artist's talk

by Stanza

Click on images to see artworks


I am Stanza. I work with net art, software, electronic music and painting.

I wrote some of this ten years ago as an introduction to my project, it serves as a reminder of a continuing shift in arts practice and the influence the Internet has had on my work...

I spend my time making artworks and researching new technologies. It is now generally  acknowledged that advances  in computer  and  online technologies have  provided  a whole new  way of artistic expression and experience which  incorporates opportunities for non linear experience, interactivity as well as audio visual and technical convergence. The merging of the audio visual has become a central issue in the development of interactive media. Web artists  are fusing  the  arts,  incorporating a wide range of  approaches to the medium of  the  internet  and audio visual  practice. Artists are producing net art new audio visual experiences, and this includes art, games, generative music, and interactive environments.

Artists are specifically addressing the uses and abuses of the internet as a medium for creative expression. These works can been seen as a new art form, or as a contribution to new music and electronica. They encounter and engage the user without whose presence in the interactivity the work is not only meaningless but does not exist.  Within the global exhibition of such works, the parameters of the artist's relationship to his audience has shifted ground. We see emerging a shared multidimensional relationship to these works.

So now we find that the computer, this box, is in fact the gallery, the exhibition space, the computer as white cube.  This box has become the specification for which these works are made and are experienced.

More importantly, the inherent qualities of this medium as a flux for audio, visual, interactive, instantaneous, connective experience, provides a huge potential for future developments in this field.

The City as Sound. Online Data Base SOUNDCITIES.Worldwide noise.

The project is an online database of the thousands of sounds from around the world. The website also has series on online mixing desks where you can mix these sounds. Soundcities uses city recorded soundscapes from world cities made over the last six years. All the sounds are now online as open source sounds. The database allows full open sourced access and listening to the individual sounds. It is also open so anyone can upload sounds they collect from world cities, thereby making a contribution to the project and making an online sounds archive. This resource is now an open platform. The world’s first online database of city sounds.

This project exists as a fixed list of assets although it is growing as more are added.

I have always been interested in the sounds of specific places, and how sounds reflect this identity and re-impose characteristics back onto the location or environment.  Cities all have specific identities, and found sound can give us clues to the people that inhabit these spaces, as well as provoking us and stimulating our senses in a musical way. The sounds of language impose a rhythm that the visual narrative can interact with. The audio experience evokes place, both as literal description but also developed musical composition. 

The nature of the sounds and noise of cities varies in tone and language. A background rhythm can come into the foreground.  It mixes itself, and evolves. The city is its own music, constantly evolving, a beautiful composition of squeaks, clanks, and pulses. It is familiar but distracting as it bombards our conscious slipstream. The sounds of cities also give clues to the emotional and responsive way we interact with our cities. They evoke memories. So this idea of assent gathering of sounds creates a different feeling than the gathering of data. Yet the sounds evolve, generate, move, die, fade and shift. The sounds of the city are out there all the time, there is no silence, the code does not stop. The children, the trains, the drills, the animals, the micro sounds, the sounds of our bodies, the sounds of the street, the insides of our souls. Familiar forms, identities and sounds are common to all cities, and yet each have special forms that separate and  identity particular  places and spaces.

The system developed updates the sounds of cities to a database and allows the city to be remixed as an instrument.


I have also now developed  sensors in the city using motes technology that streams the sounds in real time for real time musical cities across the Internet.

The city experience is a web of connected networks and multi layered threaded paths that condition us to the emotional state of the city space. In essence, the city fabric is a giant multi user multi data sphere. To take part you really have to put something back in, that's like life. In this case, to take part you have to input data so others 'may' see the output of the data response.

Lets imagine a space in which every action, memory, thought, feeling,  has a connection to every other action. A space where all data in the system, seamlessly integrates with all others. This place exists, it's inside our heads. The emergent metaphor of the brain has many similarities with the emergent connectivity of cities.

Panic Noise

Mobility can be seen from traffic patterns, to pedestrian patterns, to bird flocking patterns; to multi-threaded patterns along a time line. Patterns can be seen in the architecture, the buildings, the architectural fabric of the urban design network. And closer inside the micro patterns of the city, we have the life cycles of the atomized, the insects, the life of continuity all of which exist along a timeline of past present and future. The city has a history. Stories relative to time and place, stories from the street. Love stories personal and  extreme, crime stories, stories that are small or that can affect global parameters. Inside the mobile city there are future stories and future worlds to invent and discover.

All of these spheres can be represented by media and therefore by data within the digital realm. And all of this mobile data can be interpreted and mediated. It becomes a matter of choice. Collections of data can be stored to be retrieved later. The mobile data infrastructure becomes a data source so powerful so interwoven that its scale can only be imagined as metaphor.  The size and scope of such an archive, of such rich mediated data experience would support many projects.  As such it can be interpreted as history via one sort of interface or as a game via another sort of interface.

Cities offer the opportunity for unique types of data gathering experiences via a variety of sources. An emergent  process data mining from all sides, online  for  all. People collecting data, sounds, stories, photos, that can be filtered back into such a system.

A possible objective is to 'mediate' data into conceptual artifacts. With this perspective there are many unimagined threads of data and connections that describe our world that can be explored through wireless mobile networks within which we can create artistic interpretations.

