Sound Project – MEDA101 Assessment 2

If you have the opportunity to listen to this project through headphones and/or surround sound, please do so 🙂

The driving concept behind my Sound assessment was to take the listener to places in time that are meaningful to me – these being instances, places and experiences that I hold dear both in the past and in the present. All included scenes/sound segments evoke a sense of euphoria through nostalgia and are intended to feel as though it is almost constructed as a narrative, including the use of audio queues to convey transition (the closing of a car door, controller connection of a Nintendo Switch etc.). I had challenged myself from the start to create a sound piece that consisted of individual sounds, edited in a way that creates a seamless, real life feel for the audience. No soundscape in this project is a single recording, and consists of over 60 individual sound bites.

‘Where I’m From’ Remoscope – MEDA101 Assessment 1

My interpretation of the brief and poem was that we are to showcase who we are, in relation to our surroundings and how this relationship has shaped who we are. Using this as the driving concept, my Remoscope was developed so that my passions, hobbies and environment were the main focus highlighting how I fit into that equation. Every shot incorporates something that is important to me. My environment is a reflection of me and I am a reflection of it. By seeing one, you are seeing the other, and through this capturing a glimpse of my daily life and who I am as an individual.

Experimentation Summary

nosleep blog

This whole topic has been quite challenging to me. Not only because the topic itself is relatively open to interpretation, but because I am somebody that likes to think with an end goal. Being forced to step outside of my comfort zone and stray from an outcome oriented style of thinking was stressful, to say the least. I had found myself sitting around for hours, in some cases days almost pulling my hair out due to the fact that I had yet fully grasped the idea that I had to just do something – Not something with an end state, but just something. I constantly second guessed myself – Is this an experiment? Will this be good enough? Have I done too little? It was only till I turned off my rational brain that the ball began to get rolling for me (this could have been potentially due to a lack of sleep or lack of oxygen to the brain from my rage induced meltdowns).

When it did though, that is when I started to have fun. I took pride in my creations – or there lack of. I began to invest a little more of myself each time I had tried a new experiment, pushing my materials both typical to my style and that no so much buy cutting, pasting, twisting, stacking, overlaying, sampling, distorting, so on and so forth, trying things I usually wouldn’t as seen through my experimentation videos. I tried to push myself and the limits of my knowledge, and as shown in my final 2A video, my body and myself as a material without a guaranteed outcome nor the knowledge of there being an outcome at all. I mean, that is at the end of the day what an experiment is.

It was quite surprising to see how much influence this time around the workshops had on my processes. It was a struggle, but I have learned a lot. Specifically that sometimes to be an artist in any field we need to let go and just experiment. Through this new ideas may spawn, questions may be answered, more questions may arise, the experiment itself may in it’s own way become a work of art. If we don’t try new things we are never going to grow as an individual. I look forward to taking this lesson into my next challenge.

Week 4 – DIAMONDS

For my final video I wanted to really try something hands on. Not sure exactly what I had wanted to play with, I trolled around the house and through my collection of tools and bits I had laying around. I had come across some Aluminium foil tape, which is just like normal sticky tape…but like aluminium foil… I started to record myself playing with it, ripping it up, twisting it, sticking it down flat, building it up on top of each other.

Once I had finished manipulating this material, I had moved the camera up close to the tape structure and started to record again. Using a light on my phone I had moved it around the back of the structure allowing light to flow through to see what would come out of it whilst scrunching the excess foil tape. It almost sounds like glass, or a crackling fire! Interestingly enough, for some unknown reason the light that was beaming through the camera lens was causing a pulsating rainbow effect during the recording. I still don’t know what this is or why it happened, but it had created a really interesting effect! I love mistakes.

Material:

  • Aluminium foil sticky tape
  • DSLR
  • Light
  • Smart Phone
  • Sound

Week 3 – Digital Restriction

After our workshop with Teo in week 3 and some constructive feedback, I was encouraged to play with distortions and recorded video. So I did! Originally, I had used a DSLR to record my retro style fan and placed a Time Displacement over the top of the footage in After Effects. As strange as that looked, I felt it were too…simple? Knowing full well that simple wasn’t a bad thing, I had set out to try this same experiment on something different.

