omega is a performed sound, video, and tactile project with seven pieces

 

1. rocks

 

 The first piece in the omega project, ‘rocks’, develops a direct connection between counting and infinity.

 

 While ‘white noise’ gains its meaning from the color white having all colors in the spectrum, in terms of sound we find ‘white noise’ to be purely theoretical. It is both impossible to create all frequencies, and further it is impossible to hear all frequencies, given physical limitations of space, time, and body. However, there is a point at which the human ear stops perceiving individuals tones, and begins hearing noise. In this piece, around 70 pitches are generated in total.

 

 This piece is performed by a single body, placing rocks in a circular pattern on the ground. The stones are placed one by one during performance until the concentric circle transitions to a cloud of points. The rocks are volcanic stones gathered close to Manzanar, pieces of a lava flow that erupted millions of years ago.

 

 The point at which the brain forgets that 1 to 1 counting has been occurring, I will call the tipping point. This tipping point creates an access point to infinity, not through quantity, but through perception shifting to large fields through a forgetting of place and time.

 

 The sounds triggered by each rock placement are introduced as recorded sounds of rock hitting piano wood. Following that introduction, computer generated sine tones, pre-recorded into a DAW, are triggered and then loop through the tail of each waveform, and do not die out, but continue relentlessly.

 

 The synchronicity of the placement of the rock and the generation of computer generated sound was made possible through the use of iPhone accelerometer data being harnessed through the networking application, GyrOSC. The data is received by a Max patch built by Eric . The patch converts it to midi and triggers clips in the DAW.

 

 The accelerometer gives this piece the ability to step away from sound performance and visual performance, closer to the physical art of dance performance, where the body is the medium, and the technology allows the body information to echo into the separately perceivable spheres of sound and sight.

 

2. water

 

 The second piece in the series, water, utilizes simple sounds and panning to examine the aural perception of physical dimensions. Shapes are created and destroyed, moving forwards and backwards through the cycles each time, counting and uncounting the objects into existence. The piece is performed live with a projected video and in quad with four speakers. The sound choices of electronic dance tropes, their kicks and white noise, emphasize the expectation of the form to turn into pulsating four bar phrases.

 

 One by one, the Platonic solids are traced with sound building forwards and backwards before moving to the next dimension. The first step contains the number of vertices in the shape, notated by clicks in mono, played forwards, then in reverse. In the second step, the vertices of the shapes are plotted in stereo, traveling directionally, point to point. The third step, the lines of the shapes, are traced by tones, traveling directionally, point to point. In the fourth step, the planes of the now drawn skeleton of the shape are filled with rising white noise.

 

 The visual element, animated by Eben Zboch, creates a shifting vision of the shapes, not locked into the strict, unrelenting counting form of the sound. While seeing the video, it is easy to let the eyes supersede the ears.

 

3. hand count

 

 The third piece in omega acknowledges our first counting tools, the hands. Physically interfacing with our bodies seems to make counting ‘real’ because if the count exists on my body, it must exist.

 

 Tones are introduced in sets of five upwardly sliding tones, before beginning again at the first tone. These five tones correspond with a video of a hand counting to five. After the first count to five, another set begins, staggered from the original loop. The hand continues with the original loop, but is manipulated live to shift to different loops, creating different points.

 

 While these layers build, a slow, lower rising tone enters the sonic space, rising and resetting itself in the manner of a Shepherd’s Scale, perceptually building into nothing until the audio comes to a pause. Tones enter again, this time slower, still rising, not accompanied by white noise and clicking. The tones stop and the noise rises to intensity. The tones rise again, this time the noise pulsates with the click, aligning. Finally, the sonic pieces align and move together.

 

 Hi-8 tape footage was taken and re-captured in a way to preserve the ticking of the tape-clock in the upper right corner of the camera feed. The tape footage is manipulated live during performance through the video program, Resolume, giving the performer the ability to control how the content is heard, through the speed, starting points, and layers of the video content. Having control over the visual points of the beginning of visually counting allows the perceptual shift of counting in sets have a perceivable beginning and end point.

 

4. speed up

 

Suzanne Kite- computer

Jackie Urlick- harp

Kelsey Lanceta- body

 

 This is a performance piece for computer, body, rope, harp. The computer generated sounds use the thresholds of beatings to create tones, which are combined in various ratios to form chords.

