For my final in Always On, Always Connected I worked on my musical map of Latin America. Originally I intended to make an instrument, but a spontaneous drawing of Latin America in p5.js spawned the idea to make this piece. It has turned into the inspiration to my plans next year to go into an ethno-musicological study of Latin America using interactive means. What I set out to make is a visual library of beats/ educational music instrument, and I still have a lot to go in terms of functionality, but I think this is pretty strong prototype.
I set out to literally connect the dots between different beats in Latin America. What this means is to create a premodal frame of most of the beats, otherwise known as a study to find the distinct patterns between the beats, what they have in common, what they don’t have in common, and where they came from, i.e Africa, Europe, the Middle East.
I realized that in order to pull this off I would had to have all the beats and their rhythmic elements stemmed out or separated so I can create faders between different countries and able to measure what rhythmic element they actually had in common.
This is the interaction that I have for now. The beats themselves are samples of original recordings from their respective places. What I also wanted to accomplish was to have them play at the same beats per minute so that the beats can be faded in and out seamlessly, or together, depending on the functionality.
This assignment ended up being one of the more challenging ones to tackle. I was blank for a few days before I can think of conceptualizing a NEW MATERIAL. I took a trip to the ITP junk shelf for some inspiration and realized how much techno garbage was there. My first instinct was to work with it.
I also value the properties of glue. Glue is a metaphor, and that metaphor comes up in many instances, usually in artistic endeavors. It has the power to push two things together into one, cohesive entity. It was then that I decided to mix these two things together, glue and techno scrap. What came out is a glue brick, re enforced with techno scrap.
I added elmer’s glue, wood glue, blue and yellow acrylic paint and cut up pieces of techno scrap.
The glue is still a bit wet after a few days. I’m waiting for it to dry completely before taking it out of the tupperware.
For my Embodiment and Space assignment I decided to make a musical instrument. Instruments of any kind have always made us react to it via our bodies. Without our bodies we cannot play them. The instrument always demands a specific position of the human body in order to interact with it. There are instruments that demand more movement than others. A person playing the piano is sitting down peacefully (relatively speaking) while a drummer has no choice but to engage their whole body in order to execute the beat.
My instrument is a stringed instrument is made of scrap wood, screws, and rubber bands. I knew I wanted to make something with rubber bands. I’ve always played with them throughout life, stretching them between my fingers, changing the pitch with a changing tension. I constructed it standing up, with the instrument on a table, so naturally, I designed it to be playing standing up. The instrument is fairly big, about 2 feet from top to bottom and 2 feet long. This is an instrument user test . What I like about this user test is how they try to figure out how to use it and modify the rubber band tension to fit whatever sounds they are trying to convey. It was interesting to see someone else play the instrument entirely different than me, despite how simple and straightforward the instrument may seem.
In terms of its relationship to space, all instruments have a relationship. This instrument requires you to figure out how to approach it. That said, it also allows you to come at it from different angles. There are also movements involved to play the instrument that are similar to playing a harp, although it’s eccentric setup involves hand and arm motions that are a bit more action packed than a harp. More arm twisting, more jerking movements when attacking the rubber bands. More leaving it and re-approaching it from a different angle.
Aesthetically, the instrument reminds me of something between a surrealist suspension bridge and a kora. I have also been playing with a “connect the dots” concept in all my work lately, and this is by no means an exception. The rubber bands are all connected by the screws (the dots) while the bands themselves create a sort of inherent web that holds the instrument together.
My performance: marco test
Kora, a West African Stringed Instrument.
I want to explore the connection we have with the earth, in terms of movement. I want to think that, perhaps, when we dance, we are mimicking the earth’s movements. Right now I’m in the process of making a musical map of Latin America. The buttons on the map play different rhythms based on their placement on the map. My idea is to make the earth move according to the beat it is playing.
A social problem that I find troubling is the topic of smart consumption. What I mean is : I know the overwhelming majority of the things we buy come from lenient, off shore labor law situations, borderline slavery, certainly hyper exploitative. Usually, I abstain from buying something because of my reluctancy to participate in this economic model, but sometimes I try to forget about it all together when I really want something, and I try to wash my guilt with my stronger feeling, which is desire. Of course, I am also aware that this desire is consequence of manipulation, but that is a different topic.
I would like to use the clothing industry as an example. Markets like the clothing industry, where there is a disparate difference between how much things cost to make (how much people are getting paid for the clothing they make) and how much these clothes cost. Sometimes they are ridiculously more expensive because of their supposed status, and sometimes they are super cheap, because they literally cost close to nothing to make.
My solution to this problem would be to create a SOCIAL FOOTPRINT label on products. This means that there would be a label on a product that tells you, along with the carbon footprint of the product, who made it and what their wage is. This would create transparency between a company and its customers. The customer would also have a more meaningful relationship with the people that are making what they are buying. Alongside this concept, it would also be interesting to create an option for the customer to be able to “tip” the people who are making what they are buying.
Root causes: The root cause of this problem is the economic model we live in. I know this is a tricky idea. The people that are in charge of this wouldn’t want this to happen. Maybe it’s an idea that can be introduced via policy.
For my Always On, Always Connected midterm I’m on a working on music interface. My inspiration came from being able to make a tool that I can use wherever I am to hash out new ideas, or even as a performing instrument in the long run. I am using Nexus, a company that specializes in making interactive musical interfaces, and connected two keyboard interfaces with a 16 beat drum sequencer. I then connected tone.js to the keyboards, with the polysynth sound from the tone.js library. My goal is to connect all three interfaces with a common metronome so that all the interfaces can be played simultaneously.
