This week we have been testing and experimenting the design I came up with for the installation. A lot of the talk about the installation and how it will works has been a working theory. But I have always been optimistic that it would work. Once we know whether the installation will work with the technical setup in mind then I will be able to move forwards to the next step which will be to work on the sound. This was a part of the process from the previous installation that I didn’t spend too much time on so I want to make sure that this time it has my full attention.
This weeks plan was to be able to create the three “worlds” using three machines & interfaces, and associated speakers. This would then highlight to us how we can integrate the GLM system (Genelec Loudspeaker Manager) across the three interfaces and confirm in practice how we can anticipate the system to work.
The idea being that one computer (my computer) will control the level of the whole installation with the GLM system. The question would be as whether the speakers would be able to remember their previous setting set by the GLM system.
The first thing to do was to lay out all the speakers in the formation that is in the diagram below and then step by step add everything to the it. First power – making sure that each speaker has power. For the installation itself it is looking like I will need 1 power extension cable for each speaker. After that, the CAT5 cables we plugged in – daisy chaining to the next. The last part cable to plug in was the xlr cables but after they are plugged the cables for worlds 1 and 2 will be unplugged and sent/plugged into the input of the the respective world computer.
After everything was plugged in, below is a photography of what it looked like. as you can see there are lot of cables and health and safety issue that will have to be taken into account on the install. A lot of tape is going to be need – or a more environmentally friendly way of securing the cables and making it safe for the audience.
Once everything was plugged in we needed to calibrate the room. First of all the speakers needed to be placed in the GLM software which can be seen in the screenshot below.
Once the room had been calibrated using the GLM microphone, this meant that I could now use my computer to control the overall volume of the installation. One thing for me to remember here is to always have the installation on maximum (0db) and then mix everything in the ableton sessions where I can balance out the sounds between each world (session) and change the volumes for particular sounds that way. Once the installaton volumer setting is set to 0db the GLM no longer needs to be plugged into my computer and I can remove all the CAT5 cables. This is because the speakers are super clever and can remember the last setting the have been told.
The last thing to do – apart from sorting the Ableton sessions and seeing if it all works – is so take two of the worlds speaker/xlr outputs that are going into my computer to their respective world computer. i.e all speakers that are for world 1 will go to the computer designated with the world 1 Ableton session. Now it was time to test it pretty much. By sorting out 1 world at a time it would be easier to hear if anything is amiss. To begin with there were a few problems regarding inputs and sounds not coming out of the right speakers but that was due to literally pressing 1 button in the audio-interface app on one of the world computers.
It was nice to finally be able to see whether the installation would actually work. I have been treating it as a massive experiment which has been kind of fun and has also really helped me to form my ideas and see where it is all going.
The MIDI Sprout will be triggering the central world with words that Rosey has been working on. I went through all the sounds the night before and edited them a bit in the Ableton session I made. Rosey made two sets of words – ones that she edit and augmented which I loved and the others that were just normal speech. I slowed them down in Ableton so that the were able to heard more clearly and have a bit more time to them. As I am working in ‘plant time’, I see the words and the warped/slowed sounds as a different method to give the feeling of slowing down time that ambient music has. Although I am within this installation I am trying to stay away from ambient tones and the like, it is really quite hard to. I feel that a lot of my work is very ambient to the extreme so this is quite a long way away from work that I have previously done. I have added in some warped vocals that play underneath the triggered words to give it some depth and help fill the space. The other reason for adding this in is because voice is a natural thing and I think to completely step away from no human influences in this installation would be doing the opposite of what I intend. I think the use of voice actually helps you to connect to the natural world much more, more so than just words depicting thoughts of a plant. We as humans have a relationship with nature that is interactive so I want an element of this interaction between voice, words and recordings to be a part of the installation. This also does no hit upon the concept that is plant music that I am really trying to step away from. This is plant language. or a type on linguistics, or a translation, interpretation. The voice connects us to one another in some way.
I then tested out the visual element of the installation. I think more needs to be worked on here but it will also be down to how much time I have in the end also. I like that the plant can control colour/hue and slightly edit some effects on the visuals – but because I can only use one midi input to effect things in resolume it is a bit limited on what it can do.