 

 There are five initial sounds, occurring at 120 beats per minute. The performer controls the rate of beats through two different parameters: delay rate, and midi rate, allowing the midi to be extremely fast in tempo, but not effect the tone of the notes. The midi clock is then controlled to adjust the tones, tuning the chord by hand. The harpist responds to these chords through improvising off the tones she perceives.

 

 In order to explain the transfinite numbers I try to address in this piece, I will use an example taken from Rudy Rucker’s Infinity and the Mind. He describes moving past infinity like speeding up an infinite mountain.

 

“The idea is to climb the first cliff in one hour, the next cliff in half an hour, the one after that in a quarter of an hour, and, in general, the nth cliff in 1/n hours. Since 1 + 1/2 + 1/4 + 1/8 + . . . sums to 2, we see that after two hours our climbers have passed infinitely many cliffs. But there are more, many more.”

 

 In order to move at such a speed, we must climb through the transfinite numbers. In this theory, omega (ω) represents the size (cardinality) of the finite set. In order to move past the finite set, we speed past, seeking ω₁, the size of all countable ordinal numbers.

 

M1= {1— 1/2n : ƞ⋲N}

_______①_____②___③_④__ω____????_____________ω₁____????_________________ω₂

 

 In this piece, the harp solos can be thought of as the first four cliffs, and the dancer the horrified climber.

 

5. growth

 

 growth is a video piece developed in SuperCollider with the help of Scott Cazan. Using simple L-Systems provided by the built in Nature ToolKit, the video was created to directly sonify the fractal growth of plants.

 

 6. woman

 

 This piece, titled woman, is for a vocalist, computer, & projector. Using a microphone is optional. The film clips are controlled live with a backing track and the vocalizing occurs when the performer feels it is necessary, following the score.

 

 Backing track is pre-recorded with the following lyrics:

  woman, wowoman, wowowoman, wowowowoman, wowowowowoman…ω

 

 The choices of vocalizing (screaming, growling, etc) where chosen for their manipulation of white noise content with the vocal instrument, the mouth. The score itself was created with a aleatoric system deciding volume and vocalizing type, but leaves a great deal of uncertainty for the performance, like speed, use of breath, and pace.

 

 All video content for this piece was self-made with the help of cameraman, Joel Reeves. “Wo” lyric is attached to images of a woman’s own hands and “Man” lyric is attached to images of a man’s hands. As the lyric pace speeds up, it becomes more difficult to distinguish between the two videos, between the sets of hands, and between “wo” and “man” and “woman”.

 

 The videos at the end are controlled by the performer and seek to bring chaos in the form of the physical body as skin, flesh, and violence. It is important to note that at no point is the camera not level with the female gaze.

 

 7. string paradox

 

 String Paradox :

“Every string which has one end also has another end”

No. [0, 1)={x:0 ≤ x ≤ 1}, no number or surreal number comes just before 1.

 

omega is an hour long exploration of that which cannot be accessed, and therefore cannot be sorted in our perception.

 The human mind insists on categorizing, filing, and “othering” in order to make sense of reality. This 7 piece project, omega, seeks to identify perceptual boundaries through the use of different methods of counting utilizing physical, visual, and auditory phenomenon. The moment the brain forgets that counting has been occurring, the moment where perception breaks from conscious categorization, is a door to the inaccessible. By exposing these limits in perception every realm of categorization is revealed.

 

 This final piece, “String Paradox”, is a set of compounding improvisations on the ‘string paradox’: “Every string which has one end also has another end”; a paradox because of the possibility of infinite systems. Mathematical theories of infinity and imperceptible numbers have provided structure to an infinity that can barely be imagined, let alone heard, seen, remembered, or explained. This piece diverges from the rest of omega by forgoing the methods of sonification used in the previous pieces. Instead, the piece was composed in layers, with each shifting layer reflecting and changing the others throughout the collaboration process. The choices in videography, choreography, and sound draw from repetition and glitch, altering the flow of Time. Access to this place of unreality is textural, felt in light and skin, error and absence.

 

 Three female bodies, like writhing oracles, reach through the veil in an attempt to physically touch what is just beyond, just out of reach. The dancers use the physical body to search for the physically and psychologically inaccessible within a contained environment. The dancers explore the enclosed space, focusing on the sensual nature of physically exploring the boundaries of perception. The dancers in this piece use a large veil as a prop, finding no beginning, no end, and never being able to reach the other side, or each other. There is a palpable feeling of barely coming into contact with the unknown; the evocation of sensing one’s own skin as both participant and audience is key in this piece. The veil is also used as a scrim for the Kinect-processed projections, while it moves across the bodies on stage. The veil’s interwoven strings are, in part, fine threads of connection between perceived boundaries.

