Wind-up birds sound recordings

As mentioned in a previous post, Wind-up Birds made an appearance in the foresty hillside of Fløien. Fløiensvingene (The Fløien turns) is a curly path up the steep hill (as steep as 25 degrees), starting at about 180 m above sea level, and ending at about 300m.
It is a city forest, blending the sounds of the city with sounds of nature, as well as the sound of all the people using it.
I quickly edited together a few sound recordings from various points along the path to give you an impression of how the wind-up birds blended into their environment.

They´re back

For the occasion of Festpillene i Bergen 2010, a flock of Wind-up Birds has taken over the mountain side of the Fløien mountain. More specifically along the windy, steep path through the spring-green forest called Fløiensvingene. They will probably stay a few weeks. This has created a lot of buzz among the people using the path, so I will try to spend as much time as possible there to listen to audience reactions.

They might sound similar to previous generations, but there has been a few changes under the hood: The wood blocks have this time been milled instead of glued, making them more robust. Thanks to Ivar Bergseth and his CNC mill!

I use a new set of xbee modules, the xbee 2.4 pro digimesh modules. This gives a more stable network and is much easier to work with than the previous firmware.

I made new more practical circuitboards, which I got manufactured at BatchPCB, making the job of assembling the woody boards much easier. This was my first attempt at working with Eagle PCB circuit design software, but I leaned heavily on Roar Sletteland´s previous PCB layout for the first generation.

Machine Music

Currently at Lydgalleriet in Bergen there is an exhibition by young british artist Felix Thorn.

Felix´s machines are music making sculptures, creating acoustic counterparts to electronic music. Check out the interview made in relation to his exhibition at Gasworks.

The installation of instruments reminded me of some very different projects, but the connection is the use of digital control systems to control mechanical instruments, so in principle they could be played with the same sequencer but producing very different results:

In 1998 I saw Matt Heckert´s Mechanical Sound Orchestra at the Ultima festival in Oslo. Heckert has background from Survival Research Laboratories and later moved to making music. In a statement about the Mechanical Sound Orchestra he writes about Machine sound: build machines that are playable, being remote controlled via a computer interface, and the performances consist only of sounds produced by the the machines in real time.

In contrast to Felix´s machines which takes up the corner of a room, Heckert´s gigantic instruments filled up a whole factory space. Here is a documentation I made from the performance in Oslo, called Flying at Sound.

David Byrne Play the Building is another type of machine orchestra, where the machines play the building:

“a sound installation in which the infrastructure, the physical plant of the building, is converted into a giant musical instrument. Devices are attached to the building structure — to the metal beams and pillars, the heating pipes, the water pipes — and are used to make these things produce sound. The activations are of three types: wind, vibration, striking. The devices do not produce sound themselves, but they cause the building elements to vibrate, resonate and oscillate so that the building itself becomes a very large musical instrument.”

The devices are controlled by an organ, which made me think of something Charlemagne Palestine said about the organ as instrument in a presentation a few years ago. The organ, with its many pipes, are built specifically for a particular space and stays there for hundreds of years. So playing the organ is a way of playing a building in itself. It also contrasts to the mobility of laptop instruments, an organ is attached to a building.

Finally, I would like to mention Maywa Denki´s Tsukuba series (eventhough they are not controlled digitally as far as I know).  Maywa Denki is a combination of a company that makes gadgets/toys and produces art: Maywa Denki is a art unit produced by Nobumichi Tosa. Each piece of of Maywa Denki´s work is called “a product” and a live performance or exhibition is held as “a product demonstration”.

The Tsukuba series: musical devices played by physical movement of motors and/or electromagnets at 100V: Machine music materially performed by electric powered musical instrument. Here is the “manual” for the tsukuba in typical maywa denki style:

Controlling a xbee network using an arduino


As promised some days ago, here is the followup to the minimal arduino post. I share the arduino code used in controlling a znet 2.5/xbee series 2 network, as well as the schematics for the controller itself.

shift v2: relief projection installation

shift v.2, originally uploaded by hc gilje.

