Recent Projects

As the year is no longer new, I thought it about time to get back on here for an update.

First and foremost, I’m in my last quarter as a MA student at UCSD’s Computer Music department, and as such, knee deep in my thesis project. The first part of this project is the completion of some writing, in which I’m continuing my research with parameter mapping using dynamical systems models. However, I’ve revised my previous approach; whereas before, I stumbled on a number of interesting and useful models and equations from bifurcation and catastrophe theory, this time I am deriving those models directly from acoustical systems.

Where I have see qualitative and simple evidence of the presence of bifurcations, like that found in the cusp catastrophe, in musical instruments, I have been using physical models from Stefania Serafin  and my advisor, Tamara Smyth. I am basically feeding these physical models parameters, and monitoring their output in such a way that any bifurcating behavior will make itself evident, and the axes of control along which this bifurcation occurs should also be immediately obvious. Once the bifurcations are observed, I will attempt to model them using similar techniques as before, and apply their characteristic interactions between parameters and outputs to simpler sound synthesis models. My hope is that this work will add to the available possibilities for digital musical instrument designers attempting to map some control surface to their new synthesis algorithm.

The other half of this project is the construction of a novel control interface. Using motorized faders, wood and plastic, I’m building a new mechanical xy-controller. The idea is, if I use the mechanical faders as x and y axes, I can use it in three different ways: as an input device, as an interactive device (with haptic feedback provided by pulsing the motors of the faders) and as a output device capable of playing back movements in a plotter like, two dimensional way. Below is the ring I made out of brass. The idea is, the ring travels smoothly on each axis, so inserting a finger and moving it in any direction serves to move the faders, and in turn, transmit XY control data to the computer.

Ring for XY Controller


Apart from this project, I’ve been busy showing my work and performing. I performed in the Computer Music Concert two weeks ago at UCSD, with a new piece (comically) called “HYPERDRIVE betamax.” It was a reworking of my previous performance “OMGDAWG” using the Macintosh SE and an early IRCAM release of MaxMax, software by Miller Puckette that would become Max/MSP and Pure Data in the future. It was a total blast, as it always is.

I also was contacted to show my instruments and work at the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center, in San Diego. I brought all the fun toys, and I, along with a handful of eager/excitable kids, spent the day making noise. I have a photo I can post below, and I’ll have a video to post in not too long on Vimeo that was taken during the day.

Reuben Fleet Science Center Exhibit


I was also interviewed by Ben Daviss, of the Trends Journal, to give an insight into how a place like Fab Lab San Diego works, and why people are flocking to the maker movement and what role it may play in the future. It’s fun to be a point of contact in what could be a nascent “big deal” in fabrication and community work.

And for now, that is all. Many other smaller projects and work to report on, but I’m leaving it here until those projects are a bit further along.