Archive for the 'Residency at Gallery Titanik' Category

June 28th Outdoor Skate Performance

July 6, 2006

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Despite the weather, the “Musique Concrete” project survived its first outdoor performance….well almost. You can watch a clip by clicking on the photo above.

The main concern was rain. Earlier that day it poured, jeopardizing the entire event. Fortunately, the sky cleared and the pavement dried just in time for the performance. Another concern was volume. Two small speakers were mounted on the end of one side of the bridge. Low frequencies did not seem to travel well and were saturated among the background noise of passing cars and buses. One solution to this problem would be obviously, to use larger speakers. Another solution would be to position the existing speakers near the water.

From a programming standpoint, the patch worked flawlessly. However, after one hour, the show was over. Too many kick flips and ollies loosened one of the soldered connections and broke the connection. That pretty much ended it.

“Wear and tear” is obviously an issue in projects such as these. At some point, something is bound to break. And for me, it was sooner rather than later. Nevertheless, one hour of solid skateboarding wasn’t too bad.

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This completes my residency period at Titanik. Overall, I’m satisfied with the outcome of this project and enjoyed my residency experience in Turku. For me, it was gratifying to achieve the goals that were set out to be accomplished by turning an idea into a reality.

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I’m especially grateful to the members of Titanik for supporting this project and for inviting me as their guest artist. Also, thanks to all those who attended the performances.

And finally, thanks to you for visiting this blog! If you have any questions, feel free to contact me.

You can check for updates and upcoming events related to the of the Musique Concrete project on my website .

Simon

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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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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