© 2020 Stefan Nussbaumer.
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inthenoiseofthenightandthestilloftheday was my contribution to Klangmanifeste 2019, an annual transdiciplinary festival between visual and acoustic art. I was especially invited for my workon VideOSC, my little Android app, that allows me to control sound and other media by visual information, namely, the colors coming in from a mobile phone’s camera.

I understand that people get curious when they here how my app works and what it does. I myself was wondering for years what my idea would “sound” like before I actually built a first prototype. Meanwhile I found out for myself that what’s most confusing about it is the use of the term “control” for such a thing. When I first connected it to my sound generation process, it felt much like everything exploded and felt apart immediately.

I have learnt, meanwhile, that I can play with VideOSC in very peculiar, non-rational way. But what has come up as a probably even more interesting question is yet the meaning of “control”. A mobile phone is a computer. Hasn’t the idea behind computers always been “control”? Don’t we hope that computers make our lives easier by passing control to little machines, machines that remind us of our daily tasks, make everything easier by giving us control over everything over a tiny screen, shrinking a complex world into algorithms that work so much more efficiently than our brains?

echoraum himmel

I’m not sure how and why the topic “sky” came up. Anyway, I was asked if I could do something with my application related to that topic. The first idea (coming from the curators) was that I should make photos of the sky which could then be “played” by visitors through my app. That felt a bit arbitrary to me. I had the feeling that this followed the idea of VideOSC being an “instrument” (though an unconventional one) a bit too much. I imagined people would maybe start filming my photos but then quickly find out that other areas of the room, its exhibited objects, its colors were producing mor interesting sounds. That would have quickly relativized the idea.

I rather wanted to do something that completely eluded itself from human control, something that would rather direct the audience’s attention to the aspect of “being controlled”.

I decided to mount a mobile phone to the balcony in the courtyard, outside the exhibition space, that was constantly watching the sky throughout the festival, controlling the generation of a sound stream that could be listened to by the visitors through headphones.

It was pretty clear from the beginning that the sound produced in the stream wouldn’t vary extremely a lot – images of an average sky over Vienna tend to spread over a not so big variation of colors (mostly grey to light blue). Nevertheless recordings turned out to be different from day to day. An acoustic weather report for the time of the festival, so to say.

A recording of the sunrise over Echoraum on March 20th 2019