Particle synthesis installation

Particle synthesis
audio-visual installation

System: generative audio-visuals
Author: LAb[au], laboratory for architecture and urbanism
Year of conception: 2011

See also:
particle synthesis audio-visual space in the section: edition ...>
particle synthesis audio-visual performance in the section: edition ...>

Read also:
Read the general text about particle synthesis _ text cycle
Read about the different audio-visual compositions in the section: releases


Particle synthesis is a development LAb[au] has been undertaken in 2004. It has been the latest feature of their space navigable music software program. Please refer to the general text about particle synthesis to read about the conceptual and technological framework. At this time particle synthesis has been presented in form of 'live' audio-visual concerts in a four screen surround sound setting. In 2010 LAb[au] decided to re-launch the development of particle synthesis and to extend it to a 'scriptable' generative device. Now the project exists in three different formats:
- a live audio-viusal performance ...>
- an audio-visual projection space ...>
- an audio-visual installation

The installation is based on an autonomous, self-standing, audio-visual setting. Consequently the core of the work focuses on programmed, generative, processes within sound creation and music composition as to visualize, notate, these processes in real-time. The installation title 'particle synthesis' names the two principles constituting the work, the sonic technique of granular synthesis and the visual one of particles rendered in 3D real-time. Here every particle is a grain evolving in space and time. This inter-relation between sonic and spatial characteristics constitutes the main characteristics of the real-time rendering in 360 degree and the surround sound. For example spatial location of a grain influences listening direction as its movement in space influences sound dynamics, whereas the multiplication of grains leads to sonic textures as to visual patterns, the synthesis.

Further each grain is the carrier of a tiny program defining its behavior and evolution in space and time. Out of the multiplication and interaction of the sonic particles /spatial grains emerge the 'synthesis'. Sound becomes visual and visuals are sounds being the result of a process. This form of composing enters the category of generative music, a term used to describe music which has been composed using a set of rules or system including algorithmic and procedural systems. Each of these 'generative' compositions is executed by a flash card at system boot. From this point of view the installation is an 'infra-structure' to present the different generative and programmed compositions of LAb[au] in a coherent form to the spatial and sonic principles of the system. (to read about the different compositions please refer to the releases)

The hexagonal shape of the installation translates these sonic and spatial specificities: six networked computers, each rendering 60 degrees of the 3d scene, are boxed in a transparent Plexiglas case also including a speaker. These boxes have the shape of a stage monitor and are placed next to each other on the ground to constitute the hexagonal ring. The speakers and screens are oriented towards the center of the installation offering the visitor inside the ring an immersive and 'spatialised' experience whereas the 'external' view rather gives a complete vision, an overview, of the setting.

This principle is also present in the design of the hardware, from outside the spectator see through the transparent box the 'stripped' electronics whereas from the inside only the screen image remains visible. In this manner the specific shape and design of the installation initializes the viewer to the project specific spatial, sonic and technological setting and invites him to enter the installation. Once the spectator has taken the engagement to enter the installation he takes part of the visual and sonic space and as such the spectators' 'act' shifts the statue of the installation from an object (external perception) to a space (internal perception).

The design of the installation thus gives shape to the inherent spatial and sonic parameters of the software and exposes its constituting hardware as its specific form offers two perceptions and manifests the spectator's act of entering and listening; between soft and hardware; between perception and action.

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