Traversing the Sectors



4-channel sound composition ( 4 dancers, Wii controllers, Max/MSP patch), for Compositions for Bit, a multimedia performance directed by Katherine Behar.

Performed at Judson Church, New York City, December 2010

Compositions for Bit is an interactive art concert that paid tribute to Disney’s 1982 movie TRON and its handmade vision of the digital, with multichannel audio and immersive projections.  Dancers performed inside polygonal forms, slowly contorting, flipping, and rolling the shapes around the room.  Wii controllers attached to their bodies controlled the sound, while video feeds from inside the shapes were live mixed on projection screens overhead.  The concert featured commissioned sound pieces by Shelly Burgon, Silvia Ruzanka, and Shelley Thorpe, lighting and projection design by Brian Scott, and performers Sheri Celentano, Maine Anders, and Arjuna (Matt Van Auken).  I programmed the overall performance framework in Max/MSP and composed Traversing the Sectors for this event.

Traversing the Sectors

My work investigates the intersection between physical processes and the digital world.  For example, what happens when decay and the effects of time intrude on the logical perfection of digital data?  In Traversing the Sectors, I used audio recordings of old and dying technologies to construct a journey through the landscape of Tron.  The title refers to the internal operation of a computer’s hard drive, which stores information by physically moving across a densely magnetized, rapidly spinning disk.  The sounds in the performance include the EMF static produced by vintage analog televisions, the hum of computer circuits, and the sounds of grinding motors and skittering magnetic data heads inside dying hard drives.   The composition is made from the sounds of digital and electronic machines, but they are sounds produced by the physicality of those devices.

It’s interesting to note that the magnetic hard drive is quickly being replaced by solid-state storage, which is purely electronic and has no analog, mechanical parts.  This piece is an homage to this fading technology, as well as a remembrance of analog television, obsolete media, and the weird and wonderful analog/digital hybrid world of the original TRON.