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The Internet Audio Cyclotron: The subversion of technology and the destruction of information as compositional tool and performance process

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The Internet Audio Cyclotron (IAC) is an algorithmic, network-based, audio hyper-processor and information-destruction system. Drawing together threads relating to telematics, cybernetics, compression, feedback, repetition, composition, emergence and distortion, the conceptual backdrop of the IAC is one of cyclical data decomposition and noise generation. This paper outlines the ideas and processes behind the IAC and describes the technology involved in the utilisation of the system as a tool for composition and performance.
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The Internet Audio Cyclotron:
The subversion of technology and the destruction of information as
compositional tool and performance process.
J. M. Gagen
A. J. Wilson
www.phasechange.info/iac
v2.2: March 2015
Abstract
The Internet Audio Cyclotron (IAC) is an algorithmic, network-based, audio hyper-processor and information-
destruction system. Drawing together threads relating to telematics, cybernetics, compression, feedback,
repetition, composition, emergence and distortion, the conceptual backdrop of the IAC is one of cyclical data
decomposition and noise generation. This paper outlines the ideas and processes behind the IAC and
describes the technology involved in the utilisation of the system as a tool for composition and performance.
Pieces are then described in the form of case studies.
Table of Contents
Abstract..................................................................................................................................................................... 1
Introduction............................................................................................................................................................... 3
Phases of the IAC Process....................................................................................................................................... 5
Seed.................................................................................................................................................................... 5
Repeater.............................................................................................................................................................. 5
Feedback Loop.................................................................................................................................................... 6
Destroyer of Information...................................................................................................................................... 6
Generator of Emergent Artefacts......................................................................................................................... 7
Longtail................................................................................................................................................................ 7
Aesthetics and Interventions..................................................................................................................................... 7
Summary.................................................................................................................................................................. 9
Bibliography............................................................................................................................................................ 10
Appendix: Case Studies.......................................................................................................................................... 11
Case Study 1: Cyclotron zero............................................................................................................................ 12
Case Study 2: Electric Molecular....................................................................................................................... 14
Case Study 3: The Internet is My Bitch.............................................................................................................. 18
Case Study 4: Object becomes symbol............................................................................................................. 20
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Introduction
The Internet Audio Cyclotron (IAC), an audio loop utilising the web-casting model of network transmission, was
originally conceived as 'the biggest delay pedal in the world' but also considers the ideas of Metzger (1996 [1959])
pertaining to auto-destructive art and Attali (1985 [1977]) in relation to the nature of repetition.
The configuration necessary to implement the IAC consists of the following; a local audio source (including a
mixing desk), encoder client software (e.g. EdCast, OddCast), a remote streaming server (e.g. ShoutCast,
IceCast2), and a playback client (e.g. iTunes, QuickTime Player, WinAmp).
The IAC procedure is as follows:
1) Seed audio is introduced to the system via the mixer:
- this can be anything from a single sound to an entire piece
2) The audio is encoded by the local client:
- the encoder bitrate can be set to achieve the desired amount of degradation
- the encoder can be overloaded (via the mixer or the input level) to introduce artefacts
3) The encoded signal is transmitted to the streaming server and distributed:
- listeners hear the stream at this stage of each cycle
4) The audio stream from the server is played back, and fed into the encoder via the mixer:
- further seed audio can be introduced at this point
- stream audio can be interacted with (via mixer interventions)
5) Go to 2
- if further audio is being introduced, go to 1
The encoding of the audio signal utilising a 'perceptual' compression algorithm (modelled using a computational
representation of the human auditory system), results in a loss of data and the introduction of noise. Encoding
also takes time and therefore introduces a delay into the system. The compressed, encoded signal is then
transmitted to a remote distribution server (another source of delay), before the retransmitted audio is played back
locally via a client. Playback serves as the final stage of delay-addition, since the audio stream requires decoding.
The process of encoding, transmission and decoding is then fed into itself; the audio stream is introduced into the
signal path, via the mixer, and encoded once again, with the optional addition of further input. It is then re-encoded
and transmitted, ad infinitum.
