absolute value of noise
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Introduction The Text + Sounds Exhibitions

A generative sound installation by Absolute Value of Noise © 2004.


The centre piece of this installation is a "fantastical" instrument in the form of a collection of hand made wooden speaker trumpets - a reference to literary works from the turn of the Century (19th - 20th) that imagine an industrial future full of technologies that compose endless sound-scores. Inspired by an article by Douglas Kahn about imaginary instruments, this piece generates sound collages based on four stories (or four such instruments) - The Factory Floor, Very Low Frequency (magnetic) Sculpture, Ocean Harp and Volcano Trumpet.

Spark Writing is a form of long distance communication imagined by Velimir Khlebnikov in 1915. He predicted a strange form of electronic writing that would one day connect fishing communities along the Volga.

A few years ago I read an article by Douglas Kahn about "conceptual instruments" (Annual InterCommunication '95, ICC, Tokyo). Kahn described the work of a number of writers from the turn of the last Century (late 1800s to early 1900s). These authors imagined such musical instruments as volcanoes shaped like flutes and trans-atlantic cables that acted as giant harps - plucked by the ocean waves during a storm. Inspired by this, I delved deeper into the works of Russian Futurists and early Science Fiction writers. Using a similar style to some of the works I had found, I wrote four texts about different fantastical instruments. This text, cut into a broken narrative, is interleaved with the sounds of the proposed virtual instruments to form the basis of a generative sound score.

The piece uses generative audio software that I developed to run on a Macintosh Powerbook. It generates threads of sound, each involving a different narrative (one of the four stories). These sound threads are then played on handmade trumpet-like speakers that hang from the ceiling on mono-filament (fishing line). The speakers are connected to the computer by braided-copper wires that also float in the air to a certain degree.

(Peter Courtemanche 2004)



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