Sound Garden:
Brian Kane -- On the Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals (2006)
 
The Sound Garden is a collaborative sound installation organized by composers working out of CNMAT (the Center for New Music and Audio Technology). The installation ran on April 23, 2006, on the UC Berkeley campus.

The goal was to produce a multi-faceted outdoor installation for the lovely patio and pathway space between Hertz Hall and the Faculty Club, agreeing on the idea that the sounds would have some sort of creaturely aspect. My contribution to the project comes in the form of three automated sound modules that sprang from materials previously developed as part of "On the Expression of Emotions in Animal and Man," an ongoing series of electronic works: first, a signal-processing patch that transforms and manipulates various "field recordings" and electronic "imposters" into a constantly changing sound collage; second, a granular-based patch that creates various kinds of artificial birdsong; third, a patch that plays various unprocessed recordings of footsteps and animals sounds, panning them across the space. Designed to work alongside the contributions of other composers, these patches are sparse enough to allow other sounds "in" while maintaing a certain degree of interest for a casual listener to the installation. The other contributions by Jeremey Hunt, Evelyn Ficcara, Heather Frasch, and Daniel Cullen must not be neglected while listening to the mp3 (which features only two of my three contributions). One must imagine the sounds of footsteps; small, quiet, high pitched sounds coming though glass; and, the continual tolling of an artifical campanile, producing an atonal reflection upon the sounds of Berkeley's famous landmark (which will also played while the installation ran). Hopefully, the project will be documented in more detail after the event.

From my perspective, the processing based on the sounds of animals focuses one's attention onto the rhythmic qualities and odd inflections inherent, and away from the causal source. At the same time, it is no secret that the causal source is sometimes quite easy to recognize. The birdsongs and processed sounds must also be imagined as coming through an 8 channel speaker arrangement, placed admist the foliage and trees behind Hertz Hall. Working in a space between the artifical and the real, between recognition and doubt, between the ear as a threshold for the assimilation of knowledge and as a barrier to the accomodation to shocks--the sound garden explores the alpha and omega of sound and signification.

Click here to view a slideshow of the installation.

In addition to the sound installation, Dawn Frasch contributed the scultptures seen in the slideshow.

The Berkely Campus with Sound Garden

the sound garden

Here is a picture of the Max/MSP patch that ran my contribution to the installation.
 


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