The IAC is designed to work with the functionality of the network and of compression algorithms. Rather than
trying to work around limitations with these, it utilises them in its mode of operation. As Braasch (2009) writes, the
telematic music system and its relationship to traditional instrument building 'allows us to treat the telematic
apparatus as a new type of musical instrument... musicians and composers often coped with [a] new situation by
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writing music that highlighted the affordances of the new instrument while balancing its restriction to an acceptable
level... the key challenge should be to better utilize [the telematic music systems] affordances.' (2009: 425). The
IAC achieves this by treating time lag, compression artefacts and introduced noise as the fundamentals of the
process. Figure 1 illustrates the IAC procedure. Details regarding specifics are included in the individual case
studies.
Fig. 1: The IAC process
4
Phases of the IAC Process
Figure 2 illustrates the various phases undergone by the audio signal during the IAC process.
SEED REPEATER FEEDBACK DESTROYER GENERATOR LONGTAIL
Initial and
subsequent input.
Sound is
relatively
unchanged, but
now there are
one or more
echoes (akin to a
‘delay’ unit).
The number of
loops
accumulates and
builds. 'Slow
Feedback' is
instantiated by
layers of repeats.
Codec ‘struggles’
with repeated
cycles; the quality
of sound
degrades and
noise is created.
Compression
artefacts start to
appear.
Noise is
dominant.
Recognisable
snippets come
and go. Artefacts
may become
more audible
than the original
signal.
All signals (input
and generative)
fully degraded to
noise state; little
or no change in
the sonic output
over time. There
may still be
emergent
artefacts.
Fig 2: Phases of the IAC Process
Seed
The choice of the MP3 codec (encoder/decoder) for initial IAC experiments was deliberate, although the use of
other algorithms (such as AAC or Ogg Vorbis) is possible. The MP3 system is, as Sterne (2012) writes, 'tuned to...
the hierarchy of taste cultures that are still so central to medium aesthetics.' For example, it is salient to note that
'no gongs, no distorted guitars, no polyrhythms or backbeats were used in the original tests' carried out by
'earwitnesses' during the development of the codec (ibid.) Mono-cultural perception, and the subjective definition
of what can be acceptably compressed, not only serves as an act of digital hegemony, but can be used in the
operation of the IAC. The choice of seed(s), such as the use of distorted bass in the third case study or the use of
complex drum rhythms in the fourth, with the explicit intention of overloading the codec to encourage artefacts,
serves as an act of subversion; it's intent is to re-frame these 'earwitness' decisions in the context of noise rather
than that of reproduction.
Repeater
Attali (1985 [1977]) describes how 'repetition reduces the commodity consumption of music to a simulacrum of its
original, ritualistic function... Reproduction, in a certain sense, is the death of the original, the triumph of the copy,
and the forgetting of the represented foundation.' (p.89). In the context of the IAC, repetition is the first evidence of
the presence of the system; it serves, in the first instance, as a repeater – a delay unit. The timing of the repeats is
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initially indeterminate, being dependent upon the speed of various computational and networking components.
The first repeat presents the first evidence of the encoding process and introduces it into the loop. The 'death of
the original' occurs with every cycle of the IAC signal; destruction accompanies reproduction, rendering IAC-audio
as an exaggeration of Attali's original concept.
Feedback Loop
The virtualisation of media and the digital encoding of audio have brought about entirely new ways to engage with,
create and absorb sound and music - these ways are inscribed into the process utilised by the IAC. It is primarily a
subversion of networking technology to enable it's use as a delay unit and feedback line but can also be played
like an instrument. Chafe (2009) writes that 'path delays... can... be used to constitute network sound objects in a
new breed of synthetic, distributed musical instruments. Recirculating echoes are used to create instrument
tones... One can, in fact, "play the network".' (2009: 414). The IAC embodies this concept; it is an instrument of
sorts and needs to be played, either by introducing new seed audio or intervening at the mixer or encoder.
Any intervention during an IAC performance is seemingly 'amplified' by the process of repetition inherent to the
process; the nature of the IAC as a repeater therefore forms the basis of 'slow feedback' (as we have termed it).
