boredomresearch: Vicky & Paul

How do you define "soundtoys" ?

Soundtoys are just one of the interesting ways people working in new media are utilising the potential of computational systems. In order to keep this area as interesting as it is currently, it's probably best not to define it too specifically.

On a personal level, why do you make this work?


What is you project and your work about?

Over the last two years our work has been focused on computation, producing projects which gradually pass over control to the computer. We are interested in building works, which evolve over time as a combined result of human interaction and computation. Building computational machines, which compose sounds, visuals, events and text with a degree of autonomy and in response to interaction.

K9-[1] is an interactive sound application, modelled on simple physics - ping or drop a ball on a pad and it plays a sound. The aim was to build a sound application, which anyone could play, using simple graphic elements such as in the retro computer game Pong (1972) - a ball and some lines. In K9-[1] bounce the balls off the pads to create a composition of sonic pings. Choose from a multitude of different instruments on the midi controller and change the pitch by moving the pads.

Recently, we have developed our soundworks by utilising virtual life algorithms, like those used for exploring the behaviours of decentralised systems, such as bird flocks and insect colonies. Springtails are a colony of e-insects, which react when touched. Touch the e-insects with your cursor and they catapult, entrap them in a spring and it chimes. This soundwork combines human interaction with autonomous behaviour. The Springtails respond to both the cursor and each other, compiling their own sound composition - this enables each performance to be unique.

This autonomy has been developed further in System 1.6, a computational soundscape made during a residency at the Banff Centre of Arts, Canada 2001. System 1.6 uses artificial life algorithms to construct a live sound composition. It is a tank that contains 13 digital species that interact with each other in a brightly coloured electronic world. We designed a plethora of electronic species before deciding upon the 13 used within System 1.6. Like balancing the ecology of an aquarium, it was important to find the right combination of hunters and prey to ensure that the audio composition would shift between moments of franticness and tranquillity. When the digital species interact, they spark off an explosion of sound. Every time System 1.6 is re-launched, the species reconfigure.

How long have you been working in this area?

We have been practising for two years

Were you an artist/ musician first who got into using computers/the net, or did you respond to the net as a medium in an artistic way?

The former of the two

What/ who has influenced you in your work? (themes, other artists etc)

We have been greatly influenced by Starlogo a programmable modelling environment, developed at MIT which explores the behaviours of decentralised systems, such as bird flocks, traffic jams and ant colonies.

We have recently been inspired by Sha Xin Wei, Georgia Institute of Technology ( Sha Xin Wei is interested in the architecture of responsive media spaces and the critical study of techno-science and his work focuses on constructing pliant computational media.

Are there any other artists covering the same field as you?

John Maeda, Adrian Ward & Julian Baker

What defines the aesthetics of new interactive art.?

We spend hours of our waking day on one side of the screen with our minds on the other. During this time we have become as fluent with the stuff made from bits as stuff made from atoms. The stuff made from bits is no longer virtual, consequently we are able to have meaningful experiences without the need for metaphor. We find the aesthetic implications of this interesting.

Does the net promote visual awareness that is unique to it?

Some artists are starting to think about the space, which they are dealing with rather than seeing it as somewhere to just showcase their work. Net projects are evolving which are utilising web components and communities ? these projects are unique to the web.

Would you describe yourself as a multimedia artist, a net.artist, programmer, or none of the above?

It depends who we are talking to and we are never quite sure

What software do you use most and why?

Director ? soft-wrapped programming

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