Monday, December 27, 2021

60 Voices: A mixtape to open your ears

It's year-end, a time when music lovers are besieged with lists and charts. These rankings rankle for several reasons. First, I refuse to view music as a contest. Yes, a "top ten" can be a way of highlighting new music. But I've been seeing too many, especially those of a historic nature, that serve only to confirm an existing canon. Read on, and you'll hear what I did about it: 60 carefully-chosen tracks mixed for your listening pleasure!

Thursday, December 02, 2021

Heldscalla system cooling, heat, benchmarks

This article will benchmark my current Heldscalla system against my previous VALIS computer. I will be comparing specifications and getting results from both Passmark and Cinebench R23. I'll explain that I turned off the overclocking built into the motherboard settings. And I will describe the physical air flow and choice of CPU cooler, as a prelude to measuring operating temperatures and noise levels. 

As usual, my goal is an article that doesn't avoid discussion of necessary technical considerations, while remaining comprehensible to readers not steeped in jargon. YMMV.

Thursday, November 25, 2021

Why is my hard drive making noises?

Now that I've built my computer to the specifications outlined in my previous article, I am ready to write a series of articles reflecting on the experience. Spoiler: This was the most frustrating build of my life. These articles will outline specific hardware problems and their solutions (if any).

This first article will discuss issues with hard drives. My next article will review the Fractal case I used. I might also prepare some benchmark figures. 

Monday, November 22, 2021

Essential books on sound art

This is a reading list of essential books in the field of sound art. The term is provisionally defined to include non-narrative, non-performative works in a gallery context. This definition excludes experimental music in the main, since that field is well-served by a century of robust literature. 

As a term, sound art is only as old as 1990, though it has been applied retroactively to a body of prior work. Further debates on categories will be deferred to the following volumes, each of which deals with this thorny issue in its own way.

Wednesday, November 10, 2021

Video editing computer build 2021

In my previous article I outlined my computer purchases over the last decade. During that time I used the same Fractal Design case and upgraded the motherboard, CPU, and GPU exactly once.

But now my video work requires more computing power than I have available. Over a year ago I decided to build a new system from scratch. This ill-timed decision corresponded with the worldwide GPU shortage. It is only now that I've been able to act on this requirement. The upside is that I've had plenty of time to research and document my choices. This article outlines the rationale for my purchases, so that you can benefit from my research.

Tuesday, November 09, 2021

Computer purchase history to date

I thought it would be interesting to review my computer purchase history. Partial motivation for this exercise is to refute the consumerist idea that one must continuously advance to the "latest greatest" thing. I've only ever bought computer components in order to achieve immediate, necessary goals. In each case I've determined where the "weakest link" in my system resided, then replaced that component. 

While many YouTube builders put together new systems monthly, I re-use old parts and "make do" for sometimes years at a time. This is a necessary process for anyone on a budget.

Tuesday, November 09, 2021

The computer as a tool: a prelude to hardware specifications

Being a digital media artist, the computer is my primary tool, quite unlike other tools, being general-purpose machines that require modification and configuration before they are fit for purpose. It's easy to buy a hammer to hammer, a toaster to toast. It's somewhat more involved to buy paints to paint, paper on which to print, and so on. But it's definitively a non-trivial matter to buy and configure a computer... at least for anyone who wishes to deeply engage with their working process.

Saturday, August 28, 2021

Stills from motion video: a trip to Sherkin Island with the BMPCC4K

This post will outline a workflow for creating stills from video footage. This was very much an experiment. Though I knew the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K (BMPCC4K) shot excellent video, I did not know if individual frames would hold up to scrutiny. Read along as I outline my workflow.
Wednesday, July 21, 2021

Launch of "Tides: An ISSTA Anthology"

This Friday, ISSTA celebrates a rich history with the launch of Tides: An ISSTA Anthology. This collection of twenty-four artists represents a cross-section of activity in electronic and acousmatic music, soundscape composition, live performance, and sound installation. 

Thursday, July 15, 2021

"The Regression of Musical Innovation" reconsidered

I recently encountered Rick Beato's video "Why Today's Music Is So BORING. The Regression of Musical Innovation." This rant is worth a rebuttal, especially since the emotive aspect of the claim will have immediate appeal to so many.

Monday, July 12, 2021

Defensive coding for long-term installations

There are special challenges when writing code that must run for long periods. Contexts include embedded applications, gallery installations, information kiosks, and lighting & signage displays.

When we test code it is, perforce, for short durations. Yet we must ensure that our application remains robust over the long term. This short article will consider one issue: counting. I will use particulars germane to Arduino and Processing, these being two common environments used by creative coders.

Friday, May 14, 2021

Is this game real?

The world is divided into two types of people: those who divide people into two type... and gamers.

Here's a quiz to puzzle both. Read the following descriptions and determine which games are real and which I have simply invented for entertainment purposes. There will be a couple of easy ones to give the gamers an unfair advantage.

I will supply the answers... eventually. No cheating by using the internets.

The entries are numbered to aid scoring. Are you ready? Set! Go!


Friday, April 09, 2021

What isn't design?

“Design is a reflective conversation with the situation.”
— Donald Schön

On social media Ed Devane asked the provocative question: “So, what isn't design?” This article will sketch out an answer, by first considering what design is.

Wednesday, March 24, 2021

Beef Rendang recipe

I had enough time today to try my hand at a new dish. I have cooked rendang exactly once before, but didn't have a recipe. Instead I relied on my memories of food prepared by others. For a short time there was an excellent Indonesian cook here in Limerick... his rendang was to die for. Of course, places that serve good food (prepared by hand, honest ingredients, no compromises) never last... so we need to cook for ourselves!

Saturday, March 13, 2021

All my music is now free

I have been pondering a question of economics for some time. Until now I have been pricing my albums at around 8 Euros. This is far less than many labels, so it's always been a "good deal."

I began by releasing music for free. If I can accurately recall my thought processes, I switched to paid albums in order to be "taken seriously" as an artist. This had something to do with setting up my label, Stolen Mirror.

Sunday, January 10, 2021

David Bowie: Five Years

It's been five years since Bowie passed away. I had never considered that there wouldn't be a year without him, when I wouldn't have the joy of wondering if he'd release any music, and if it would be any good.

Tuesday, January 05, 2021

2020: Releases and Productions

Everything considered, 2020 was a productive year for me. I released two albums of compositions, one long improvisation, two music videos, and contributions to several compilations. This post summarises these nine releases, with listening/watching links.

Monday, January 04, 2021

2020: Pandemic in Review

I teach at the University of Limerick and have a duty of care to my students. At the beginning of 2020 I started hearing about a new virus from China. Students returning from Christmas break were self-isolating and wearing masks where before they weren't. By the end of February I began searching for reports from Chinese researchers. These had been immediately translated to English and published in newspapers for the widest possible dissemination.

For this reason I was the first in my department to signal the arrival of COVID-19, the first to develop strategies (both personal and teaching), and the first to remove myself from campus. At the risk of crying wolf, I encouraged a pro-active approach.