Monday, May 3, 2010

If my grade suffers in this class....

It will be primarily from lack of blogging! I have apparently phased the responsibility out of my memory completely. To get everyone up to speed, I have finally been doing a lot of the busy work and footage collection necessary to put together the final video. The process has been greatly rewarding thus far, but I have yet to dig into the actual contents of my interface and have to admit I am a little scared of After Effects....but that time will come soon enough. After compiling a demo reel (below) to get a feel for the aesthetic and audio flow that will be present in the final video, I realize I need to be recording audio on some higher fidelity instrument as the little mono mic in the camera just isn't cutting it. Besides lacking much frequency response, the thing just loves to pick up those horrible buffeting wind noises everyone is so fond of in their home movies shot on a cheap camcorder at the beach. That being said, I am enlisting the help of my roommate to get a mobile sound rig set up for the next footage excursion. That's really all for the update, I will be setting out the content and framing the layout for the interface and website soon, hopefully in time to have them included in my presentation on Wednesday.


Capstone Demo Reel from Tim Damon on Vimeo.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Describing the parts to make the whole

Lately, everything surrounding this project has been ever-present in my mind, but physically on the back burner. I need more than anything to define the spaces from which recordings are made, exactly how they are exchanged and compiled between those spaces, and what forms they take when they recirculate into other places in the city and on the web for listening.

I've been considering more ways in which the people on the street can participate, and I think the whole idea of these installations is expression of a city and its citizens. I think it would therefore be interesting to have these places available for people to use as an audio blog of sorts, a totally anonymous place, almost like a secular confessional booth, where one can vent or talk about problems, life's joys, and of course create music. This opens up the spectrum of use for the recording nodes, and offers a more useful and interesting variety of material for participants and viewers alike to experience.

The component that has most plagued me is the online presence of the recordings. What exactly goes on there and how everything is handled from a design standpoint is going to be extremely important to define and define clearly, which is something I simply haven't gone in depth with yet, so that of course is something I will have to have by Wednesday for our interim presentations.

"Sigh," so much time and so little to do, wait, strike that, reverse it.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Picking it up again.

Wow, so it's been way too long since I've blogged at all, and it's time to step up the game, get back on the wagon/horse, etc in hopes that I can pull my ADD self together and get some serious work done on this capstone project.

In recent news, the final format for the project will more than likely be a short video, which will allow me to get the whole idea across much quicker and in the most believable way. This decision came as a result of my recent discovery that video editing is alot easier and incredibly more fun than I ever anticipated as I worked with it during my final project for Axel's 483 class. This will also help avoid the embarrassment that could come from actually installing a working prototype of one of the recording spaces and watching people confused by it. The whole point here is that when a public space and a new level of interaction are introduced simultaneously, what it gets used for may take time to develop as people get used to it being there and learn what it's all about. Even with instructions, it may be unclear to people how to use the space in such a way that will really show the possibilities for use of the design. (Thanks Dominic for making this clear to me, although I may cling to the idea of a working prototype for at least another week before I realize how much work it will be).

Here's to the beginning of a successful final quarter everyone!

Monday, March 8, 2010

How the music will surface

So I spoke of recording and archiving the music and engagements that take place within the stage/natural PA/resonator installation, and of the possibility that real talent and creative passion may be discovered in doing this. Given the nature of many of those who choose to keep their music on the street, (in that they do not wish to ever step into the limelight) the idea of providing their creative work world-wide and subjecting them to solicitation makes the situation a bit dodgy.

Clearly, it is important to preserve the privacy and creative choices that these artists make, and that is why I am choosing to create an open archive that, rather than exploit the people that contribute to it in any way, simply lets others observe what they may have never experienced in their lifetimes, a new source of the culture that is in it's most raw form: on the streets of a city. In turn, those artists may have their first chance at recording their work in some way, and instead of having to navigate a corporate system to affect people with what they are most passionate about, they can just do what they do best: play out in the open on the street.

Friday, March 5, 2010

I think I know what I want to do....

Alright, latest idea:

This almost fully rejects the online-based collaboration that I had in mind before. Picture a high-foot traffic public area such as a city park or a busy arterial with a large sidewalk that could accommodate street musicians. What I'd like to do is design type of permanent acoustic aid for music performance and collaboration, a sort of stage+background resonator that acts as a sort of natural PA, allowing users to affect their volume by the position of their instruments further in and out of specific areas within the setup.

This idea stems from a concept presented at the pacific science center where two dishes are fixed perpendicular to the ground, aimed at one another, and placed something like 100 feet apart. Users can speak into these dishes and have the sound of their voice be transmitted through the air to the other dish and another user can hear them clearly on the other side:

With this technology we can establish place where all are welcome and can equally have their voices and instruments heard while playing together.

The second part of the design will involve permanently installed drums and other percussion instruments that passers by can create rhythm and music with even if they don't have or play an instrument of their own. This allows for people of all levels of musicianship to play together, as we all have voices and some natural instinct and appreciation for rhythm.

The third possible addition to this design would be a hidden or embedded microphone of some kind to archive and/or broadcast the music that people in different regions create. This adds another dynamic in which the music that comes from these public places can be shared in meaningful ways. With this capability, I could imagine themes for songs and performances being shared across the internet and watching the interpretations of them unfold across neighborhoods and cities and countries and cultures.

I realize I have once again opened a whole new can of worms with the addition of the third element of this design, but think of the possibilities! What incredible talent and beautiful song might surface on an ordinary day in the middle of the street?

Let me know of you think I'm crazy, or if this whole thing is stupid and I'd especially like thoughts on the idea of making these installations "plugged in." Is this a step too far or does it make the entire design worthwhile?

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Useful Question Set

These came from a writer for indiefeed networks and is a writeup for panel discussion on the topic of online music curatorship. Pretty pertinent information for this project.

  1. Why is the internet changing how we discover music?
  2. What are possible definitions of music curation?
  3. Why are consumers having a harder time discovering music today?
  4. How does the abundance of free music impact the need for music review?
  5. Who are the new influencers/providers of online music curation?
  6. Is Pandora/LastFM, etc. enough and why do we need critical review of music?
  7. Does the new "free" music economy gut incentives for professional music review?
  8. Are amateurs (bloggers, podcasters, UGC) a help or a hinderance to music discovery and fan attraction?
  9. Where do artists fit and play in this new world of fragmented abundance?
  10. In this new world, why or why isn't traditional music criticism needed?

Monday, February 22, 2010

Undergraduate Symposium Abstract

As it stands today, true music collaboration still only finds itself born out of person-to-person connection. Whether it be on the level of a simple jam session or the writing of a major composition, the spark of ingenuity, feelings of euphoria that come from real creative chemistry, and the sense of accomplishment that comes from a well written song are extremely personal connections that exist between people working closely together. Contemporary solutions for bringing musicians together act simply as tools to extend the range of communication between people working together on any given project. This is not a bad thing in and of itself, but of the more than fifty websites dedicated to music collaboration online, the majority claim to be established upon the idea of bringing together musicians that have never even seen one another, and yet the evidence of this kind of connection is surprisingly hard to find. In light of this discovery, I will be researching the processes and methods of musicians and the aspects of a working musical relationship that make things "click." Using personal interviews, previously recorded interviews, surveys, shadowing and other similar research methods, I will seek out and refine to something more tangible the driving force and incentive that makes music collaboration work. In gathering several viewpoints on the subject, it should become easier to break these ideas into types or categories, which will allow for application into a new system of collaboration.Upon identifying an incentive and a connecting force by which collaboration becomes natural, I will design a system that serves as a platform for "true" collaboration, one hinged on the very thing that draws musicians to work together.