Date: Fri, 17 Jan 2003 09:29:23 -0500

From: Curtis Bahn <>

Subject: Practicum organization and next class


email about the project is "required reading" for the course. make sure you read things carefully. hopefully we can get a good discussion format going soon - either email or web-based.


I would like to meet on the 27th in our other classroom - West Hall 118. There is no computer or screen projector set up there now - if you planned to present a brief description of some of your work and you need some gear of some sort email me so we can figure it out.


In class on the 27th we will begin to discuss our visions for projects in the class. Your involvement could either be singular, in small groups, or, as part of a larger group depending how our discussions go.


The readings and websites I linked on will tell you more about the people involved and our projects. of particular interest now might be:


Principles for Designing Computer Music Controllers - Perry Cook

basic concepts and history of extended instruments


Interface, electronic chamber ensemble - Bahn, Trueman

some basic background about the group


Pikapika - The Collaborative Composition of an Interactive Sonic Character, Hahn and Bahn

description of a piece but also a process for developing an interactive performance.


Some questions to think about that we will discuss more carefully in class:


1) what do you envision as the ultimate performance interface for music or dance/music performance. What is its relationship to the body?


2) What are some ideas for the formulation of a piece? think about the notion of the "composed sonic character" presented in the pikapika article. how does this performance character sound? how does it move? what does it look like? Where does the sound come from ? what is its relationship of sound, movement, "look" and sound spatialization to the development of the character? what does the stage look like - is there video?


THINGS WE NEED TO DO (volunteers?):

set up our "lab " in 118

think about web development to coordinate the project.

we need a name for the project - practicum is a drag.



Date: Tue, 28 Jan 2003 17:31:45 -0500

Subject: Practicum Idea

From: Michael Rabinovich <>



Vitek and I were talking about ideas yesterday, and while the ideas are still fresh i wanted to send em on. It would be interesting to have this performance be a "play" - a theatrical as well as musical event. We could adopt a classic greek play, a fairy tale, or write an original piece. We could have a band providing the music (Interface), and there would be actors. I was thinking some kinds of creatures with a really simple musical function each - like a winged creature with a flex sensor between the wings that flaps them and makes a certain specific sound. The creatures could have a proximity sensor that when they all get together they make a certain sound.

THen Vitek was talking about having Tomie as PikaPika controlling the video with dance moves, and the video could be looked at as its own character that interacts with the rest of the characters...



From: "Vitek Goyel" <>

Subject: Re: Practicum Idea

Date: Wed, 29 Jan 2003 09:33:18 -0500

X-Priority: 3

X-Scanned-By: MIMEDefang 2.3 (www dot roaringpenguin dot com slash mimedefang)



Well just to clarify. I was thinking more along the lines of more than one person peforming. As you say it is hard to attribute "scripted" characteristics to sonic improvisation, however, if the nature of the character is previously understood then pehaps the improvisational aspect of the piece will add more dimension to the already understood character. When I was playing around with the idea I thought about maybe incorporating Greek Mythology. There are probably more of you, as i am sure, that are better versed with the subject than I am. But I was thinking of a character like Orpheus. And his reaction with the turning of his head. How it changed his life. I was also thinking of having a chorus. Maybe a group of 5 (5 senses perhaps) that shall be controlling the soundscapes.

These are just random ideas i've been throwing around. I have a lot of other idea's too but I would rather hear what other people have to say. It's just an easy way of getting a goal in mind, whatever that goal may be (need there be one)

- Vitek


From: <>Curtis Bahn

Sent: Tuesday, January 28, 2003 7:50 PM

Subject: Re: Practicum Idea



this is great, I think we can do a lot of brainstorming through email in preparation for our discussion next Monday at 2:00 in DCC 125 (note room change, MAX tutorial to follow in same room).


I love the idea of translating a theatrical character's movements into sound and video; imagining relationships between costume (wings, mask etc.), interface contents (sound samples, text, signal processing effects, etc.), and narrative.


I have few thoughts about this


1) making just a single character in this way is a HUGE undertaking, not to mention developing a fully staged play.

