Sirens A/V

Conceived and directed by Novi_sad

• Sound analysis on recordings, transformation of the results and application of data from stock market crashes by Novi_sad

• Produced by Novi_sad, November 2007 – February 2012

• Visuals by Ryoichi Kurokawa | Japan [www.ryoichikurokawa.com]

(1 Photo by Daniel Demoustier)

• Original audio and compositions from:

» Richard Chartier | U.S [www.3particles.com]

» CM von Hausswolff | Sweden [www.cmvonhausswolff.net]

» Jacob Kirkegaard | Denmark [www.fonik.dk]

» Helge Sten | Norway [Deathprod, Supersilent]

» Rebecca Foon | Canada [Rebecca Foon, A silver mt Zion, Set fire to flames]

The tracks have been manipulated and produced by using the following info / data:

• Track 1 : Richard Chartier | Analysis on vibration recordings from Manhattan and Brooklyn bridges NY / NIKKEI, October 1987 crash, Black Monday

Listen to a sample from Track 1

• Track 2 : CM von Hausswolff | Analysis on hydrophone recordings from Mamori Lake, Amazon, Brazil / Deadly Friday, September 1869, Fisk-Gould Scandal

Listen to a sample from Track 2

• Track 3 : Jacob Kirkegaard | Analysis on recordings from earthquakes vibrations on earth / Dow Jones crash 1929, Black Tuesday

Listen to a sample from Track 3

• Track 4 : Helge Sten | Analysis on sounds from Titan’s atmosphere using the Huygens microphone / dotcom bubble, March 2000

Listen to a sample from Track 4

• Track 5 : Beckie Foon | Analysis on recordings from electronic stethoscopes / DAX, October 1987 crash, Black Monday

Listen to a sample from Track 5

- Sounds from Titan’s atmosphere using the Huygens microphone are courtesy of The Planetary Society.

- Vibrations on Manhattan and Brooklyn bridges recorded by Scott Konzelmann.

- Tracks 1, 3, 5 produced in Alpha Studio at the Center for Composers, Gotland, Sweden.

- Tracks 2, 4 produced at home studio, Ancient Olympia, Greece.

- CM von Hausswolff’s track produced by manipulating audio material which has been previously used for Hashima film, Japan, 2002 by CM von Hausswolff and Tomas Nordanstad.

- Helge Sten’s original audio track has also been used as a multichannel installation piece in Stavanger, 2009 curated by Anne Hilde Neset.

- Ian Ilavsky recorded Beckie’s cello in Montréal, September 2008.

Sirens | Novi_sad + RYOICHI KUROKAWA

+ Images

» In Greek mythology, the Sirens were three dangerous women with the head of a female and the body of a bird, who lived on an island called Sirenum scopuli. All locations were surrounded by cliffs and rocks. Seamen who sailed near were decoyed by the Sirens enchanting music and voices to shipwreck on the rocky coast. With the irresistible charm of their song they lured mariners, although they were not sea deities. They were mantic creatures knowing both the past and the future. Their song took effect at midday, in a windless calm. The end of that song is death. It has been suggested that, with their feathers stolen, their divine nature kept them alive, but unable to provide for their visitors, who starved to death by refusing to leave.

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Sirens is a project which explores the aesthetics of information on sound. Initially based on multiple ways of analysis in various types of recordings, this project has been developed and produced by applying numerical and quantitative data from periods of economic panic and major stock market crashes in history, on tracks commissioned from other sound artists and musicians.

Through Sirens, the flow of data was made audible by drawing the boundaries and possibilities in working with numerical elements, since the potential is relentless. These sequences of numbers revealed a huge variety of structures, which could be applied on the commissioned tracks. The ultimate goal was to perceive the multi–substance of the data that conquers the world of stock markets by applying it on sound. Data and information provide an indelible element which sits comfortably alongside words and it enables us to apply them on certain types of music, which circulate among texts on-line and off.

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In the beginning, five musicians and sound artists were asked to create an original track for Sirens. After that, the process of sound analysis on extremely rare recorded sounds took place. Convolution, FFT, Spectragram and Sonogram analysis have been utilized on multiple recordings, in order to dig out some results and transmit them to the given tracks. This was an effort to adapt them in a equivalent sonic level with the commissioned tracks, always considering the analysis’ results from the other recordings. This is not associated to Sonification, but it is an effort to work on sound by being guided from elements which pre-exist in these recordings. The whole procedure enforces the idea of an artificial, but yet realistic transformation. The decision of which specific informative elements should be used was really hard, since the combinations and possibilities are infinite. The way of transmitting the analysis’ results which was chosen, was the one that sounded better and fostered the work, the evolution, the development and the re-synthesis of the musical tracks.

