[-empyre-] final questions for Patrick and Jason: the visual and indexing networked information

Helen Thorington newradio at turbulence.org
Mon Oct 26 12:39:05 EST 2009

Hi Anna:

Re your question to Jason: has the dominance of visualisation of  
networks obscured more interesting potential sonifications?  I  
remember the Ars-Electronica jury in 2007(?)  writing about the  
overwhelming number of visualization projects they had been forced to  
review. Their concluding words were: there must be something else out  
there!  I  agree:  and there is. But
visualizations continue to appear in overwhelming numbers; thanks to  
information aesthetics, new ones arrive in my email every day, .

On the.  other  side, however, musicians and composers have been slow  
to pick up on sonification.   Scientific researchers have looked on it  
as s a valuable tool , allowing them to study complex sets of  
scientific data and perceive variations and trends  invisible by other  
techniques,  but its use has been pretty much limited to  disciplines  
like chemical analysis, economic analysis, seismology, medicine. (see:  
sonification in wikipedia)  Until recently.

So for musicians and composers, sonification is pretty much of an  
emerging interest.

That said,  turbulence's   networked_music_review  contains a number  
of truly fascinating works  that introduce new and/or extra-audible  
sounds, thus broadening the potential source material for sound and  
musical work.  Miya Masaoka's Pieces for Plants (2002) is an  
interactive sound installation for laptop, synthesizer, and the  
American semi-tropical climbing Philodendron. Versions of the piece  
have been presented in a musical setting in which the plant  
participates as a member and soloist within an instrumental ensemble.  
In both installation and performance, the plant’s real-time responses  
to its physical environment are translated to sound.  “The Cloud Harp”  
installation by Nicolas Reeves sonifies astronomical phenomena. It  
uses an infra-red laser beam and a telescope that share the same  
optics to convert the height, density and structure of clouds into  
sounds and musical sequences in real-time.  Daniel Joliffe and Jocelyn  
Roberts  developed an installation that produces music in real time by  
following the azimuth, elevation and signal strength of the twenty- 
seven Global Positioning System (GPS) satellites developed by the US  

I could go on... Have visualizations obscured this work?  A different   
question: Has the hegemony of vision been broken?

-- Helen 

On Oct 25, 2009, at 5:25 PM, Anna Munster wrote:

> I'm about to bring our last lot of guests on board for October but  
> before I do, I'd like to ask Patrick and Jason about the use of  
> visualisation and its relation to information overload and writing/ 
> reading.
> Patrick you touch on the need to index using some kind of visual  
> system....
> Jason, you use the example of Aaron Koblin's work, which has also  
> delved into the visualisation realm (ie The Sheep Market) and which,  
> for different reasons uses visual display to make its point.
> In my article I am wary of what visualisation gives form to ie  
> patterns of behaviour in a networked economy.
> We are all aware of the  mot obvious forms of visual indexing of  
> networked information eg tag clouds etc - to what extent do these  
> reduce or enhance flows? And to what extent are they shaping a  
> homogenising behaviour in networks (this has been referred to in  
> Yvonne's posts as well)?
> Jason, I wonder if the dominance of visualisation of networks  
> abscures more interesting potential sonifications?
> Following from this, what role might artists take up (speaking of  
> artists broadly here as online art/designers) in breaking up this  
> homogeneity? Or put more concretely - which artists/designers/visual  
> examples are doing this now?
> cheers
> Anna
> A/Prof. Anna Munster
> Director of Postgraduate Research (Acting)
> Deputy Director Centre for Contemporary Art and Politics
> School of Art History and Art Education
> College of Fine Arts
> P.O. Box 259
> Paddington
> NSW 2021
> 612 9385 0741 (tel)
> 612 9385 0615(fax)
> a.munster at unsw.edu.au
> _______________________________________________
> empyre forum
> empyre at lists.cofa.unsw.edu.au
> http://www.subtle.net/empyre

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