2) focusing on scripted interaction through a play may not really address the commitment to individual agency, improvisation and free interaction that is at the core of much of interface's work.


Can you imagine (to start with at least) just one of the characters from these suggestions, and describe how the qualities of their movement vocabulary, costume, sound vocabulary/display, and video vocabulary/display work together to form the construction of their identity? How could all the attributes of a "script" be formed in a non-linear interactive narrative of sound, text, movement and media that leaves the character free to express itself differently each time performance, while still remaining *that* character.


These are ideas that we have been deeply interested in, and this sort of project would really engage us. its also the area where we would be able to share most of our research and developments. We don't really know much about putting on plays, so that aspect of a project would be hard for us to commit to.


More organizational stuff to come, some max resources etc. in preparation for next week.




From: "Ben L Cushing" <>

Subject: Re: Practicum Idea

Date: Thu, 30 Jan 2003 01:43:05 -0500

X-Priority: 3

X-Scanned-By: MIMEDefang 2.3 (www dot roaringpenguin dot com slash mimedefang)


Hi everyone,

So here's my contribution. I've been directing plays for three years now. I'm also an actor and singer. I'm currently directing a show for Player's and i most likely will be performing in the musical (crossing fingers, auditions were tonight). So, if you're looking for stage experience i have about 8 years of it. i'd be willing to direct and stage a theatrical showing. I've also written '24 hour' musicals. Sit down, write a play, and then perform it. All in 24 hours. As to having a non-scripted character, that aspect isn't so difficult. You just develop a character so well that lines are not needed. An example of this would be a undercover cop. They're actors in a sense, and have VERY developed characters that react to any given situation. More later, when i have some ideas (kinda fried from auditions:)





     From: Curtis Bahn <>

     Subject: Re: Practicum Idea

Date: Thur, 30 Jan 2003 07:36:07-0500




Thanks Ben. We're listening to your ideas and would like to hear from others about their thoughts.


In the paper "pikapika, collaborative composition of an interactive sonic character," posted on the website, we describe some of the issues and work involved in developing a single character in sound, media and movement. This is the sort of thing I'm talking about when I talk about non-linear character development. The project, involving the construction of a wireless movement interface, a max/msp structure of sound samples/ signal processing, interactive video, and complex performance mapping took many years for us to put together and we are still working on it. each of the areas involved ; human computer interface in the arts, interactive music composition and video performance, multi-channel audio display and spatialization, non-linear narrative, etc., is worthy of a many dissertations in themselves. Let's think further about this, please acquaint yourself with the pikapika writing so we can talk more deeply about what is involved in this sort of project and how we can collaborate effectively. Part of the focus of the practicum class is for us to engage you collaboratively in our research, I need to know how you see this relative to the main artistic commitments and research of "interface."


In thinking of the large scale of the evening performance we have to think about integrating feature performances by the guests, and an appearance of pikapika. As well as individual projects people may develop with us.


Some areas where people could find individual or small group collaboration opportunities with us would also be the following. These would be fun in that half the project (like the building of the interface, speakers or instrument) may be already done. Your job would be to study the structure and control streams and write a new interactive video or media to augment or form a new piece. These could be like intense independent studies or private lessons for people that are interested


development of a new interactive video for pikapika - this would study the data streams coming off tomie's interface and map them into new jitter control structures for performance - as well as shoot/gather/process new material to be accessed live in the performance.


development of a new sound and video piece using an interface or sensors that crb already has constructed. I have a second dance interface as well as sonars and some other toys we could use.


develop sound resources for a class project or sample sets for my interactive bass.


develop of an interactive video collaboration for solo bass, solo violin, "digitaldoo" (perry's digiridoo interface).\


develop new 16 channel sound possibilities for the performance. Stephan, jonathan and I have built an array of spherical speakers that we are interest in hanging from the ceiling in the performance space and involving in an interactive project.


development of a new interactive instrument/interface.


You could contact me individually if you want to work with us on any of these projects.






