Ben Byrne

Entry #2

29.11.2016

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Since I last wrote I've prototyped and tested 'The Flood', with help from Madelynne and Mel. The image above shows, roughly, what it looks like. Gradually the light fills the window, accompanied by generated pink noise, until it is entirely flooded. Obviously it refers to the periodic - and apparently increasing - intense flooding that pairs with Australia's droughts, and that aspect of the work resonates particularly strongly here at Bogong, but it refers, for me, equally to the noise pollution of contemporary cities and the glut of information people now find themselves immersed in - the sense that we are going under.

I wrote the code for the work in Processing, a free and open source creative coding language based on Java. This code generates both the projection and the sound, each involving different kinds of noise. The sound, as I have explained, is pink noise. I experimented with filtering this noise but decided against it, relying instead on the structure of the building to colour the sound. Instead of using conventional speakers I am using surface transducers to produce the noise. These transducers are basically the driver - or mechanism - of a speaker but without the housing and are attached to the framing of the window so that the sound plays out directly through it. Apart from being an affordable and mobile solution, this means that the material of the window filters the sound, some frequencies resonating and others being muffled. The projection, meanwhile, is a polygon of white light that gradually rises. The top of this polygon is uneven, as you can see. I have used Perlin noise - a simple harmonic noise generation algorithm - to produce this effect, so that the 'surface' of the flood is constantly shifting in a wave like but chaotic motion. One of the benefits of the software I have chosen is that it is cross-platform, so the installation can be run on a Raspberry Pi - a cheap, portable computer that runs a version of Linux and requires very little energy.

Initially I had thought that the 'flood' would gradually rise over the course of its exhibition. However, I have noticed in my time here that the water level often varies quite quickly. It was very hot the day I arrived and the water level in Lake Guy very low but a big storm across the next few days left it flooded to the point that it was spilling over Junction Dam. Subsequently, the level has risen and fallen, at times daily. In response to this, and the fact that even with a very strong projector the work is much more effective at night, I have decided the work will flood and recede each night, beginning to rise after dark, flooding to different extents depending on the day and then receding by dawn. This involved a little further coding, so that the direction of movement would change when the flood reached its peak and the sound would shut off once it had completely receded. These are the sort of small but crucial details that are important to making sure the work really sings and the residency at BCSC has been wonderful in that it has allowed me the time and space to develop the work to its full potential.