Monday, December 17

Quicktake: Billy Apple at Auckland Art Gallery

Billy Apple staged a sound performance at the Auckland Art Gallery yesterday afternoon, filling the usually tranquil Albert Park area with roars and smoke from the "The Billy Apple Historic Racing Collection" - a series of classic British grand prix bikes like the 1962 Norton Manx 500cc, once raced by innovative cycle designer John Britten. Reconfiguring the traditional gallery circuit of Kitchener and Lorne streets as a conceptual track, Apple had notable riders deliver their 20 minute sonic barrage in the 'pit'. Apple has a long engagement with sound in previous works, such as Severe Tropical Storm at Window, in which an extended 'soundtrack' was composed from data sourced from a fateful voyage on a freight liner. The usual generic throttle sounds were replaced with a range of throaty roars, pops, and piercing buzzes - demonstrating different attributes of each bike, and reinforcing the artist's statement that "the difference between the AJS and Norton is like the difference between a trumpet and a trombone."

New Hye-Rim work at Art Basel Miami

Hye Rim Lee recently sent word about new work in the Art Basel Miami Beach show - the US counterpart to the parent show in Switzerland. "My 3 new work Crystal City, a digital print series 1, (c-type print, 72 inch x 72 inch), Candyland, a series of digital print (70 cm x 70 cm, c-type print) will be at Art Miami Basel, Kukje Gallery stand." Lee showed earlier in the year here in Auckland at Stark White gallery, before heading off to a residency in New York.

Wednesday, December 5

Code snippet: Simple sound visualisation

While United Visual Artists produce ambitious, mammoth installations for artists like the Chemical Brothers (shown above), you can respond to music and sound with some simple Flash code.

With the advent of version 9 of the software, Adobe has introduced a spectrograph tool, capable of reading and responding to the various EQ changes in a song. This enables rich feedback - scripts for example could show deep purple for base heavy techno, and a light pink line for a high-pitched opera sonata. Programmers have responded with an array of experiments, sound toys, and visualisers like the ones from this competition on The Flash Blog.

The only problem is that live sound, either from a microphone or the input on a computer, doesn't have this ability. Programmers are restricted to responding to basic volume changes, which although simple, can still be compelling. From a dozen lines of code....

// construct mic object
var mic:Microphone = Microphone.getMicrophone();

// setup mic parameters
mic.gain = 60;
mic.rate = 11;
mic.setSilenceLevel(0, 10000);

// respond to mic volume
function showVolume(e:Event):void {

// run this every frame
addEventListener(Event.ENTER_FRAME, showVolume);

....To more complex examples using extensions such as open-source 3d project Papervision:

Sneak preview of Annie Bradley's "Interpulsator"

Opening on Friday at Window Online and On Site, thought we'd give you a sneak preview of "Interpulsator", a screensaver-based work by Annie Bradley. Coming to life when the system becomes idle, the piece embraces some of the conventions of the medium, while ignoring others - installing itself as traditional software but then 'failing' to save, allowing parts of the screen to burn in because the pixels are never refreshed. Annie provides additional tangents on her show page, ranging from the first digital watch to time-keeping stars (Pulsars) and hardware diagrams of LEDs. Available for PC or Macintosh systems.

Tuesday, December 4

Quicktake: Compact Listen CD Release

An absorbing sound emanated from Cross St Studios in Auckland on Friday night, heard by the lucky bunch who attended the CD release of Compact Listen, from the label CLaudia.

The launch included a night of performances from three of the groups included on the CD compilation, which surveys some of New Zealand's recent audio explorers.

Praise be to Tim Coster and Nigel Wright who were first up. They lulled their audience with a perfect parabola of noise, a nice complement to sipping shared beers and sitting on a cushion.

Nigel Wright and Tim Coster.
(Apologies to the artists for poor sound in the recording)

Rosy Parlane also produced some wonderfully complicated sounds from his laptop, his music is like wine that gets discussed in terms of its full bodies and citrusy tangs. Yum.

Sweetcakes--an ensemble of three wooden percussive instruments, a drum kit and a laptop--came together to produce a sound that had an air of a 1960s after dinner improv session, plus laptop, although sadly without the visible or audible enjoyment associated, providing an eclectic cap to the night.