Sonification of Some Rooms / The Presence / Interfering Dimensions

Posted in Transmedia Research, Uncategorized by tpdr on May 29, 2010

A new work I have been working on is a box/cube with two mirror sides. On these two sides I project an animation which was based on a stroll through some (empty) rooms. While doing that I tested my computer aided version of human echolocation. This last thing means I walk around carrying a speaker which is emitting clicking sounds. These sounds are reflected back by silent objects, walls, windows, etc. thus providing echoic/accoustical information. This sound for me captures the sonic soul of the space. It is put inside the cube and the speakers make the mirrors on the side tremble, suggesting a presence inside the cube.

Projecting on the mirrors also means that the projection is reflected on white panels on the side. The mirros pull these reflections back in the cube creating an interference between different dimensions (1 of the perspective lines in the animation, 1 of the perspective lines in the mirror image and 1 physical dimension which is the cube, the table it is on, the panels around it, etc. You could see the cube as an object, however some might look at it as if it were a model. Both ways of looking at it are fine by me. (Picture below is not really showing the full effect.)

Sonification of Some Rooms / The Presence / Interfering Dimensions

Sonification of Some Rooms / The Presence / Interfering Dimensions


Testing possible presentations for the echolocation

Posted in Transmedia Research by tpdr on April 19, 2010

What I think I want to do is use the echo location recordings and exploit them as a possible way to suggest a certain presence in a space. I was thinking of combining the abstract sounds with more recognizable sounds such as doors, squeaking wood, etc. Since I was going to suggest a presence and I had been thinking about Kosuth’s chairs I thought why not…so I took a chair, recorded some sounds while giving it slight, gentle and a few harder pushes. I attached two very little cheap speakers(therefore also quiet poor sound but it was just a test so at this point I don’t care …) to the bottom of the seat and sent the recorded chair sounds through them.

speakers attached to bottom of a chair seat

speakers attached to bottom of a chair seat

Small, rather low sounds of the chair wobbling a bit, still worked o.k. At some point while watching it and listening to the sounds I sometimes even started to really doubt whether the chair really wobbled or not. The bigger sounds like the legs scratching the floor, didn’t work so well. Probably because the sounds sounded comming from the seat instead of the legs, which would be more logical. However getting tired of this disappointing result, I sat down on the chair with the sounds still going. Suddenly it all worked better. Why? Well because the sounds sounded like they came from under the chair, which made sense from my new perspective. Second thing was that the vibrations of the speakers started to feel similar to vibrations I would feel when wobbling a bit or when slightly moving the chair in a certain direction.So as I realised the gap between the data from one sense and the data from another sense (in this case, hearing and touch) was smaller then the gap between the info comming through ears and eyes.

So feeling more lucky, I decided to switch to my echo location sounds which actually represent my movement through a few rooms/spaces. I will have to continue tomorrow, but it felt quiet O.k. for now. It kind of felt like there was something beneath my chair, sometimes hitting the seat from beneath in a quiet hard way, at other times it seemed/felt, more distant. I am quiet certain that if I would expand my setup with speakers in the room and use them to give direction to the ‘creature’/’object’ suggested by the sound, it would work quiet well.

To be continued …

Work – Update

Posted in Transmedia Research, Uncategorized by tpdr on April 19, 2010

A lot has become clear recently. To put it simple I should say that I think I found my focus since thinking about the earlier mentioned conversation with Frans Evers of last year about talking to somebody using video chat or just a phone. Looking back at my master proof I realised the most important object on my table to me, is this disc saying ‘YOU ARE HERE’ which represented ‘me’, ‘myself’/’my Self’, ‘I’, … . Not that I am so fascinated by myself, I just want to say it made me realise the rest of the map didn’t matter so much, my main interest is the question, are are questions like: What is the Self? Where does it come from? Does it exist? What influences this Self? How is it affected by media? etc.

I believe my tests with my ‘echo location’ technique are also connected to this theme in some way. This idea has been taking more time then expected but slowly this project is finding its way out of my head and into…mmm…reality? 🙂 In order to get to some kind of possible output I decided to continue with my drawings and I also made a quiet simple video that should be presented in a mirror.

This simple thing that I have practically finished now is this video just showing subtitles in the middle of a mirror. The visitor should look into the mirror and should experience a chat with his/her mirror image. The idea was somehow inspired by the weired conversation with the Mystery Man in Lost Highway. It is rather manipulative as I try to take over the visitor’s thoughts, but hey how many times aren’t we manipulated every day without even noticing…at least I do it in your face.

