three paths

2017

short film + a/v performance

three paths is an audiovisual piece in which sound and visual space are inextricably connected through the paradigm of microphone feedback. - when a microphone feeds back, its sounds are an expression of spatial relationships: between the mic, the speakers, the objects and walls of the room - by simulating such a feedback setup in software, changes in space can become primary parameters for playing with sound, since moving a microphone or speaker in the virtual environment will create a corresponding and intelligible change in the sounds - three paths is so named because it sounds and visuals are generated from the movements of virtual microphones which are amplified to the point of feedback. The microphones move about in a two-dimensional space, with this motion producing changes in sound as each mic moves closer and farther from a set of virtual speakers. The movement of these microphones is responsible for much of the evolution in the sound, and these positions are simultaneously animated as manipulations of a video feedback system, tying the video and audio together through a shared basis in motion. Put another way, I think that this is a particularly audiovisual approach because there is a fundamental relationship between space and sound. The sound of a microphone feeding back is in large part an expression of its spatial position relative to the speakers in its sound system - frequencies whose wavelengths evenly divide the distance between the microphone and a particular speaker will tend to become amplified over time, while others will tend to be dampened. Such feedback sonifies the movement of the microphone in an emergent manner, and is therefore, I think, an interesting possibility for establishing an audiovisual relationship between space and sound.

three paths comes out of one system I've developed for composing audiovisual works using a shared set of motions for creating sound and video. The sounds are generated using a simulation of microphone feedback in two dimensions, while the visuals are creating by applying this same 2D motion to manipulate pixels in a video feedback program. There are a number of parameters that influence the behavior and aesthetic quality of the sound and video, like resonant filters that imply certain pitches and image processes that encourage different color palettes, but the piece is primarily composed by shaping the trajectories of three different paths, each of which drives the microphone feedback and video movement.

I often end up conflating the names of my performance systems with their piece titles, a practice that is especially confusing when there are both live and fixed media pieces made with said systems. three paths is perhaps even more confusing than normal - there is a fixed media version for web that's linked above, another fixed media version for screening, and an extended live performance version. The software that generates the fixed version always outputs a slightly different result, sort of like the slight differences in the versions of the same piece that occur when performed by the same player. In an ideal world the only thing that would be fixed might be the software, with each version rendered anew - perhaps someday!