Archive for May, 2006

Performance Countdown-June 8th 2006

May 30, 2006

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This week was spent planning for the “Musique Concrete” skate performance.

It is scheduled on Thursday, June 8th at 17 h at the Barker-Theatre located in a former textile factory situated along the banks of the Aura river.

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Barker Theatre; Turku, Finland

You can learn more about the project here For those who cannot attend, please check back for a video documenting the event.

This is the flyer

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You can also watch a trailer here

Patchwork

May 22, 2006

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This week, the average temperature dropped about ten degrees to 43 F/6 C making it a force majeure to working inside with Max/MSP. “Numbers in boxes” summarizes this week’s blog entry by default.

Almost halfway through the residency period, I can say that my learning curve has risen considerably. I’m now executing timed commands with the object “metro” giving a new dimension to my patch. In Max language, the object “metro” refers to metronome, allowing commands to be sent in units of milliseconds. Metro also can be used for scoring a composition by triggering messages or series of commands occurring in linear time.

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My unfathomable patch-somewhat resembling last year’s Christmas lights.

Based upon the snapshot above, you can tell I’m not a programmer; therefore creating a patch adapted to the movements on a skateboard is a matter of trial and error.

My experience thussofar has been twofold: programming and skateboarding. First of all, when dealing with numbers and calculations, there is less room for error. One is either right or wrong. However, when it comes to skateboarding, there is a greater margin of flexiblity. The challenge has been to find the balance between the two. Creating a statement such as : if action, then reaction is not enough. Demonstrating a realistic dialogue between the two languages (physical and programming) has been a major challenge.

“By pressing down this special key, it plays a little melody,…” Click on photo above to watch the video clip of the first test run.

In addition to programming, I’ve been paying several visits to Turku ‘s public library. It has an exceptional system: Up to fifty books, CD’s DVD’s, cassettes and comic books can be borrowed at one time, free of charge to all residents.

The first book I’m reading is Finland’s national epic story: Kalevala, a collection of poems compiled by folklorist Elias Lönnrot. It is centered around the cultural heros of Finnish mythology.

The second book “Homo Ludens” by Johan Huizinga is a historical account of the play element of culture and society; “Homo” (man) and ‘Ludens” (play). Huizinga argues that play is not just a caprice or distraction but in fact a freedom. “Only when play is recognized as a cultural function- a rite, a ceremony-is it bound up with notions of obligations and culture” he states.

Huizinga’s book brings forth many questions concerning skateboarding and its relationship between play and culture. Was playing a catalyst for our technological advancements in the past? Stay tuned in the next blog.

week 2

May 13, 2006

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This week, I continued working on programming while examining the different types of sound generated by the computer. With my patch, I’m now able to control the volume, velocity and pitch of the MIDI signal. I also mounted a flex sensor on the truck.

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Flex sensors change resistance when bent.

With the flex sensor, I can explore even more parameters like delay, reverb and gain while executing turns on the skateboard.

With only three sensors mounted, the skateboard already looks like a ‘wire spaghetti’ but the clear tape helps fasten them down. Somehow the additional weight isn’t noticeable while riding. Much to my surprise, the skateboard has been able to withstand a considerable amount of shock and vibration.

Tuesday, I went on an excursion to Helsinki to attend a yearly art exhibit held by the students of the Master of Arts program. “The festival chooses to link rather than represent” reads one of the slogans in the brochure. Sculpture, video, textile art, painting, photography, among a multitude of other forms of expression were all “linked’ together under the roof of the University. The Master of Arts program is located in the former porcelain factory situated in the industrial quarter of Helsinki known as “Arabia.”

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Finally, it was time to test the board. I began riding around the gallery floor. It is a perfect space for a skate performance. The floor rolls well and there are several rooms from which to weave in and out.

Later in the week, two newspapers: ” Turun Sanomat ” and “Åbo Underrättelser” covered the skateboard project and the new residency program during a press meeting on Thursday. Two articles were printed the following day.

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Later that evening, it was QBICO RECORDS night at the Dynamo club. Several groups performed from this ecclectic label. One of which was called Lauhkeat Lampaa- ( which I’m told loosely translates from Finnish into “mellow sheep”.) The name was fitting to its music : wood, wind, and subtle pastural folklore were all elements evoked while listening to them.

Gallery Titanik; Turku, Finland

May 3, 2006

Week One

May 2nd: The first day

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Yesterday marked the first official day of the two-month residency period at Gallery Titanik in Turku, Finland. It is a double honor to be invited here this spring and to be their first artist in residence.

It was a sunny and windy morning. Sanna and Mailis greeted me at the gallery and introduced me to the rest of the staff. After taking a tour of the studio and exhibit space, we decided that it would much easier to get around town with a bike than a skateboard.

Sanna and Mailis and I walked to a second-hand shop in town and purchased a hot pink and black bicycle with a blue front tire.

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I’m now cruising around Turku in style. As we descended down a hill Mailis mentions to me that her “Pony” brand bicycle has unreliable brakes and therefore acquired the name “Killer Pony”. I wonder what nickname I will give my bicycle.

After the 1 o’ clock gallery board meeting, Sanna introduced me to the members of the committee and we go to lunch in a vegetarian restaurant/boat stationed along the river…After lunch, we cross the river via ferry (Fori) and proceed towards the Ammattikorkeakoulu (the Turku University of Applied Sciences.)

In search for skateboarders…

We locate two skateboard spots: one near the university, (an large and flat rectangle-shaped plaza area with stairs and ledges)

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…and the other, an indoor skatepark near a fragrant smelling water-pipe factory called the “Cube.”

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Our third and last stop is Kuppis Kupitaa, a large recreational park with sport facilities, a water park and soccer fields. Among the whipping gusts of wind and dust, we finally locate a BMX and skateboard area outside the park and befriend the local ten year-old skateboarders.

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After trying out the ramps, the kids are impressed. As we say goodbye, they ask for autographs. It was a long and complete day… and only the first of many more to come…

Day 2

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The second day was spent working on the skateboard mechanics. I’m using special skateboard wheels which emit light as they rotate, creating just the right conditions for triggering sound. By mounting a photo-resistor(light sensor) near the skateboard wheel, the sensor receives the varying differences in light levels and it transfers them into data.

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This data is then interpreted into a software program triggering the pitch of a MIDI sound file. In this case it was file was” bird chirps,” but it sounded more like electric static. Nevertheless, it was fun rolling around the studio floor on lighted wheels.

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