Archive for June, 2006

Ode to Fibonacci or homage to the city

June 26, 2006

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In the photo above, a series of numbers descending vertically along the smokestack of the Turku power station reads 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34, 55. What is so special about this otherwise ugly architectural construction? This edifice, adorned with these numbers confirms a special mathematical relationship known as the Fibonacci sequence.

The Fibonacci sequence is obtained by adding the previous two numbers starting with the integer 1. Ex. 1+1=2, 2+1=3, etc. Divide any number in the Fibonacci sequence and the result is always close to 1.61803. This is known as the “golden ratio” or the “golden mean” and is applied in many architectural structures including the Parthenon in Greece. It also explains certain natural phenomena such as the growth pattern of a sunflower or the reproduction cycle of rabbits.

The Turku power station is obviously no place for skateboarding however it will serve as inspiration for this Wednesday’s skateboard performance.

“Ode to Fibonacci” pays homage to this special sequence of numbers and aims to celebrate skateboarding, the city and architecture in Turku.

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Notes are selected from a range of numbers from 0 to 55 and played based upon the Fibonacci sequence.

When rolling, the following eight notes are triggered F, G, A, B, C, D, E, F . These notes are comprised of a “Lydian” scale and correspond respectively to: 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34. (the Fibonacci sequence.) By default, non-Fibonacci numbers will output the “low” F note.

Faster wheel rotations yield greater output rates. Thus increasing the speed will increase the tempo. (The maximum value for the tempo is set at 377 beats per minute or 159 milliseconds.)

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Skateboarding as relating to sound, space and architecture.

Like gravity which is relative to the presence of matter and the curvature of spacetime, skateboarding is relative to space, and is manifested through the interpretation of space (architecture) with movements and sounds relative to the surrounding environment. In this respect, the skateboarder is a composer of space interacting both visually and acoustically within these spatial surroundings.

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What next? Skateboarding on a bridge

June 19, 2006

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A pedestrian and bicycle bridge spanning the Aura river in Turku, Finland will be the next location for the “Musique Concrete” project. Known as the “theater bridge,” this location will provide an excellent setting for the performance and present unique structural, functional and symbolic architectural elements.

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The performance is scheduled on Wednesday, June 28th at 6pm and will offer an interesting display of new media, sound, and skateboarding in the public realm. Click here for more information about the “theater” bridge.

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Click on the photo below to view the “test run”. The owner of the ice-cream stand (depicted in the background of this photo) kindly supplied the electricity.

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Performance at Barker-Theatre June 8th 2006

June 10, 2006

Thursday, June 8th marked the first public performance of the “Musique Concrete:” project showcased at the Barker-Theatre in Turku, Finland.

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Photos: courtesy of Reiska

After contemplating various musical ideas for the final performance, I decided to structure the composition based on three fundamental movements on a skateboard: rolling, turning, and tapping. Each of these three movements corresponded to a musical voice and was transmitted wirelessly via radio signals using the MIDI protocol:

The movements, once synchronized, produced a maximum of three simultaneous voices. My goal was to include fundamental musical elements such as rhythm, meter, melody, and harmony into the composition. Rolling corresponded to rhythm while turning would trigger a pentatonic scale melody. The scale would go up or down according to the direction of the turn. Finally, tapping triggered a series of one-second sound samples recorded from the urban environment.

In addition, the patch was divided into three sections allowing me to score the composition. Each section varied the instrumentation, pitch, and velocity of each voice and alternated over a certain period of pre-defined time. Instead of synchronizing the changes to a clock, I thought it would be more interesting to program them according to the number of wheel rotations-giving the composition a non-linear quality. The faster the wheels rolled, the faster the change was executed. After 1500 wheel rotations, the composition alternated from industrial-sounding bangs and whirling oscillators to soft tones with melodic harps.

Even though the idea was conceived almost one year ago, all of this was completed in 5 weeks during my residency period at Titanik and consisted of a skateboard, a computer, a wireless interface, a photo-resistor, a piezo sensor and a flex-sensor.

Overall, I’m satisfied with the results of the project. Despite, a few programming errors, the music sounded as what I imagined. Choosing the theatre as a location had its advantages: making use of the entire space I was able to flow freely on the skateboard and around the audience while leaving extra room for a quarter-ramp, a fun-box, a high-jump and a kicker.

The performance was well received by the public and many thanks to all who attended; especially to Sanna, the people at the Barker Theatre and the rest of the team at the Titanik gallery for making it possible.

Stay tuned for a video documenting the event.

Some news coverage from the Turun Sanomat documenting Thursday’s performance in an article dated Saturday, June 10th 2006.

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