## February 22, 2007

### Random

Our second assignment was to make piece that demonstrates randomness.

What is Random?

Events that appear unpredictable to us are perceived as random. Conceptually, randomness exists but the physical reality of nature is based in layers of sequences and patterns. Designing for this project, I struggled with physically representing randomness because of its inherent non-existence. I decided to take a more conceptual approach to randomness. No science or math can map out or predict the specific details of individual human minds and how we interpret information. Human perception could be considered as “cognitive randomness.”

Conversation Pieces

"Conversation Piece" is based on this concept of cognitive randomness. Two people sit on either side of the symmetrical object and simultaneously turn the knobs on their side. The center knobs control the turning of the text wheels on the inside of the box and the corner wheels control the windows through which the people can view the inside. A metaphorical conversation takes place, role playing the sending, receiving, and interpretation of layered information. Physically, the act of two different people turning the separate transparent text wheels creates a random motion and view. Conceptually, the picking and choosing of different windows in which to view the layered text creates different “random” narratives/content.

Analogy

Our class discussed the rolling of dice as a random event. The randomness of dice is a result of the physical action of throwing. The outcome of the throw can be only one of a set number of choices. In the case of a 6 sided dice, the result of a roll can be the number 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 or 6. An estimated guess as to which number it will be is gambling. We can apply this event to the act of verbal communication -- constructing meaning through the use of established words. When we decide what we wish to say and choose the words to communicate our idea, we are throwing the dice and gambling on how the words will fall and be interpreted by our listener. Set words, various permutations.

### Typing Noisy Sound

I further developed my Max patch form last week. Each letter still has a midi note value but the punctuation midi values are being converted into sine waves using both an "mtof" and "cycle" object. This way I am able to add effects (delay, overdrive, and "noise") using msp. The letters also have a sine wave being generated, but it is much lower and more for consistent "texture."

I also added an analog record + delay so that I can record my voice while typing.

sound samples coming soon...

## February 16, 2007

### Typing Sound

Our assignment for this week was to make a max patch that uses keyboard input to trigger sound. I took this concept literally, exploring the idea of keyboard letters having individual sounds. What I have so far uses basic midi note values assigned to each individual letter, but I would like to further customize sounds -- give them a sonic identity. I think this customization will be most successful in terms of punctuation.

typesound max patch

## February 15, 2007

### Essay: The Poetics of Invisible Space

“The ‘invisible’ space of electronic data flows as substance rather than just as a void – something that needs a structure, a politics, and a poetics.”

With this statement, Lev Manovich ends his essay “The Poetics of Augmented Space.” All the readings for this week were fantastic and without conclusion. Aware of the momentum of information, communication, experience, and relationships influenced by electronic media, Manovich and Kruger tackle the missing meaning behind the momentum of a seemingly chaotic digital culture. We truly are in new conceptual territory with this experiential space, sharing our individual thoughts and instincts through philosophically infinite air. This space is an invisible dimension full of humanity and yet its physical translations lack human poetics. Why?

To begin to understand why poetry lacking in our understanding and depictions of technological spaces, we need to assess how we describe those spaces in the first place. One word habitually used in the essays to describe what makes the technological media so rich is “dynamic.” The term “dynamic” alludes to characteristics of energy: time, change, layers, range, force and speed. The first image to pop in my mind is the Sony Centre at Berlin’s Potsdamer Platz, a large public building that is architecturally futuristic and visually layered with motion graphics, plasma screen videos, lighting effects and projections. It is also economically filled with businesses and socially filled with pedestrians. It is a dynamic space – a dense, layered microcosm of capitalist culture. The invisible technological spaces we are trying to understand certainly have dynamic qualities, but to consistently use “dynamic” as a guideline for expressing and analyzing new media semantically limits our imagination as we investigate the content qualities of that space. Dynamic is energy, not content. Although content can be dynamic, dynamic is not content. Something dynamic is a spectacle, which is often a distraction.

