I Does DAT

Arthur Fonzarelli: Transgressor
October 31, 2006, 9:19 pm
Filed under: Production of Space

The FonzTask: Pick a person and describe their impact on space and how they transgress it.

I have chosen Arthur Fonzarelli, or ‘The Fonz’, as my subject because for some reason it’s the first name that popped into my head. I decided to think about how he effects space anyway and he seems to in a number of ways.

Whenever Fonzie arrives in a scene, he has a huge impact. The focus of the other players and of the audience instantly shifts to him and in this way he is placed in the centre of all space in the virtual world that is Happy Days. This often occurs before he has even appeared on screen because of the sound of his motorcycle arriving, at which point he transcends space by being out of the scene physically yet still at the centre virtually.

Also on arrival, the mood is usually lifted, as if everyone feels safer and ‘cooler’ when he’s around. Altering the mood of the space has a real effect on the actions of the people in it and their general activities in the show. Unlike any other character, the presence and existence of The Fonz in that time and space cannot be ignored and his influence is universal.

The way in which I believe he transgresses space lies in his conduction of business. Whenever he wants to have a serious conversation with another character in Al’s diner he uses the phrase “step into my office”. By ‘office’, of course he means ‘toilet’. When anyone else uses that space they use it for, as it was intended, going to the toilet. When Fonzie uses it, it is transformed into an office, an arena for serious discussion and privacy of a nature unrelated to relieving oneself.

Sound Applet
October 31, 2006, 3:55 pm
Filed under: Sound Practice

Our next assignment in this module is to create a sound applet, i.e. something that does something (with sound and using Max/MSP).

I’m a guitarist and for a long tme now I’ve wanted a loop pedal but buying one, although I can technically afford it, would seriously stretch my budget. This project looks to me like the ideal opportunity to have a go at making one myself. I know that it’s entirely possible with the software and support I have at my disposal so the only question mark is my own ability to get it working.

So, a loop pedal, or at least some software that does the same job – i.e. providing the ability to record samples on the fly, layer them in channels and control and loop their playback – is my intended focus for this assignment. I’m hoping the insentive of around a £200 saving will spur me on to succeed.

Max/MSP and Pure Data
October 31, 2006, 3:48 pm
Filed under: Major Project, Production of Space, Sound Practice

Throughout the year I forsee myself doing a lot of work with a very powerful piece of software called Max/MSP. In the 2nd year I created a negotiated project which was an interactive sound app and was tipped off about this software as an ideal route so I had a play with it and found it to be a style of programming (patch programming) that, on a basic level, I took to fairly well. However, this meant that my 30-day trial was used up back then and, not knowing how much I’d want to use it in the future, decided to have a go at the open source equivalent, Pure Data (pd).

Since I got to grips with this, and since it has its own advantages over Max, I intend to immerse myself in pd and use that instead. Any tips will be greatly appreciated, particularly if they help with the projects mentioned anywhere on this blog.

Abstract and Chapter Outline
October 27, 2006, 2:17 pm
Filed under: Dissertation

The advancement of sound technology since the introduction of computers as mainstream means that noises can now be designed to affect the human brain in a very precise way. This thesis discusses the influence of sound and exactly how much potential it has to impact on human behaviour and society.

By looking at existing research and practical implementations, such as I-Doser and neuro-linguistic programming (NLP), as well as self-conducted tests, it aims to prove (or disprove) not only that technologically crafted sound has the potential to have a profound psychological and physiological effect on us but also that everyday sounds that we ignore or take for granted are a strong factor on our everyday behaviour, habits and decisions.

Starting with research and argument for the proof of this, followed by research and argument for the disproof, I-Doser and applications of its nature come under scrutiny. I-Doser is essentially a music player designed to play sound files which can be bought from the website. The files come in ‘doses’ and use binaural beats to emulate certain drugs, from caffeine to lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD), by stimulating the same parts of the brain as would the drug. Also under investigation are suggested theories such as particular aspects of NLP, an area involved with the use of language and the effect it has on a person’s mind. For example, material presented in a certain way will affect the student’s interpretation of that material, or their ability to remember and understand it.

Once both sides of the argument are explored they are combined to form a more accurate picture. This picture leads to a conclusion of the facts, as well as the opinion and predictions of the author in relation to his hypothesis.

Chapter Outline

Argument for (thesis)
Argument against (anti-thesis)
Synthesis of thesis and anti-thesis
Conclusion in relation to hypothesis, including predictions for the future

i-Doser: The not so shady world of sound drugs
October 27, 2006, 1:12 pm
Filed under: Dissertation, Major Project, Sound Practice

During a conversation with a friend the other day, i-Doser was brought to my attention. This is a website from which you pay for a ‘dose’ of sound which is designed to make you feel a certain way. Once the sound has finished playing, it destroys itself and you can buy another dose.

There are a whole range of doses available which the creators claim can emulate, mostly recreational, drugs from anti-depressants and coffee to cocaine and out-of-body experiences. They do this using binaural beats to stimulate the same parts of the brain as the drug itself, supposedly giving you the sensation of the drug without any of the harmful chemical side effects.

I found the whole thing very interesting, especially considering the subject of my dissertation. I’ve tried a couple of doses myself without too much effect but I believe it works and I’ll persevere. Give it a go – you get some free doses to try when you download the program.

Metropolis Mix
October 27, 2006, 12:17 am
Filed under: Sound Practice

The first assignment on the sound practice module was to create a soundtrack for a 1 minute segment of the anime version of Metropolis. To do this I used Goldwave, a simple wave editor, and Adobe Audition, which allowed me to place sound and video along side one another and therefore position sounds to link up with the visuals.

Some of the sounds I used were from sound packs of human beatboxing, some were noises I made myself using a microphone and the talking was a clip from the Mighty Boosh radio series, and I manipulated these samples using effects such as reversing, echoing, pitch adjustment, etc. in both pieces of software to get them sounding how I imagined they should.

There are two sounds running almost constantly throughout the clip. The first is a recording of the first minute of ‘ecstacy’ from i-Doser, and the other a sound taken from a previous project; an oscillating wave noise created using Pure Data. I varied the volume level of this sound to reflect the camera shot and its distance from the robot.

Finally, the music in the background which divides the clip into two sections. I wanted a low, bassy, simple piece of music for the first part so I simply played some chords on a bass guitar and layered the recording into the movie. I played using a metronome to ensure that the music would fit in place according to my calculations. I wanted to time it so that a particular chord change happened at the same point as the main explosion. The second section is Yves Klein’s ‘Monotone Symphony’, which I thought had the right sound for the moment.

Folk Culture
October 17, 2006, 2:11 pm
Filed under: Critical Context - Culture Industries

Today’s guest speaker in the Culture Industries was the Principal Arts Officer from Plymouth City Coucil. He talked about the council’s involvment with local art projects and scemes and raising the standard of living and potential for the creative industries through the improvement of presence and awareness of ‘culture’, which he used primarily as a term for High Culture/High Art.

This got me thinking more about local culture in a broader definition. I am particularly interested in folk culture, i.e. the cultural and social activities of local people; what they do for recreation and their ‘creative industries’, by which I mean industries that have built up around or are reliant on this local culture. I’m also very keen on folk music and it’s roots. Perhaps this could be an avenue to explore on a specifically local basis, even specifically local to a few selected places.