Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Hi. I’m writing this six days after the fact. So. Wednesday, January 18 is just a distant memory, irreversibly perturbed by the distorting lens of time. Though the true facts may never be knows, here’s the myth — the legend — of the first day in my Scientific Visualization and New Intruments for Musical Expression classes.

Once upon a time…

SciViz was, predictably, mostly introduction. Looks like we’ll be using Maya and Virtools to model in 3D. I haven’t used either of those. Looks like I’ll get my chance. Professor Jean-Marc Gauthier had a slideshow presentation that he went through to introduce the concept of scientific visualization and to show us some examples such as an interactive model of a human head and human body (the latter of which had a subtle breathing animation that I found to be rather disturbing, actually). He had a pretty nice 3D model of Manhattan that he showed us (and which I guess we’ll be using for some projects). And he went around the class to ask us about ourselves and what led us to his class. I mentioned my brief experience at the Texas Advanced Computing Center. Etc. It’s kind of blurred together in my mind, the class, but we did get an assignment to take 12-20 photographs of Manhattan along our day-to-day paths through the city. Easy enough (except the night before the second class, the night I’m writing this, I still haven’t done it…).

The class looks good, but I have to admit that I think it’s going to be my lowest-priority class this semester. It’s the one class I’m taking that doesn’t fit directly into something I’m looking to explore at ITP — it’s my wildcard.

Okay. So: NIME.

New Instruments for Musical Expression. This fits my background a bit better.

Again, not much to directly report here, though the class looks like it will be very interesting. We said our hellos and did the usual “who are you and why are you here?” round-robin thing. Awesome. Then we launched into one of those standard sort of first day discussions where the class picks apart some extremely broad term. In this case: Performance. So we picked and picked for a while and surfaced some features inherent to performance. Again, awesome. You know: I agree that these sorts of discussions can be useful just to help everyone get on the same page as far as the basics of thinking about a subject like performance. But. I find the actual discussions rather tedious. Especially when you get into these odd arguments about whether performance is, for example, inherently “emotional” or not. It’s almost useless to even attempt to pin the word down.

Enough complaining about that. I’m excited about the class.

And we were given an assignment to come up with a one-minute performance of some sort. So. I will probably perform a one-minute piece of music in the privacy of my apartment and record it for playback during class. I think this is okay. And my idea right now is to record all of the track information live — all notes, velocities, data, etc. And not quantize or otherwise modify any of that data. But then do multiple passes. So I’m constructing a one-minute live recording by sort of data-overdubbing myself a bunch of times (and then, of course, doing a few tweaks to fit everything together properly). Sound good? Great.