 

 Experiencing this piece live is completely different than viewing it purely in a video frame. In the live performance, the dancers’ faces are never seen, they are anonymous bodies shifting under the veil, coming clearly into view only when stroking their faces against the cloth while the projections shine through. In the published video, the content that is projected can be clearly seen because it is cut in, further establishing the importance of the content, and of the multiplicity of timelines, occurring at the same time during the piece. These universes are only distinguishable in the published video because of the clarity of the cuts between scenes. Equally as important are the cuts to black frames in the video version, which are much less obvious in the live version. These completely blacked-out moments of nothingness are glitches that are normalized through repetition.

 

 Within the content and form, glitch and error are embraced. Beginning initially with clicking sounds taken from failing hard drives and later introducing the sounds of computer malfunctions and electronic buzzing. Within the video, “errors”, like shaking of the camera, jumps in time, and blackout moments, occur first without warning. Error is the horror of reality tearing through. As glitches are normalized through repetition, the horrifying realization that reality is constantly malfunctioning to an infinite degree pervades the landscape.

 

 The development process for this piece, while seemingly different from the strict sonification of theories, became a natural response to the paradoxical nature of the original riddle. The first set of sounds was created, then videos were shot to reflect the sounds, then the choreography was explored. Next, the videos were projected live with improvisation, the projections were developed to follow the dancers with the Microsoft Kinect, separating the foreground projections from the background projections. Finally, the sound was developed to be improvisable, so the dancers could ebb & flow with the audio, the sound could ebb & flow with the dancers, and the video could ebb & flow with either.

 

 The musical content was primarily being driven by the practice of processing recorded sound. Recordings of harp, bass clarinet, and vibraphone were taken, distorted, rearranged, and layered to create the basic form of the piece. Months later, the same instrumentalists recorded improvisations over their original recordings. Electronic music tropes were embraced through the inclusion of deep kick drums, heavy digital reverb, and intensifying white noise. Room noise from the recording process was mixed to have its own sonic shelf.

 

 The projections follow, trace, and frame the dancers’ bodies using a Microsoft Kinect. The Kinect tracks the depth of moving objects in front of it, and that data is sent to Resolume, a visual performance software. Two videos are projected during the live performance. One video feed is projected onto the background, the second video feed projects onto the dancers bodies, never bleeding onto the background. This perceptual focus allows the bodies to act as a unified frame, flowing and moving indepenently from the background frame. The content of each video feed is similar and repeating, but never synchronized. This allows the visualization of the bodies to be displaced in time.

 

 The set of video content used as the projected background behind the dancers is also used as glitched cut-ins in the final video piece. This set of videos contains the video work of Margie Pratt, which uses light and shifting shadow as its subject. These videos were chosen for their containment of intense stillness within still shots of moving light. The other videos used for this purpose were those shot by Joel Reeves and directed by the artist. These videos also have specific lighting, and use the hands of the artist pulling painfully at the physical body to connect with the chaos of the dancers.

 

 The strings that connect the live performance of this piece to its existence as a framed media object (viewed on the internet) are the same that connect the now to the past and future. It is a delicate incongruity for a live performance to be captured & edited into video, however, it is a complete paradox that the past is viewable in the now. While 'paradox' suggests an impass in understanding, one can simply dissolve the barrier. Borges writes, “Time, if we can intuitively grasp such an identity, is a delusion; the difference and inseparability of one moment belonging to its apparent past from another belonging to its apparent present is sufficient to disintegrate it".

 

 

Videography by Margie Pratt

Editing by Suzanne Kite

 

Danced by Becca Green, Alexandria Rema, Suzanne Kite

Choreography by Becca Green

 

Sound Composed by Suzanne Kite

Crafted for live performance by David Howe

 

Harp recorded by Marilu Donovan and performed live by Jackie Urlik

Vibraphone recorded by Matthew Allen

Bass Clarinet recorded by Steven Feiler

 

Kinect programming and video performance by Lewis Godowski

Video content by Margie Pratt and Joel Reeves

 

Costumes by Hannah Lawton

 

Live show produced by Jenica Anderson, Devin Ronneberg, and James Hurwitz