At Dinacaon, I’m conducting many experiments with electronics using audio synth and environmental sensors to make site-specific compositions.
I’m extending my Sonaqua custom boards to use the Mozzi audio synthesis libraries. Yesterday I put together my first mini-composition.
These will eventually lead to more dynamic 4-channel compositions and could also extend into some live performances by plants and the environment.
This is the first of several environmental sensors that I’m deploying in the environment — a humidity sensor produced by SparkFun.
With some post-processing in Adobe Audition, I smoothed out an annoying low-pitched whine. I still have loads to learn about the transition from algorithmically-generated sound to recording and getting the glitches out — I’m certainly no audio engineer.
But, I’m pleased with what my little board can do and am excited about more environmental sensors on this amazing little island of Koh Lon.
Oh and here is the GitHub Repo for Sonaqua_Dinacon.
I jokingly referred to my Sonaqua artwork as “the most annoying piece at the festival”. The exhibition was Currents New Media 2018, which was an incredible event.
It was a hit with the public and invited multi-user interaction. Kids went crazy for it. Adults seemed to enjoy the square-waves of audio glitch all night.
So yes, perhaps a tad abrasive, but it was also widely popular.
A number of people were intrigued by the water samples and electronics with what looked like a tangly mess of wires. It was actually a solid wiring job and nothing broke!
After working at the Exploratorium for a couple of years, I adjusted my approach to public engagement so that anyone can get something from this artwork.
How does it work?
The electrodes take a reading of the electrical current flow in various water samples that I collected throughout New Mexico. If more current flows through the water, then this means there are more minerals and salts, which is usually an indicator of less clean water.
The technical measurement is electrical conductivity, which correlates to total dissolved solids, which is one measure of water quality that scientists frequently use.
The installation plays lower tones for water that is more conductive (less pure) and higher tones for water that has less pollutants in it.
The results are unpredictable and fun, with 12 different water quality samples.
The light table is custom-built with etchings of New Mexico rivers and waterways, indicating where the original water sample was taken.
Hands down my favorite Atari game when I was a kid was Adventure (2). The dragons looked like giant ducks. Your avatar was just a square and a bat wreaks chaos by stealing your objects.
In the ongoing research for my new Machine Data Dreams project, beginning here at Signal Culture, I’ve been playing with the analog video and audio synths.
Yesterday afternoon, I explored the town of Owego. I ran across a used DVD, CD & electronics store and bought an Atari Flashback Console for $25. I didn’t even know these existed.
I can plug it directly into their video synth system. After futzing around with the various patch cables, I came up with this 5-minute composition, which shows me playing the game. The audio sounds like marching with dirty noise levels.
Also, here is the latest 3D model from my code, which now has a true 3D axis for data-plotting.
Time is one axis, video signal is another, audio signal is the third.
And a crude frequency plot.
In the first full day of the residency at Signal Culture, I played around with the video and audio synthesizers. It’s a new world for me.
While my focus is on the Machine Data Dreams project, I also want to play with what they have and get familiar with the amazing analog equipment.
I started with this 2 minute video, which I shot earlier this summer at Musee d’Orsay. I had to document the odd spectacle: visitor after visitor would take photos of this famous Van Gogh self-portrait…despite the fact you can get a higher-quality version online.
I ran this through a few patches and into the Wobbulator, which affects the electronic signal on the CRT itself.
Ewa Justka, who is the toolmaker-in-residence here, and who is building her own audio synthesizer spruced up the accompanying audio. I captured a 20-minute sample.
What I love about the result is that the repetitive 2-minute video takes on its own life, as the two of us tweaked knobs, made live patches and laughed a lot.