Distraction is part of the new technological, cultural experience. Distractions are not necessarily bad. They can assist creativity and inspire intellectual travel down unforeseen paths, but on the flip side, distractions hinder the quality of focused thinking. The greatest distraction with current technology is ironically information. The word “information” implies intelligence, interest and engagement, yet in the context of information gathering and dispersing today, information quickly ceases to be informative. We click around the internet, instantly connecting the disparate thoughts in our minds. In one sitting we can search for word definitions, read technical data, IM with friends, watch funny videos, download software, listening to songs by an obscure band, read a bio about that band while checking out other bands that influenced their sound – we run a non stop line of segmented points splitting directions, looping several circles and hopefully ending with substance. I repeat, distractions are not necessarily bad. It is amazing how much information people are capable of absorbing at one time. But if the information interface is designed as “distraction” then the content of that information is likely lost. The content of that densely layered, distracted information is questionable. If the content is weak we become accustomed to disposable knowledge. We become accustomed to information as fetishized and visualized through dynamic media – flashy, layered and empty. Beyond media, we see the present-day dynamic person as someone with tons of useless information. Our culture embraces information for quantity’s sake. It is noise.

Technological space is not just noise. Sure, there is much noise, but that is because it is full of life. The challenge is going deeper beyond the obvious spectacles of visual dynamics and distracted information. The poetry of augmented space exists in the invisible data space, not the entrance devices. Poetry implies intuitiveness, ambiguity and interpretation. We should take these words to heart and focus on the abstract connections being made between people within the invisible space. Critical analysis of the activity within this space will inform our understanding how to connect with it on a physical scale through architecture, industrial design, and graphic design, as well as in the form of artistic expression. I do not think this analysis will be easy, but I sense the poetry that is lost is simply the poetry that is not being read – and is there.

## February 08, 2007

### Modulation Synthesis

Amplitude Modulation
Amplitude Modulation (AM) Synthesis is performed by combining two signals together. A source audio signal, the carrier, is multiplied by an unipolar modulation signal. A unipolar signal is a signal that contains only positive values (usually between 0 and 1). This process alters the carrier signal in one of two ways: 1) The modulation signal can be used as an envelope which is applied to the carrier signal to determine the audio signal's amplitude over time. 2) The modulation signal can be used to quickly cycle the carrier signal's amplitude to create two additional frequencies known as sidebands, forming harmonic or non-harmonic sounds.

Ring Modulation
Ring Modulation (RM) Synthesis is like AM Synthsis except that it uses a bipolar modulation signal (positive and negative values). RM synthesis is used by vocoders which are often used to effect a human voice's sound signal to create a "robotic" sounding variation.

Frequency Modulation
Frequency Modulation (FM) Synthesis produces an output signal by oscillating the frequency of a source oscillator's signal. This process can generate fairly complex output containing multiple frequencies/sidebands with only two oscillators, requiring minimal computations.

I created a max patch that uses frequency and ring modulation:

The patch uses different combinations of phasor, cycle, and triangle waves to generate sounds.

To listen to sample clips from this patch, click here and navigate to the audio links under "week 3."

### Rules

These rules are for a group of people. As director, I will be playing and stopping the sound of music and removing chairs from the circle.

1. You bring one chair to the table
2. Evenly space your chair with the other chairs brought by other people around the table in one large circle.
4. When music starts to play, stand up. Step away and push your chair under the table. Turn to your left.
5. Following the person to your left, begin walking in a single line with the group around the table in a circle.
6. When the music stops, pull out the chair closest to you and sit down. If there is not a chair available to you, you must leave the group.
7. Repeat steps 4-6 until there is only one chair and one person left remaining.

I am spelling out the rules of a preexisting, culturally ingrained game -- musical chairs. I'm curious to see how these written rules are understood by people familiar with the game vs understood by people completely new to the game. Or if the game is known with slightly different rules across cultures, in which case, rule additions, subtractions, and interpretations may be applied subconsciously.

## February 06, 2007

### Essay: The Expansion of Space

THE EXPANSION OF SPACE

The central idea that I returned to while reading the three essays for this week is the expansion of category, definition, and interpretation. It is human nature to challenge labels and expectations. As much as we are creatures of habit and as groups tend to resist change in favor of traditional comfort, questioning authority is still instinctual. Such questioning begins on the intellectual “wordy” level. In politics, we see these ideas played out theatrically in speeches and subversively in campaign strategies. In art we play the game of semantics and watch the ideas manifest themselves visually. There is always room for expansion because we can manipulate “wordy” definitions to fit our motivations. The tricky part is convincing others still stuck in the group-think of comfort and tradition.