My wireframes for Troubadour:
This is my Interface thus far:
The keyboards are functioning with sound from tone.j.s
- Putting drum sounds on the sequencer.
- Hooking up a metronome to all three interfaces.
- Connect a looping function
- Connect a saving function
Most of my garbage this week was food container garbage. Even more specific, it was usually pizza or smoothie garbage. Also, plenty of coffee garbage as well. Can’t forget the sugar garbage to sustain long work hours, like chocolate chip cookies and m’n’ms. One observation: It was kind of gross to see how much pizza I ate this week.
I suppose I can start by bringing home cooked food in containers, but that takes time, and time is what I usually don’t have. Maybe I can just bring a ceramic plate to the pizza place or try to buy things with minimal to no packaging. Pizza is more sustainable, though, as it comes in paper, and smoothies come in plastic. The irony is that the smoothie is better for my body, but not my environment in the long run.
There is also more waste that I used that isn’t pictured. Hygiene products, cigarette packaging, water when I brush my teeth and take a shower, just to name a few.
My most obvious relationship to energy is through my relationship with music. Music encompasses spiritual energy, electrical energy, and physical energy. The ability to receive music requires the ability to receive the nuances of its energy. It requires the ability to translate energy into emotion. When one receives that emotion, it is then translated back into an output energy that comes from the body. This is the birth of dance. The giving back of energy to the source, thus creating a circular relationship between giving and receiving.
As a musician, I don’t create when I’m happy. It has turned into a pattern in my life. When I’m happy I am preoccupied with being happy. When I feel anxious to create, I subconsciously destroy things in order to feel inspired to once again touch the drawing board. The tragedy of destruction turns into my muse. And it is only through the destruction that I can reflect on the happiness I threw away, and through the art, lament over how valuable my loss is.
My piece, titled Past, Present, Future reflects the path that I take as an artist through the process of creation. The past is written, the present, a jumble of emotions that eventually leads me to a future blank slate. I take in energy, through experiences and people. I create conflict, and my conflict resolution is a mapping out of events, of looking both forward and backward. I then approach a new drawing board to recycle my emotions into music. On one side there is a tape full of music. It then unravels into the storm of present tense. I then work my way towards a blank cassette.
For our Towers of Power final (Dorothy and Jasmine) we are working on a project called BREAK THE ICE.
BREAK THE ICE is intended to protect undocumented citizens from ICE raids, with the ultimate goal of keeping families together. In the political climate that we are living in right now, ICE raids are increasing in numbers and it’s imperative that we counter the actions in order to protect civil liberties. This project will be a great tool for activists working especially for this cause. We will be able to give them the data from the radio scans, enabling them to disseminate and ICE activity that is about to take place. We have a list of activist groups that will mostly benefit from this, including Cosecha, ICE- Free NY, New Sanctuary Movement, Juntos, and ACLU. We also want to collect data on raid activity for further
We will detect ICE raids through signal activity, meta data and speech detection using radio frequency scans. The chain of a events will start with the software that detects the signals, and then it will be demodulated by a Raspberry Pie. The data will then be passed onto a server, which will then trigger Twilio, sending a message to the users of the app. The signal we are demodulating will be P25 signal, which is usually in the 163.00000 frequency level.
This is the chain of events for our app.
This is what it looks like when we get the signal on gqrx. The signal is stronger in the morning, which is a great indicator of when the raids usually happen.
Our financial plan consists of selling the Properly equipped Raspberry Pies that pick up the signal, to activists.
Also, we are counting on donations from various activist groups.
For my Piecing it Together midterm I decided to build a guitar body. My only experience with guitars before this, besides playing them, was designing a semi hollow body guitar, as well as taking various solid body electrics apart with hopes of putting them back together. Most of the time I failed to put them back together properly.
I wanted to finally build a guitar from scratch (save for the neck.) I bought a used neck on ebay, as well as a chunk of basswood for the body of the guitar. My plans were to make an obtuse triangle guitar body, but when I received the body in the mail I quickly realized that the dimensions of the wood wouldn’t afford me the space to make it, but I still wanted something very angular.
I started sketching on paper first and then moved into Fusion 360 to do the final sketch. I went through 4 or 5 iterations/attempts on Fusion, and I was successful in making something I am proud of. I hit a wall, however, when it was time to create a dxf file to send it to the cam. I also had a hard time going into the cam mode in Fusion, primarily because the metric kept going to millimeters, even after I changed it to inches. I finally ended up making a sketch in Vectorworks, which is a harder tool than Fusion to design, but afforded me easier traffic between program to G code.
I used a 1/2 inch straight bit on basswood on the CNC. When the cut was done I realized I forgot to outline the neck pocket on the CAM. I changed the file, left the slab of wood on the CNC and decided to recut it. Big Mistake. I made sure to readjust the X Y and Z coordinates to the proper 0 position but it ended up being off by a hair. The result is that once the router started its path it started chipping away at the bottom corner of the guitar, eventually destroying the whole tip of it. It also cut through some of the body, which made my dimensions smaller, a consequence that really effected the neck pocket size. I decided to cut the tip off on the circular saw and sand away the difference of the edges. The result is not exactly what I hoped for, but I managed to save it. The neck pocket can be sanded down to fit the neck better, but I plan on cutting another piece of wood again anyway.
Original Sketch by hand.
Fusion 360 Sketch.
Vectorworks Final Sketch.
18 x 14 x 1.75 Basswood on the CNC