How do we navigate our technological world? Technology is
pervasive, and sometimes invasive, but integral to our lives
and the way that society functions. Often, our cell phones
seem like an extension of ourselves, a body part that
requires constant attention. It enables us to extend beyond
ourselves and also retract into ourselves.
append explores the intersections of people and networks,
considering relationship through different lenses and
circumstances: interaction, connection, distraction,
construction, and consumption. Consider your point of
access—as a viewer, a participant, an actor.
append is a multimedia interactive collaborative work combining circus, dance, emerging technology and music devised by Christiana Rose and Molly Barger. It premiered in Oberlin, Ohio at Warner Main on October 31, 2015.
The Box is a pressure sensitive granular synthesizer. Underneath the lid of the box are four force sensitive resistors(FSRs) connected to an Arduino Uno. The Arduino converts the analog voltage output, created by change in resistance in the electronic circuit when the FSRs are pressed down upon, to a digital number. This number is then sent through USB connection and received in the software program Max. An audio file is loaded into the program. The data is then mapped to control parameters of granular synthesis and stereo panning that modulate the audio file. Granular synthesis is based on splicing samples of sound into micro, typically 1-50 millisecond segments, or “grains”, then rearranging and manipulating them. Grains can be layered to create a “cloud” like sound or manipulated through pitch control and time stretching. In the case of The Box, Sensor 2 controls grain size, the length of the grain in milliseconds. Sensor 3 controls pitch randomness, the size of the register that a pitch could modulate in-between grains. Sensors 1 and 4 control stereo panning. This can be orientated in any way relative to the audience’s position and speaker placement to The Box, left and right, or forward and backward.
A performer using The Box will find the most interesting and nuanced sounds through minute shifts in pressure. A sudden hit or force, like jumping will cause the sensors to peak and create a distorted fuzzy sound. Through slower shifts a gradient, almost kaleidoscopic, modulation of the sound material will be heard. A performer can create complex rhythms and patterns using a variety of slow controlled shifts and quick sudden attacks of pressure.
The stretch sensors, made from conductive rubber tubing, are a loop based audio slow downer. The sensor is connected either between two people, a person and a stationary object or between two points on themselves in a voltage divider circuit. As the conductive rubber stretches its resistance increases. Similar to The Box, the stretch sensors are connected to an Arduino Uno which sends a digital number through the serial port to Max. One can connect up to four sensors at once and load four individual audio files specific to each sensor. The data is mapped to slow down the playback rate as the sensor stretches.
A performer needs to maintain a minimum tension within the sensor. In a resting state the audio file will continue to loop at a playback rate of 1.00; it’s original speed. The performer can increase the distance the sensor is stretched and maintain a slower playback rate. Depending upon the sample material, results may not be as obvious to the listener. Pitch will shift with playback rate, higher when resting, lower when stretched and slowed down. The conductive rubber is somewhat erratic in its electrical behavior and doesn’t always create a linear output, giving some life, or personality to these instruments. These sensors also create interesting challenges for the dancers. The circuitry and wires forced them to navigate how to move while continuously being connected from multiple points.