Pulse Landscapes is a collection of 14 chance encounters that have been translated into algorithmic compositions. These intimate landscapes are compositions that originate from a performance art series in which I use intuitive touch informed by Chinese pulse diagnosis as a means for exploring the intersubjective space/time between self and others. In this way, I create an acoustic ecology of embodied soundscapes that convey the unique sonic spaces hidden within each person. These soundscapes are not interpretative of the western notion of the circulatory system, but instead draw on Chinese medical philosophy in order to represent the body as a living cosmos pulsating with matter and energy.
Each of these tracks represents the transcription of an individual’s pulse into a rhythmic landscape. The intimate impressions of the encounter allows me to interpret each individual’s pulse as a unique set of sound-wave images according to the lexicon of traditional Chinese pulse diagnostics, which is a complex set of 28+ ideal waveform images that form infinite combinations that correspond to metaphysical and somatic states of being. In using pulse reading to make a record of the internal oscillations of others, touch is used as a method of deep listening that enables me to translate the subtle energies and pulsatile flowing of blood within the body of another person into a bespoke soundscape.
These works are created using the audio synthesis programming language SuperCollider. Instead of using SuperCollider to create logical musical arguments (as is standard), my use of SuperCollider intensifies its focus on listening as the basis for composing each landscape – adjusting the sine wave shapes and functions within each programming command by ‘ear’ in order to create sounds which match the fluid and electric-like nature of the vibrations I feel within people’s pulses. Clinical notes, drawings and graphic notations generated from the performance are used to compose each SC command line so that the vibratory qualities of the drawn lines associated with each pulse position can be rendered as faithfully as possible.
Whilst these tracks can be played on any system, they have been especially designed for headphones so that the listener can have a more intimate listening experience. Audio file volumes vary to reflect force or faintness of a pulse impression. Please adjust the volume to obtain the desired full sound.
I would like to thank Lars Graugaard for his support of my work helping me to realise this project and to everyone at CLANG for producing Pulse Landscapes. I would also like to thank the Cultures of the Digital Economy Research Institute at Anglia Ruskin University for funding my work. A special thanks to Tom Hall and Richard Hoadley for their guidance with SuperCollider and to Alex Annetts for his audio assistance and feedback.
Mastered October 2013 by Bill Campbell
Mastered at Anglia Ruskin University Recording Studios, Cambridge, United Kingdom