Date: Thu, 30 Jan 2003 11:12:06 -0500

Subject: Re: Practicum Idea

From: Jesse Stiles <>


hi practicum,


so i'm a big fan of the whole multimedia/experimental theater thing - an artist named miranda july was in troy last year and she did a seriously bad ass performance along such lines ("the swan tool").  i don't think, however, that this is really interface's line of work.  


interface is more concerned in finding long-term technological solutions for artists in general than creating short-term workarounds for a specific piece.  because of this they spend years developing new instruments and characters.


so whereas "the swan tool" was able to take technology for granted as it focused heavily on other theatrical aspects of the work (dramatic performance, deconstruction of narrative, etc.), i think interface would be a little un-jazzed to create a theatrical production where instrument development, sonic display, interactivity, etc. is not at the core.


my suggestion is that we let interface do what they're best at and see what we can contribute.  the big thing i see is live/interactive video.  they have no permanent video rig so we could go really nuts in covering these guys with images and it might turn into a lasting tool.  doing this would include


- physical design of video rig(s)

- code design of video rig(s)

- acquistion/preparation of video content for rig(s)


also, i think the issue of video/audio content could be an interesting method for creating an aesthetic/narrative them for the performance.  just as we can design a video rig to shred images of, say, a monkey being shot into space, interface can use their instruments to process the sound of monkeys being shot into space.  by shifting audio/video content throughout the performance we could create a narrative line in that way.


but yeah i think interface should get on stage and play their instruments cuz they're good at it.





Date: Thu, 30 Jan 2003 11:48:34 -0500

Subject: Re: Practicum Idea

From: Michael Rabinovich <>

X-Scanned-By: MIMEDefang 2.3 (www dot roaringpenguin dot com slash mimedefang)


Hello all,\

Yeah I think this makes sense what jesse is saying: that we should complement what interface is already doing with a new tool/feature: like a new "character" thats not necessarily played by a person, but instead is the video rig. This could be a new "entity" that produces video and interacts with pikapika through a tactile interface and/or audio (they play one thing; video responds one way play another video becomes different). I was speaking with Jonathan about his patch and how organic it felt: and he said it was because of the feedback loop. This I think is the key to a character: it can be communicated with.

I am specifically interested in creating a tactile interface to be applied to video creation - an interface with force feedback to make it more realistic. Here is an interesting idea for one developed by perry cook that is made from an old hardrive:

let me know if you are interested in this,



Date: Thu, 30 Jan 2003 12:09:13 -0500

Subject: spacemonkey

From: jonathan lee marcus <>

To: Jesse Stiles <>, Ben L Cushing <>,

Vitek Goyel <>, Michael Rabinovich <>,

Curtis Bahn <>, <>, <>,

<>, <>, <>, <>,

<>, <>, <>, <>,

<>, <>, <>, <>

X-Scanned-By: MIMEDefang 2.3 (www dot roaringpenguin dot com slash mimedefang)


jesse said:

my suggestion is that we let interface do what they're best at and see what we can contribute.  the big thing i see is live/interactive video.  they have no permanent video rig so we could go really nuts in covering these guys with images and it might turn into a lasting tool.  doing this would include

- physical design of video rig(s)

- code design of video rig(s)

- acquistion/preparation of video content for rig(s)


i'm right with you jesse. might i add the use of live video for gestural control and for extending pikapika's "superpowers" into the video.


i am also particularly interested in video instumentalism, that is, video that is generated by a video instrument and/or takes compositional qualities normally found in music. i would like to use data steams from things like the Sbass (interpreted sensor data and audio analysis) to create live video sculpture and composition. this is something i'd would like to personally work on.


i also think that jesse is right on w/ the monkey. we should pool our financial resources as a class and launch some barnyard and zoo animals into space. we can put sensors, contact mics, spy cameras, and radio transceivers on them.





Date: Fri, 31 Jan 2003 10:34:44 -0500

From: Tomie Hahn <>

Subject: Practicum idea


Hi gang,

A lot of very intersting ideas floating around, both in last Monday's class and via email this week.


Something I'm very interested in exploring is the abstract idea of establishing a context for a performance (character)... in a multi-sensory way.


