Mobile Music Technology Fourth International Workshop :: Colin Black

6 – 8 May 2007, Amsterdam The Netherlands

Atau Tanaka (Sony Computer Science Laboratory, Paris) and Colin Black at the Mobile Music Technology Fourth International Workshop.

Atau Tanaka (Sony Computer Science Laboratory, Paris) and Colin Black at the Mobile Music Technology Fourth International Workshop.

My recent major work ‘Alien In The Landscape’ involved the development of a mobile binaural resonating acoustic profiling filter/instrument to facilitate the creation of work’s diverse site specific sonorities. As a new stage in this development I have been initiating research into physical spatialised multi-instrument installations exploring a sense of detachment through the creation of multiple resonating “sonic spectroscopic” spaces. Thanks to ANAT, I was able to attend the Mobile Music Technology Fourth International Workshop in Amsterdam and present a poster that documents this work-in-progress. In addition to the poster session I also submitted a paper entitled “The Extended Enviro-Guitar (XEG): A Mobile Acoustic Profiling Resonating Filter” which explores my initial research and development regarding the XEG as a type of resonating acoustic profiling device.

Attending the Mobile Music Technology Fourth International Workshop allowed me to participate in international discourse on the “countless new artistic, commercial and socio-cultural opportunities for music creation, listening and sharing that mobile music technology offers1”. Also having my work peer-reviewed by a committee of international specialists in the fields of mobile music, interactive music, and locative media offered me enormously valuable feedback for the further development of my arts practice.

The further development of the XEG’s spatialised multi-instrument installations aim to explore the use of mobile delivery devices, networks, locative media and emerging technologies to deconstruct its sonic abstract terrain within a dynamic media framework.

The Mobile Music Technology International Workshop’s reputation for its excellent conferences and workshops has been growing since its inaugural workshop in 2004. This year’s Workshop was a dynamic place for the exchange of ideas across a large interdisciplinary group of scholars, academics, practitioners and enthusiasts. The international steering committee consisted of the following members, Frauke Behrendt (University of Sussex, UK), Lalya Gaye (Viktoria Institute, Sweden) and Atau Tanaka (Computer Science Laboratory, France), with dutch organising committee members consisting of Kristina Andersen (STEIM, The Netherlands), Robert van Heumen (STEIM, The Netherlands) and Ronald Lenz (Waag Society, The Netherlands).

The 2007 workshop was held at STEIM and Waag Society in Amsterdam. STEIM (the Studio for Electro-Instrumental Music) is an independent live electronic music centre that is exclusively dedicated to the performing arts, while Waag Society is an “avantgardistic thinktank” medialab active in the fields of networked art, healthcare, education and internet related issues like bandwidth and copyright.

The keynotes were Michel Waisvisz, Teri Rueb and RŽgine Debatty. Michel Waisvisz gave a riveting and detailed anthology of his last thirty years developing new ways to achieve physical touch with electronic music instruments. He demonstrated and/or spoke about a series of his “instrumental inventions”, including The Crackle Box, The Hands, and The Lick Machine, all which have explored the use of sensors and touch as a means for creating music and electronic sounds. Many of these instruments were considered breakthroughs at the time when electronic music was still a studio bound artform. Teri Rueb looked at the ideas associated with place, space and movement, being sealed off from the environment, “iPod Bubbles”, sound as a frame for landscape, “hertzian landscape” and the “space beyond connectivity”. While RŽgine Debatty (full-time blogger at “”) closed the Mobile Music Technology Fourth International Workshop by summarizing the events held over the three days of the conference and contextualised mobile music technology through the 20th Century with some surprising magazine clips including possibly the first live radio broadcast of a basketball game from a basketball player on court (holding a transmitter in one hand) that appeared in the June 1939 Popular Science Magazine (for more info please see;

After the keynotes on Sunday mourning at Waag we were entertained by a live mobile performance by Cathy van Eck while walking to STEIM. Cathy’s “Hearing Sirens: A project for mp3-players with portable horn-loudspeakers” reverses the philosophy of the headphones, rather than using the mp3-players to create a private sonic space she uses two highly directional large portable horn loaded loudspeakers to radiate the sound into the environment. The directionality of these two 180 degrees apposing speakers and their resultant acoustic reflections within the urban landscape revealed rich acoustical qualities of the traversed landscape’s dimensions and material.

At STEIM I presented my poster along with Irad Lee’s “Egotone: Generative Ringtone Engine”. Mike Fleming, Kang Chang and Kyle Millns’s “Audio Bombing: Magnetic Cassette Tape Graffiti”, Chia-Ying Lee’s “Sonic Graffiti: Spraying and Remixing Music on the Street”, Ashley Elsdon’s “Platforms, Programs and Possibilities: The current state of mobile music creating technology”, Anna Dumitriu and Luciana Haill’s “Creative Uses of Virtual Sticky Notes in Art. A Critical Interrogation of The ‘Bio-tracking’ Smart Phone Based Exhibition”, Takuya Yamauchi and Toru Iwatake’s “An Interactive Musical Installation through Spatial Sensing” and Greg Schiemer’s collaboration with Mark Havryliv’s “Pocket Gamelan: swinging phones and ad hoc standards” There were also demos by Dan Wilcox aka. Robotcowboy’s “A Human-Computer Performance System” and Bernhard Garnicnig’s collaboration with Gottfried Haider’s “Craving, a Spatial Audio Narrative”.

“Craving, a Spatial Audio Narrative” was quiet interesting locative media because of how it simulated binaural listening via headphones using software that was originally development for NASA. The origin of the “placed” sound sources “can be acoustically located because the entire range of human movement as well as the auditory physiology are incorporated into the spatial sound rendering2”. Unlike a lot of GPS-based sound installations (that simply triggers “omni directional sounds” at specific locations), the interactive binaural placement of sound objects used for their demo worked surprisingly well during my trail.

There were a number of interesting performances during the Workshop including “The Handydandy” (Bernhard Bauch, Florian Waldner, Gordan Savicic, Julia Staudach, Luc Gross, Nicolaj Kirisits) and TokTek (aka. Tom Verbruggen). “The Handydandy” group of air guitar gesturing “Early Bluetooth Rock”, Max/MSP and WLan networked laptop musicians utilizing mobile phone Bluetooth controllers delivered a strong set of generative originals. While TokTek, sampling with a joystick explored the interface of “communication and non-communication between electronic devices and humans” and “his relationship with such devices”. Refreshingly, TokTek’s performance demonstrated strengths both with technical and musical complexities. In the absence of a modern day Renaissance man there is something to be said about the interdisciplinary collaborative development of new art works.

There was a refreshingly overall intellectual rigour to the paper presentations during the Workshop. Yolande Harris questioned the notion of what is stability when GPS-based technology reveals that we are in constant kinetic flux but our human senses tell us that we are stationary.

The hands on sessions included an introduction to Python programming language for S60 mobile phones, Arduino: physical computing workshop, Geotracing open source GPS-based locative media platform and KWlive a “set of software tools which enables multiple networked users to create an audio/visual performance together possibly using live inputs”. I also recorded a number of interviews with the Workshop participants for further research and possible publication.

I would like to thank ANAT for this wonderful opportunity to investigate and reconsider many aspects of the developing practices in sound, technology, art and culture at this time.

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