Proposal: Growing Sound
I will begin with the questions I am interested in exploring: What is a generative work of art? How does it work? How does a generative process effect or change our current processes? Does a generative work of art display cognitive abilities from the machine’s side? Is the cognitive agency only present in human perception? The questions of a generative work of art are paramount to the very notion of interaction and digital aesthetics, for at present, most examples of a generative work of art are limited by the presets of a digital process that paradoxically are needed to give form to these objects. Thus, I am interested in exploring an autopoietic system that marries the analogue with the digital.
My strategy for speculation involves two experiments that utilize an organic generative process as a mechanism for modulating sound and light. Growing bacteria in Petri cultures, I will conduct light through the dishes and process the data using Arduino, Perl and open-source sound synthesis software like Pure Data to create sound outputs. The first experiment will measure the data based on the long-term growth of the bacteria cultures, where as the second experiment will utilize a modified light modulation device to rapidly induce movement in the experiment. The experiments I want to conduct, therefore, explore movement. Since the very basis of sound relies on the action of movement, utilizing sound as the output will attempt to provide continuity with the movement of the bacteria.
Why is the sound of bacteria growing so interesting? When Brian Massumi defines the virtual, movement is the agent of co-existent paradoxes that provides for the affect to occur. I would like my project to explore the moment where the affect occurs in the human unconscious. This process, of course, operates on a subliminal, even invisible level. Bacteria exemplify an often invisible–yet present—organism, which its growth (generative process) is the very means of its existence. Foregrounding bacteria’s agency is an attempt at externalizing these invisible processes of movement. Moreover, I view sound as an inescapable sense that often requires little cognitive acquiesce for the body to respond; therefore, its very process is in keeping with operation of the affect. Grant it, sound does offer a great deal of ambiguity in the interface, but here, it will operate as a metaphor for the movement of the bacteria.
 Brian Massumi, Parables for the Virtual: Movement, Affect, Sensation, (North Carolina: Duke University Press, 2002), 31.
Feedback and Reflection:
I’ve received feedback on my project. Essentially, I thought I would use arduino to perl interface through light input on the bacteria. However, I think this might be a more complicated project. I need to focus on simplifying. Not sure how that’s going to occur. I wish I didn’t feel so confused everytime and that every decision was like the biggest undertaking.