July 17, 2015

8.45 am. I need more information about a prospective residency (this morning’s task) before I go any further with the application. Nevertheless, in the interim, I can proceed to conceptualise the project (and its adjuncts). The residency may be somewhat wide of the mark of my own interests. But the opportunity provides a framework in which to think more clearly about what is at the heart of my concern.

This morning’s notes about the sound/landscape project from ‘The Belmont Loose Leaf File’ (13 May 2015 – ), 15-16:

what do I want to contribute to the [South Wales] community? / what would they get out of this project? / could local museums in the former industrial areas be involved? / how do I incorporate the area’s religious and supernatural history? / derelict chapels / performance and presentational aspect / how is sound technology deployed in industrial archaeology? / … the possibility of time travel  / find extant sound recordings of local industries / use of Lidar / how do I connect with those living in the valleys today? / project not about preservation but about realisation and reconstruction / articulating vestigial presence / a sound’s relationship to a tangible object / fantasising the possibility of returning to the past through the sensation of sound / about metaphor not representation; evocation not illustration / could the community make recordings: oral history, sounds of places? / (an upload site, perhaps (?)) / questions related to the community of the locality and the community of scholarship and artistic / distinct but interrelated / this project is broader than images of industry alone / it’s a subset of the whole 

11.30 pm. I honed in on one aspect of the project: image to sound conversion. There’s a variety of software to enable tablet artwork and scanned images to be converted into sound and vice versa, such as Photosounder, as well as the potentially more useful Virtual ANS (a simulation of the Russian synthesizer ANS — a photoelectronic microtonal and spectral musical instrument developed by the Russian engineer Evgeny Murzin (1914–1970) in the period from 1938 to 1958):

Screen Shot 2015-07-17 at 13.50.50

12.20 pm. I put a toe in the water of databending (the digital equivalent for the analogue practice of circuit bending.) The technique involves manipulating one media format (such text or image) using software designed for an entirely different media format (such as sound).

1.45 pm. I set up an experiment (in the proper sense of that word) using a visual source which I happened upon several months ago. It’s the glitched homepage of an American fundamentalist website entitled The Wounded Heart Ministries (accessed: February 2015):

The Wounded Heart Ministries (2015)

The page’s digital ‘wounds’ — like the tripartite calamity that befell the My Heart is Broken in Three 78 rpm record — is another case of form fortuitously following content. First, I opened the image’s PNG file in the Mac TextEdit application, and then saved it as an XMP file, which converts the image into readable metadata:

Screen Shot 2015-07-17 at 16.04.31

Secondly, I extracted the data from this file and pasted it to a Word DOCX file, wherein it occupied over 5,000 pages. Thirdly, each of the text format files was imported in Adobe Audition CS6 (a sound software) as ‘Raw Data’ at 8,000 Hz and 16 bit depth. The resultant conversion sounded like brown noise. This was neither an interesting nor a usable outcome. Fourthly, I imported the PNG file into Audition directly, in the same way. On this occasion there was a little more variety in sound character of the transform, sufficient to merit further investigation. Fifthly, I saved the image file as JPEG, GIF and TIFF formats, respectively, and converted each into a sound file. The latter yielded the most engaging results. Finally, I imported the TIFF version in a variety of audio sample types and format settings:

Screen Shot 2015-07-17 at 16.23.27

The following audio extract is taken from the fifth The Wounded Heart Ministries transform:

Screen-Shot-2015-07-17-at-16.30.13

7.00 pm. I took the fifth version of the image > sound transform and reversed the process using Photoshop CS6, again importing the file as ‘Raw Data’:

The-Wounded-Heart-Ministries-(2015)-1

It’s possible to alter the exposure, contrast, sharpness or blurriness, and lightness of the image and thereby effect changes when the file is re-coded as audio content. However, the process doesn’t operate on the principle of analogical correspondence. Indeed, quite the opposite. For example, softening the image produces a sharper and more brittle sound. But, the reverse is not true. ‘Fascinating!’, as Mr Spock would say:

Screen-Shot-2015-07-17-at-20.19.34

Screen Shot 2015-07-17 at 20.24.26

9.30 pm. Practice session 2.

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