Site specificity is the main idea being explored and expanded upon in the readings. Taking a historical approach to understanding how and why the term “site specific” exists today, Rosalind Krauss retraces Western sculpture as “commemorative representation” in the form of a monument. For example, Bernini’s Conversion of Constantine at the foot of the Vatican stairway in St. Peter’s Basilica is a monument marking a “particular place for specific meaning/event” (33). Sculpture, painting and drawing all historically found content in narrative form within a particular place and time. Religion was certainly the most influential (and profitable) source of content. By the end of the 19th century, people’s relationship to authority in religion, politics, and science was challenged. This challenge is reflected in the Modern Art movement where artists sought an “idealist space to explore, a domain cut off from the project of temporal and spatial representation” (34). Seeking to create work and explore ideas without the commissioned content of authority, the logical, physical place of “monument” was lost in abstract intellectual space. Physically, the work was homeless. The absence of a specific place highlighted the role of context in understanding meaning. There is a codependent relationship between space and context that influences a viewer’s perception of content.

Artists of the 1960s began to explore the role of context through site specificity. James Meyer delineates two main categories for “site”: literal site and functional site. In a literal site the artist conforms to a given physical space, and so by “reflecting a perception of the site as unique, the work is itself ‘unique.’ It is thus a kind of monument, public work commissioned for the site” (24). In a functional site, the definition of site expands to include non-physical space. A functional site marks a process, a “movement, a chain of meanings and imbricated histories: a place marked and swiftly abandoned” (p 25). The category of “functional site” is infinite because it reaches out to include anything contextual -- not just the physical space but mental space. Context is embedded in every object through the means of history, culture, place, and relationships. Context fundamentally dictates our perception of content (and reality), and embracing this idea philosophically introduces a phenomenological model of meaning in art. Art can no longer be made without consideration of the “space” the art occupies.

Space itself is nothing except that which is defined by a boundary. By marking a boundary (physical, mental, time-based, emotional, mathematical, etc), you have a “space” between. In marking a boundary, you name a place. In naming a place to work, you choose a site to work in. In choosing a site to work in, you are being site specific. Ultimately, if context is always the defining point of meaning in art, and context is a result of “space,” is all art work site specific? No. The term site specific does not need to be expanded, it needs to be narrowed. The expansionist play on the intellectual semantics of site specificity should end with the word “specific.” Terms that can and should be broadened are context and space – because they always exist. Whether an artist wishes to acknowledge the role of space and its subsequent contexts (and subsequent interpretive meanings) in his or her work is inconsequential because the space itself is inescapable. Such work must acknowledge a basic flux in content interpretation that is inherent to physical and temporal mobility, but does not need to box itself into a specific time and place to be appreciated. However, for the artist who wants define the physical and temporal spatial boundaries of his or her work and specify its relationship to the ideas being explored, the work becomes site specific through intention. I doubt that Richard Serra ever really considered his “Tilted Arc” to be site specific until he was challenged with its removal from the Federal Plaza. This shift in Serra’s original intention does not belittle the work’s conceptual significance as contingent upon the space it occupies, but does shine a light on the fine line between the categories of inherent spatial context vs. site specificity.

As an idea born out of the notion of homelessness, site specificity is brilliant. It is the type of idea that makes us reexamine history to inform our contemporary perception of reality. There is no escaping the notion that our interpretation of content is dependent on context which is shaped by space. The intellectual expansion of “space” as a concept is fantastically broad and will continue to inspire new meanings in the future. I am particularly fascinated by Kwon’s thoughts on our current culture’s ideology of “ ‘freedom of choice’ – the choice to forget, the choice to reinvent, the choice to fictionalize, the choice to belong anywhere, everywhere, and nowhere” (57). In our exploration of conceptual space, new spaces are being developed – with few obvious physical boundaries. Internet and cell phone technology are two obvious examples of new spaces dense with sub-layers of virtual, physical and communicative space. Developing these new spaces, our current technologic culture is not only challenging the labels and expectations of technology, but is also playing with throwing out all the rules and creating a new sense of interpretive homelessness in the idea of “freedom.” New art that seeks to find itself within this current content-rich space will be determining a new specific site.

