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Speakeroids: Object Disoriented Synthesis

The illusion that speakers are neutral, that they successfully ‘reproduce’ the sound of instruments in acoustic space, is shallow to the discerning ear. In fact, one never hears ‘pure’ (unmediated) sounds.*

In this work, acoustically complex objects have been mechanically converted to two-way transducers, so as to consciously blur microphone-instrument-speaker categories, becoming nodes in pools of free flowing electricity and sound governed by the logic of translation.

Inspired by Rube Goldberg’s machines of the 60’s, but using invisible audio wave fronts instead of tumbling objects, Speakeroids shows what happens if sounds are recursively passed through a series of quite different resonant objects, forming feedback circuits through combination, and ultimately, acting as spatially distributed non-linear “oscillators” and “filters” of great complexity.

The spectral music that emerges is not the result of computation, except in an analog sense, and is strictly governed by the physics of the objects
themselves, as they are randomly permuted through various groupings and amplification levels, without additional signal processing.

Because of the high number of physical variables involved, SPEAKEROIDS has many states (including silence) and is different from moment to moment.

The work premiered as part of the 6th High Zero Festival, Baltimore, 2004.


* because, at minimum, the ears and nervous system have their own highly
specific resonance and response-curve characteristics.