The Sonic Landscape

Carbon Composition (performance installation May 2011)

Posted on | March 1, 2011 | No Comments

Things have been very hectic for me over the past few months, finishing off university course work (Major Project pt. 1) and writing my dissertation.

I’m now focusing on the next phase of my project (Major Project pt. 2) which will result in an interactive performance installation as part of my graduation show (taking place at the Riverfront Centre, Newport, UK on May 6th and 7th 2011).

I recently submitted my ‘Carbon Composition’ standalone application (see earlier blog posts for details) created using Max/Msp as my major project last semester, which also coincided with the launch of the website www.carboncomposition.co.uk.

The Max/Msp application was the accumulation of 12 months work, which included learning about the Pachube platform and also the arduino microcontroller, whilst earlier drafts also incorporated the programming language Processing (with the excellent Minim library).

For the past few month I had been planning to build (for my graduation show) an exhibition display stand similar to the Carbon Composition application, which would feature a large scale map of the world with RGB LED’s placed at each location on the map (these would change colour dependent on the real-time electricity consumption of the locations on the map).

The 12 RGB LED’s were to be controlled using Max/Msp with 2 arduino mega’s. (as shown below)

However, I’m currently working on a redesign of the Carbon Composition software, as part of my upcoming performance installation in May 2011. The benefits of using the software version as a projection compared to an exhibition display stand include: being able to use the Max/Msp interface to display the current value of the Pachube feeds whilst also allowing the  real-time display of the sine wave signals related to the Pachube data feeds (linked to the energy consumption data).

The updated design (as shown below) includes the building of a midi controller (to allow the 12 audible sine wave signals to be controlled independently). This will hopefully allow for more interaction with the musical frequencies allowing for a more compositional aspect to the performance/project.

Updated design – March 2011 (Click image for larger view)

I’m now hoping to incorporate 6 IAM (Individual appliance monitor) devices from Current Cost Ltd, as part of my live performance in May, which will monitor electrical appliances in the performance space itself. Hopefully this will result in a musical performance by simply switching these electrical appliances on and off, resulting in the electricity consumption for each device to be played as an audible sine wave.

For example, switching on a lamp would result in approximately 30-40 watts of power consumption (resulting in a musical frequency/note of 30-40 hertz). As the other appliances are switched on, the public will be able to see and hear these huge disparities between the various household appliances which we use in our daily lives.

I will post further details on my progress over the next few weeks (including the building of the midi-controller).

Finally i would once again like to thank Usman Haque at Pachube (and all the Pachube staff) for the help they have given me during the past 12 months whilst I have been working on my Carbon Composition university project. The project would not have been possible without the excellent tutorials made available on the Pachube site.

I would also especially like to thank Elliot and James at Current Cost for the helpful feedback they have given me regarding my university project, which uses their energy saving devices to convert electricity consumption into audible sound.

Will try and post further updates on my progress soon…

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