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 …


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).

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’.

Building a Mediated Environment (video documentation)

Posted in Transmedia Research by tpdr on August 24, 2009

I have put a small sample video online to illustrate the experiments I have been doing with the minimal setup of a projector, a see-thru-mirror-wall and 2 rgb-pixeltracks. The video images porjected on the mirror foil and the wall behind it are of my own creation, even though they are a temporary version. The sound is a mix of my own remix of solar sounds provided by the SOHO (SOlar Heliospheric Observatory) with added sounds and bleeps from COH for the final part.

To see the video click here to be directed to the vimeo site.

Setup of ‘Building a Mediated Environment – Transmedia Research 1.1’

Posted in MediaArt, Transmedia Research by tpdr on August 24, 2009
In the previous post I promised to add more documentation so here it is. Feel free to watch new pics here1s.

Building a Mediated Environment – Transmedia Research/1.1 (Transmedia Input Year 2009)

Posted in Transmedia Research by tpdr on June 9, 2009

The mediated environment I was planning to build was supposed to become a mirror room, made of 4 see-thru-mirror walls. The single visitor inside would be confronted with a virtual landscape, projected on the outside of the mirror walls. However as the viewer moves around the space, he will trigger the lights on the inside of the mirror room, eventually making it so bright inside that the walls become mirrors again. At this point they would reflect each other and take the visitor to a sort of endless space. The displacing effect would be a reference to the displacing effect of media, connecting us to different spaces than our own. At the same time I would be researching the integration of media in architectural space, connecting myself to the field of Interactive Architecture.

As this project depended strongly on the effects and characteristics of the used materials, it took a little more time than my other works to get it going. At this point I have started testing different see-thru-mirror foils/filters and built one wall in order to try and combine it with a projector. The images below are all taken while experimenting with this first, basic setup (not yet using the landscape images). As this led to some unexpected results, showing the projected image slightly on the see-thru-mirror foil, showing the same image more clearly on the normal wall behind the mirror wall and creating a distorted, reflected image on the opposite wall, I decided to stick with these effects a little longer. I also added RGB-Led-tracks that originally reacted to the footsteps of visitors, however in the video documentation I will post soon it responds to music which I find less appealing.

As every new step exposes new possibilities I feel like I have to take my time to document each result and evaluate its possibilities in order to find new solutions, to change direction or to use some revealed effects for other projects.

As this is clearly a work in progress, I will post new documentation regularly, also commenting on the results, problems that need to be solved, new inspirations, etc.