Toward a new model of performanceSkip other details (including permanent urls, DOI, citation information)
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 3.0 License. Please contact email@example.com to use this work in a way not covered by the license. :
For more information, read Michigan Publishing's access and usage policy.
Page 144 ï~~Toward a New Model of Performance Mon-chu Chen Institute of Applied Art National Chiao-tung University u83425140cc.nctu.edu.tw Abstract This paper describes a performing model in which composers/performers manipulate aural output by controlling visual sources. The performance model is divided into four parts for detailed discussion. The functions of these four parts and the relationship between audio and video will be stated. A simple prototype of implementation that adapts the performing model will be presented later. Finally, several transformations, extensions and alternations of this performance model will be summarized. Background Shooting a film or arranging a sequence of spotlights on a stage is a different procedure from composing a piece of music. There will be different intentions and meanings in different works, regardless of whether the works are categorized into musical arts or visual arts or other art forms. Are there any relationships between these dissimilar genres of arts? Are there any connections between these methods in which people create thousands of various forms of works? In other words, can music be composed in the same manner in which other art works are created? The main objective of this paper is to attempt to compose and perform music in the manner in which lights for a play are designed, a picture is painted, or a home video is produced, etc. It can be viewed as making a black box, putting visual materials into it, shaking it, then attaching one's ear to listen to the sounds the box generates. Hence, performers and composers can control music and sound characteristics such as melody, harmony, timbre, frequency, amplitude, etc., by arranging, combining, and adjusting the visual materials such as light, shapes, colors, etc., to create music. Overview There are several ways to build such a black box, but two requirements are necessary. One requirement is that the box is able to catch all the visual sources. The other is that it is able to generate sounds. Besides these two requirements, how the visual sources are combined and how the visual materials are transferred into aural materials have to be considered. The above considerations form the main parts of the performing model: the VIDEO SOURCE MODULE, the VIDEO DIGITIZER MODULE, the VIDEO-AUDIO TRANSFORMATION MODULE, the SOUND GENERATION MOD ULE. The performing model can be implemented with different technologies, but the computer is no doubt the best tool to realize the performance. The discussion below will be from, but not limited to, the viewpoint of computers. VIDEO SOURCE MODULE This is the most important part of the performing model. Composers/performers arrange all the visual sources to control the resulting sound. The sources can be video tape players, laser disc players, television programs, or cameras. The contents of the video tape or the laser disc can be any commercial films or motion pictures pre-produced by the composers. These films can be a period of computergenerated animation, sights of from Mars or Pluto, or even a simulation of a quark's motions. A camera is a powerful tool in the performing model. Composers can set up a stage and use a camera to catch all the actions occurring there. Performers can wear a special kind of suit that is highly reflective or decorated with luminescent objects while dancing, acting, or otherwise moving on the stage in the manner that the composer desires. Composers can also put a screen on the stage, use special masks to filter the lights, and project different colors and shapes onto the screen. Slides and projectors can enrich the varieties of the final works. Moreover, composers can turn the camera around and face the audience, thereby allowing the audience to decide how the music will develop. Besides the single video source described above, a composer can sit in front of a video mixer and video special effector, manipulate a few video inputs such as several cameras from different angles, and apply special effects on them such as cross-dissolving, wiping, etc. All the techniques which are used in movies and TV programs can be considered in this module. Until now, composers have dealt with Interactive Performance 144 ICMC Proceedings 1994
Page 145 ï~~visual sources without connections to aural subjects. Thus, composers have composed visual art works instead of musical works. How can visual materials be transformed into aural materials? This question will be discussed in the following sections. VIDEO DIGITIZER MODULE After working with all the visual sources, there should be only one video signal, which will be digitized here into data accessible to a computer. A video signal analog-digital converter is required. It is better for the AD converter to have color-conversion capability. The video AD converter should accept as many video formats as possible, such as NTSC, PAL, SECAM. Usually computers are not originally equipped with this kind of hardware; therefor an expansion card for capturing motion pictures should be added. There are two kinds of ideal computers which are suitable for this type of works. These are the SGI INDY and the Apple Macintosh Quadra 840av/660av (or PowerMac av series). Both of these have built-in video digitizing hardware. The frame rate that this hardware can support is an important consideration. A faster sampling frame rate will produce a better speed of response. Usually the video signal will be digitized as a series of still images, socalled frame grabbing. Other digitizing methods are possible. A special AD converter which provides a stream type of output digitized data can be designed. In this case the computer will be dealing with the continuous data flow type of digitized video signals instead of consecutive pictures. How the VIDEO DIGITIZER MODULE digitizes the incoming video signals will affect how the VIDEO-AUDIO TRANSFORMATION MODULE functions. VIDEO-AUDIO TRANSFORMATION MODULE The outcoming data from the will be processed in this module. Composers have to carefully consider the relationship between the video sources and the intended resulting sounds. After the visual part of the entire art work has been arranged, this module will be in a crucial position. How the transformation module is constructed will definitely determine the resulting sounds, which can be considered both in the macroand the micro-scope. Composers should also consider the relationship between the characteristics of the visual sources and those of the output sounds, such as a clmax or a calm. Such considerations should also include the way in which the colors, shapes, brightness and other characteristics of the video source will represent appropriate timbre, frequency, amplitude, and other characteristics of the output sounds. A simple rule is to isolate the impressions from the input video sources and determine which properties each visual