On Wednesday, July 7, 2010 my piece Chromatic Textures was shown at 6X6 #5: Mystery, an exhibition at Ciné Lab in Athens, Georgia. My work was accepted along with five other artists, “…including Denton Crawford’s eyeballs, Aaron Oldenburg’s plunge into asphyxia, and a performance streamed live over the Internet from California.” Here’s my abstract for Chromatic Textures.
Chromatic Textures is a study on the synesthetic nature of our senses of sound and sight. Video input is used to produce generative musical phrases. The visual media is analyzed by the GMS (Gestural Music Sequencer) to create the musical forms in real-time. The software includes adjustable probability distribution maps for the scale and rhythm. Adjusting these settings allows familiar structures to emerge. The settings chosen for this piece cause notes within a particular scale to play more frequently, however, it is still possible for any note within the twelve-tone chromatic system to occur. As a result, dissonant or blue notes can be heard at rare instances throughout the piece.
The process for this piece involved shooting a collection of hand-held, macro-focused videos of various objects and textures. The intent was to frame high-contrast images that would work well with my analysis algorithms built into the GMS and create a sense of mystery in keeping with the theme of the exhibition. After choosing the best shots from the collection, I edited them together and applied processing such as converting the majority of the clips to black and white, and slight adjustments to the brightness and contrast. I captured the musical forms in real-time as the visual media was analyzed by the GMS. Next I selected short phrases from the generated music and looped them on separate layers for emphasis. Finally I automated the processing to enhance the dynamics in the generative composition.
Although it might seem that this work represents computer generated music, my process maintains a dominant human influence by gathering information from organic, time-based, visual media and using it to produce dynamic musical phrases. The GMS is an instrument with a camera operator as the musician. This method aims to satisfy my curiosity for “auralizing” visuals as opposed to visualizing sound.
“6X6 is a monthly media arts event in Athens, Georgia, a cross between an art show and a film festival, first Wednesday of the month at Ciné Lab. Six curated short video, film, performance, sound, or other time-based combination works.” For more about the 6X6 event visit their site at hexadic.blogspot.com.