No Such Object

Posted: July 5, 2012 in News

I’ve written these programme notes for the SOL project (writes Ed Baxter), which are presented here to provide a bit more information as this work comes into being: “No Such Object” was commissioned by NVA as the audio element of Speed Of Light. The brief – requiring a portable, easily powered, interactive, economic, weatherproof, complex and engaging sound composition which elegantly reflected (at high altitude) the activity of the Speed Of Light runners – seemed more or less impossible, which was one of the main reasons we wanted to get involved. Having pondered the idea of modular synthesis for several weeks and having discarded thoughts of solar powered sound machines, hot air balloons, bird calls and bagpipes, we settled on the development of a bespoke circuit, battery powered and using a small loudspeaker to transmit a simple sine wave – and took it from there. The electronics were developed by renowned STEIM alumnus Sukandar Kartadinata in Berlin and comprise 880 individually encoded micro-computers. The score is uploaded to each of these, with minute variations in data to allow for an expansive chordal sequence to be produced in real-time by audience members. Their movement of the light-sticks on which the circuit is mounted allows for variations in pitch and volume, and frames the choreographed action taking place below. The ebb and flow of the individual sine waves causes them to be pulled in and out of phase with one another, giving rise to ghost tones through the phenomenon of heterodyning. Both predictable and random musical developments occur amongst the participants, with “wild card” elements adding to the mix. The music is at once both macrocosmic and microcosmic, the listener being able to concentrate on the discrete sounds immediately to hand or on the massed result of many dozens of devices playing in tune with one another. A further audio element at the summit of Arthur’s Seat seeks subtly to complement the intricacies of each performance.

This second element is what we are working on now, in early July. There is some very interesting news to accompany this which we’ll publish soon!

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