Hum Quinta
Live Sound Generator   Greenroom, Vaudeville, Freed Up
  November 2008
51 people donated their humming voices to be captured with digital recording equipment. They were guests or performers from two monthly events at the Greenroom in Manchester: Freed Up (a poetry sharing event) and Vaudeville (showcase of performance, poetry, music and video). Once again a huge Thank you to organizers, supporters and voice donators.   In the meantime your hums have been edited to short audio clips of three seconds length. Each clip can be looped seamlessly.   Hum Quinta, a first test application, contains 24 clips, half of them female (f..), the other half male hums (m..). The programme loops six sound objects (humso.), whereby five are constantly playing and one is stopped and reloads a new random-picked audio clip. This process cycles continuously through all six sound objects in intervals of five seconds.
 
Vocal folds
Not surprisingly hums of female origin appear to have a higher pitch than those of their male counterparts. The average difference in length of the vocal folds, a membrane deep in our vocal tract, causes this. In an adult male, the vocal folds are usually 17-23 mm long, and 12.5-17 mm in an adult female. The male speaking voice averages about 125 Hz, while the female voice averages about 210 Hz. In other words the average wavelength of a female hum is shorter than that of a male hum.   Interference of sound
Mixing five audio waves with relatively stabile amplitudes and frequencies, the level of synchronicity between peaks and valleys, or crests and troughs, determines the level of interference events, either constructive as increase of amplitude and number of overtones or destructive resulting in lower volume and less audible spectrum.  
  These sound experiments are part of a project aiming to create a poetry machine. A machine that generates a perpetual flow of words, visuals and sounds in a synergetic fashion.  
  Male and female hum wave form Wave forms of an average male and female hum. The coloured areas indicate the different wavelengths.
 
Pendulum Poetry Machine
(african fragrance 2)
Cosmic Mother, Monica Sjöö vs. Lynx Africa
 
African Fragrance - Studies  African Fragrance v1.0 Fire Hazard - click African Fragrance v1.2 Power in the Shower - click African Fragrance v1.3 Stripped White - click African Fragrance v2.1 Savanna
THE ART MACHINE   A computer-generated mechanism. One can imagine a virtual pendulum swinging due to gravity on a trajectory path over a central equilibrium position. In my machine the equilibrium marks a countable parity of inputs from two contrary word pools.   In early project studies these pools consisted of words from the book The Great Cosmic Mother versus an advertising text for a men's deodorant product trademarked as Lynx Africa. Monica Sjöö, a Swedish painter and author, outlines in her and Barbara Mor's book a kind of spiritually charged feministic viewpoint on the origins of life. The Lynx Africa text on the other hand oozes a sense of masculinity and adventure. This is the kind of juxtaposing montage I am after.   The mechanics of the machine are driven by inputs from those contrasting pools of words. It is a poetry machine , its output will be semantic, measured by notions of poetry and general literary perception. Besides, the machine will create visual and audible outcomes, but their materializations, their rhythms are responding parts to the primary word flow.   Can a machine create art? The answer depends on the perspective of asking. The machine doesn't know what it is doing, it doesn't know about art. It's creator does and translates an artistic concept into a mechanism, attempting to make the machine create art. Machines can produce art, expressed through repetition, patterns, sounds, rhythms and the like, but this can only be recognized by somebody with aesthetic sensorium.   In 2008, the exhibition Art Machines - Machine Art in Basel/Switzerland asks in its press release: What can we (..) consider as the artwork: the machine, the final product or the process of creation?. My reply: the creation comes through skillfulness, the final product is up to aesthetic interpretation and finally, the machine as object/process embodies the whole artistic process.
 
