20-24 February 2017, taught by David Gauthier and Hannah Perner-Wilson at the Copenhagen Institute for Interaction Design in Copenhagen, Denmark
“Take a sound from whatever source, a note on a violin, a scream, a moan, a creaking door, and there is always this symmetry between the sound basis, which is complex and has numerous characteristics which emerge through a process of comparison within our perception.“ (Pierre Schaeffer, Perception, Door, Process)
“This example illustrates a frequent designer’s quandary, namely a choice between a complicated circuit that meets the strict worst-case design criterion, and is therefore guaranteed to work, and a simple circuit that doesn’t meet worst-case specifications, but is overwhelmingly likely to function without problems. There are times when you will find yourself choosing the latter, ignoring the little voice whispering into your ear.” (Paul Horowitz and Winfield Hill, The Arts of Electronics)
Making oscillations that will be heard
How might we imagine and build circuitry differently, if instead of thinking about electronics in terms of discrete components, we learn to control the flow of electricity through different materials? In this introductory course, electronics are presented as materials or, rather, materials are presented as electronics. Students will learn how to probe existing materials to investigate what these are made of, understand their electro/magnetic properties and question how these can be turned into sensing and actuating contraptions.
OSCILLATIONS / AMPLIFICATIONS / TRANSDUCTIONS / COMPOSITIONS
The focus of this year’s module is on sound: how to produce oscillators, how to amplify electric signals so they become listenable and how to turn materials into both speakers and microphones. Inspired by the work of John Cage, Karlheinz Stockhausen, and Pierre Shaeffer, we will approach questions of how to produce sound compositions with objects that are not musical instruments per se but, rather, have been prepared to emit sonic tonalities.
Four areas will be presented for exploration during this course:
(1) oscillators and their modulation
(2) handmade/crafted electronics, with a focus on soft circuits and textile-based sensors
(3) amplification of electronic signals
(4) electromagnetism, speakers and transduction
Each aforementioned area of exploration will be composed of multiple small exercises in which participants create electronic artefacts reflecting their learning as they go along. Our intention is to focuses not only on tools and materials, but on how these can become a part of the way students work, think, and design, enabling them to prototype and explore emerging ideas more quickly and more effectively using electronics.
Do it like John Cage
Friday at 13.00 we will have a performance/recording session. Up until then you have time to build a composition that you will perform in groups of four. We expect you to build upon the things we’ve learned in class (synthesizer interfaced with sensors, build your own speaker, mic any objects) to produce at least two unique sounding sources (objects, wearable, etc.) that you will play. There is still time to experiment (from Wednesday until Friday) but you should keep in mind the performative and expressive act as well as the sound aesthetics. Think it as a composition / performance. Please make time to rehearse and make sure you are ready for the recording at 13.00. Don’t forget to title your composition.
Following this session, a 10 minute critique will be held for each team. Be prepared to respond to questions regarding your process, how your sound sources are built, your intentions behind your composition, its aesthetics qualities, and also reflect on what worked and what did not.
Groups: 4 members
Duration of the recording: 3 min 24 seconds
Breadboarded circuit >> https://circuits.io/circuits/4104051-atari-punk-console-556-timer/edit#breadboard
>> coming soon…
556 timer datasheet >> http://www.ti.com/lit/ds/symlink/lm556.pdf
TIP122 datasheet >> https://cdn-shop.adafruit.com/datasheets/TIP120.pdf
Lara Grant’s felted synths >> http://lara-grant.com/
John Cage “Water walk”
Karlheinz Stockhausen – Mikrophonie I & II
Gestural Musical Interfaces