic, personal/subjective map.