I recorded my face and once more placed a time displacement over the footage and ended up with some interesting results. Happy with this experiment I began the process of rendering out the video. But then I made a mistake – I had moved the slider and due to the limitations of the software/hardware a whole chunk of the video pixelated and distorted. I thought “well, it’s ruined already, let’s bugger it up some more!” I grabbed the slider whilst the screen was recording and repeatedly slid it back and forth on the timeline. The result is what you see in my third experiment. Pulling from my previous video which had me also playing with sound, I had once again set out to see how it would interact with the footage.

I think I’ve ended up with some interesting, if not slightly disturbing results.

Materials:

  • Myself
  • After Effects
  • DSLR
  • Sound bytes
  • Video itself

 

Week 2 – ephemerality

Week two was a struggle. I was plagued by a serious lack of creative juices and it had me panicking. Guests are usually a pain in the back side as well, so when I caught word that I had some family visiting it was time to clean the house. What a blessing that was! (no sarcasm here). Whilst putting away a few things, I had stumbled across my MRI’s from late last year. I pulled these out to take a sticky beak at and held them up into the light – a total of four slides. Whilst holding them up two of them slid from my hands, and here was the start of my second experiment.

To put these into context, I had been suffering from chronic stomach problems for a few years. Options were being exhausted so it was time to slide into the big machine. The scans revealed a 4 centimeter tumor on my right adrenal gland – prompting urgent surgery to have an adrenalectomy (removal of the entire right gland).

What you will be seeing in this video are those scans that revealed the tumor. The scans were held up to my bedroom window where I had direct light flowing into the room giving me my materials – light and the MRI scans. I then used a DSLR at different focal lengths and slid the scans up, down and across each other alternating the slides each pass. Unexpectedly, due to the extremely small focal length on the lens that I was using (1.8) some scans were out of focus, creating an amazing sparkling effect when the transparent parts moved over one another.

All sounds in this video (excluding heart beat, that was royalty free) were created using FL Studio and edited in Audacity (which may as well have been an experiment in sound itself).

I do wish I had made this video longer, though.

Oh, and just a warning – this video is of medical imagery of the lower abdomen so you may see a…testicle or two?… I don’t know, I still can’t really make out exactly what it is that I’m looking at half the time.

 

Materials:

  • MRI Scans
  • My body?
  • Natural light
  • DSLR
  • FL Studio
  • Audacity
  • After Effects

Week 1 – On Air

The commencement of this topic has been an interesting experience thus far. One thing is certain – it is difficult. Not because the experiments themselves are complicated, nor was the process of actually making this video, but more so on a personal level. I am somebody that tends to when designing, have an end goal or an idea in mind – This topic leaves no room for that..at all.. and that’s a challenge.

One thing is for certain, I absolutely LOVE playing with video as a material. Though it isn’t a physical object in the sense that we can touch it, but we can manipulate it in ways that we can as if it were physical by twisting, shaking, tearing, shrinking and expanding, cutting and pasting and so many more ways that even a physical object just can’t be transformed. This idea was highlighted by Derek during our first workshop with video and sparked my initial creative flare.

During our first lecture, the group was introduced to ‘SODA_JERK’ – A 2-person art collective using the video medium to create installations that mainly consist of “remixes”. The fact that this was considered an experiment gave me some hope, as even just thinking about “just doing something” without an end state was making my head spin. Drawing from them as inspiration, and the absolutely hilarious video creations of ‘Bad Lip Reading‘ on YouTube. The core of their work essentially takes video, and mixes or “dubs” over different sound bytes to completely change the context of a video – and from this came my first experimental video, “On Air”.

This experiment is simply taking a sound and placing it throughout a series of clips pulled from pop-culture Free-To-Air Television. Many of my found clips were discovered entirely by accident by trolling through YouTube and Vimeo and compiled in After Effects. Here was an experiment of it’s own – Is it possible to change the context of a video with one simple sound? Unlike ‘SODA_JERK’ and ‘Bad Lip Reading’, I had decided to limit myself to a single sound, rather than a full song or a spoken word. This is where the farting noise came in.