Conversation with the Self

Conversation with the Self - video of subtitles behind a mirror

My drawings have changed a bit since last year. They are still mind maps in some way, but I push them until they fail. Nothing is really recognisable anymore, just maybe some very tiny details, just to give the viewer a little something to hold on to, even if just for a split second. The drawings are some kinds of koans. It’s over-layering of images and blind spot bubbles to come to some kind of point at which the Mind Maps becomes a kind of irrecognisable void. They are inspired by the meditational character of the koan and meditations on the Self.


Mind Maps / SELFportraits

Wittgenstein Quoted

Posted in quotes and advices, Transmedia Research by tpdr on April 7, 2010

He (Ludwig Wittgenstein) once asked me: ‘Why do people say it is more logical to think that the sun turns around the Earth than Earth rotating around its own axis?’ I answered: ‘I think because it seems as if the sun turns around the Earth.’ ‘Good,’ he said, ‘but how would it have been if it had seemed as if the Earth rotates around its own axis then?’

Translated ou of the Dutch translated version of ‘Egotunnel’ by Thomas Metzinger, the original quote should be on p.151 of Elizabeth Anscombe’s An Introduction to Wittgenstein’s Tractatus’ (London, 1959)

It is hard to answer Wittgenstein’s final question, but it is even harder, impossible even, to imagine how it would have been if it would have seemed as if Earth rotates around its own axis, as it actually does. However I think that it would have affected especially our ‘ego’s’/our ‘Selves’. Even though incorrect, it does seem more logical that Earth is the center and the sun turns around it. Even though we know the Earth rotates and the sun is actually the center, we are not seeing it this way. If we keep seeing it in the ‘logical’ way, we can still see our Earth, the home of the humans, as the center of the Universe. As long as we feel like this, our ego’s don’t need to worry, they can be big and strong … sure … why not, we ARE the center of the Universe! … I think we need this illusion, however, I am very very very curious how it would indeed be if we would be fully aware of the fact that we are not at the center of, or more boldly: how it would be if we wouldn’t think of ourselves as being the center of the Universe.

As adviced by Derrick De Kerckhove

Posted in quotes and advices, Transmedia Research by tpdr on March 28, 2010

At his lecture on Sonic Acts this year in Amsterdam, Derrick De Kerckhove ended his talk with some advice. To be more precise he made a list of subjects he thought artists should focus on. Here’s the list:

– More in multiplicity instead of unity

– Interest in epistemology

– Investigating areas where senses mix/cross

– Also what kind of space does each of the senses create

– The string theory remains a very interesting zone of observation because it says there is an infinite number of dimensions in space that are being created in terms of physics

– BUT perhaps more than anything else in the neutral space of the point of view that we have been accustomed too (that there is nothing there and space is neutral) in which we lost the sense of the interval …

If you have read one of my previous posts, summarizing my subjects of research, you will understand that I felt quiet assured to continue walking the path I seem to have chosen, or seem to be choosing for the moment.

The One and Three Chairs – Joseph Kosuth – 1965 (but still contemporary)

Posted in (non)sense, Society and Technology, Theory, Transmedia Research by tpdr on March 28, 2010

Never thought I would write a post about a conceptual work of art. Then again, only fools never change their mind, right? So what interests me when talking about Joseph Kosuth’s One and Three Chairs?

First of all what doesn’t interest me as much is what he was trying to say about understanding art, the linguistic nature of an artwork etc. What I like about this work is, what makes it contemporary and still valuable to me, is the multiplication of the chair. Being presented as an object, in a photograph and as a word, it made me think about how we are multiplied and distributed throughout dataspace today. The main question is also, what happens to the Self, when undergoing this phenomenon. To me a similar question is triggered here by the title, ‘One and Three Charis’, suggests that there should be 4, while you only see 3 (object, picture, word). So what is this fourth chair? It is the concept of the chair, the mental image of the chair, … .

Thinking about this, and when applying it to the multiplied and distributed Self, I would say it is not the Self that is distributed, but it is just our image that is distributed. All these distributed images together all lead to imagining (part of) the Self. So how much is the Self then affected by the multiplicationand distribution we are confronted with? Are we creating a problem where there is non, misleaded by ‘reason’? Do we just have to focus on that mental image and use that as our reference, our vantage point? … As usual more questions than answers arise (hopefully some (possible) answers, will be posted on this blog in the future).

Another aspect that interests me is, when thinking about having the feeling we are evolving more towards the tactile (as a reaction to too much focus on the visual)(inspired for example by the thinking of Derrick De Kerckhove, a man I do respect), this work by Kosuth also interests me on this level. There is a difference on the level of tangibility here, that’s clear. But instead of going on believing we do need a more tangible world, I started doubting this again. For example one could ask the question if a return to the tangible is really necessary? Or maybe it is necessary, if only to conclude that we were wrong? Hard to answer at this moment, sure. All also depends on how you define ‘tangibility’. So instead of getting lost in this complicated subject, I will go on posting about this (as it is in some sense my main subject anyway) and try to elaborate this theme step by step. So I will end this one with saying sorry to all those of you adjusted to our ‘instant society’.

