Fielding workshop

22 October 2017

From 13.10.2017 – 27.10.2017 I had the pleasure to be a resident at the instrument inventors initiative (iii) in the Hague. Other posts on the iii residency.

An important part of my residency at iii was the offering of a public workshop on Fielding in which I intended to introduce my ideas around inter-species music making to interested participants. The workshop took place last Saturday and I was able to lure in nine curious human beings, mostly having a background in computer music and studying Sonology at the Royal Conservatoire den Haag.1

My workspace at the iii residency My workspace at the iii residency

As it is common with these kind of workshops, I prepared too much and too little at the same time. While I was confident during my preparations that I can sufficiently motivate my approach to inter-species music-making, I realised that explaining it to outsiders is anything but simple and a seemingly simple question such as “How does the term music translate to bees?” is surprisingly difficult to answer/discuss about.

Potential playing partner. Fruit cycle as an offering? Potential playing partner. Fruit cycle as an offering?

Instead of diving into the technical details of Fielding, we therefore had a sound walk outside of the post-industrial area around Willem Dreespark in Moerwijk, partly to listen and observe non-human beings in their habitat, partly to find patterns and behaviour of them that might be starting points for a musical intervention.

Lump/bump on the pavement Lump/bump on the pavement. Is it alive? How could we interact with it?

Human participants of the workshop enjoying the autumn sun at iii studios. Human participants of the workshop enjoying the autumn sun at iii studios.

In the second half of the time, we looked at Steno as important element of Fielding, which allows for on-the-fly structural recombinations of predefined synthesis elements.

Sensor ponderings

Fielding sensor box based on Arduino Fielding sensor box based on Arduino.

Plans for the workshop included to provide a simple sensor module to the participants so that they could test out Fielding on their own. I thought that an Arduino-based system would have been good for that matter, possibly equipped with several light sensitive elements. However, I realised that the expenditure of purchasing and building those for ten people was not justified by its usefulness.

Screenshot of `light2osc` Screenshot of light2osc

Instead, I (re)wrote a simple Processing script that turns a connected camera (most computers have a built-in camera) into a simple light sensor array.

Trying the script with a local fielding instance turned out to be very inspiring so I will stick to it for future work(shops).

Interestingly, the use of the script together with Steno exemplifies the dichotomous idea of control I intended for Fielding: While one agent obtains structural control by (re)combining predefined synthesis elements of a given vocabulary (realised with Steno, a technique closely related to livecoding), the other agent influences the system more immediately via quantitatively measurable (and measured) activity such as movement, temperature changes, or casting shadows.

I force this separation of controls because I want to guarantee a certain minimal expressive space for each of the playing partners, a save space that cannot be overrun by the other. I hope that this artificially induced technical hurdle increases the likelihood that the playing partners listen to each other and become aware of their co-players.

Dichotomous control structures

light2osc with fielding light2osc with fielding

Jon (human participant of the workshop) pondering on how to make music with vines on trees near Moerwijk. Jon (human participant of the workshop) pondering on how to make music with vines on trees near Moerwijk.

  1. I realised that I need to work with my workshop advertisement though, since all but one were male. I’ll try to do better next time.