Ascii Kiss
The next display holds an ASCII Movie. A movie consisting entirely of symbols, numbers and letters from a computer's character palette. In earlier stages of the work, it was used as a visual counterpart to the animated poem. Although I still see an aesthetic association between ASCII Art and the idea of a poetry machine, I decided to remove this element. The visual decipherment of such a movie demands a high level of attention. And this doesn't serve the synergetic oneness of text, visuals and sounds I have in mind. - The ASCII sequence is adapted from the short movie Lustopia by Tom Trambow.
  THE POETIC MACHINE   Is mechanic poetry possible? However smart a mechanism is set up, can it create semantic figures which actually make sense and engage a reader in aesthetic experiences?   The poetry machine itself doesn't know what poetry means. Sure, nowadays we use intelligent computerized spell and grammar checkers, all depending on character recognition, fast computers and language databases. But still it represents a mechanistic, serial process, and not an associative one within a given context. So far, no contemporary software is able to judge if one enters total nonsense into a text processor.   So what constitutes nonsense? Take for instance the words THE DARK WHITE. This seems to be nonsensical, even untrue for all what we know about colour and light. In a poetic context it bears a potential depth of meaning.   often are drones misconceptions   The Pendulum Poetry Machine processes snippets of deeper meaning purely by chance. To increase the frequence of how often the machine drops these poetic figures embedded into a certain narrative flow, that is the artistic goal.   Limited choice of words, verse-like repetition, density of words being displayed simultaneously and when may certain words be more likely to appear than others, all these aspects will be addressed in a new edition of the software code.   There is also work underway on a Visuals Generator. A sort of automatic shape/colour processor which will respond to the stream of words in a graphical/statistical manner.   And finally, arriving back at the top, there are 25/25 male and female hums to be woven into the machine's mechanics. The sound will be the most definite part to emphasize the swing of the inner pendulum.   The finished machine will be published online. Beyond that I plan to transform it into a spatial media installation.
  Pendulum Poetry Machine - Studies   Pendulum Poetry Machine 1 Teleprompter - click Pendulum Poetry Machine 2 Text research Pendulum Poetry Machine 3 Random Shape Generator - click Hum Quinta Hum Quinta
 
References & External Links
Venues   Freed Up : Website at MySpace
Vaudeville : Facebook page
Greenroom : Manchester's centre for new extraordinary performance
Physical Phenomena   The Vocal Folds : HyperPhysics Tutorial
Interference of Sound : HyperPhysics Tutorial
Pendulum Simulation : My Physics Lab
The Great Cosmic Mother   Monica Sjöö and Barbara Mor show that the religion of the Goddess - which is tied to the cycles of women's bodies, the seasons, the phases of the moon and the fertility of the earth - was the original religion of all humanity.   The Great Cosmic Mother : About the book
Mawu, African Mother of Us All : Painting, oil on hardboard, 1990
Monica Sjöö : Online tribute. Set up after she died on 8 August 2005
Art Machines   The machine with its automatic process does not posses the faculty of decision nor the possibility of selection. What is produced are mechanical works of art lacking the factor finality, but they are nevertheless a fundamental avowal of and testimony to the sovereignty of the machine and the basic belief in the possibilities of creative production beyond the act of the individual.   Art Machines - Machine Art : Press release to 2008 exhibition at the Museum Tinguely in Basel
Spatial vibration, Study II : Images/videos of a sound/drawing machine by Olafur Eliasson
Net.Art Generator : Smart Artist makes the machine do the work
Working Net.Art Generator : Creates image collages based on a title you choose
Lustopia   Lustopia : Short Movie by Tom Trambow
ASCII Art   American Standard Code for Information Interchange (ASCII) is essentially a character encoding scheme consisting of 128 characters. Using its 95 printable characters, computer art pioneers created images long before they could be rendered as raster graphics. Often ASCII images were added to emails as quasi graphical signatures. Some artists like the ASCII Art Ensemble even created ASCII movies adapted from motion pictures and TV series like Startrek. ASCII Arts are often associated with artistic concepts of using redundant or lowtech technologies to create art.   ASCII Art Ensemble : Brief biography + Links to works
Me Sleeping and ASCII Fish : Two examples from my ASCII images
ASCII Art Dictionary : Comprehensive info on ASCII Art + Huge collection of ASCII images
Lowtech.org : Sheffield based company advocates in low or no-cost information technology  
Artworks and concepts by Klaus-dieter Michel