Artist's Statement

Within the artistic realm, there is the potential for manipulation, damage, decay, or loss to be exhibited as a creative process. This creation/damage itself occurs both because of, and in spite of, human interaction. The resulting artwork emerges from the collaboration between the disruptor of data and the reorganizer/interpreter of information.

By reassessing the relationship between the disruptor and the organizer, degradation can be considered a constructive process. The traditionally desired purity of data transmission and transfer, though experienced, becomes less preferable. Noise then becomes a tool of creative expression.

While the introduction of noise into an existing structure or system creates something new, it does so at the cost of the original. Degradation, as an act, may become a creative variation upon a source image, but that visual disruption reflects a loss of information.

By allowing the viewer to be the source of noise in the system, the source of disruption to an image, he or she discovers its creative and destructive potential in the same moment.

Scope of the Project

“Pipeline” is an aural and visual experience of data. An image is read by one computer, translated into sound and sent through the installation space via a speaker. At the opposing end of the space, a directional microphone receives the sound information and transmits that to a computer where the frequency is translated back into an image. Both the installation space itself and the viewer manipulate the sound, thereby manipulating the image during its transmission.

By bringing a viewer into the space, he or she begins to experience the flow of data aurally. Data transforms from something imagined to something experienced. Though both data and sound are intangible, through “Pipeline”, data is given sonic “weight.”

In attempting to understand the “weight” of the data and the role of the space in which that data flows, the viewer may attempt to physically block its passage from transmitter to receiver, vocally mimic the flow of data or author a new sound in the installation.

By sending an image through the space over a specified time, an additional measurement is brought to the dimensions of the piece – duration. Each pixel exists for a moment in the physical space as a sound wave. Each pixel of the image is given a destiny – it is either received by the microphone at the other end or lost in favor of a more prominent sound. Upon completion of the cycle, the entire image has experienced a new life and will continue to have life though archiving.

Technical Description

“Pipeline” was created using Max/MSP/Jitter in order to, on one computer, translate an 8-bit (256 values of gray) grayscale image into a three-octave range of sine waves. The range of the frequency is mapped from 55Hz to 440Hz – A, two octaves below middle-C through A, one octave above middle-C (concert A). On a second computer, Max/MSP/Jitter is used to translate the same frequency range to 8-bit grayscale.

Each image is read one pixel at a time, line by line. At a rate of eight pixels per second, a single image (160 x 120 pixels) takes 40 minutes to translate through the space. At the end of the cycle, each image is saved and recorded by date and time of completion.

Listen to a sound sample from “Pipeline” and see how it works.