This experiment delving into sound and context once completed, would always seem to be biting me in the ankles.. Why? I think that’s because I’m oddly critical of my own work and process. I was constantly questioning myself.. Is this actually an experiment? Is it enough? Is it appropriate? After some consultation with Kim Williams and Teo, some constructive feedback and some encouragement to use it as my first experimental video, I had finally put those queries to rest, to a degree. One thing is for certain – There are so many ways I could go with this, and I guess that’s what an experiment does – opens up more questions.

May I present – “On Air” – An extremely inappropriate experiment in sound manipulation and context.

Materials:

  • Pop culture video
  • Sound bytes
  • After Effects
  • Context

Process Summary

Litany of Journey Screenshots


 

As exciting as my workshops have been, they have been equally as challenging. I have tried a few things I thought I had always disliked and found that maybe I should give them another go, things like the watercolour experimental maps toward the start of my blog. Through the weekly blog posts and the maps created alongside I have allowed myself and my creative style grow. It has show me that mapping is not only the practice of conveying factual information, but can also be used to convey that which isn’t entirely fact, this idea has been used throughout all of my conceptual maps. It can convey a feeling or challenge an idea, transport us to another time or even contemplate what is yet to be – all of which I would have never thought had anything to do with a conventional “map”.

But I guess that’s where my major change has happened. I have always been a perfectionist with my work and I strongly criticize my own creations, much of the time to my own determent. I had run into a creative block in week 3 where I had my concept there, and I could visualize how I wanted it to look, but because I couldn’t exactly translate that into a piece I was stuck in a loop. Here I had consulted Hayden and after a while one sentence really stuck with me – “Don’t get too stuck in the final product, just get it going and let it flow”. This combined with a statement made by Teo where he explained “Your final piece doesn’t need to be a beautiful image” really struck a chord with me and has stuck ever since. These comments that were made were my exact issues. I will admit, I still hold myself to quite harsh expectations and I do like making beautiful things, but it has allowed me to grow and break away from many of the conventions I had previously held to myself and just create. I have always found the best works happen by accident, and this just reaffirms when I’m stuck I need to just “do”.

If I was going to summarize three things I had learned throughout my mapping experiments and workshops they would be;

  • To let go. Things to not need to be perfect to be beautiful
  • When I am stuck, to just do. Be it drawing, painting, creating a digital piece or even just listen to some music. Inspiration comes from the strangest of places at the most unlikely of times (yeah, even those that came to me at 2.30AM (my CAVA101 final map)).
  • And finally, not everything we see is as simple as it seems – Thinking back to Gregor’s workshop and Paula Scher’s USA flight path map, though information is being represented in a culturally relatable way, it isn’t always factual. Just as the London Underground map conveys important information, it is neither to scale nor is it in any way an accurate representation of what it actually looks like. Representation and absorption of a concept will come down to an individuals experience within the culture it is portrayed. Mixing facts with fiction, real and fake can, and in most cases will create something amazing that may stay with us for a long time to come.

I can honestly say I am really looking forward to what is in store for me next.

 

Nostalgia TV

I find nostalgia a beautiful, strange and fascinating thing. The ability to evoke some extremely strong emotions through just the simplest of triggers – Be it a sound, an object, a texture, a smell. We create multiple emotional connections to things each and every single day, whether we feel as though we know it or not, some stronger than others. ‘Nostalgia TV’ is my attempt at making you feel as though you were a kid once more, longing for that carelessness that was once of no determent to us and the fascination and curiosity of a child’s imagination.

As reported by the Huffington Post, this emotion as it were is actually most commonly experienced by young adults in their early to mid 20’s. Interestingly enough this is the exact audience I had both intentionally, and unintentionally targeted.

Nostalgia is much more than mere reminiscing; it’s a feeling. “Nostalgia is the warm, fuzzy emotion that we feel when we think about fond memories from our past,” explains Erica Hepper, Ph.D.