The network that all this takes place in is the grid of the city. In Shanghai in the planning museum you can see this in one room by looking at the model of the whole city. Mobile devices, wireless, or sensor devices, can trace and track you through such a system where data impacts to unfold meaning. This data can in effect be for aesthetic purposes as well as for marketing, and delivered as any type of media.

A model of the city could be made in this case as a simulated experience. An example of this is a controlled ultrasound sensor rig which pings sound in relation to ones position in the system (used in my Robotica artwork). It will allow you to fade sounds as you move about. Another example would be GPS positioning systems within real cities spaces, or which there a number of projects in development worldwide, and I used it for example in "Sheep".

Types of data can be re-imagined. This includes pollution data recorded via sensors in the street, to create audio acoustic files expressing the pain and suffering of the air as it pollutes. Weather and forecast data, acquired via weather station equipment, this can be used and can create ambient soundscapes and morphing visualizations as the wind shifts direction or the rain increases. Noise monitor levels, and noise maps, create a symphony of true urban sounds that can be used to make sound reactive sculptures.

The city also has millions of CCTV. In essence the city is the biggest TV station in existence. Millions of hours worth of data are recorded every day by these cameras on city TV. I take the sounds and images of live web streams and re-represent them thus creating new interpretations of the city in the process.

Third Great Revolution

The State doesn’t allow access to certain data because of the data protection act, but what happens when things change? Walls do fall down, governments change, ideologies become overtaken. The data explosion will be immense, but only an open sourced egalitarian system will allow transparency and sharing of wealth and information. Many networks protect the entry and their content and too many have all content loaded to these database which belongs to dot dot dot ..(not you)

Uses of this information and data should allow rich new interpretations on the way our world is built, used, and designed. Real new media landscapes or mediascapacities.

Sonicity. Worldwide noise

Sonicity is a responsive installation, a sonification of the data space.The sounds you hear are the sound of the changing environment, ie : the changes of noise, light, temperature of the space is turned into a real time sound stream using dozens of wireless sensors.

This project investigates the real time space and the experience of the gallery visitor as they interact with the space, using data gathered from new technologies. The system monitors the space (the building) and the environment (the city) and captures live real time data (light , temperature, noise, humidity, position) to create an ambient sonification, an acoustic responsive environment, literally the sound of the micro incidents of change that occur over time.

The objective is to explore new ways of thinking about interaction within public space and how this affects the socialization of space. The project uses environmental monitoring technologies and security based technologies, to question audiences experiences of the event and space and gather data inside the space. The project also focuses on the micro-incidents of change, the vibrations and sounds of the gallery using wireless sensor based technologies. Motes are used to collect the data. The 'motes' are tiny wireless sensor boards that gather data and communicate to the central server. The real world is monitored and the data stored in my archive retrieval system. Motes and sensor boards sense the micro incidents of change in the light, the noise, temperature, sounds of the flows inside the space.

Using the XML live feeds the data can be turned in music. A custom made MAX/MSP motereader and sound synthesis engine has now been written. This allows one to hear the sounds of space, ie : an aural experience of the surrounding space. Additional mixers in the software allow all the sensors to be mixed and cross mashed. Basically this allows you to perform with space.


War in the Machine.

Imagine walking out the door, and knowing every single action, movement, sound, micro movement, pulse, and thread of information is being tracked, monitored, stored, analyzed, interpreted, and logged. The world we will live in seems to be a much bigger brother than the Orwellian vision, it's the mother of big brother. Can we use new technologies to imagine a world where we are liberated and empowered, where finally all of the technology becomes more than gimmick and starts to actually work for us or are these technologies going to control up, separate us, divide us, create more borders. The securization of city space create digital borders that monitor our movement and charge us for our own micro movements inside the system.

My wireless sensor network is set up to visualize cities as 'worlds' full of data, a city of bits. These new data-spaces can help us understand the fundamentals of our outside environment. There is an argument to opening up the level of control and responsibility given allows freedom within the system. It's a good argument until something changes, the passwords change, the building goes private, and every single piece of data is used for something that it wasn't intended for. Some things change for the better but sometimes they don't; one thing is for sure; things change.

Therefore my focus is on the things that change, the flow, the data that describes our experience of the city as space.

Future cities will be merged real time connected up data cities. Sensity connects up networks of real time information flows. The results are mashed up cities and real time performative city mashings. The shared data space can overlap and s there is a new space : The space in between that only two nodeshare, the aestheticization of the shared city space. I have merged collected data from various cities to  show an integrated architecture : The space where the cities overlap and create a new architectural space.

I envisage the city of the future will start to build a system that will integrate this data into a sort of semantic city. A visualized flow city data experience will allow us to see 'the soul of the city'. By mixing the XML outputs of the various cities I have created interfaces to mash up the city experience into common themes and poetic threads.

The city and the Internet becomes public domain space. A brand new era. The Magic is Complete.

We just moved from fixed assets and linear systems, to interactive and generative works and finished in a real time emergent space across networked cities.

This space is very much up for grabs commercially, like the coded DNA inside our bodies, the shared city information spaces represent a mine of resources to be exploited.....where the boundaries and locked fences exist in the real world are generally controlled by the state in the virtual world, it seems commerce is having the upper hand.






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