Monday, July 30, 2012

smc 2012

last week i took part in smc (sound and music computing) conference's summer school on product sound design in copenhagen. we had very interesting lectures on interaction design, sound design, and pure data. although i have some experience with all of them, this was a good way to get more insight in some aspects of them that i'm not usually involved in. especially learning more about pure data from a guru was amazing. moreover we had to work on a prototype using dul sensors and sennheiser headphones. we created an interactive interface to use head gestures to communicate. in order to do that we hooked up one of those dul sensors to the headphone to get the motion as input data,  communicating with pure data to map gestures to different sound parameters. for more details check out the project's websites. we would also post videos and sound samples of the demo shortly.
although the conference was in the suburbs and we didn't have much time for sight seeing, i tried to see some thing new every day after the conference. one of my favorite places was louisiana museum of modern art which is open till 10.00 pm and i could manage to see the magnificent exhibits there. the picture you see above is  a light and mirror installation by the japanese artist yoyoi kusama. i also enjoyed the magnificent statue park in the museum. louisiana museum is located at the see in a very green area. all the statues were from modern artists such as henry moore. the combination of rocks, glass, and metal  melts very well into the nature and is an amazing place to be at.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

icad 2012

i attended icad (international conference on auditory display) this year in atlanta. i have participated in student think tank, sonification contest and also submitted an extended abstract with colleagues on what we have been doing from the beginning of my phd.
after a very long trip from graz to atlanta, i had a great day at student think tank. it was a great platform to share what i have been doing so far and getting feedback from sonification experts and other students in the field. also learning about other students' projects was mind blowing and gave me a much broader perspective.

a couple of projects that were very similar to mine but used a different approach were "visual and auditory representations of earthquake interactions" by chastity aiken at georgia tech. she produced animations with time-compressed sounds to demonstrate both immediate aftershocks and remotely triggered tremors related to the tohoku-oki, japan earthquacke. she used audification of seismic data which is not a new concept. recording of nearby earthquakes and tremors contain frequencies of up to 100 Hz, which are on the lower end of audible spectrum (20 - 20k Hz). one of the edification techniques she has used to represent such data is to play the spectrum in a faster speed up to 500 times faster (i.e. time compression). this also helps to go scientists to go through a larger amount of data through shorter time. the eq parameters are mapped to sound properties, and the voltage control oscillator is used to show low and high frequency components.

another related project was "climate variations: solar insolation, ecological, abundance and stable isotopes" by danny goddard. he also used audification. geological data is also huge and in order to find events he needs to go through millions of years of data within a couple of minutes. he created a data driven timbre tuning system. in order to describe the shape of the orbit he mapped eccentricity to pitch, mapped temperature to paying degree. (i.e. colder temperature to right channel, warmer to the left)he also used sine wave oscillators, mapped isotopes to pitch.

both of these projects are run by the domain scientists who are new to sonification field which makes it the total opposite of our approach. we try to integrate sonification into climate scientists' world. the advantage by their approach is that there's no cultural barrier, because they are the scientists who have found sonification interesting and trying to use it in their field. the only problem they have to solve is which sonification methodologies work best for them. on the other hand we have the problem other way around. we have to do systematic research to figure out what our users' needs are before even trying any sonifications.

i also got a lot of feedback about our sonification project.  i got praised for using a user centered design approach and not sonifying before knowing the users needs'. i also got a lot of feedback about how to do it efficiently and effectively to encourage users to make use of sonification within their workflow.

the second day i took part in two workshops, one was sonification using chuck and the other one was sonification using matlab. both were good workshops but they were too shirt to implement anything. we only went through the basic sonification capabilities of each tool. for the chuck workshop perry cook has put a  document together: course notes and code examples

Monday, March 12, 2012

from san francisco to graz

as you might have read in my other blog i have had a crazy time in the last couple of months relocating from the bay area to graz in austria. i joined the institute for electronic music and acoustics (iem) at the university of music and performing arts graz for the project sysson – a systematic procedure to develop sonifications.
the goal of sysson is the systematic development of sonifications – from finding sound metaphors and creating a ‘sound library’ to aesthetic/scientific evaluation and finally the sonification tool. the procedure is developed with and tested on data from climate science.
i have had my first weeks of work behind me and it has been a great experience working with such amazing and smart people. i'm busy working on a sonification project now for a conference but we keep on updating sysson's website and soundcloud account throughout the project. we would love to hearing your thoughts and comments on the project and the whole process.
in the meanwhile i might not have enough time to make a lot of music but at least i try to attend concerts organized by iem and engineered by iem's team and kug. university of music and performing arts has an amazing new house of music called mumuth. i was lucky that i could attend a concert at ligeti hall of mumuth on the first week i started my work. it was a performance of brice pauset's anima mundi. the acoustic of the building is wonderful and the sounds were clear and crisp. i also love the architecture of mumuth and it looks a lot more intriguing at night with colorful lights changing the color of the building every twenty seconds. it also looks like a glass and metal aquarium. i also look forward to attend the upcoming concerts at the cube in iem, which reminds me of the listening room at ccrma with 24 speakers.