## February 02, 2007

### Week 2 Notes on Readings

Rosalind Krauss, Sculpture In The Expanded Field
James Meyers, The Functional Site; or, The Transformation of Site Specificity
Miwon Kwon, One Place After Another

The definition(s) of space.
The definition(s) of context
The definition(s) of site
The definition(s) of specific

The word "displaced" is used many times in all these readings. Homelessness, Placelessness,

KRAUSS
People always want to challenge labels. Few want to be what they are.

"covert message of historicism -- the new is made comfortable by being familar (gradually evolved from forms of the past)."

"We are comforted by this perception of sameness -- reducing anything foreign in either time or space."

We interpret the world through our memories -- our experiences. Our SELVES. As we communicate these interpretations, they become collective consciousness.

we like to categorize -- allocate. museums. collections. "The rage to historicize"

Sculpture is a commemorative representation -- art is representation.

Traditional definition of Sculpture began with the monument? Venus of Willendorf as monument? representation?

Modern art, 19th century, displaces the monument -- enter the gallery, which becomes monumental housing. Sculptural production operating in relation to the loss of site -- abstracted monuments. LOSS OF PLACE.

The David was site specific. All work is related to space in some way....context.

modernist sculpture as nomadic - in terms of abstract ideas. abstract ideas can travel with the mind. awareness of self in its material/construction process. modernist sculpture had an IDEALIST SPACE to explore cut off from time and space representation.

SPACE (mental) vs SITE (physical) -- inform each other

Art happens in the spaces between -- the contradictions, the dialog, the synthesis.

Intention of the artist = DESIGN = sculptural == physical aesthetic
ART = sculptural == physical representation

The idea of site specific art was born out of homelessness...nomadic...photography...loss of monument in the traditional form ---- POSTMODERN

Not about redefining scultpure, or even about expanding the category -- more about creating a NEW CATEGORY. wait, no. There does not need to be a new category -- I think site exists no matter what the art. It is about acknowledging its existence in the creation of context which always informs the work. And understanding it is transient. We must allow the adjustments to meaning in the context in history, place, culture, etc. Fixed meaning has NEVER EXISTED. only documentation of what it once was. Some examples are more obvious than others, therefore the dialog of site specificity becomes more inherent/valid/significant.

sculpture is merely and art process -- painting, photography, printmaking, etc can all be looked at in regards to site specificity. SITE SPECIFIC IS AN IDEA.

Culture of choice -- century of self -- postmoderism. Site specificity makes us look at ourselves to understand/create/interpret meaning. What is MY relationship to this object, in this space? How does the object's space influence MY interpretation of it?

MEYER

It makes sense to document, analyze and critique HISTORY/historical events using site -- history is literally site specific.

We have the modern critic as a result of homelessness of art -- they engage viewers in understanding the context of the work art from which a dialog takes place. Often, not straightforward anymore. No longer just illustrations of an obvious theme (like religious commissioned art -- although much of that work was densely layered in symbolic content....blah blah blah...not talking about now)

Literal site vs. Functional site

Literal site: artist conforms to SPACE ("reflecting a perception of the site as unique, the work is itself 'unique.' It is a kind of MONUMENT, a public work commissioned for the site.")

Functional site: PLACE is marked and quickly abandoned. May or may not involve physical SPACE.

"To begin with, site specificity was understood, in its very constitution, as a mode of refusal of the system of art's commodification. Locating its critique within the gallery or museum, the site specific work exposed this SPACE AS A MATERIAL ENTITY, a no longer neutral space." -- Of course, that space remains NOT neutral. It embraces and sells site specific work.. Were the artists ever really in opposition of the gallery, or just challenging how to make the gallery work for them? Christo & Jean Claude -- work out side gallery, nbut represented by a gallery and sell sketches through gallery.

Ideas of placelessness...again.

idea of modern art -- object in and of itself with transhistorical meaning -- not associated with time or space. Objects then able to be commodified -- which led to a CALL FOR PRESENCE (demand for "being there") -- particular space, particular time. Origins of site specificity in minimalism. -- object's relation to site produced meaning.

site within site -- categories, labels.

