When I had the show at mineral in 2009, I showed an interactive audio/visual installation there called the “Number Tree.” It was a number-based 3d animation that would trigger notes in my synthesizer to make music that was related to the numbers used and events happening in the animation. Yes, I know that sounds confusing. Let me try to explain.
There are two basic components to the visual animation, the “flakes” which are recursive polygons (polygons layered with other polygons of the exact same shape, but smaller), and the leaves of the tree, which are like flowers that represent numbers. You can see that more clearly in the picture below:
I was struggling with ways to create visual representations of numbers. I found that it was quite difficult to create something that was truly comprehensible, and ended up making most of my decisions based on aesthetics. Here is a picture of a recursive polygon I drew in the course of my research for doing this animation:
Anyway, the numbers that are created by the collision events between the flakes and the flowers, represent musical frequency ratios. For insance, the 10/1 ratio I brought up before–that is a representation of the tenth harmonic in the overtone series, or a major third several octaves above the original note, or “root frequency.” All these numbers the animation creates represent different musical pitches. The animation sends these numbers to my synthesizer.
I have a digital modular synthesizer called a “nord g2″ that is programmable with this visual coding and patching language. I was able to make some sophisticated sound presets that used the numbers to make different sounds with the melodies created by the animation, and accompanied those melodies with some drums and so on. I also made the synthesizer change sounds randomly every few minutes, to keep things interesting. I made a recording of the sound:
Number Tree audio example mp3 download
I also took a quick and dirty video of the animation with sound:
Number Tree video example. mov file
One other thing that was included with the installation was the option of user input. I set up a number pad, and viewers at the gallery could enter sets of numbers and hear the resulting music. It was a lot of fun!
There was a lot of hair-pulling and tooth-gnashing that went into the coding of my program that I use to make my algorithmic drawings. It took a few weeks to get right. And the algorithm is very processor intensive, so I would sometimes have to wait 5 or 10 minutes or longer just to see the results of one specific set of values for the algorithm. And then I would tweak the numbers a little bit, and try again. It was a painstaking process. Here, I’d like to share some of my “drafts” that I made before I came to my final results. I’ll post a gallery of images with explanations in the captions.