23/07/17 – More aesthetics

I showed my work so far to Martin, Nikita and Dee on Friday. We used a large television with large speakers at either side, had the lights turned off and the controllers positions appropriately in front of the AV set up. The three of them took turns swapping in and out, experiencing it two at a time. Here’s a video:

The experience was definitely impactful. there were plenty of remarks as to how trippy it was, however the best feedback came from Martin who remarked two things. First that it was a terrific scaffold I had created and the job now was to fill that scaffold, perhaps by teasing it out into different sections or movements (he enjoyed the tension between musical system and game). Secondly he stated that, as the media had been fairly arbitrarily collected, and the control was both overwhelming, and arbitrary in it’s relation to the visuals, the result was something rather arbitrary. This was not to dismiss the work, he recognised the construction of the scaffold as being very valuable, but reiterated that now the work should be about substituting the arbitrary for the meaningful, or justifying the arbitrary.

I was speaking to Saran, and she reminded me of the game Panoramical, demonstrated here: 

Here we have a game, which ‘generates’ audio and visuals, based on user control (the control scheme is very elegant). Immediately, I felt that mine was working in a different vein, but a similar style. The thing we both share is playfulness. Their game is interesting to think about in terms of transition and control. Transitionally, I would like it to be able to blend seamlessly from one world to another, rather than having to exit to the hub world. Of course it may be technically very difficult to achieve, but that is what I see as the downfall of their transition system. In terms of control, anyone who’s used Max/MSP will get flashbacks of the system. Nine sets of x/y coordinates determine envelopes, intensities, levels and so on of the auditory and visual elements. Here the synchronicity of control between audio and visual is very tight.

I’ve worked a little more, developed a speculative titlescreen, and mechanisms to transition to stages. But again this is more scaffold. So I have set my mind to try and work on the aesthetics, and I came back to an earlier notion I played with in the planning stages. What if each ‘stage’ were genre themed. The term trope also refers to recurring motifs, so perhaps these could explore the sonic and visual tropes of these genres. The two genres which seem most immediately obvious to me would be Western and Sci-fi. The sci fi one would be a continuation of the work done in the track ‘The professor’s dying wish’, perhaps even employing the same (or several similar) monologue: 

With the western ‘stage’, we come more to the kernel of the thought. The thing that this most resonates with me is John Zorn’s the Big Gundown, his radical reinterpretation of the works of Morricone. Obviously I wouldn’t want to just try and replicate what he has done, but perhaps I could explore the tropes of the sound design. Weather vanes, flies, trickling water, wind, detailed symphonies of ‘silence’, punctuated by the howl of human death and industry, the gunshot, the steam engine, the train whistle. There could still be musical elements at work here (perhaps occupying the scaffold constructed with the first prototype in the interactive music hierarchy, even just for one sections of this ‘stage’)

It also makes me think of Vaporwave, and it’s connections to Zorn’s Morricone work. I suppose where Zorn is more playful, the vaporwave microgenre is more glib.

Perhaps this only needs the two genres, as a way to limit the work that needs done. It also situates them in a nice past and future paradigm, made even better if I use only old stock footage/public domain images, creating it’s own fiction with the past and present.

A further thought on control: Control is of sound speed/direction in some stages, and effects/on/off in others. These could map similarly to visuals, rotations vs effects., all coming together for one climactic and disorienting amalgam at the end.

Western sound tropes:

  • Wind – another excuse to use Pd
  • Flies
  • Weather vane
  • Water trickling
  • Match lighting
  • Boots on surfaces
  • Spurs
  • Pistol cocking
  • Train whistle
  • Locomotive engine
  • Gunfire
  • Clinking glasses
  • Saloon piano

Perhaps this needs to be organised into several scenes in this one stage. Wagon train to new hope, the train station, a stranger comes to town, the gunfight.

Sci-Fi sound tropes:

  • Lab noise – oscillators, Tesla coils
  • Ray guns
  • Ship noise – rumble
  • Doors sliding
  • Spaceships in the sky
  • Alien language
  • Doom-weapon

Again this needs to be organised into scenes. It would be really nice for it to end with the speech from Tales of Tomorrow and then a chaotic blending of both and full effect controls. The Sci-Fi part of this feels like it needs more fleshing out. Certainly with the western ‘stage’ I am identifying tropes of sound design in an iconic film, so potentially I need to look forward to Ben Burt’s work in Star Wars… Or even drop the Sci-Fi section entirely?

Ultimately something across between Zorn’s the Big Gundown and Panoramical inside a zoetrope, inside a game engine… easy.