"Today, much practice explores an EXPANDED SITE, enlarging its scop of inquiry into contingent spheres of interest, contingent locations."

Meeting of producer and site -- artist subscribes his/her subjectivity into the work. Fixed identities blur.

MOBILE SITE -- happenings, situationism -- Site/ non site -- Smithson (Jetty as monument thoughts of church, religion, construction, massive, destructive, glorious) -- an in-between, a non place, a ruin.

Site is really just context -- control of CONTEXT!

KWON

The SPACE of art.

Site specific art gives itself up to it's environmental context.

Aspiration to exceed the limitations of traditional media led to challenging the location of meaning from within the art object to the contingencies of its context. Independent (Cartesian) to Dependent (Phenomenological) -- capitalist market economy (exchange of goods/objects) is challenged.

Contextual thinking of minimalism (1960s, 70s?)

Site is there whether you wish to acknowledge it or not.

SITE vs. SITE SPECIFIC -- always a site, but to be specific is to bring awareness to the site/space

site specific art is passive... gives itself up to the environment. hmmmm.

specific within site within place within space. -(--semantics?)

concurrent with the dematerialization of the site is the ongoing deaestheticization and dematerialization of the artwork. Aggressively ANTI VISUAL. Art "WORK" no longer as noun/object -- site refers to ideological conditions for viewing. THis context, site is not based on physical permanence, but on recognition of unfixed impermanence. This is how view site specificity.

location as site and social conditions (institutional frame) as site both subordinate to discursively determined site.

there are often several definitions of site at work -- several different layers, OF COURSE.

semantic slippage between content and site. ha!

PHYSICAL SITE vs DISCURSIVE SITE -- action vs reception/effect (still need the physical to inform, instigate the mental.) -- all ideas start at a physical layer. Consider the process of critiquing anything -- 1. FORMAL (physical viewing) + 2. CONTEXT (time, space, history, culture) =3. MEANING (how the form and context create content -- personal to the viewer and universal to the world).

site is now structured (inter)textually rather than spatially.

3 paradigms of site specificity outlined: 1. phenomenological 2. social/institutional 3. Discursive

literal sense of physical separation, metaphorical sense as performed in discursive mobilization of site.

Site specific -- internet/music?

Artist as Producer of site specific work -- role of PRODUCER. Content maker. Progenitor of MEANING.

renewed focus on the artist leads to a hermetic implosion of auto biographical and subjectivist indulgences and myopic narcissism is misrepresented as self-reflexivity. --- SITE AND IDENTITY.

"The elaboration of place bound indentities has become more rater than less important in a world of diminishing spatial barriers to exchange, movement and communication," -- What is the definition of SPACE now?

Order of space.

uniqueness of place - establishing authenticity of meaning, memory, histories, identities -- different functions of place.

we leave behind the empirical and physical realities of a place -- no longer bound to these places. Contemporary life is a network of unanchored flows -- back to homelessness. NOMADS

The phantom of a site as an actual place remains, and out psychic,l habitual attachments to places regularyreturn as they continue to inform our sense of identity.

PARADOX OF CHOICE. "Freedon of Choice" -- choice to belong anywhere, everywhere, noware.

Our contemporary capitalist culture encourages the "self" identity in objects/products. But w/ technology there is a displacement of this self -- self is also determined by space. Our space is fragmented in the internet -- (and often false? -- MySpace.com), the new commerce. Selling of out internet identity.

passing intimacies. I like that line.

### LESLEY'S WEBSITE

Is back up and running! Updates coming soon...

www.seseyann.com

## February 01, 2007

### Lego Crane

Made a lego crane with Tom!

### Field Recordings #1

Audio files can be found here.

The field recordings I did (roughly 5-6 minutes each) include the wood shop at ITP, walking up the stairs at TISCH (and around the top floor), walking around Washington Square Park, walking around Washington Square Park and making my own noises, and the library.

I did not concern myself with the raw recordings in terms of content. I was more interested in finding/creating the content using recordings in post audio work. In post, I limited my process work to cutting, looping, layering tracks, and EQ. In a few instances I did implement time reverse and time stretching, but no other processing effects were involved. The resulting collages (roughly 10-20 seconds each) focus on the creation of artificial rhythms using recorded sounds.