Benjamin Bacon (USA), Joe Saavedra (USA)
Parsons The New School for Design, School of Art, Media and Technology
Medium: Aluminum, Electronics, Musical Composition, Digital and Analog Synthesis
Brief Work Description
orchestra. The ESO stems initially from the observation that simple electromechanical actuators and solenoids can create complex machines. It is based on musical compositions created from unique, custom-made and non-traditional instruments. The form of the ESO is influenced by the Stele Forest at the Xi’an Beilin Museum. The systemic arrangement of ancient stone horse hitching posts, the assortment of sculptural characters on each post as well the musical synesthesia of being in that environment.
Accompanying the ESO is the ambient ‘Weather Ensemble’. The ‘Weather Ensemble’ is comprised of aggregate weather data pulled from the globally dispersed Weather Tunnel sensor nodes used to compose generative music and sonic landscapes in real-time. A specific set of rules is established to determine the composition and arrangement of sample-based ambient music. Sound is generated using granular synthesis in the style of musique concréte.
The Weather Ensemble serves as the ambient environmental context while the ESO performs melodies and rhythms dictated by the very same real-time data creating different melodic, harmonic, and rhythmic musical phrases that are layered and repeated as part of an aleatoric musical composition.
Each ESO solenoid head is constructed of custom machined aluminum parts containing 12 solenoids and tuning plates made of different materials producing different types of timbre that represent a full musical octave. 4 ESO solenoid heads are grouped to create an instrument of 48 pitches or 4 octaves. Each grouped instrument represents a different melodic, harmonic and rhythmic section of the orchestra using real-time weather tunnel data to create musical phrases that are layered and repeated as part of a aleatoric musical composition.
The Weather Ensemble serves as the ambient environmental context each representing a discrete environmental factor, controlling and manipulating a single instrument that is directly or indirectly related to that environmental data. Using granular synthesis, the samples are manipulated and sequenced, often rendering the sample source nearly unrecognizable. All sounds together create a sonic interpretation of the environment in that location at that moment in time.
Benjamin Bacon is an Assistant Professor at Parsons The New School for Design. His work and research focuses on the intersection of technology, social media, mobility, sound and information design. He has lectured, performed, exhibited and lead workshops at a variety of institutions, exhibitions and conferences. He is a founding member of the new media research group SpyLab that’s mission is to create long distance collaborative projects with researchers and artists around the world. He has a BA in Cinema Studies from the University of Minnesota – Twin Cities and an MFA in Design and Technology from Parsons.
Joseph Saavedra earned Bachelor’s degrees in Music Composition and Technocultural Studies from the University of California, Davis in 2008. It was around this time that his technical skills in sound, performance, research, design and led him to Parsons the New School for Design in New York City where he completed his MFA in Design and Technology in 2010. “Citizen Sensor” was his thesis project, and was recently awarded first place in the Köln International Design Preis 2010. Currently adjunct faculty at Parsons, he teaches courses in programming and physical computing.