.::..Nicholas Sagan..::. …:.::..artworks and experiments…::.:…nicholassagan@gmail.com

Before We Were

This first iteration of Before We Were became a culminating point for several paths of research and study.  Firstly, I had been engaging in an ongoing process of observation and abstraction of terrestrial luminous objects such as street lights, etc. The image processing was done to create “celestial” objects. The presentation format of projecting them on a large wall seemed to follow naturally. Sound design-wise, I had been experimenting not only with a library of samples taken from radio astronomy (as you may have already encountered elsewhere on this site) but also with audio control software (Reason 5 and MaxMSP). Please refer to the audio player on this page for examples of the sounds that were used in these pieces.

The final form of this piece turned into a full room-sized installation with a quadraphonic speaker array and a single high-luminosity projector. A couch was placed in the center of the space so that while viewing the projected objects they would hear audio samples move 2-dimensionally around them. In effect, it was more of true “surround sound” design because the control mechanism for the sound playback (MaxMSP, see last image) was more robust in terms of functionality compared to that of typical DVD authoring software.

Moving further along in my graduate school career I came across an opportunity to develop the piece further. The second iteration was adapted to fit a hallway, located in the Interdisciplinary Arts spaces, with 8 vertical support beams. While the first iteration utilized a 4-speaker array with positioning at left/right/front/rear corners, the hallway had a octalinear array (8 in series). The programming was adjusted accordingly and the general effect was that the samples would either slowly move from speaker to speaker up and down the hallway, or surprise a passer-by with a quick burst of static that would fade away instantly.

The hallway installation was in part developed with funding provided by Columbia College’s Space Heaters Grant. They purchased the raw materials that I used to construct each speaker box (laser cut wood, car speakers and amplifiers) as well as an 8-channel audio interface for the computer system. To this day the physical installation is still up and running but is now utilized for the department’s sound class students and various pieces are ‘scheduled’ throughout the year.

Before We Were (excerpt)

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