A woman's story. In this "present" our world is constructed of overbearing noise, light, and repetition. Only by becoming broken can our subject escape.
Author: Sophie Treadwell
Production: IDEAS Festival 2017
Director: Will Detlefsen
Set Design: Anna Robinson
Costume Design: Annie Le
Lighting Design: Brandon Rosen
Venue: Qualcomm Institute
Date: January 2017
The original conception for this piece was to incorporate live electronics that were driven by actor interaction. There were a number of reasons that a full sound score seemed appropriate for this piece the venue boasted an 8.2 surround sound system, the video designer was interested in implementing real-time controlled images on a 32 screen super HD video wall, the character of "Ms. A" is a part of a machine that she finds increasingly unbearable. Connecting parameters of voice, sound, and video via MIDI to produce moving interactive spaces presented an interesting and rewarding challenge.
After having heard great concerts of analog modular synthesis at the ICMC in Utrecht, I was continuing my search for ways to generate 1/f noise with a warm sound profile. In Pure Data this resulted in the randomly variable banded noise which produced Will Detlefsen's Viuex Carré in the Fall of 2016. By that winter I had discovered the BEAP oscillator objects newly available in MaxMSP ver. 7 and began piecing together my own virtual modular synth. I reconfigured the BEAP objects to allow for MIDI control of frequency values and built a virtual patch bay for the Behringer BCF controller.
After a number of rehearsals our team arrived at the music of Elvis as an additional generative element; this music served the "organic" role often seen integrated into my designs. The BEAP Granular Sampler provided the necessary control over these found music sources. In addition, I knew I wanted to have fast paced interaction between actress and electronics without having to worry about pesky cuing issues. I created an abstraction named "ducker.maxpat" (see diagram below) which allowed me to use all of the 6 microphones on stage as a type of side chain key for sound effects. These sequences in the introduction and conclusion of the piece were powerful and easy to tech.
With these versatile tools, and a live ensemble performance between sound artist and actors, this design was able to delineate characters, spaces, mood and wildly varying states of mind.