I was involved with the Instagr/am/bient project, commissioned by Marc Weidenbaum of Disquiet.com. You can go there to get an understanding of the project, download MP3s, and get the beautiful PDF that was made.
This post will explain a bit more about my contributions.
Here is the photo I contributed:
This photo was given to Benjamin Dauer, who created an excellent piece of music titled “In Reference to Time”.
It was taken using my $20 iPhone.
During the late summer of 2011 I decided I would start acquiring aging iPhones and Android-based smartphones, but only for very cheap prices. For quite a while I’ve wanted to create pieces based on handheld devices. I remember saying to Jon Harnish around 2005-2006 that I’d like to get some PDAs and have music apps spitting sounds out over which we could improvise. My idea never happened because the whole PDA thing died quickly and was replaced by smartphones. Now is a good time to revisit this idea due to cheap 1st generation iPhones and all the early Droids are coming off their 2 year contracts. Today there are many more synth apps, powerful devices to run them, and the apps are cheap.
My first acquisition was the $20 1st generation iPhone bought off Craigslist. I jailbroke it and bought an adapter for the weird-sized headphones jack real cheap from Hong Kong via Ebay, but the volume never worked despite the seller’s insistence that it might. It’s got lines of dead pixels on the screen. The battery isn’t the best. But the camera worked! It’ll also do wifi, so it’s not a brick just yet. Hard to believe this thing is only 4 years old.
The picture? This was taken at my daughter’s band practice. She’s in 5th grade and plays alto sax. It’s of the band director right at the beginning of a song. You don’t see any kids in the photo but there’s 100 of them in the room, trust me. And they’re good! I was tucked behind some kind of riser or podium that was placed against the wall. Directly in front of me are stacks of chairs on a wheeled platform.
For me to compose a piece of music from, I was given the following picture by Oootini:
I simply titled it “Float”.
In the 1980s I used to belong to a health club that had floatation tanks and I used them a few times. They were great! This picture made me think back to those days. I still swim regularly (laps) but when my kids were really little I used to just float in the children’s end of the pool, so I felt a connection with this photo I was given to work with.
The music? Well, if you follow my work you’ll know I’ve been refining the moody, the delayed, and the drawn-out for some time now. While this piece does sample a couple of past tracks, they’re quite buried amongst newly-created sounds.
I wanted the overall sound you hear to have that same feeling one gets while floating in relatively calm water. It also had to be a total composition. The piece had to have some travel in it. I also like the idea of the music creating an out-of-body experience when it comes to the viewer/listener relationship. Go on, listen to it a few times in a row while looking at the photo. See what happens!
Back in 1995, in Q Magazine, was my favorite record review ever. It was by Paul Du Noyer and was of Scott Walker’s album “Tilt”. In the second paragraph it says: “If there are singles they should not be promoted with videos, but with paintings.” and I was definitely thinking about that sentence when it came to the Instagr/am/bient project – although in this case it is updated to modern technology and flipped around a bit: pictures taken by others with specific filters applied are used to inspire the creation of music.