With a delay time of between 10 and 20 seconds, not atypical figures, controlling the signal is akin to steering a
boat; the offset between an audio input into the system and it's transmission and playback (along with the
cumulation of effects derived from the multiple-repeats of the signal) creates the impression of remote and distant
control, where a fine touch and subtle hand is required to avoid an eventual overload. The layering of repeats,
each degraded more than the last, can build uncontrollably if left unattended.
Destroyer of Information
Information systems are usually used to create or manage data, but the particular configuration utilised by the IAC
is designed to create noise from information. The recursive loss of the original signal creates a cycle of reduction
and implosion; it is an algorithmic process of degradation and destruction. The encoding of the audio for
transmission, a local computational process, utilises the MP3 codec. MP3 is a psychoacoustic algorithm; it uses a
model of the human auditory system, basing 'decisions' about data-loss on concepts such as frequency-masking
and subjective perception. Metzger describes auto-destructive art as 'material that is undergoing a process of
transformation in time.' (1996: 42); the audio material that is introduced into the IAC is undergoing exactly this
process, suffering multiple stages of destruction and retransmission.
When considered mathematically, the level of signal-to-noise transposition is remarkable, as the test figures below
indicate:
Input bitrate: 1411 Kbps (CD quality)
Cycle time: 18 seconds (time for a repeat to manifest)
Loop distance: 15,300 Km (London, UK to Dallas, TX and back)
Duration of the piece: 13 mins
Loop traversals: 43 loops
6
Signal total travel distance 663,000 Km
Encoder bitrate / compression ratio: 128 Kbps / 11.02:1 (MP3 codec setting)
Encoder data destruction percentage: 90.93 % (data removed by an encoding pass)
As a percentage of the first input signal, this equates to 6.81E-44 %
By the end of the piece, an infinitesimal fraction of the original signal remains, the vast majority having been
discarded by the encoding algorithm.
Generator of Emergent Artefacts
The ruination of the sound is not the point of IAC works; as Metzger states, auto-destructive art is '[n]ot interested
in ruins, (the picturesque).' (1996: 64). The point of the process is to demonstrate other possibilities: '[a]uto-
destructive art demonstrates man's power to accelerate disintegrative processes of nature and to order them.'
(ibid.) The IAC, in practice, presents the artist with a method for the destruction of audio but, simultaneously, a
method of creation. Metzger also writes that '[i]n auto-destructive art a great deal of activity takes place on a
microscopical level and is not seen... As auto-destructive art is disintegrating and dematerializing, complex time
structures are built-in features of the art.' (1996: 53). Many noise artefacts are introduced, both algorithmic and
artist-generated, during the IAC process, resulting in an unrepeatable microstructure. This structure is not only
audiologically unique in every instance; it is also entirely dynamic.
The artefacts that result from the process of multiple encodings create a sonic ecology within the virtual space of
the network and, once the interventions of the performers are taken into account, result in an indeterminate and
unpredictable system that brings forth new components and new sounds. As Bateson (1979) claims, '[a]ll that is
not information, not redundancy, not form and not restraints is noise, the only possible source of new patterns.'
Utilising the IAC method, work can be created that is (paradoxically) a generative superposition of transformativity,
chaos and, destruction. The material of the signal decays and, as it degrades, becomes new material.
Longtail
This signifies the culmination of the work, and is characterised primarily by unchanging white noise with the
presence of occasional artefacts filling the audio spectrum. The noise may fade to silence naturally, or continue
indefinitely, in which case it is necessary to revive the signal via overload (pushing the performance back into an
earlier phase) or bring the faders down to end the piece. Finally, noise becomes silence.
Aesthetics and Interventions
LaBelle (2006) writes that 'sound... performs with and through space... It is boundless on the one hand, and site
specific on the other'. In so far as the IAC is a process as much as a product, together with the way in which it
circumscribes a relationship between sound and space, it is resolutely Sound Art. Parallels may also be drawn
with Basinski's (2002) 'Disintegration Loops', Metzger's (1996) Auto-destructive Art (as discussed), and various
flavours of Glitch (Menkman, 2011). Other works of relevance include Cory Arcangel's (2004) piece 'Iron Maiden's
7
“The Number of the Beast” compressed over and over as an mp3 666 times' which, in turn, refers to Alvin Lucier's
(1969) 'I Am Sitting in a Room'.
