Tenement Talks

I started my internship at the Lower East Side Tenement Museum this week.  On my first day, I had the opportunity to go on a couple tours of the historic 97 Orchard Street tenement building to learn more about the Museum and the history of immigration to the Lower East Side.  I will be mainly focusing on producing podcasts of the Museum’s Tenement Talks lecture series.  Last night’s Tenement talk was a conversation moderated by Robert Sullivan (author of Rats: Observations on the History and Habitat of the City’s Most Unwanted Inhabitants) with Eric Sanderson (author of Mannahatta: A Natural History of New York City) and Douglas Hunter (author of Half Moon: Henry Hudson and the Voyage that Redrew the Map of the New World).  I hope to have the audio recording online soon.  Stay tuned, the audio will be available here.

Ari Joseph and Steven Litt LIVE at The Tank

My ITP classmates, Ari Joseph and Steven Litt performed live at The Tank in Hell’s Kitchen on Thursday night.  Steven performed on the CrudBox, a mechanical drum machine of his own creation.  Here is a YouTube video of Steven performing on the CrudBox last December at the NIME Show at Exit Art.  Meanwhile,

I just happend to have my Samson Zoom H2 audio recorder on me because I was coming from band practice with JC Cassis and company, so I was able to capture a high-quality MP3 recording of Ari and Steven’s performance.  Unfortunately, it took me a minute to fumble with the recorder in the dark, so I missed the first couple minutes of the performance.  Nonetheless, here it is:
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An Audio Portrait of the Life and Death of Ruby

Update: After getting some critique in class today, I remixed the audio to make the improve the balance in levels between the narration and musical elements and to bring out some important keywords in the narration. The MP3  player and download links below now feature the new, improved version of my experimental audio documentary.

The original post below:

For my audio portrait of Ruby the Elephant, I sought to “paint” a portrait through sound in the same way Ruby painted her paintings with a brush and paint–using bold brushstrokes and vivid colors; abstract, yet struggling to communicate something deeper that cannot be easily expressed.  I cut up the narrative structure of Ruby’s backstory, interspersed it the Ruby Baby track, along with my interpretation of what it would have sounded like when Ruby played the xylophone.  Thus, cutting, pasting, and rearranging are my parallel techniques to Ruby’s paint splatters.  I wanted to honor Ruby by making my portrait of her to sound like how her paintings look.

The picture above is an image of a Ruby painting.

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Ruby Baby by Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller, performed by Björk Guðmundsdóttir & Tríó Guðmundar Ingólfssonar.

See also: Sketches of Ruby and Ruby Research Links.

ICM Final: Post-Modern Poster Child (Musical Typeface Reinvention)


Post-Modern Poster Child (Musical Typewriter Mix) from lee-sean on Vimeo.

[Blip.tv] [YouTube] [Vimeo]

I presented my final project for Intro to Computational Media today.  Building on the work I did with the Musical Typewriter, I ended up making some last minute tweaks to my “musical typeface,” which consists of audio samples corresponding to each letter of the alphabet.  Originally I had used all single-hit percussion sounds, but I reworked the alphabet to include short musical phrases or gestures, and brought in wind and string instrument samples for greater musicality and richness.  The final version of my Processing program reads a text file and “translates” the text into music by playing back the samples corresponding to the letters of the words as musical phrase “cluster.”

While playing back a text as a song, the Processing sketch also simultaneously displays the word corresponding to the musical sample cluster being played and visualizes the frequency waves of the music on the screen.  Refer to the screenshot above.

For my in-class performance, I used the lyrics to the HEPNOVA track Post-Modern Poster Child and reinterpreted words through the Musical Typewriter.  [MP3] [AIFF]

During my presentation, I also Rick Rolled the class with Rick Astley’s immortal lyrics played through my program.

Source code after the jump. Continue reading ICM Final: Post-Modern Poster Child (Musical Typeface Reinvention)