I decided to give my current series of relief projections a name, shift: moving from one place to another, changing the emphasis, direction or focus of something. It also has a loose relation to the idea of shapeshifting.
As mentioned in my previous posts about my relief projection projects, shift combines multichannel sequencing, audio generated from video (soundtransducer inside every box, the sound you hear is directly related to the video projected on that particular box), with masking/mapping a projection to fit physical objects. This creates a dynamic audiovisual landscape, a spatial light painting.
The software to create the installation has developed over almost two years and some workshops, and I have shown documentation of the development, but never exhibited it as a final work.
It is only this autumn that I have found the right opportunity to show it in an exhibition. I was invited to participate in the Total Aktion exhibition at Museet for Samtidskunst in Roskilde, Denmark. I had the opportunity to exhibit there in 2005 as part of Get Real, a exhibition with real-time art as the focus (which was also shown at Kiasma in Helsinki, Finland). It also resulted in the book where I wrote the essay “Within the space of a moment”.


Shift became a sort of drone installation, with slow light/colour changes of volume, sometimes cut off by sharp white planes. The video documentation is a cut version showing some of the different scenes. Here is a slide show of still images.

(youtube link to the same video, if someone prefers that)

The software used is an expansion of the videoprojectiontool available here.

Defining space with light

sonumbra by loop.ph

sonumbra by loop.ph

This week I went to a presentation with loop.ph, an artist research duo consisting of Rachel Wingfield & Mathias Gmachl.
Loop.ph combine biology,technology,textiles and structural elements into a wide range of projects, often collaborating with experts within their field. The last few years they have concentrated on constructing lightweight relatively large-scale structures (synetic structures which is supposed to be an improvement over Buckminister Fuller´s geodesic structures),  combined with light and solar cells (they are collaborating with a danish company making printable solar cells).
The result is quite fascinating: large dynamic volumes but with hardly any mass. Especially in their Sonumbra project the light patterns in the structure is defining a changing volume in space: Each thread is a line of light, which can be animated. Check out the video from the first animation test.

sidenote: It took me a while to realise that Mattias was the same guy I  knew from Farmers Manual from back in the 242.pilots days.

The wind-up birds continued

la forêt de Nouzhat Ibn Sima, originally uploaded by hc gilje.

The wind-up birds didn´t settle in the forest of Lillehammer.
Some of them went to the airport in Oslo, some of them to a park in Rabat, Morocco.
Two very different contexts in many ways:

Oslo Airport Gardermoen is celebrating its 10 year anniversary, and I was invited as one of two projects from the UT21 exhibition to be part of this anniversary.
The work was to be placed outside, in a passage between the parking area and the terminal building, a very busy pathway.

It was freezing, windy and wet the weekend it was installed. Of course everything at an airport involves heavy security, so I had a special permission card which I wore to avoid frightening passengers (bearded man climbing trees with electronics,wires and batteries). Actually I got a lot of strange questions, people wondering what these devices were against or for, was it to chase off the woodpeckers? When I explained that they were mechanical woodpeckers I got a lot of blank stares.
More images from the airport.


A week later I was off to Morocco, 25 degrees and sunny in Rabat, the capitol. There is a small art space there called l´appartement 22, run by Abdellah Karroum, which had been invited to present work at the first Brussels biennale. Abdellah decided to invite Anne Szefer Karlsen from HKS in Norway to curate some projects in Morocco, so she again invited Pedro Gomez Enza and myself to do projects in the frame of the Brussels Biennale, but in Morocco. It gets weirder.
Unlike the very organised airport project, things were a bit looser here. First we needed to find a location, and after some scouting I fell in love with a beautiful and strange park, on the outskirts of the center, la forêt de Nouzhat Ibn Sima( also known as le parc sportif), with lots of eucalyptus trees, cute fuzzy pine trees, mint tea houses and people exercising in the strangest ways.
Public art in Morocco isnt common and there had been quite a lot of discussion before my arrival as of what to do with permissions etc.
We ended up doing it without permissions, and therefore without a ladder to not draw attention on ourselves, and it turned into a strange undercover operation trying to set up woodpeckers in trees while pretending to do other things. We even drove around in a car while I was programming in the back seat.

I built a special version of the wind-up birds for this actionist installation. Basically I replaced the radio modems with a parasite brain (a timer and a light sensor), this made the birds more independent and maybe slightly more intelligent.
This actually corresponds quite well with the natural woodpeckers, some enjoy the company of its fellow creatures, while others insist on being alone.

more images from the wind-up birds in morocco, and some other images from morocco as well.

There are several types of natural woodpeckers in Morocco, but I unfortunately didn´t get a chance to see one.

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