PIP – Performance Installation and Production

Toni Dove Residency

Arts 4050. Spring 2001

Curtis Bahn Ph.D.


Email: crb@rpi.edu

Office Hours Tuesdays 10:00-12:00 and appt.




Using Max and MSP as a programming architecture, I would like to examine some ways in which responsive sound in combination with responsive video can contribute to an expanded concept of cinema. I am interested in using a combination of body movement and vocal sound as an interface. This could utilize the pitch and amplitude possibilities within Max and MSP as well as the speech recognition capacities of the Mac OS. Eric Singer is willing to let us use (but not distribute further) his Talk and Listen objects for Max that he has upgraded for my current project. David Rokeby's soft VNS is an excellent tool for motion sensing. The Nato object can control video.

I would like to think about the way a viewer's responsive experience in an interface can trigger sound -- what this non-linear sound structure's relationship to melody might be, and how it can be used to enhance the emotional aspects of narrative in combination with visual elements. Can a

viewer escalate and shape the emotional tone of a scene through movement or speech? How would this work? Could a viewer sing to the movie to make a character act? Can vocal commands that use speech recognition be mixed with pitch and amplitude tracking to create a layered set of triggers?

An important aspect of the way sound operates in cinema is to assist in the creation of suspense. Suspense is the slowing down and speeding up of time to increase the emotional stakes of the narrative. How can we play with this in combination with video to immerse the viewer in the movie? Can suspense become a place to hang out where time is like rubber? We can re-animate video using triggers from a viewer's body (movement and vocal sound). We can change the frame rate (faster, slower) and the direction (forward, reverse), or create loops or patterns of frames - to play with time and suspense. How can we use sound in combination with video to make this a powerful environment? If we stretch the time it takes to reach a goal, or shrink it, or reverse it, there is a real impact on narrative tension. What kind of sound environment

would work here - what would the sounds themselves be like? How would they be responsive?

Hitchcock on suspense:

We are now having a very innocent little chat. Let us suppose that there is a bomb beneath the table between us. Nothing happens, and then all of a sudden, "Boom!" There is an explosion. The public is surprised, but prior to this surprise, it has seen an absolutely ordinary scene of no special consequence. Now let us take a suspense situation. The bomb is underneath the table and the public knows it...In these conditions this same innocuous conversation becomes fascinating because the public is participating in the scene. The audience is longing to warn the characters on the screen: "You shouldn't be talking about such trivial matters. There's a bomb beneath you

and it's about to explode!" In the first case we have given the public fifteen seconds of surprise at the moment of the explosion. In the second case we have provided them with fifteen minutes of suspense.

From Hitchcock/Truffault, "The Definitive Study of Alfred Hitchcock by

Francois Truffault." Simon and Schuster

Possible background reading for project - on the nature of attention. The way in which we

use interfaces is influenced and formed by these issues:

Suspension of Perception, Jonathan Crary, MIT Press.


All class members are expected to exhibit personal involvement and incentive in the conception, creation and presentation of this project. This is your project, "PIP" is unusual in that you as a class will be taking the main organizational role in developing and realizing your ideas. The more responsibility you take as individuals, and as a class, the more successful (and fun) the process will be.

Grading Policy

This course will survive or fail according to your ability to take independent initiative towards the completion and presentation of the project. Since we will invent the project as we progress, assigning grading metrics at the outset is difficult. You will be graded on you attendance at class, rehearsals, presentation and breakdown, as well as on your creative initiative, ability to take a leadership role and responsibility. These are difficult things to evaluate but your participation will be discussed throughout the class so that you understand where you stand in these areas.

Attendance and class participation………………………………………33%

Leadership and independent initiative….……………………………......33%

Contribution to final project………………………………………….….33%

Electronic Mail

All students will be expected to use their iEAR electronic mail accounts for correspondence concerning this course. Email provides an excellent forum for sharing technical information, as well as for posting changes in assignments, readings, and listenings.

(the obligatory) Regarding Academic Integrity

Collaboration between students in this course is strongly encouraged and necessary in a project of this nature. Likewise, students are encouraged—indeed, to some extent required—to exchange ideas, opinions, and information constantly. You are encouraged to help each other with performance, production, and presentation of composition projects.

Plagiarism of any kind is in direct violation of University policy on Academic Dishonesty as defined in the Rensselaer Handbook, and penalties for plagiarism can be severe. In this class you will be expected to attribute due credit to the originator of any ideas, words, sounds, or work which you incorporate substantially into your own work. This applies particularly to citation of sources for quotes and ideas included in your compositions.


Toni Dove – Tentative Production Schedule

Configuration/ Orientation/Theory -

January 11th - First Meeting


Mail list

Student access

Read Packet

Find film excerpt for class?


25 – Dove preparation meeting

Feburary 1st - dove visit


8 (dove? If conflict on Feb. 1st)


22 (crb out of town)

March 1st (impulse response) – dove?

Project and Performance Proposal


15 Spring Break

22 - dove? – project in progess demo and crit


April 5th


17 Dove

18 Toni Dove EAPS Performance

19 debriefing

26 Mobius

may 2nd (MFA crits)