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Tuesday, May 18, 2010


I went to the Megapolis audio festival in Baltimore this past weekend. Heavy on the sound art, but also a fair bit of radio documentary-focused stuff...I like both, and thought the festival was pretty cool on the whole. A few highlights:

WikiMixing - Eight people at the table, everyone gets a modified computer keyboard. Four channels of looped audio shown on screen, each with a bunch of parameters you can control (volume, speed, pitch, low end filter, etc.). In fact, everyone can control these factors simultaneously...if I turn it up while you're turning it down, we cancel each other out. Or maybe I turn it up while you're increasing the pitch. You can also change what loop of sound (bells, clanky plumbing, a guitar riff, etc) is playing in each channel. Mostly chaos, of course, but with moments of brilliance...a neat idea, and a lot of fun.

Book Odds Remix - A room full of people have 30 minutes to edit together 8 specific sounds into a short piece. (The audio is from The Books, selected for a contest that's part of the Third Coast Festival.) We listen to the results, and they're played on an XM Radio station immediately afterward.

Matt Sterling performance - Simultaneous manipulation of audio and video -- A/V DJing, basically. This was interesting because he wasn't just manipulating music and video tracks, but generating them in real time. The audio was constructed from various beats and such, while the video was constructed from combinations of geometric shapes and patterns. He was constantly adjusting knobs on the audio and video to keep them in sync as the composition evolved. (Pictured above.)

It was also cool to hear David Kestenbaum of NPR/Planet Money talk about his techniques for effectively presenting abstract financial news in a comprehensible way.

So, a great weekend. Susie was kind enough to put me up in her work-in-progress rowhome; she also lent me a bike, which enabled me to revisit some of my farmers market favorites on Sunday morning. Oh, curry pockets...

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