In 'Silence' (2009), John Cage discusses issues surrounding compositional choice; specifically which elements of
composition are determinate or indeterminate with respect to performance. The question arises as to where the
IAC sits in this landscape. De-coupling from conventional compositional structures is inherent to the IAC; sonic
features from the input seed(s) are chewed-up and distorted beyond recognition, but then small fragments re-
appear, together with novel elements generated by the codec struggling to 'make sense' of the input and the
artefacts. Figure 3 illustrates the five classes of potential compositional interventions made possible during IAC
composition and/or performance. The algorithm and the remote server are (partially) determinate elements, fixed
firmly in place before the performance begins. Although algorithmic in response, the codec (in particular) may
respond to the artefacts in an unpredictable way, and the server may alter it's output bandwidth depending on
traffic, or it may cease to function. The seed audio and the live mixing may vary in their level of determinacy
during the piece as the swells and lulls of the noise field are 'played'. The artist, becomes part-performer, part-
composer, at times consciously interacting, at other times allowing the noise to evolve.
Finally, post-production restores determinacy and control.
CLASS COMPOSITIONAL INTERVENTION
SEED(S) Number and type of input(s).
CODEC Encoding/decoding algorithms, input gain, input quality, filters (high pass, low pass), bit rate
(inc. quantitative and qualitative variables, and choice of variable/average bit rate).
REMOTE SERVER Distance, traffic and type (all affect loop time).
LIVE MIXING Volume, EQ, effects.
POST-PRODUCTION Speed up/slow down, reverse, combine, edit, other.
Fig.3: IAC Compositional Interventions
The authors, when performing with the IAC, were acutely aware of the networked global context in which they
were situated, and this influenced their interactions with the system. McLuhan, quoted in LaBelle (2006: 249),
states that electronic media act as an extended nervous system, making us sensitive on a global scale. As part of
the act of performing with the IAC this extended 'nervous system' led to a sense of 'happening', with associated
feelings of curiosity and immediacy. There was a certain exhilaration to be found in exploring the outputs of any
given starting seed, listening for generative artefacts, and riding the ebbs and flows of the slow feedback cycles.
8
Summary
The Internet Audio Cyclotron (IAC), an algorithmic, network-based, delay line, feedback loop, emergent-audio
generator and information-destruction system, offers a new method for the composition and performance of sound
and music.
The IAC is functionally cybernetic, in that it relies on feedback, telematic networks and creative interaction for both
conceptual inspiration and implementation by performance. This is exactly as Ascott (1968) succinctly predicted:
'The art of our time tends towards the development of a cybernetic vision, in which feedback, dialogue and
involvement in some creative interplay at deep levels of experience are paramount... The cybernetic spirit, more
than the method or the applied science, creates a continuum of experience and knowledge, which radically
reshapes our philosophy, influences our behaviour and extends our thought.'
As a system for performance and composition the IAC offers the means for the creation of artefacts and
indeterminacy, but it also has the potential to act as a tool for the subversion of technologically-determined culture.
The use of the MP3 codec to destroy sound rather than reproduce it is an act of organic rebellion against the
tyranny of the algorithm and, as such, shows us that high technology can be used to create information,
organisation and categorisation, but can also generate indeterminacy and chaos.
9
Bibliography
Arcangel, C. (2004) 'Iron Maiden's “The Number of the Beast” compressed over and over as an mp3 666 times'.
http://www.coryarcangel.com/things-i-made/maiden
Ascott, R. (1968) 'My Cybernetic Stance' in Leonardo, vol. 1, pp. 105-112. Oxford: Pergamon Press.
Attali, J. (1985 [1977]) 'Noise: the political economy of music.' Trans. Assuming, B. Minneapolis, MN: The
University of Minnesota Press.
Basinski, W. (2012 [2002]) 'The Disintegration Loops'. New York, NY: Temporary Residence.
Bateson, G. (1979) 'Mind and Nature: A Necessary Unity'. New York, NY: Ballantine Books.
