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Sound Matters

Sound Matters is a series of digital objects molded by sampled ambient sounds, that offers a look into the complexity of omnipresent events that surround us.

 

The artwork is an exploration triggered by the desire to rediscover and repurpose sounds we take for granted and often disregard; and converting them into images that aim to trigger in others the same rediscovery feeling. Each piece starts from ambient sound we sampled in each location. We then process each recording to extrapolate its abundance of details — from thin air to an element that did not exist before, yet entirely influenced by something we are constantly immersed in.

Sound Matters is about contemplating the richness of ambient sound. A precious element, for you to explore with your eyes.


The Process

Once the sampling of the sound is done, the recording is processed with a Max/MSP patch that generates squared images from level values of the audio samples. The resulting images are taken then on Cinema 4D as procedural texture for the base stone 3D model.

All recordings are done by the artists with a Zoom H4N at 44.100 Hz and cut to a 25” length. Samples are then processed with a Max/MSP patch to create squared texture images for Cinema 4D.

The patch collects the absolute value of the waveform amplitude for any given sample and multiplies it by a constant to obtain the output color which will range from black if amplitude is 0, to white if 1.

All generated white levels are then printed in squared cells arranged in vertical lines, going from top to bottom and proceeding towards the right creating the final texture image consisting in 1,102,500 values.

In Cinema 4D the MAX/MSP output are applied as a procedural texture over a globular model. The cells are used as height map to displace the actual geometric position of points over the textured surface. The primary  mesh is physically displaced by the waveform amplitude and the highest values are adopted as falloff map and marked by a different shader.

 

Why

Sound Matters is a tribute to sounds, those that are lost, the ones we pay no attention to, or the ones simply ignored.

The project presents few moments in time stored in a physical shape, creating a medium made by time and space, which offers an alternative way to travel back to those sounds. This conversion, from intangible into a shape with strong physical qualities and presence, aims to bring awareness to the richness of common ambient sound.

Each piece offers a unique visualization. These stones are a landscape that you can explore with your eyes. They offer a unique look inside the sound captured in that place and yet, somehow they themselves are the place. Sampled sounds presented as samples of matter.

 

The lost sounds

We are constantly surrounded by sounds. An environmental surround sound you might say.

The sound of Cannon beach — 45.886162, -123.966319 14:35 18°C

The sound of a departing freight train — 47.616291, -122.357194 11:40 22.8°C

There are sounds we hear, say when a loved one is talking to you. While for others sounds, like say the noise of traffic, we may notice little. And truly most sounds pass by us and through us completely unnoticed by our brain.

The sound of water by the piers — 47.616555, -122.357078 11:41 22.8°C

The sound of birds in the park — 47.631230, -122.315825 14:35 22.8°C

However, our ears hear it all. It is our brain that selects what is relevant. There are many practical reasons for this, and they have roots in our survival instinct; but on a physical level, our eyes play a significant role in the filtering process. We rely a lot on our vision. Our eyes, always keep us focused on the subject of what we are doing, and we therefore pay little or no attention to any environmental sound that has not a direct impact on our current activity.

The sound of the ocean shore — 13.194496, -59.641184 18:44 29°C

The sound of the neighborhood — 40.776229, -73.977502 19:36 11°C

But if we record something, and listen to it with our eyes closed, it is like being teleported to the place where the sound came from. Our ears suggest to us a world to be imagined, and in many instances, elements you didn’t notice when recording introduce themselves for the first time.

The sound of a subway ride — 40.757172, -73.989733 8:51 6.7°C

The sound of a hidden alley — 40.718334, -74.002112 18:53 22°C


Credits

This project was made with Marino Capitanio for Super Symmetry