Afternoon Dust

nathan's blog


I ran a little experiment to see what sounds I could make from a single field recording using the open source programming environment SuperCollider. You can hear the results in the sound file below - the original recording comes at the end. All of the sounds heard come from analysing and manipulating the recording.

This download contains a high-quality FLAC file, plus the SuperCollider source code and audio files. Feel free to use the code with your own recordings too - I’d love to hear the results! Suggestions for improving the code are also very welcome.

Download archive

Reading Notes: Mimesis, Onomatopeia, and Ice Cream

Allen S. Weiss’ Varieties of Audio Mimesis: Musical Evocations of Landscape is only a short book, yet its succinct and convincing arguments were enough to make me rethink my assumptions. The essay is primarily concerned with how mimesis has and can operate in music and sound art, but before this issue can be addressed, a consideration of sound and meaning in language is needed. Weiss identifies two extreme positions that date back at least as far as Plato: one proposes that there is an inherent natural link between the sound of a word and the meaning to which it refers (naturalism), while the other states that the link between a word and its referent is entirely governed by social convention (conventionalism).


At the edge of a natural jetty stretching out across the flats at low tide, two opposing wavefronts meet, causing interference.


Art Book Reader's Survey

As part of one of my university courses I’ve been conducting a survey of art book readership, asking people to share how and why they read art books. A statistical analysis of results thus far can be found here. The sample size is somewhat small, but hopefully some of the data there will be useful to those involved in art book publishing. Thanks to everyone who participated!

The survey is ongoing — you can participate by going here. Results should in theory be automatically updated to include your answers.



Changing Places

The café is crowded and full of noise: animated conversations, kitchen clatter, the scrape and chink of cutlery and glasses. Composer Sam Messer approaches groups of diners and politely asks to deposit a small cube speaker on their table. No one refuses. The cubes are initially silent, but after a while one or two of them quietly start to sound: a continuous hollow wave rushes then fades; somewhere else a ringing sine wave begins. They are hard to hear over the clamour of voices, but hearing them does something strange and unexpected to those voices, and to the room itself. The quality of the sonic environment changes somehow, while remaining the same: noises suddenly lose their character as conversation or as café ambience, and become somehow object-like, abstract and distanced. The insertion of the composed sounds turns the whole café environment into a kind of sculpture.

Reading Notes: Edward S. Casey, "The Fate of Place"

I’ve just finished reading Edward S. Casey’s The Fate of Place (1997), a fascinating history of the idea of place in Western philosophy from early creation myth to Derrida and Irigary. Although a lot of the concepts discussed seemed to me to be frighteningly complex, each one was made easier to grasp through comparison with the others, and while Casey never shies from using appropriately technical terms when necessary, I found his writing style to be very clear and straightforward.