Braasch, J. (2009) 'The Telematic Music System: Affordances for a New Instrument to Shape the Music of
Tomorrow' in Contemporary Music Review, 28: 4-5, pp. 421-432.
Cage, J. (2009 [1968]) 'Silence'. London: Marion Boyars.
Chafe, C. (2009) 'Tapping into the Internet as an Acoustical/Musical Medium' in Contemporary Music Review, 28:
4, pp. 413-420.
LaBelle, B. (2006) 'Background Noise: Perspectives on Sound Art'. New York, NY: Continuum Books.
Lucier, A. (1969) 'I Am Sitting in a Room'. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/I_Am_Sitting_in_a_Room
Menkman, R.(2011) 'The Glitch Moment(um)'. Amsterdam, NL: Network Notebooks.
Metzger, G. (1996) 'Damaged nature, and autodestructive art'. London: Coracle.
Sterne, J. (2012) 'MP3: the meaning of a format'. Durham, NC: Duke University Press.
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Appendix: Case Studies
These case studies describe four pieces created with the IAC, and provide technical information regarding the
configuration used. Calculated signal speed, distance and destruction figures are also included.
Audio and Python3 calculation software can be obtained at:
www.phasechange.info/iac
11
Case Study 1: Cyclotron zero
The first test of the IAC consisted of one of the co-authors improvising bass guitar and effects directly into the
mixer, and then performing mixer- and audio- interventions throughout the piece. The test became a 3.5 hour
performance that attracted a small, virtual audience of 10, and elicited much discussion in text-chat. Most
audience members remained present throughout. It was created (in London, UK, Dallas, TX, and The Wastelands,
Second Life) on March 22nd 2014.
The Cyclotron delay loop (from London to Dallas and back) was around 11 seconds and, over time, it became
evident that the IAC was also behaving as an amplifier and feedbacker. As events cumulated it became necessary
to 'ride' the master fader to prevent overload of the audio encoder and, at other times, to stop the signal
diminishing to a level below the noise floor.
Other interventions took place throughout the piece; an attempted pan (a left-then-right fader modulation) went
badly wrong, and was rescued by introducing a low EQ boost and a dose of hall reverb (to 're-invigorate' the
signal). A vocal snippet was also introduced.
Each incidental clip of the encoder introduced new noise, as did each necessary increase in fader level; this (in
concert with other artefacts introduced by the MP3 encoding process) created a recursive cycle of change, largely
characterised by degradation. The 'slow feedback' and cumulation of any artefact resulting from the 11 second
loop resulted in a stochastic swelling-and-diminishing effect over time.
Eventually the noise became louder than the signal - at this point the decision was made to overload the audio
encoder, to the point where the piece became a 'noise storm'. The master fader was then cut, and the stream
server disconnected.
Post-production of the final audio consisted of a trim of the beginning, and basic level correction and mastering.
The duration of the final piece was then reduced to 33 minutes and 45 seconds (using a time-compression
algorithm that does not alter the pitch), serving to illustrate the process within a more perceptible timeframe.
Documentation: Cyclotron zero
DATE: March 22nd 2014
DURATION (performance / mastered): 3 hours 35 minutes / 33 minutes 45 seconds
SEED AUDIO:
Location: London, UK
Source: bass guitar, effects
Mixer: Korg D888
Playback software: Firestorm SL client
Playback hardware: Windows PC, Soundblaster Audigy
Output quality: 1411 Kbps (44.1 KHz, 16-bit, uncompressed, stereo)
12
ENCODER:
Software: Oddcast, LAME_enc library
Format: 192 Kbps, 44.1 KHz, 16-bit, stereo
Compression ratio: 7.35: 1
STREAM SERVER:
Server: Shoutcast
Bitrate: 192 Kbps
Location: Dallas, TX
INTERVENTIONS:
Mixer: left fader, right fader, master fader, eq (low band), reverb
Audio: vocal segment introduced
LOOP PARAMETERS:
Cycle time: 11 seconds
Loop distance: 15,300 Km
Cyclotron traversals: 1172 loops
Signal speed: 1,390.91 Km/s
Total distance travelled: 17,942,727.27 Km
DATA DESTRUCTION:
Encoder data destruction per cycle: 86.39 %
Data remaining: 2.01E-1013 Kbps
As a percentage of the first input signal, this equates to 1.42E-1014 %
13
Case Study 2: Electric Molecular
'Electric Molecular', a piece consisting a four separate cyclotron recordings undertaken by one of the co-authors,
was created on April 12th 2014 and April 22nd 2014.
