On August 15, members of NEFAE performed a long-form concert with Irish improvisation group Strange Attractor at Studio Soto in Boston. NEFAE members: Ernst Karel, Michael Bullock, Linda Aubrey Bullock, Stephan Moore, Jed Speare, and Shawn Greenlee. Strange Attractor: Anthony Kelly, Danny McCarthy, Irene Murphy, Mick O’Shea, David Stalling, and EL Putnam. Read more about Strange Attractor’s residency at Studio Soto here.
On World Listening Day, Wednesday July 18th, the New England Forum for Acoustic Ecology presents composers Mike Bullock, Stephan Moore, Ben Houge, and Jed Speare in performance, presentations and a soundwalk based on location recordings, video game audio design, and the Fort Point soundscape.
The event will be held at Studio Soto, 10 Channel Center St., Boston at 8PM. Admission is free; donations are accepted.
- Performance by Stephan Moore, Po-Ling Traversal based on a location recording made in a Buddhist Monastery in Hong Kong.
- Presentation by Mike Bullock of a collection of the sounds of secular labor in ancient European cathedrals and churches. “In Spring 2008 I made recordings at Église St. Sulpice in Paris, coincidentally on the day the massive pipe organ was being tuned. That recording turned out to be the start of a collection of the sounds of secular labor in ancient European cathedrals and churches: organ tuning in Paris; choir practice in Nantes; floor repair, art restoration, and an organ lesson in Edinburgh; vacuuming in St. Gallen; souvenir vending in Strasbourg. I will present a sequence of these recordings with a brief discussion of how I arrived at them (always by chance, and never on Sundays) and how I recorded them.”
- Presentation by Ben Houge. “One pervasive goal in video game development has been the emulation of the natural environment. In this regard, video game audio design seems nicely aligned with John Cage’s dictum that the goal of art is “to imitate nature in her manner of operation.” In this talk on the ecology of video game audio, Ben Houge will share some of his considerations on questions posed by the nature of this rapidly evolving medium, such as the following:
- What is the role of ecology in a fully defined (and digitally mediated) space?
- How can sound be organized in a system with no predetermined timeline?
- What aesthetic issues are involved in defining a virtual listening environment?
- What is the meaning of development in a finite-state system?
- Is there any escape from the tyranny of loops?
- A soundwalk in the Studio Soto neighborhood led by Jed Speare, who has either worked or lived in Fort Point since 1995. For this activity, we also invite the participation of the Fort Point community to come and share their sound memories and experiences along the way as we walk.
Come out a little earlier, because on Wednesday the 18th there will also be a neighborhood pot luck gathering in Wormwood Park from 5-8pm. Bring something there, have a bite, and then join us down the street for World Listening Day.
Stephan Moore is a composer, improvisor, audio artist, sound designer, teacher, and curator based in Brooklyn and Providence. His creative work currently manifests as electronic studio compositions, solo and group improvisations, sound installation works, scores for collaborative performance pieces, and sound designs for unusual circumstances. Evidence, his long-standing project with Scott Smallwood, has performed widely and released several recordings over the past decade. He also performs with the improvisation quartets Bumpr and Volume(n), and is a frequent collaborator with the performance groups The Nerve Tank and a canary torsi. Upcoming sound installation exhibitions include the Constellation Center (Boston), The Granoff Center for the Arts (Providence) and the Tang Museum (Skidmore College). His company, Isobel Audio, produces unique Hemisphere speakers for electronic music and sound design. Since receiving an MFA from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in 2003, where he studied with Pauline Oliveros and Curtis Bahn, he has created custom music software for a number of composers and artists, and taught workshops and numerous college-level courses in composition, programming, sound art and electronic music. He is a curator at Issue Project Room in Brooklyn, where he also serves on the Art Advisory Board. From late 2004 to mid-2010, he performed over 250 concerts with the Merce Cunningham Dance Company, serving as a touring musician, sound engineer, and music coordinator.
Mike Bullock performs music and visuals using a variety of analog, digital, and acoustic media. Since 1995, his performance practice has been centered around improvisation. In the sound realm, he plays contrabass; modular synthesizer; software platforms including Max/MSP, Ableton Live, and SuperCollider; and variety of handmade sound objects and modified string instruments such as banjo. For live visuals, he uses a hybrid video/audio modular synth and VDMX video performance software.