impression will represent. There are several strategies for evaluating the characteristics of the incoming video signals. The red, green, and blue components of each pixel in each frame, or the hue, the saturation, or the lightness components of each pixel are elements that can be processed. Averaging each frame or differentiating between each two frames are helpful techniques. If the computer is fast enough, or if a performance in real time is not desired, image processing/analyzing techniques can be applied. There are thousands of mature skills which support the creation of even more amazing works. How to determine which properties each characteristic of the visual material will represent will depend on the composer's personality and preference. The choice will be the spirit of the final work. One can simply view the incoming video raw data as the waveform of the output sounds, or one can apply several functions such as chaos or fractal to the input data. The result from this module is not the exact sound, it is merely the abstract information concerning the output sound. This data includes several properties, such as when to play and how to play the sound, etc. But, the information need not be entirely intuitional. It may encompass the parameters of the carrier in the FM synthesis for the next SOUND GENERATION MODULE. SOUND GENERATION MODULE The actual sounds are produced in this module. There are several existing techniques to produce sounds, such as DSP, MIDI. Other special computercontrollable instruments can also be considered. In this module, the information from the VIDEOAUDIO TRANSFORMATION MODULE is to be sent selectively to the instruments. In the DSP scheme the information is explained as the sound waveform or the parameters of the user-defined wave functions. In the MIDI scheme the information is explained as the note, velocity, program change, etc. One should remember to filter out the unreasonable values. Thus, the work is completed. Implementation One prototype was implemented. A program running on an Apple Macintosh Quadra 840av was finished. The VIDEO SOURCE MODULE is a preproduced 4-minutes VHS video tape. The visual material is a computer-generated video produced by the Adobe Premier 2.0 on an Apple Macintosh, which shows some of the Vincent van Gogh's paintings. The VIDEO DIGITIZER MODULE is the Apple Macintosh Quadra 840av's built-in video analog-to-digital converter which provides S-Video ICMC Proceedings 1994 145 Interactive Performance
Page 146 ï~~and RCA inputs and NTSC, PAL, SECAM video formats, and captures incoming video signals at a 30 -fps frame rate. This program currently provides only gray-scale conversion. In the VIDEO-AUDIO TRANSFORMATION MODULE the program was aimed to produce four voice parts. There are four hypothesized lines, two vertical and two horizontal, moving around the screen. Each line represents one voice and has a virtual point, called leading point, which determine where the line will move to. The gray-level of each pixel on the line and of the leading point will be sent to the SOUND GENERATION MODULE. In the SOUND GENERATION MODULE the wave table scheme in the Apple Sound Manager was used. The gray-level of each pixel on the entire line will be put into the wave table. The gray-level of the leading point will be the amplitude, and the difference in the gray-level between two connected frames will determine the interval between the current pitch and the next one. Thus, there will be four voices, and these four voices are limited to the right channel with mid-pitch, left channel with midpitch, both channels with high-pitch, both channels with low-pitch, respectively. Finally, the work was sounded like someone murmuring and was named "Van Gogh's Murmur!" The intention of naming it such a title is to give audience a motive to think about who is really murmuring. Is Vincent himself? Are the confused audiences? Or is the computer which created the sounds? The results of this performing model are interesting, especially when you fix the VIDEOAUDIO TRANSFORMATION MODULE and change the VIDEO SOURCE MODULE. For an implemented example, keep all the modules used in the "Van Gogh's Murmur" except the VIDEO SOURCE MODULE, and take the Shakespeare's Othello video tape as the source material. The results seem like a silence movie dubbed with an amusing narratage. Possible Practices Pisciculture: Put a hyaloid fishbowl on a projector instead of the transparencies. Drop, scatter, or dump water into the fishbowl. Add coloring into the water. Blend it or let it pervade. Knock, shake the bowl. Moreover, put couples of goldfishes and tropical fishes into the bowl. Use a camera to capture all the actions which the projector projects on the screen and send the video signals to the computer. The Pianist: Use the optical music score recognition techniques in the VID EO-A UDIO TRANSFORMATION MODULE, but make the SOUND GENERATION MODULE like a beginner who usually plays piano timidly and presses the wrong keys. The Flip-Flop: Combine the performing model described in this paper and its symmetry which is an audio-to-video transformation. In such case, the incoming audio signals from the microphones will be converted into the motion pictures then projected onto the screen, and be captured back to the computer later. Composers and performers can produce voices and images to affect the autogenous, recursive system. Further Works The current algorithm is quite straight forced and inefficient. It captures one frame, processes the frame, then generates sounds. The frame rate is about 10 fps. It means that the resulting sounds are controlled by the input sources no more than 10 times per second. There are several ways to eliminate the limitation. One is the double buffers technique. That will let the image capturing and sound process ing/generating be done simultaneously. Porting the program to a Power Macintosh, which provides calculation power of the RISC processor PowerPC, is also considered. The MAX is a really satisfied environment for composers to experience. Writing a MAX external object which provides the functions of the VIDEO DIGITIZER MODULE is planned. Thus, composers can apply existing techniques on this performing model and explore nre ways to create. Refine the "Van Gogh's Murmur" and realize some examples listed in the previous section. Conclusion This performing model provides a fanciful experiment oppertunity to grope for the world. Existing techniques from different art form offer wide variety of possible ways to explore. The main idea of this performing model is to create art works in the manner in which other works of different form are created. From this view, there is not only the video-to-audio model but also many other transformations. The frame rate is an important issue of this performing model. The dynamic of the resulting sounds will be better if the system can provide faster processing frame rate. Acknowledgements The author also wishes to express appreciation to both Dr. Arun Chanclra for his teaching me DSP knowledge and his kindness, and Dr. Cheryl Ruttedge for her editorial assistance in the preparation of this paper. Interactive Performance 146 ICMC Proceedings 1994