User:Eastwood/research writing/ThesisProposal3

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Graduate Proposal : Draft 3

What do you want to make?

I want to develop a performance and installation practice that investigates human agency and system complexity through music. My work will intersect traditional music techniques, improvisation, networks, and custom software instruments. For my final work I want to create an orchestra of autonomous, network attached music machines as to reflect on the impact that systems have on my process. By pitting my training in jazz improvisation against algorithmic computer music, I want to demonstrate how each tradition imposes restraints yet informs the final process.

Why do you want to make it?

My interests stem from three foundations of research, system complexity, scale and abstraction. Michael Flusser identifies systems as being functionally complex and structurally complex, claiming further that systems that are not functionally complex are stupefying and idiotic and stagnate creative thought... We obsess over systems, creating methodologies to understand, augment, liberate, control and destroy. Far before we were so inherently embedded within systems like we are today, they have been shaping our activities for a very long time. Now I ask, how much agency we have left? Have been stupefied and are now stagnating?

Music allows me to examine these questions within a controlled environment, where the systems in play are ones that I am familiar with. By coupling traditional music techniques, theory and improvisation, stemming primarily from a jazz, alongside computer algorithmic instruments, I wish to examine to what extent these systems impose on the other. Furthermore, I wish to understand my position within this interaction, how the systems impose themselves on me, and visa versa.

On a practical level it will allow me to develop my music practice, both in the creation of programmed software instruments, and my technical fluidity on my instrument.

Relation to larger context

As society is built upon a complex network of interrelated systems, I hope to apply this research to many other subjects in the future. By initially using music as a isolated test-bed I am able to develop the tools that I can apply to other parts of my practice, and to wider issues that we face in our society. Music too, is situated within and affected by, more widespread systems that can be analyzed from this specific angle without restricting its reflection on music solely.

How do you plan to make it?

I have developed an algorithmic software instruments in PureData that is controlled using a MIDI and audio analysis. These instruments are running on Raspberry Pis interconnected over a network. I improvise on my saxophone in an attempt to make music with this autonomous computer orchestra, prompting the instruments to regenerate the melodic or rhythmic patterns.

I imagine that this work could take the form of a generative installation, a performance piece, and a book of man versus machine transcriptions of the new language that will have generated from this research.

What is your timetable

  • Software Development
  • Transcription
  • Reading & Experimentation reflection
  • Developing instruments
    • Saxophone repair and service
    • Sythesiser building
    • Network instruments