How are we situated by our surroundings? I know this is a being-in-the-world (huge) concept, but considering the notion in the realm of a creating a performance.

How can we really Trans-f-o-r-m the performance land/soundscape together?


Some thoughts:

--what constructs of performance can we use to create a "floor" or context for a character? What cues or hints can we provide to an audience (and ourselves) to situate the performers?


--video: we'll need visual elements and processes.


--sets, sculpture, and or other objects (visual)


--sound - contributions to the soundscape


--why not smell or a tactile modes of our senses? how would we do this?? OK, I know I'll get space monkey answers for posing this! I've used smell in past performances. Hmm...never taste (Jonathan, are you listening?) :-)


--lighting! this is huge.


I think this addresses notions of drama that many of the contributors have been interested in, yet brings us together as a collaborative group to *set* an interesting performance scene for us, interface, & the audience.


All of this, of course, needs to be coordinated with character development (I'm working on a masked character) and our vision for the character's setting, as well as interface's 'scape.


OK, I'd better stop here. More soon.




Date: Sun, 02 Feb 2003 21:12:22 EST
Subject: Re: Practicum idea


ok, so here's what I would be interested in:
I love the idea of creating a whole multi-sensory experience. One thing
that I am working on is creating soundscapes that go beyond the scope of
the room (using field recordings.)

How about creating multiple experiences that the character can move
through, change, interact with, and control--this can have a narrative
sense, but is a little more abstract than using a set story--it also leaves
room for a lot of different projects to come together.
That's my two-cents for now.


Date: Mon, 3 Feb 2003 01:23:34 -0500
From: Stephan Moore <>
Subject: Re: Practicum idea

Jumping off from Sarah's posting...
I am working intensely this semester with the 16-channel spherical speaker grid for my thesis (shameless plug: March 6, 8pm, Arts Center, downtown Troy). I'd like to offer the grid as a sophisticated means of distributing sound, maybe in conjuction with other parts of a sound system. I already have the software built to do some rather wild things with the grid (which will be demonstrated at the March 6 concert!), and it can be modified to do the cool things in your imagination, too. Yeah, like make cool soundscapes.

So, I guess I am volunteering to design, install & perform the sound distribution for the concert, whatever we decide it will be. Call me Mr. Spaceman.


From: "Maura Whelan" <>
Subject: Practicum idea
Date: Sun, 2 Feb 2003 22:36:23 -0500


V and I are throwing together a Website for the class. If you would be
interested in having a link to your website, or websites of work that
you are doing for the class please send them to me.
There will also be a schedule of all meetings within the group. Please
send me the time and place of any outside group meetings so that they
can be available to the entire class.


From: "Matthew Giacomazzo" <>
Subject: Practicum - My Possible Contributions
Date: Sun, 2 Feb 2003 23:35:01 -0500


Hello all,
Well I see that people are sort of going through what they contribute to the
class/performance so here is what I can add.
I compose, record and play music for piano/keyboards though you would
probably consider my work more "traditional" than some of the stuff I have
seen in class. Two small works a put together for class projects can be
downloaded from my online portfolio. But more complex works are for now
limited to being heard when I am at the Union piano.

So I joined this class hoping to continue doing something with music and I
am certainly interested in possibly performing. I was thinking this could be
done with two electronic instruments I have:

Old Casio Digital Synth keyboard ( ) which I can play guitar
style with one hand since it has the knobby things for a guitar strap.
Yamaha Digital Wind Instrument WX11/WT11
I have not played this much recently but I I'll plenty of time to practice
before april.

I am happy to bring in either instrument (carrying more than one would be a
pain) to class to work with the group. My only rule is that nothing
permanent is done to them.

Both instruments have MIDI out so I was thinking we could integrate them
into some complex MAX/MSP performance patch. I have little experience with
MAX/MSP but I worked quite a bit with MIDI and dealing with MIDI information
from the Digital Wind Instrument in a MIDI sequencer environment.
On top of musical skills I know a bit of graphic design stuff so later when
it comes time to advertise I am willing to help with that too. Cya all in
class tomorrow.
Matthew Giacomazzo