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.

Document your process! – Advice of Malcolm LeGrice

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

Discussing my research with Malcolm LeGrice he advised me to document my experiments as the documentation of the a work process can become a piece in its own right, even though it would also be wise to distillate one or a few sort of finished pieces out of this process. It don’t have to be installations though, it could also be models, maquettes, … .

Another advice I got was to maybe think about mapping also the invisible parts of the process that is presented in perhaps my installation. A technical map of the process, the way data are received, handled, processed and emitted can bring an additional value to the work. As a reference we talked about the catalogue of the ‘9 Evenings‘ (the first artistic event that brought together science and art) in which all the technical maps of every installation/performance were included (this might also be an interesting thought when thinking about art forms that are a bit more difficult to preserve/archive like performance art or sound art).

As I agree on both of these advices, I will certainly take them serious and try to find a way to integrate them into my work in a way that suits me best (my drawings could be a good medium to start with).

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.

Mirror sound/sound Mirroring

Posted in Transmedia Research by tpdr on December 24, 2009

Just a first quick thought. When talking about mirroring sound or a sound mirror, one could say the most basic idea could be to have a room where somebody walks along one wall while on the floor there are some microphones and each of those is connected to a speaker (maybe at some distance) that replay the sound of e.g. the footsteps immediately back to the person walking along the wall.

reflexion of sound, such as in echos or just in different rooms takes us to acoustics. In fact, contrary to creating a visual reflexion, one doesn’t need a material that has mirror-like qualities (really shiny glass with the right amount of light under the right angle…or a mirror) to reflect sounds. Especially low sounds are reflected back at its source by almost any flat, opposite surface (I know I put it really simple here).

Another question I am asking myself is concerning ‘transparency’. When can one say that a sound is ‘transparent’? Does silence equal transparency? The tricky thing is that when something is transparent, there is actually something there, we just don’t notice/see it, or maybe just a little…same principle should be then applied to sound. This would mean that transparency of sound is flirting with the limits of hearing.

To be continued….

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Why I like James Turrell

Posted in Art, quotes and advices, Transmedia Research by tpdr on December 24, 2009

2 quotes from the website of De Pont museum in Tilburg (the Netherlands) summarize why I like James Turrell’s thinking:

– As a pilot and cartographer, Turrell knows that theoretical models, which have been developed in order to understand light, color and space, have only limited validity. His observations from the cockpit are, for him, an important source of inspiration: the changes in light and color that take place with a change of course at twilight, or the influence of fluctuating weather conditions on one’s perception of space. ‘If you go high enough, you can see the reflections of light on the moon change,’ he once said in an interview. ‘The color changes as the light glides by. You can know things without touching them, without handling with them, even without being there. You can feel things with your eyes. Observation is much closer to thought than words are.’

– ‘I’m interested in invisible light, light that can only be perceived by the mind,’ says Turrell. ‘I want to address the light that we see in dreams. I’m interested in doing works that seem to come from these places, in order to create an experience of wordless thoughts.’

I share his idea that theoretical models only have limited validity when it comes to understanding light, space, … . It is my reason for being interested in subjective maps. At the moment I might even be moving more into his direction as I am working with light and projection also in oder to create this kind of environment to take people to a different space/place.

Also like Turrell I am fascinated by the different colors of light one can perceive at different times of the day or in relation to the weather conditions. Even at night, with the artificial lights I don’t find the spectacle less interesting. Even though we don’t really pay attention to it, all these artificial lights have a different color and are also, maybe not in the same amount as natural light but still, influenced by the weather conditions.

My idea at the moment is to start again from my first light experiments with the see-thru-mirror wall and the rgb -pixel-tracks (see video doc here) and base my content on a particular/specific/chosen location. My goal can somehow be described as an attempt to create a visual and auditive personal/subjective representation of this chosen location, to transport its atmosphere into an exhibition space, like Robert Smithson in his ‘Non-sites’-pieces, create a hyperlink between the exhibition space and the chosen, outside and distant location. You could say that I am trying to see if I can make a ‘subjective map’ people can walk through. If holograms would exist I would maybe use these…but since this is not the case I will stick to my see-thru-mirror (which comes close to a hologram kinda feel in some way, especially with the projection on it), colored light and sound(when you consider sound to have a sculptural/physical aspect…one could say sound can also be some type of hologram).

The thing that needs the most attention for now is what to do with the sound-part. The best way to integrate it would be to make it the equivalent of the see-thru-mirror foil. This would mean that I would need to think about what mirror-sound or mirroring-sound would mean and what transparency could mean when applied to sound. This will need a new post obviously.

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?’

Cartography – topography – topology – mapping

Posted in Theory by tpdr on December 19, 2009

While working on my first mapping project 2 years ago I tried to find an explanation to clarify why I preferred the term ‘mapping’ to the word ‘cartography’.

I finally decided that I preferred ‘mapping’ to ‘cartography’ as ‘mapping’ refers more to a process and therefore seemed more appropriate in today’s modern, dynamic, … society. As society and our environment in general is constantly in flux, we also need maps that can keep up with the pace and are kept up to date constantly/in realtime if possible.

Topography and topology never really were part of this discussion. However while I am working on a new project, I felt the need to investigate these two concepts as well, in order to try and re-determine my field of research.

First of all I would like to stress the fact that this mail is just the first in a series, as defining and comparing these four terms. I will start with a modest attempt to define topography and topology first.

Topography: Is a word with a Greek background composed of ‘topos’ and ‘grafein’, which would mean that it can be translated as ‘the act of describing a place’. It is the study of terrain features (not the process of how these features/the terrain/the landscape were/was created) of a region and the representation of the landform on a map. However when studying a place one can also focus on all details that distinguish a place, without just taking into account the physical shape of the surface.

Even though this might still be a very very brief definition, topography to me seems to much occupied with the surface and has no attention for processes (of the landscape). Therefore I wouldn’t really want to use this term and it actually reminds me of why I didn’t really feel much for using the term cartography (as it also seemed to neglect the ‘processes’ constantly going on in our environment). Even though ‘describing’ a place can also be interesting, but I think it would have to mean that it would have to allow it to be a subjective description(being interested in subjective/personal cartography and mapping this doesn’t come as a surprise). Subjective topography would therefore be more interesting to me as it reveals already more of a place/space then a mere ‘so-called’ objective description.

Topology: Is again originally a Greek word combining ‘topos'(place) and ‘logos'(study), so literally the study of a place. In this way it suggests a deeper notion of a place. Based on this ‘analysis’ one wouldn’t maybe suspect that this term is actually a mathematical term concerned with the features of space that are preserved even when under continuous distortion/transformation(the objects may not be torn nor pasted). It doesn’t make use of describing points nor distances, it is interested in describing the way in which a space is constructed, taking into account orientation and coherence.

Even though this definition would need to be more sophisticated, more detailed, it becomes already clear that my tutor was right to point me into the direction of topology. This term really grabs my attention because it suggests processes and a continuous distortion or transformation without breaking the ‘object’. Putting it like this it almost reminds me of how you could see life, but this would take us too far into spiritual or philosophical directions.

Reading a bit about topology, my attention was drawn by the term ‘homeomorphism'(or topological isomorphism or bicontinuous function (from the Greek words homoios = similar and morphe = shape, form. It is a continuous function between two topological spaces that has a continuous inverse function). Next post I will write on this subject I would like to continue on the subject starting from this term as it feels like an interesting subject to think about while working on my project which involves some ‘mirroring’/’transformation’/’distortion’.