Set your intentions (what are you setting out to do?)
I’m designing (and possibly building) an ecosystem that has its own rules but also adjusts to input from entities outside of the ecosystem. The ecosystem is embodied in a set of tangible sonic objects/sculptures that together comprise a musical instrument that behaves in ways that are not always predictable and cannot be controlled completely as it has its own agency. I recently learned from Marina that there is such a thing as Actor Network Theory so this seems to fit with what I’m trying to say. Posthuman theory may also apply. The interactions modeled can be applied to one’s relationship to human groups not just other species but the thought behind this is semilar to posthuman theory and fits within it. It can even be used to examine one’s relationship with one’s self (more on that later in the blog)
One can make music/noise/soundscapes by entering into and collaborating with the ecosystem that already creates sound on its own without outside input.
Alternative updated idea after some brainstorming for Future of Sculpture
I'm interested in interactions or objects that encourage us to meditate on how we relate to our environment (maybe nature or even other people, possibly even ourselves). I'm also interested in erasing the difference between humans and other things. It is also related to my interested in modeling collaborative interactions that are the opposite of monologic ways that we impose our will on objects and nature. Feels like we forget we are animals too, you know? (capitalist pigs to be precise, jk) I learned from Marina that there is this thing called Posthuman theory and Actor Network Theory and it sort of helps me talk about my intuitions.
I'm interested in two things and may be able to combine:
1. crafting ecosystems/worlds of interactions between different non-human but kind of living (in-between) entities that have their rules and that human interaction can change/effect. Some more on this. The ecosystem is embodied in a set of tangible sonic objects/sculptures that together comprise a musical instrument that behaves in ways that are not always predictable and cannot be controlled completely as it has its own agency The work is a group of sound sculptures (sound emitting kinetic objects, which i call sound sculptures to keep it more vague) that create look abstract but kind of living. And they coo and call (something between animal and synth, but also not staying away from humorous and scatalogical stomach gurgling and fart sounds) upon one another on their own once in a while but also can be instigated by a human presence. They will probably fart once in a while, like very 4 hours. And other times they will break into song together and make admirable stuff (like any collective haha).
2. I'm also interested in forms that are between things and beings, between humans and animals.
The goal is to make them playful and i am not staying away from grotesque. I hope they will create a feeling of being between disgust and delight at the anthropomorphized things.
-Lious de Bourgeois cat mother ( Nature Study). I saw it first at Mike Lechey's show 3-d printed in hot pink. The hot pink is my favorite version of it. The juxtaposition of flesh and an artificial robotic pink color is really relevant to my project's aesthetic.
Ernesto Neto Humanoids and other works (fleshy, biological, fun, oversized)
- Patricia Piccinni (don't want to do anything realistic though).
- I also like the tardigrade a lot - it's so funny and so such a weird mix b/w human and animal.
- I found out about Marcel Duchamp's Wedge of Chastity from the "It Feels like...Flesh" reading by Ruba Katrib and i think that really works in how the material and form suggests a body but it's not representational.
-Donna Harroway's non-visual stories about cyborgs.
- maybe a little similar to my illustrations for Adjacent. (hahah i am my own influence :) )
Set your goals (personal learning objectives)
I’d like to learn about how one can build such a system with code.
The other objective is to explore materials that can be used for such a system. So far I have created sculptures from paper mush and I would like to continue to do so. I have molds to 3d print currently and those can be used to make paper enclosures that can age and be replaced. I also intend to explore cement for its durability. Possibly plush sculptures as well. Maybe foam resin if I decide that it’s a valuable material for a certain interaction, but I’m not a fan of using toxic materials like this if it can be avoided. Keeping to paper, plaster, and cement for adding weight is probably enough for the scope of the work this semester.
Hypothesis: what are you asking?
What effect would a man-made technological system that requires collaboration- dialogic not monologic interaction - have on people? Would such a system help people reflect on themselves and the world around them in a new way, would they be reminded to wait, listen, and have more respect for non-human systems or even other human systems that are seen as subordinate to the Western person?