I would like to steal Jan De Cock’s Denkmal

Posted in (non)sense, Theory, Transmedia Research by tpdr on March 19, 2010

Am I a fan of Jan De Cock’s work…mmm I would say I am undecided…which should say enough…there are aspects I like about his work…but on the other hand there are things, events, people, … that leave a more significant impression on me. On the other hand I have to admit I don’t feel very inspired by contemporary art in general, so mr. De Cock doesn’t have to take this all too negative, or serious.

Contrary to what the title of this post might suggest, I am not planning any art robbery. What I would like to steal is actually the word ‘Denkmal’, a title that Jan De Cock has been putting on quiet some works of his. … I really love this word ‘Denkmal’… not that I am particulary fond of the german language but personally I find that this word evokes a few interesting thoughts.

First there is the word in its german meaning ‘monument’, ‘memorial’, even ‘creation’. If you would split the word up into ‘Denk mal’…it means something like ‘please think’. Again if split up in dutch it could be interpreted as ‘think-mould'(something close to think tank maybe, but still it has a different ring to it in some way). At this point I have the feeling that the theoretical part of my research is going quiet well. When it comes to my works, they are not bad, there is still something missing because it is not yet clear enough what their precise subject should be. I mean I have not yet been able to pinpoint my subjects well enough at this point. In other words I still need to narrow things down when it comes to making finished works. The reason however why I don’t feel comfortable narrowing down is actually also because of (again) the fact that they help me think further and further on a theoretical level. It is as if my works have become secondary to my theory. In this sense they have become ‘think-moulds’.

Nevertheless, I will need to continue on this path until the balance becomes leveled again. SO I have to reach the point where my output (my works) become more ‘monuments’ or even better ‘memorials’ for my theory (without being mere illustrations) and a bit less ‘thinking-moulds'(which would be more as if they were illustrations). Even though the works help me think, help me with my theory, I think they need to become even more important. I will have to try and reach the point at which the theory really flows out of the works, while now it does feel like it goes maybe a bit more from theory to works (which is also somehow not so abnormal).

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Presence and/or Telepresence (A summary of what I am working on)

Posted in (non)sense, Transmedia Research by tpdr on March 5, 2010

The last few years I have been interested in what Roy Ascott would call our Variable Reality. This reality is composed of physic space (apparitional presence), ecospace (physical presence), nanospace (vibrational presence) and cyberspace (telepresence).[i] As a consequence, our sense of place becomes very complex. Our so-called unified self doesn’t feel so unified as we tought but instead seems distributed or at least transpored from one (part of) reality to another in a very fast way imposing a disorientated feeling upon us.

One of the main questions therefore became: What happens to the self under the influence of this new reality, or as Ascott calls it this variable reality?

I think what I have been doing with my mapping project when graduating from Graphic Design, was trying to create a tool to be able to keep track of myself. However I don’t feel like I understand what is actually happening or where this feeling of being taken somewhere else originates from. During a discussion last year with Frans Evers, I talked with him about the difference between when being in a (video)chat with somebody or calling somebody on a phone. Our conclusion was that when chatting online, you seem to be going over there, as when talking on the phone, you have more the impression that the other person comes to you. Therefore I think it would be usefull, for my future work to try and understand how different media as image and sound affect our feeling of presence and/or telepresence. In the future it might even be appropriate to understand the same sort of effects when talking about smell and touch.

A final question is maybe, how can the boundaries between presence and telepresence be blured (when talking about difference in space/location but also in time, past versus present)? Or how can Variable Reality become just reality again?

[i] Roy Ascott The Ambiguity of Self: living in a variable reality, in New Realities: Being Syncretic, Ascott/Bast/Fiel/Jahrmann/Schnell (eds.), SpringerWien, New York, 2009. P. 22-25.

Mirror Sound/Sound Mirroring 4

Posted in Transmedia Research by tpdr on January 3, 2010

Finished a first attempt to make a sound mirror in Pure Data. This little and simple patch records and reverses sounds almost immediately.

Will still have to work on it to filter out some disturbing noises. Also would like to see if I can reduce the current delay, but wouldn’t hope on that too much as a part of the sound needs to be recorded into a buffer before it can be played back in reverse Hope to upload a video here very soon of how it sounds.

Pure Data patch record and play reverse

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.