Krapp’s Last Tape: Soundwalk 2011 Installation
October 3, 2011
— bill fontana, cage, education, electronic music, installation art, listening, literacy, media, music education, software, sound, sound art, soundwalk, steven speciale, teaching, three modes of listening
Go to 20’21″ to hear our contribution to the Audio Catalog.
The Soundwalk festival happened this past Saturday. The installation created by my students was very well-received. It was particularly interesting to watch the variety of interactions with the piece; I documented some of them in the above video.
Generally, I think the piece was quite successful. People seemed to understand and appreciate the expression. People were willing to engage with the work for extended periods of time. I noticed, however, that most people did not listen to the entirety of a soundscape. Most of the sounds were between one and two minutes. They were much more interested when a discernable loop sounded or the track glitched. In both cases, the distortion was an unintended consequence of the camera, poor lighting underneath the table, or software issues.
I especially enjoyed the dimension given to the work by the projections. This was made possible by the stand-alone software programmed in Max/Jitter by Zach Poff. The program is called Live Video Delay. The software allows you to adjust and mix a delayed-video image independent of the delayed audio. For our project, the video image was set as a 50/50 mix of the realtime image and the delayed image. The delayed image was separated from the original by about 100 frames- about 3 seconds in practice. The audio was delayed by 7 seconds.
I used a Yeti-microphone set to an omnidirectional pickup pattern to collect all the ambient sounds. These were fed into a separate Mac hosting the Live Video Delay. A Playstation Eye webcam served as the camera. I chose this cam because economy of scale makes it cheap, it is optimized for low-light levels, and it has a zoom lens. I ran the camera at 30 fps. Macam is required to plug this into a Mac. FYI, for some reason, Xbox webcams are plug-n-play with Macs! I don’t know why.
Congratulations to all of my students on a job well done! I’m already looking forward to next year’s project.