Ben Houge has been developing audio for video games since 1996. In seven years at Sierra, he contributing to titles including King’s Quest: Mask of Eternity, Leisure Suit Larry 7: Love for Sail!, and Arcanum: Of Steamworks & Magick Obscura, for which he composed a string quartet soundtrack performed by members of the Seattle Symphony. In 2004 he moved to Shanghai to take a job with French developer Ubisoft, and most of his four years at the company were spent heading up audio for Tom Clancy’s EndWar (http://www.benhouge.com/writings/?p=628), for which he devised an innovative, cell-based music deployment system. Parallel to his work in games, Ben has been active in music composition, concert production, performance, sound installation, and video art. In Seattle he founded the Sound Currents (http://soundcurrents.org/) concert series and was a member of Stranger Genius Award-winning composer collective Seattle School (http://www.seattleschool.net/) from its inception. During his six years in China from 2004-2010, Ben was an active participant in the underground sound scene, performing alongside musicians including Yan Jun, Torturing Nurse, Li Jianhong, and Wang Changcun, as well as visiting artists like Elliott Sharp and Owl City. His work has been presented at the Shanghai eArts Festival, Beijing Today Art Museum, Suzhou’s True Color Museum, the San Diego Museum of Art, Chapel Performance Space in Seattle, Studio Z in Saint Paul, and the Boston Cyberarts Festival. Last winter he was a visiting artist (http://web.mit.edu/newsoffice/2012/visiting-artist-ben-houge-panel.html) at MIT, working with the Media Lab’s Responsive Environments group on the sonification of data from ubiquitous sensor networks. His 80 foot tall, 7-channel video piece Model Lightbox (http://www.artonthemarquee.com/spring2012-artists/ ) is currently in rotation outside of the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center, and his real-time data visualization piece Cycles, Tides, and Seasons (http://bostoncyberarts.org/category/specialproject/) runs every night this summer from dusk until midnight at the Boston Harbor Island Pavilion. Ben holds degrees in music composition from St. Olaf College and the University of Washington. He currently teaches video game music at Berklee College of Music, and in the coming academic year, he will be collaborating with the music21 (http://mit.edu/music21/ ) team at MIT to develop computer models for musicological analysis. He continues to consult on audio for games, and is currently working on a new project with game music pioneers Harmonix Music Systems (http://www.harmonixmusic.com/).
Jed Speare is an artist working in a variety of media and settings. He has presented sound, video, performance and multidisciplinary work, locally, nationally, and internationally in Canada, Ireland, Poland, Belarus, Croatia, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, France, Italy, Sweden, Netherlands, and Taiwan. In 1978 he studied at the Sonic Research Studio of the World Soundscape Project, in Burnaby, British Columbia, an experience that led to his extensive work in field recordings and his advocacy about the sound environment. In the eighties, he was closely associated with San Francisco industrial culture as the creator of the record album Cable Car Soundscapes (1982) on Smithsonian Folkways Records and as a founder of the group, Research Library, who recorded on Subterranean Records. During this time, he was active creating numerous sound, collaborative, experimental theater, movement, and multidisciplinary performance works in San Francisco, New York, and Amsterdam, where he taught at the Theatreschool Mime Opleiding in 1986 and 1987. The double album, Sound Works 1982 – 1987, (2008) on Family Vineyard Records, includes several longer-form works from that period. Jed has also worked as an Industrial Hearing Conservationist, giving hearing tests to factory workers, and has created conceptual-activist works about the sound environment, investigating and creating urban “Quiet Zones.” He has been a member of the Mobius Artists Group since 1995, and has served as Mobius’ Director and/or Co-Director since 1996. He is also Director of Studio Soto, and is currently active as a founding member of the New England Phonographers Union, the New England Forum for Acoustic Ecology, and Mobius Quartet. In 2008, Wire Magazine called him “a pioneer of multimedia presentation.”
The first Forum of the New England Forum for Acoustic Ecology will be a salon featuring three speakers on sonic topics. Attendance is free.
The Forum will begin at 4PM on Sunday January 29, 2012; and be held at Mobius
55 Norfolk Street, Cambridge, MA 02139.
Ed Osborn – Albedo Prospect
Matthew Azevedo – How quiet is quiet enough? Background sounds in performance spaces
Sophia Roosth – Screaming Yeast: Sonocytology, Cytoplasmic Milieus, and Cellular Subjectivities
Acoustic ecology is a field of inquiry into the interrelationships between living beings and our environment, as mediated through sound.