The first recording consisted of a single, effected vocal whose duration was over an hour, with the remaining three
each being a single, effected violin sent through an IAC with different parameters (of 14, 13 and 30 minutes
duration respectively). Details can be found in the 'Documentation' section for this case study.
Post-production consisted of placing all of the material (seed audio and IAC loop-signals) into a multi-track audio
editor and creating a the finished piece; the duration of 'Electric Molecular' was constrained to 31 minutes in final
production.
Documentation: Electric Molecular
DATE: April 12th and April 22nd 2014
DURATION (performance / mastered): various / 31 minutes
SEED AUDIO 1:
Location: London, UK
Date: April 12th 2014
Duration: 64 minutes 37 seconds
Source: vocals, effects
Mixer: Korg D888
Playback software: Firestorm SL client
Playback hardware: Windows PC, Soundblaster Audigy
Output quality: 1411 Kbps (44.1 KHz, 16-bit, uncompressed, stereo)
ENCODER 1:
Software: Oddcast, LAME_enc library
Format: 64 Kbps, 44.1 KHz, 16-bit, stereo
Compression ratio: 22.05: 1
STREAM SERVER 1:
Server: Shoutcast
Bitrate: 64 Kbps
Location: Dallas, TX
LOOP 1 PARAMETERS:
Cycle time: 33 seconds
Loop distance: 15,300 Km
Cyclotron traversals: 117 loops
14
Signal speed: 463.64 Km/s
Total distance travelled: 1,797,054.55 Km
DATA DESTRUCTION 1:
Encoder data destruction per cycle: 95.46 %
Data remaining: 2.33E-155 Kbps
As a percentage of the first input signal, this equates to 1.65E-156 %
SEED AUDIO 2:
Location: London, UK
Date: April 22nd 2014
Duration: 14 minutes
Source: violin, effects
Mixer: Korg D888
Playback software: Firestorm SL client
Playback hardware: Windows PC, Soundblaster Audigy
Output quality: 1411 Kbps (44.1 KHz, 16-bit, uncompressed, stereo)
ENCODER 2:
Software: Oddcast, LAME_enc library
Format: 96 Kbps, 44.1 KHz, 16-bit, stereo
Compression ratio: 14.7: 1
STREAM SERVER 2:
Server: Shoutcast
Bitrate: 96 Kbps
Location: Dallas, TX
LOOP 2 PARAMETERS:
Cycle time: 18 seconds
Loop distance: 15,300 Km
Cyclotron traversals: 46 loops
Signal speed: 850 Km/s
Total distance travelled: 714,000 Km
DATA DESTRUCTION 2:
Encoder data destruction per cycle: 93.2 %
Data remaining: 4.76E-52 Kbps
As a percentage of the first input signal, this equates to 3.37E-53 %
SEED AUDIO 3:
Location: London, UK
Date: April 22nd 2014
15
Duration: 13 minutes
Source: violin, effects
Mixer: Korg D888
Playback software: Firestorm SL client
Playback hardware: Windows PC, Soundblaster Audigy
Output quality: 1411 Kbps (44.1 KHz, 16-bit, uncompressed, stereo)
ENCODER 3:
Software: Oddcast, LAME_enc library
Format: 128 Kbps, 44.1 KHz, 16-bit, stereo
Compression ratio: 11.02: 1
STREAM SERVER 3:
Server: Shoutcast
Bitrate: 128 Kbps
Location: Dallas, TX
LOOP 3 PARAMETERS:
Cycle time: 18 seconds
Loop distance: 15,300 Km
Cyclotron traversals: 43 loops
Signal speed: 850 Km/s
Total distance travelled: 663,000 Km
DATA DESTRUCTION 3:
Encoder data destruction per cycle: 90.93 %
Data remaining: 9.60E-43 Kbps
As a percentage of the first input signal, this equates to 6.81E-44 %
SEED AUDIO 4:
Location: London, UK
Date: April 22nd 2014
Duration: 30 minutes
Source: violin, effects
Mixer: Korg D888
Playback software: Firestorm SL client
Playback hardware: Windows PC, Soundblaster Audigy