Although this is what nostalgia is to me and those are the feelings I (and many others) have come to associate with the word, this isn’t always what it means to the wider audience. This is exemplified by several contemporary artists including the works of  Qui Anxiong at the Centre for Contemporary Asian Art. The works here highlight the longing for something more and brings into the focus the human plight. It is quite eye opening to see how differently people associate to a shared concept and if given the chance, I would have loved to explore this slightly gloomier side of nostalgia that I find quite foreign.

‘Nostalgia TV’ was put together with the concept of transporting it’s audience back to a time of innocence, more so with the same idea held by Doug Bloodworth and his growing up in the U.S works here. It is an attempt at targeting a shared culture and bringing to light those feelings we once held unknowingly in our complacency. By using selected clips and sound bytes from iconic TV shows many of us would have watched in our youths we are instantly taken back to that time in our lives. Several of my works seem to focus on this and although it has been completely unintentional the idea of exploring childhood memories and the feelings they evoke has become increasingly fascinating to me.

Even whilst sitting in our workshops as I was putting this short video together, without thinking about it at all, those that caught a small sound that was played through my computer instantly caused a reaction which I absolutely love and a reaction that next to everyone shared. That moment of “OH WOW! I remember this!”. Right away there was a connectedness between it’s viewers that created conversation simply through a snippet of a jingle, or a flash of colours.

All these clips and all these sounds take my back to somewhere I wish I had never left. That being said.. is this work that was entirely intended to be feel-good not really that different to the works of Qui Anxiong?…

Either way, enjoy the trip!

 

 

Dino’s Lullaby

How weird are reoccurring dreams? The same strange thing played back in your slumber night after night for no apparent reason. This was the inspiration behind my third mapping exercise, “Dino’s Lullaby”. It is a visual representation of a reoccurring dream that I use to have as a kid where I would be standing on the street in front of a house I grew up in and watched awe as a Dinosaur stomped along the front of my haunt.

I had toyed with several ways of trying to represent a dream in a physical space for a while, then the presentation given to us about the Aborigines and their representation of what a map is really solidified the idea that I wanted to give this a crack. The idea that although these images meant nothing to us, and just seemed like a pretty pictures, there was meaning behind it to them – Just as this has a meaning to me. Representing a time, place and an experience.

The house you see in this video is actually my old home, and the street in front if it was the exact street in my dream that the Dinosaur trekked countless times in my dream. I have taken one of my most vivid dreams and pulled it into a real, physical space (or as real as a video of it can be). All of this as a finished piece takes me right back to when I was just a kid. Not only does it map a place that I use to call home, and in many ways still do, but it also maps my memories of myself as a child and how wild children’s imaginations can be.

I had grown up around video games, and they are a large part of me to this day. The music has been pulled from one of my most played games as a child – Yoshi’s Story. The song called “Baby Bowser’s Lullaby” felt as though it had created a beautiful ambiance around the video that gave it that much of a dreamy feel.

The original idea was to use a DSLR and travel back to my old home and take a photo of the street, but due to time constraint’s I was unfortunately unable to do that. So, I did the next best thing and used Google Earth to pinpoint the street and the house, and take a snapshot of it. This is the home and street you see here. It was then taken into Photoshop where I had replaced the sky with a beautiful nebula to emphasize the fact that you’re looking into a dream and this isn’t entirely real. I then overlaid a subtle yet effective light leak to the composition to add some flair and a little more colour, complimenting the nebula in it’s endeavour to place you in this location, yet take you away from it at the same time.

After playing around with the Dinosaur, adding it’s movement path and animating it, it was rendered out as a gif and moved into Adobe After Effects where the lullaby was added and a subtle camera shake to place the viewer into the space and make them feel as though they are looking into the dream itself.

The original plan was to export it as a WebM to be constantly looped, but due to both technical and time restraint’s (it’s hard to convert a file that’s rendered out at 12GB) I had to settle for a YouTube video – which I feel still get’s the idea across.

I wonder what I might be able to do with this idea of bringing dreams into reality, or reality into dreams.. I seem to love creating vivid imagery that conveys something that may or may not be real depending on the individuals experience and it’s context.