Emanations (2012)

Cory Metcalf, Frances Marie Uitti, and David Stout

EMANATIONS joins NoiseFold with renowned cellist and visionary musician, Frances Marie Uitti. The work combines re-orchestrations of NoiseFold's seminal live cinema works, ALCHIMIA, and Neu_Blooms with newly created compositions developed in collaboration with Frances Marie Uitti. The visual images oscillate from fluid deformations of virtual objects to archetypal landscapes and speculative architectures. As in other NoiseFold works, the visual data is sonified to produce a rich pallet of electronic sound.  The work is designed for multi-screen and multi-speaker configuration that provide opportunities for the trio to join in duets, perform solos or share data between the individual performers. Combining cinema, data sonification and acoustic music as an integral whole, NoiseFold and Uitti seek to extend network media performance into the realm of contemporary chamber music.

"The spectacularly gifted cellist Frances-Marie Uitti has made a career out of demolishing musical boundaries. She has developed new techniques (most famously, playing with two bows simultaneously), collaborated with a who's who of contemporary composers, and pushed the cello into realms of unexpected beauty and expression.... Uitti showed why she might be the most interesting cellist on the planet."

– Washington Post 2011 

 

NoiseFold 2.0 (2009–11)

NoiseFold 2.0 is a live cinema and sound art-work consisting of an indeterminate sequence of animated movements or chapters presented as an extensible multi-screen video panorama. The work is facilitated by a complex audio-visual software system designed by the artists that generates or breeds a seemingly infinite array of virtual agents. These synthetic audio-visual forms result from the live mixing of a growing database of dynamic equations that are folded and recombined through a multi-threaded data feedback structure.  The resulting sound is not a separate aural accompaniment but rather the direct sonification of the visual data itself. Thus the performers interact with autonomous visual forms to grow, and sculpt the sonic content of the performance.

NoiseFold 2.0 at MEIT

The architectural scale and network complexity of 2.0 is usually limited by the fact that it is a touring performance and all hardware must fit inside four carry-on luggage items. The resulting design facilitates travel and exhibition in a wide variety of venues from museums, galleries, concert halls and cinemas to planetariums, botanical gardens and black box theaters. The system has been designed as an extensible network that allows for the interconnection of 2 or more computers feeding 2 or more projection displays. All data can be shared between performers allowing for the artists to control their own individual screen, or perform inside each other’s screen-space, or adopt global control across all screens at once. Unlike a typical laptop performance, NoiseFold 2.0 explores the possibility of embodied physical control through gesture capture and acoustic sound input, which is further augmented by foot pedals and conventional control surface interfaces. The primary system input is provided by infrared sensors that the performers manipulate in much the same manner as a playing a Theremin.  The IR sensors are capable of a high resolution data capture that facilitates very subtle gestural interactions that can be assigned to hundreds of parameter offsets guiding the behavior of the audio-visual forms. Handheld parabolic microphones are used to channel acoustic frequencies in the performance space back into the system to effectively cause the visual forms to grow or mutate.

As an Artificial Life system NoiseFold 2.0 can be viewed as a “parthenogenesis machine” that is able to produce a wide array of behaviors including exotic bio-mimetic forms. These virtual objects could be viewed as an artistic end in and of themselves, serving the purpose to visualize hypothetical geometries and compelling aesthetic abstractions. NoiseFold 2.0 pursues a more critical objective. As in a fairytale, this seductive visual language serves to draw the audience more deeply into the forest. In fact, Stout and Metcalf are working in a larger context of data dramatization that examines the nature and intent of human control within large chaotic systems whether environmental, biological, political or social. The resulting abstract audio-visual forms or A-Life organisms are actually unstable structures that challenge the performers to maintain control or risk a variety of consequences. The forms can emit harmful and noxious sounds. They can escape off screen. They can shrink and die. They can multiply in number, scale and complexity threatening to choke all system resources, or they can explode with alarming sonic consequences. The NoiseFold performers have routinely been compared to necromancers and more often acknowledged as wild animal tamers, not only because of the grand gestures required to play the system but because the system itself exhibits unpredictable and often hostile traits. One possible response to dangerous unpredictable behavior is for individuals, communities and nations to exert ever more invasive forms of control. This idea is adopted in the 2.0 performance in several ways. Over time the sonic elements are seen to transform from chaotic noise-based textures to become increasingly tonal. Simultaneously the forms can move from isolated and individuated screen space to become communities or larger scale visual compositions joining all screens in a single form or image.  In the final stages the original lyric forms become increasingly architectonic, ultimately joining in a propulsive display of dystopian aggression. Interestingly there is no libretto or designation of anthropomorphic characters, no text, dialogue or illustrative music. Instead the audience must meet the work half way to assign significance or not to the emergent audio and visual codes at play within the performance.

 

Alchimia (2008)

NoiseFold performs Alchimia

Alchimia is a live interactive cinema work that draws equally from the visual and sonic arts.  This networked duet explores the use of infrared sensors, microphones and MIDI controlled instruments to animate an evolving matrix of virtual 3D forms, which are imbued with life-like aesthetic properties.  Situated at the nexus between the modernist tradition of visual-music and current transdisciplinary exploration fusing media art and science, Alchimia integrates multiple techniques including realtime 3D animation, mathematical visualization, recombinant non-linear databases, artificial life simulation, image to sound transcoding, complex data feedback structures and additional algorithmic processes used to generate both sonic and visual surfaces, skins, and textures.  In Alchimia the 3D forms are capable of emitting their own sounds resulting in a surprising array of sonic expressions induced by the shape, size, luminance, and movement of the visual object itself.  The kinetic behavior of these "synthetic organisms" includes morphogenic expansion and contraction controlled by the hand gestures of the performers or automated by a bank of sixteen low frequency oscillators.  Alchimia is unique in that the sound is not an illustration of visual properties, but rather the direct and simultaneous result of manipulating the visual field.  To further complicate the often unpredictable behavioral properties, the organisms or avatars are programmed to be sonically sensitive to each other and to external acoustic inputs initiated by the performers to evoke a wide range of "life-like" recursive audio, visual, and kinetic phenomena.  The result is a theater of alchemical transformation and emergence exsisting within an intricate cybernetic system.  The generative performance instrument utilized in Alchimia makes unique demands on the music-video performers, who find themselves containing or reining in chaotic behavior, as often as nudging or stimulating their independent-minded avatars to "mutate, dance, and sing".  The endlessly folding objects, synthetic life forms, or theoretical geometries defy easy anthropomorphic categorization.  Organic images of cellular life, nerve networks, serpentine colonies, collapsing architectures, plant structures, teeth, bone, and explosive phallic dystopias may come to mind.

NoiseFold 1.0 (2006–08)

The NoiseFold v1.0 world premiere took place in the spring of 2006 at the Festival Internationale d'Art Video, Casablanca, Morocco.  NoiseFold v1.0 was subsequently presented at venues worldwide including: STEIM (Amsterdam, Netherlands), HyperAction Festival (Santa Fe, NM), Interactive Futures (Victoria, BC), Bellingham Electronic Arts Festival [BEAF] (Bellingham, WA), Upgrade Series at 199 Media Arts (Seattle, WA), UNESCO Creative Cities Summit Design Week (Santa Fe, NM), Installation, Performance & Interactivity [IPI] Festival 2007 (Santa Fe, NM).

NoiseFold v1.0 at AIS (Santa Fe, NM, 2006)

NoiseFold v1.0 at Interactive Futures (Victoria, BC, 2007)