Re: [-empyre-] space, time and narrative

on 11/6/03 4:30 PM, Melinda Rackham at wrote:
> no one has said anything about sound in this senario.. which is crucial in
> time production..
> melinda

Firstly I don't work in 3D. I do however work in Flash and sound is a big
part of what I am trying to do.
Initially I was trained as a visual artist, traditional media etc.
Lately I have acquired a Masters in Design - Digital Media, at UWS.
My coursework included 2 projects dealing with sound in digital artworks.
I had a lot of trouble getting cross-faculty help with sound production, in
fact none eventuated. (sound familiar?)

Nevertheless I ploughed on.

The final work I produced for my masters degree was an interactive web
audio/visual artwork.
In making this happen I discovered or rediscovered the complexity and
richness of sound and music. I realised that the audio world was just as
complex as the visual world. And I realised just how ignorant I was of the
world of sound. Trying to acquire insights into sound and music wasn't easy,
I came up against a kind of professional/area of practice, barrier when
talking to composers and performers. I realised that to communicate properly
I would probably need to spend years educating myself in sound and music
theory and practice.

On reading a book by and about Morton Feldman,* one of the New York school
of composers (Cage etc) I came to understand the importance of listening. Of
hearing the subtlety in sounds, timbre, variations in instruments and
performance styles etc. To bring a high level of attention and awareness to
listening also requires a high degree of focus and therefor immersion in the
work. This can be very rewarding and very demanding.

The use of sound in games is mostly to enhance crucial events like fighting
or to create atmosphere. The visuals come first, then the score. Similarly
with a lot of digital artwork (not all of course)**. Its difficult to find
audio/visual work where the subtlety of sound/music is emphasised. So much
music and sound is like wallpaper or is used like wallpaper. I am not
disparaging the use of sound in games and digital artwork here, it is an
extremely effective and indeed essential part of many games and/or digital

Sound can be very physical, as in a Buddhist chant, the sound is made deep
in the chest in order to stimulate the heart. And with rock concerts, the
base from the speakers really physically rocks your body. Silence can also
be very disturbing and evocative - in space, they can't hear you scream.

In the ?real world¹, leaves crackle, cats meow, babies cry. An object makes
a sound, we associate the object with the sound or vice-versa.

What I am interested in is the idea that a software object can produce sound
and image variations when interacted with. It also becomes more interesting
if the object is complex enough in its behaviour to produce large
variability in sound and image display, such that it seems to be alive or
volitional. To imitate nature, make things like leaves, insects, animals and
attach sounds to them is an obvious course to take but to invent new
associations of form/object/scene with sound or vice versa is another, or an
obvious challenge with interactive screen art.


* Give My Regards To Eighth Street, Ed B.H.Friedman, Exact Change-Cambridge

** See ,Personal Eden, by John McCormack :-
?Eden is a self generating artificial ecosystem. A two dimensional cellular
world is populated by collections of evolving creatures. Creatures move
about the environment, foraging for food, encountering predators and
possibly mating with each other. Over time creatures evolve fitness to the
landscape.¹ The creatures can see at close distances and also hear. The
sounds you hear while Eden is running are the sounds the creatures learn to
make. They can recognise the tonal ?colour¹ of the sound and also its
direction. In some evolutions of Eden, creatures use sound to help them mate
or find food.  Personal Eden CD-ROM.


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