Output quality: 1411 Kbps (44.1 KHz, 16-bit, uncompressed, stereo)
ENCODER 4:
Software: Oddcast, LAME_enc library
Format: 192 Kbps, 44.1 KHz, 16-bit, stereo
Compression ratio: 7.35: 1
16
STREAM SERVER 4:
Server: Shoutcast
Bitrate: 192 Kbps
Location: Dallas, TX
LOOP 4 PARAMETERS:
Cycle time: 18 seconds
Loop distance: 15,300 Km
Cyclotron traversals: 100 loops
Signal speed: 850 Km/s
Total distance travelled: 1,530,000 Km
DATA DESTRUCTION 4:
Encoder data destruction per cycle: 86.39 %
Data remaining: 3.36E-84 Kbps
As a percentage of the first input signal, this equates to 2.38E-85 %
17
Case Study 3: The Internet is My Bitch
'The Internet is My Bitch' was an improvisation performed by the co-authors (vocals, guitar, effects, IAC), together
with Nina Politimou (bass guitar, effects) and Philip Kaponis (electronic percussion, effects).
The piece was created in London, UK and Dallas, TX on February 21st 2015.
The local encoder, set at 64 Kbps to facilitate rapid degradation, was connected to the server in Dallas, TX, and
played back into the system using the embedded QuickTime player in the Firestorm Second Life client. The
encoding and decoding, plus a 15,300 Km network-traversal, resulted in a delay loop time of 15 seconds.
Initially the signal seemed very low-end heavy, and fragments of room sound and speech were evident; EQ
adjustments were made throughout and the loop input level was altered periodically. Reverb was also introduced
to the looping signal occasionally.
After 10 minutes, musical input ceased and the new seed audio consisted entirely of the mysterious room sound
and speech. After around 20 minutes, the piece was ended. The master fader was then cut, and the stream server
disconnected.
After the performance, It became clear that the audio input into the encoder had, in fact, been the integrated
microphone of the laptop acting as the MP3 encoder.
Post-production of the final audio consisted of level correction and mastering.
Documentation: The Internet is My Bitch
DATE: Feb 21st 2015
DURATION (performance / mastered): 20 minutes
SEED AUDIO:
Location: London, UK
Source: vocals, bass, guitar, electronic percussion, effects (captured via an integrated laptop microphone)
Mixer: Korg D888
Playback software: Firestorm SL client
Playback hardware: Windows PC, Soundblaster Audigy
Output quality: 1411 Kbps (44.1 KHz, 16-bit, uncompressed, stereo)
ENCODER:
Software: Oddcast, LAME_enc library
Format: 64 Kbps, 44.1 KHz, 16-bit, stereo
Compression ratio: 22.05: 1
18
STREAM SERVER:
Software: Shoutcast Server
Bitrate: 64 Kbps
Location: Dallas, TX
INTERVENTIONS:
Mixer: left fader, right fader, eq (low bands), reverb
LOOP PARAMETERS:
Cycle time: 15 seconds
Loop distance: 15,300.0 Km
Cyclotron traversals: 80 loops
Signal speed: 1,020 Km/s
Total distance travelled: 1,224,000 Km
DATA DESTRUCTION:
Encoder data destruction per cycle: 95.46 %
Data remaining: 4.81E-105 Kbps
As a percentage of the first input signal, this equates to 3.41E-106 %
19
Case Study 4: Object becomes symbol
'Object becomes symbol' was an improvisation performed by the co-authors (vocals, guitar, effects, IAC), together
with Nina Politimou (bass guitar, effects) and Philip Kaponis (electronic percussion, effects).
The piece was created in London, UK and Dallas, TX on February 21st 2015.
