Writing (simultan) as an experiment in reconfiguration, in defining the new physical shape of installation, in the way the algorithms are interlocked, in the way the code is implemented.

Code Implementation


The intention is to implement the final form all within the possibilities of a Mellite workspace, i.e. using the programming abstractions offered by SoundProcesses, but without writing general Scala code against these abstractions, instead relying on the formulation of interconnected snippets within Mellite. On the one hand, it verifies the generality of Mellite to represent these kind of algorithms and installation logic, on the other hand it allows me to test the resistance of the current system to the transfer of ideas from a previous code base, and to see how the new abstractions change the ways I think about the piece.


In order to allow you to respond to my process, and again to verify the breadth of the approach, I am releasing now so-called Mellite workspaces that track the progress in implementing the entire new piece. Technically, a workspace is a directory with the name extension '.mllt' that contains the database representation of all objects interconnected within Mellite. A workspace can be opened in Mellite via the File > Open menu item. The workspaces are uploaded to the main Mellite download location at archive.org, compressed as a zip file named writing-simultan-<version>.zip.

Writing Machine

wr_t_ng m_ch_n_

Writing (simultan)

Writing (Simultan) is an installation piece that reconfigures the two previous instances Writing Machine (2011) and wr_t_ng m_ch_n_ (2017), within the context of the artistic research project Algorithms that Matter.


The basic principle of the piece(s) is to initiate a possibly endless writing and rewriting process, that puts the eigenmotion of that process to the front, and the signification of the “raw” or “input” sound material to the background.

The basic algorithm is always similar: There is a sound “database”, a reservoir of sound material, that is always kept “filled” till a certain level. A process iteratively evolves a “sound phrase”, a sound object of a few dozen seconds, by identifying a portion in the current object that should be overwritten, then searching the database for an acoustically similar fragment, cutting it out from the database and pasting it over the identified location. At the same time, small movements are allowed that make the sound phrase slowly expand and contract in duration.

The display of the installation is through a circular field of petri-dishes which contain piezo speakers, arranged in a certain number of channels, and thus the sound gesture may move around the circle as it evolves.

In the first instance (Writing Machine), I used a television sound signal from a news channel. It was using 72 petri-dishes in three concentric circles, each circle using graphite power of a different granularity and appearence. The sound installation was run from a single computer, and using eight or nine channels.

In the second instance (wr_t_ng m_ch_n_), I used a local radio (FM) station signal. The petri-dish arrangement was identical, but this time I experimented with a “distributed sound memory”, using nine Raspberry Pis, each representing two channels or memories which were evolved independent from one another (so you would identify a sound phrase, each time it was returning to the same sector). Also, here the computers and the antenna were visible, and I selected only one type of graphite and combined it with the bodies of dead bees.

The physical arrangement of the third instance is still not decided (as of this writing), although I think I want to replace the “disc” like shape of the petri-dish placement with a form that places them along the walls of the exhibition site, e.g. on side boards. The new title Writing (Simultan) also highlights a new interest in the coming-together of otherwise independently operating processes. How this is translated into the algorithms, will be elaborated in future versions of this workspace.