Hidekazu Minami

Hidekazu Minami

Could you come up with a definition of "soundtoys"

It is a hardware or software that allows users to play with sound. It has to give the users an appropriate feedback for them to learn through a method of
interaction. This aspect of learning should play a significant role because it is a toy.

What is you project and your work about?

My project is an interface for the New York City's infrasonic soundscape. We do not as a society pay attention to ambient sounds. We are much more focused on the visual over the auditory. My goal is to articulate the ambient sounds as an instrument and a sonic geographical browser so that people can be provoked to realize an importance of the infrasonic soundscape. Because of the physical behavior of sound, my investigation also includes the focus on the notion of space by using New York City as a stage for my project. I chose New York City for its unique architectural nature to use the city's space as a potential sonic platform which clearly frames the design of the project's interface. We tend to ignore what we hear in our typical life because we have learned not to acknowledge them. Therefore, the sampled sounds from the city are a series of low frequency sounds that we do not normally perceive, so that by experiencing the interface the users are able to actively involved with an unusual sonorous interaction. As I described my interest toward the sounds that are difficult for us to notice, the interface utilizes diverse infrasonic sounds collected from the distinct locations in the city. Each of these sources is a specific individual object and carefully chosen in a manner that we do not consider as an object noticeably making sound. High-rise skyscrapers such as the World Trade Center Buildings are vibrated because of the wind. Similarly, the Brooklyn Bridge and the Manhattan Bridge both generate sounds because the suspension cables vibrate by traffic movements. Also, I sampled a number of infra-sonic sounds such as footsteps produced from the massive circulation at the Grand Central Terminal's marble floor, water lapping against a wooden pier on Hudson River, and a movement vibrated inside the Staten Island Ferry. We spend years and years in our soundscape; however, most of us are not conscious of the existence of the low frequency noises.
Since my project deals with the hidden sounds and the urban space, the interface is designed on a radar method because it is a system and an interface detecting and visualizing things that are difficult to be notices in space. The two domains, instrument and browser, are simultaneously expressed while the interface is running. The users view the coordinates of the sounds located in a simulated space and navigate within a planemetric environment by dragging the viewer indicated on a map of New York City. The location of the users and the arm which sweeps in the scope dynamically determine the volume and the pan of the sounds produced from each of the sound objects. Also, the radar manner is considered as an active score that translates a traditional horizontal music score into a new form of music score as well as the sound objects as music notations in order to enhance the idea of instrument. To clarify the notion of browsing tool, the users can toggle each of the sound objects and obtain textual information explaining the background of the sound objects. Influence by John Cage and Tom Johnson, both composers, the project gives the users opportunities to perform and browse the urban soundscape by using the noises. It is true that most of us are unfortunately not conscious of the soundscape and do not even know what is heard. I excavated the infrasonic sounds and amalgamated them with an interaction within a simulated urban space. The interface targets an interaction between the urban soundscape and the users. It serves as an instrument taking advantage of a radar manner as its score whose playhead communicate with the sounds and a tool managing the structure whose radar system sweeps the sound objects sonifying the urban environment. I raised a supposition that the users are actively able to commit to the interactive experience and be given a chance to pay more attention to our soundscape as a contribution of this project to the society. Moreover, I want to appeal to the users how precious and rare an experience living in the soundscape is by presenting my project.

How long have you been working in this area?

2 years.

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

I felt the Internet as a place that has more freedom to express my idea than painting or sculpture.

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

Yugo Nakamura, Golan Levin

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

Golan Levin

Do you see this work as art?

Yes, because this piece is aimed to contribute to society.

With regard to 'soundtoys' especially, why do you think the audio visual metaphor is so key to the net?

It is because the Internet is a medium that is easy to construct an interaction with audio and visual graphics. And it is more accessible because it does not get broken however hard you toy with.

What defines the aesthetics of new interactive music.?

I think that a concept of "real-time" is a keyword in this issue. This is "real- time"ness gets more articulated because of an interactivity. If your audio visual piece carries an interactivity it brings a notion of performance or improvisation. This happens in real-time. It would be more interesting if streaming audio and video on the web is more carefully looked at in this point of view.

How important is the visual aspect in the 'new' relationship of the audio visual.?

What we see as supposed to sound we hear has to be meaningful, not so abstract. It should be articulated or make sense toward the sound or music playing at the same time in terms of the use of color, shape, motion and so on.

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

Yes. I think it particularly promotes the idea of information designed or structures on the "space" of the Internet in visual metaphor.

How novel do you feel generative music and interactivity is?

I think it is interesting to see how the combination of generative music and an interactivity would lead an idea of performance to the next level.

Do you think there is a history to audio visual work?

Yes. An example would be a music notation as a graphical metaphor which visualized a form of sound or music since the medieval period when it was invented.

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

I don't want to categorize myself. However, I am pretty sure that I want to be involved with the artistic movement on the web.

What software do you use most and why?

Macromedia Flash. It is because it handles graphics and sound on the web very well. In order to achieve an interactivity using sound, Flash offers a valuable scripting capability such as volume and pan control.

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

I noticed our soundscape is very much polluted by noise and I wanted to use the noise to compose music in order to raise the issue. Also, I was interested in noise and ambient music before I started to work on this project.

Can you recommend three urls to soundtoys?


Email: minami@parsons.edu

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