The local encoder, set at 128 Kbps, was connected to the server in Dallas, TX, and played back into the system
using the embedded QuickTime player in the Firestorm Second Life client. The encoding, transport and decoding
resulted in a delay loop time of 17 seconds.
Frequent mixer interventions, plus a continuous seeding of new audio, created a very complex, layered effect
relatively quickly and, as a result, the input levels for the loop had to be gauged very carefully. Occasional
overloads did occur, mainly generated by percussive hits. These served, after a couple of circuits, to introduce
granular noise artefacts into the cycle. The bass guitar featured extensive distortion as a sonic component; this
was accentuated by the data-destruction over time. Reverb was selectively introduced to the cycling signal via the
mixer.
The large, 'slow feedback' loop of the cyclotron was augmented by a local feedback loop; an open mic (to facilitate
vocals) picked up the room sound, including the return-loop signal and reintroduced this as new audio.
After around 18 minutes the decision was made to cease playing ('seeding') and to clip the encoder; the noise
soon became louder than the signal. The master fader was then cut, and the stream server disconnected.
Post-production of the final audio consisted of judicious trimming of the beginning, level correction and mastering.
Documentation: Object becomes symbol
DATE: Feb 21st 2015
DURATION (performance / mastered): 19 minutes
SEED AUDIO:
Location: London, UK
Source: vocals, bass, guitar, electronic percussion, effects
Mixer: Korg D888
Playback software: Firestorm SL client
Playback hardware: Windows PC, Soundblaster Audigy
Output quality: 1411 Kbps (44.1 KHz, 16-bit, uncompressed, stereo)
ENCODER:
Software: Oddcast, LAME_enc library
Format: 128 Kbps, 44.1 KHz, 16-bit, stereo
20
Compression ratio: 11.02: 1
STREAM SERVER:
Software: Shoutcast Server
Bitrate: 127 Kbps (returned slightly less than requested 128 Kbps bitrate)
Effective compression ratio: 11.11: 1 (given the 127 Kbps return-signal)
Location: Dallas, TX
INTERVENTIONS:
Mixer: left fader, right fader, eq (all bands), reverb
LOOP PARAMETERS:
Cycle time: 17 seconds
Loop distance: 15,300.0 Km
Cyclotron traversals: 67 loops
Signal speed: 900 Km/s
Total distance travelled: 1,026,000 Km
DATA DESTRUCTION:
Encoder data destruction per cycle: 90.99 %
Data remaining: 1.06E-67 Kbps
As a percentage of the first input signal, this equates to 7.50E-69 %
21
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Book
Background Noise follows the development of sound as an artistic medium and illustrates how sound is put to use within modes of composition, installation, and performance. While chronological in its structure, Brandon LaBelle’s book is informed by spatial thinking - weaving architecture, environments, and the specifics of location into the work of sound, with the aim of formulating an expansive history and understanding of sound art. At its center the book presupposes an intrinsic relation between sound and its location, galvanizing acoustics, sound phenomena, and the environmental with the tensions inherent in what LaBelle identifies as sound’s relational dynamic. For the author, this is embedded within sound’s tendency to become public expressed in its ability to travel distances, foster cultural expression, and define spaces while being radically flexible. This second expanded edition includes new chapter about the future of sound art, revisions to the text as well as a new preface by Brandon LaBelle. Intersecting material analysis with theoretical frameworks spanning art and architectural theory, performance studies, and media theory, Background Noise makes the case that sound art should be at the core of contemporary culture.
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New digital technologies enabled the Virtual Reality movement in the 1990s, which led to the euphoric belief that we could virtually teleport ourselves to a distant location with such great realism that we would lose our awareness of the enabling technology. Especially in the particular case of music collaborations, however, it has meanwhile become clear that this goal is unreachable because of the unavoidable transmission latency over long distances and other secondary factors. This article explores how we can create new and better design goals for telematic music collaborations by treating telematic systems as a new class of musical instruments. From this viewpoint, the creation of new art forms for the new medium becomes a central challenge, in addition to the development of better telematic technology. In particular, the new works need to focus on the affordances that the telematic system introduces, not just circumnavigate current system limitations.
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Tapping into the Internet as an Acoustical/Musical Medium' in Contemporary Music Review
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