In addition I think the system will be abstract enough to represent a kinder and more open way to collaborate with other entities but also with one’s self. It’s not kinder in an emotional way but in a dialogic way. These interactions don’t necessarily represent “you and other species” or “you and other cultures or groups” but can also represent “you and how you treat yourself as part of this society” as these relationships are often also not as transparent and helpful as they could be (Foucault’s ideas about power of society I’ve the individual and how s/he views herself are relevant here). Apart from the reflection on one’s relationship with self or others, the sound playground is intended to provide an outlet for creativity. It’s a tool for people to come to understand, reflect, and create. What they bring into the system will influence the knowledge and sound. The meditative nature if the sound design will be conducive to that state of mind. It’s not necessary for people to be aware of the thought process / theory behind the system. It’s going to be an enjoyable playing and listening experience that would just create the atmosphere and set the tone that puts people into a certain state of mind
Not sure yet if this will be as important but I can see how It also takes us back to the origins of where we learn collaboration - through play. (Richard Sennett).
Method: How will you test it?
I plan to create a set of programs (possibly in physical enclosures so that it’s tangible) that allow for these types of interactions to happen. The programs would likely be in p5, tone.js, or max MSP as sound is a really good medium for this. It’s abstract enough and has a wide range of distinguishable possibilities for the human ear. Using visuals would be too tricky as people tend to tie visuals to symbols. But maybe not! For now sound is what I would like to use.
Epistemologies: what ‘ways of knowing” are you employing? How experimental and open can you be in your research of material and form?
So far in employing just p5 paired with Tone.js on an iPhone that has an accelerometer in it (eventually I might switch to pure data for raspberry pi). The idea is to fashion several interactions and see how someone (myself and others who try this) react. Is it just a little annoying to comply and not have to impose your will over w system like we are used to doing or is it engaging? Is it satisfying to listen and learn in order to create together with a non human system? Is it too frustrating? If so, is there a way to model what I’m gong for in a different way?
Results: what goals will you have for your ideation?
The goal is to create a series of system interactions that are both satisfying for that the person who is interacting - affecting the system - and also disruptive. The disruptive part is intended to be subtle but noticeable, not jarring.
Contexts: where do you see this work existing?
This first prototype of a collaborative playground will probably not be weatherproof (I think those enclosures are often expensive and not sustainable. Unless I make inflatables. That’s probably an idea for the future iterations.) For now it’s a series of instruments made of paper or cement but not waterproof (even the cement piece will have openings). So I guess it will have to be an installation that lives within walls. I picture it will take up at least 5 x 5 feet of space either on the floor or a table. Probably they would have to be in a free gallery space or public library where they can be looked over since they will likely be medium level of durability and have expensive electronics. I got the Tandon prototyping fund but it won’t cover a more durable implementation. If this collaborative playground hits the spot with people I’d be happy to make it into something that people can play wiqth in public spaces.
Public(s): who will you make this work for/with?
In theory, if weatherproof and securered, I’d love for this to be available to the public in public spaces. My only concern is sound pollution but maybe mixing sounds with traffic etc is okay. Maybe this can live in the world with all the elements. I think it would serve people better in a quiet area where people can think calmly and focus.
Documentation: use the suggested template (on the student blog page) for tracking your work threads, or design your own
Possible way it could look on in action
Possibly the instrument will be laid out like this in a space where people can touch and move objects observing the sounds they create collectively with others and with the system.
Here you see the multiple people interacting with it. It’s an interesting experience for groups of various ages and abilities. Adults kids able and disabled can all partake in creating sounds with the disciverable shapes that require no musical background to play. The accessibility angle is actually important decayed I think the work is not an elite art object but a helpful or at least playful tool for people to meditate, reflect, create.
whether it has visitors or not, the ecosystem (if powered on by batteries or plugged into outlet) still creates sound periodically. One of the objects will periodically trigger a change in the others, invite them to start sonic communications. Not all will be programmed to produce the same sounds. At least one will serve to collect sound from the environment and insert it into the collection of samples that become part of the system. In this way the system also becomes a sonic portrait of its environment.
Future ideas are many but this one is fun: a manifestation of these ideas might also include sound suits that people can wear in order to become part of a system of others, both human and nonhuman. even a dog could technically be in this suit :) and I think Donna Haraway would approve of that decision.
the suits are inspired by Ernesto Neto’s synthetic plush sculpture series called Hunanoids. My suits could be physically connected like algae or lichen or other units made of unicellular organisms or just be connected in terms of sound interactions through Bluetooth.