The New England Forum for Acoustic Ecology intends to provide a forum in which to engage on issues of sound and sonic environments from a multiplicity of perspectives and approaches. This forum, broadly conceived, will take the form of concerts, salons, discussions, place-centered actions, and other events throughout the New England area.
NEFAE was founded as a chapter of the American Society of Acoustic Ecology (ASAE). For more information about ASAE visit http://acousticecology.us. We welcome composers, artists, researchers, performers, and others interested in acoustic ecology to join in.
Presenter bios and abstracts:
Ed Osborn’s sound art pieces take many forms including installation, sculpture, radio, video, performance, and public projects. His works combine a visceral sense of space, aurality, and motion with a precise economy of materials. Ranging from rumbling fans and sounding train sets to squirming music boxes and delicate feedback networks, Osborn’s kinetic and audible pieces function as resonating systems that are by turns playful and oblique, engaging and enigmatic. Osborn has performed, exhibited, and lectured, and held residencies throughout the United States, Canada, Europe, Australia, New Zealand, and South America. The recipient of many awards including a DAAD Artists-in-Berlin Stipendium and a Guggenheim Fellowship, he is represented by the Catharine Clark Gallery in San Francisco and is on the faculty of the Visual Art Department at Brown University.
Osborn’s Albedo Prospect is a set of media works that explore the polar imaginary using video, still images, audio, sculptural elements and text. Source material for the project was gathered in the Svalbard archipelago in October, 2011, on the sea and in remote locations around the islands.
Matthew Azevedo is Consultant in Architectural Acoustics and Mechanical Systems for Acentech. Matt brings an extensive range of teaching and recording talents plus experience as an audio engineer, mastering engineer and musician to his role of acoustician. He has a wide variety of interests ranging from recording facilities, classroom acoustics, and residential facilities to corporate environments. His consulting projects focus on architectural acoustics, sound isolation, and acoustical measurement. He received a Master of Science in Architectural Sciences with a concentration in Architectural Acoustics from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, and a Bachelor of Music in Sound Recording Technology from the University of Massachusetts, Lowell. He has taught courses in acoustics, audio production, and circuit design at Boston University, the University of Massachusetts, and Harvard Extension School. Mr. Azevedo is an active composer and musician in the Boston area.
A good listening environment should be quiet, but how quiet does it need to be? Intrusive noise is not just a distraction, it also affects a listener’s perceptions of emotion, space, and timbre. Unfortunately, construction costs increase exponentially with decreasing noise levels. Where is the right place to draw the line between quiet and cost? This talk will examine the common metrics for background noise, describe the architectural techniques and challenges of reducing background noise, and present ongoing research into the effects of background noise in performance spaces.
Sophia Roosth is Assistant Professor in the History of Science at Harvard University. Her research focuses on the twentieth and twenty-first century life sciences. Her first book manuscript, based on four years of ethnographic fieldwork, examines how the life sciences are changing at a moment when researchers build new biological systems in order to investigate how biology works. In this work, Roosth asks what happens to “life” as a conceptual category when experimentation and fabrication converge. To answer this question, she tracks groups as diverse as synthetic biologists (bioengineers who build standardized genetic components), amateur biohackers who promote biological research in community labs, and molecular gastronomers (those who apply biochemical principles and techniques to cooking), among others. She draws upon anthropological accounts of craft and artisanship to analyze this recent turn to biological manufacture. This research piqued her interest in how non-visual senses (e.g., hearing, taste, and touch) figure in scientific research and knowledge production. For example, Roosth has written about sonocytologists who record cellular vibrations, exploring how listening to cells impacts how researchers understand biological processes. Roosth joined the Department of the History of Science in 2011. She previously worked as a postdoctoral fellow at the Pembroke Center for Teaching and Research on Women at Brown University (2010-2011). She received her doctorate in science studies from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 2010.
What do cells sound like? Sonocytology is a technique in nanotechnology research developed by James Gimzewski at UCLA. Using a scanning probe microscope to record the vibrations of cell walls, researchers amplify those vibrations so that humans can hear them. Yeast cells vibrate approximately one thousand times per second, and most cells vibrate within the frequency — though not amplitude — of human hearing. In this talk, I address how cellular vibrations are converted into sounds that scientists can interpret as conveying meaningful information regarding the dynamism of cellular interiors. I ask what conditions enable scientists to describe cells as actors capable of “speaking” or “screaming,” and suggest that listening to cellular sounds could change how scientists think about cells — as subjects that are dynamic, environmentally situated, and experiential.