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At the second stage of the sound process, the project focuses on the quantitative and numerical data from periods of economic panic and major stock market crashes in history and their application to the commissioned tracks. Below, there are some notes about the stock market crashes, since Sirens are conceived as the soundtrack of these downturns in social, fiscal and financial terms.

Economies are fundamentally unsound. This is a circumstance of first-rate importance. On the contrary, they are exceedingly fragile and it can be said that their operation and functioning establishes a fertile ground, ideal for observing the notion and reliability of changes.

Stock market crashes are social phenomena when external economic events are being combined with crowd behaviour and psychology in a positive feedback loop that drives investors to sell. Generally speaking, crashes usually occur under the following conditions: a prolonged period of rising stock prices and economic optimism, a market where P/E ratios exceed long-term averages; and extensive use of margin debt and leverage by market participants.

Crashes are substantial and lingering. To be considered a crash, the market decline must be evidenced as a 20% drop in an index’s total value. The stock markets have the kind of cybernetic properties of biological systems and other complex phenomena, which can be studied in the same way as biological systems. This tends to give rise to a sense that the market is somehow a natural expression of some fundamental forces.

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There is no numerically specific definition of a crash, but the term commonly applies to steep double-digit percentage losses in a stock market index, over a period of several days. Crashes are often distinguished from bear markets by panic selling and abrupt, dramatic price declines. Bear markets are periods of declining stock market prices that are measured in months or years. While crashes are often associated with bear markets, they do not necessarily go hand in hand.

The crash functions as a constantly evolving archive of the many meanings, thoughts and translations that it gathers along the way. Sometimes there are explosions of money and sometimes there are famines. The movement of the stocks is based on calculated correlations between the histories of each stock and those of its near neighbours.

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Infrequently, the market tends to react irrationally to economic news. Therefore, the stock market can be swayed tremendously in either direction by press releases, rumors and mass panic. Furthermore, the stock market comprises a large amount of speculative analysts, or pencil pushers, who have no substantial money or financial interest in the market. Over the short-term, stocks and other securities can be battered or buoyed by any number of fast market-changing events, making the stock market difficult to predict.

On the whole, the great stock market crash can be much more readily explained than the depression that followed it. And among the problems involved in assessing the causes of depression, none is more intractable than the responsibility to be assigned to the stock market crash.

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The market is a natural expression of the particular artificial world model that it embodies. Feeding the commissioned tracks with massive streams of financial information was a great challenge. Obviously, the amount of numbers was enormous, but the most rapid and long decreases of indexes and percentages were used, as well as the most detailed and prolific statistics and other elements related to time.

There was simulation on the stock market’s operating time with the length of each track. Timewise, the final audio piece demonstrates a equivalent connection with the running time of each economic collapse, whether it took place during a single day or when it lasted longer.

The core idea in Sirens was to produce a reverse movement between the stock market’s melting statistics/indexes/numbers and the development in each audio track. From the beginning, the aim was to make each piece denser and more dynamic as long as the numbers, percentages and values were collapsing. It was a vise versa action between the market’s crash and audio’s processing. Data from various types of indexes and values such as the industrial/utility/composite/transportation averages, the gold market etc. was used, as well as other percentages and quantitative elements.

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At the third stage, some information from the initial analysis on the recordings had been applied again, to check out where in these sounds (earthquake vibrations, sounds from electronic stethoscopes, sounds from Titan’s atmosphere etc.) the most intense action was taking place; and what sort of action that was. For instance, if the Sonogram analysis showed that there is a vigorous action on the left part of the waveform from the earthquake vibration recordings, the commissioned track was manipulated by considering and applying this to the track’s left part of the waveform, working in detail with the precise position of each sound, its dimensional movements, the frequency range etc. There was no use of any external input and there was no additional sounds other than the source audio. All the new born sounds had been generated through this process from the previously existed tracks and the re-synthesis of the tracks is strictly based on each commissioned track.

The final pieces have been manipulated and every sound that occurs pre-existed in the original composition and it has been unfolded in order to be audible by applying the previously described methods. In fact, this was the most interesting part of the project. It was almost magical the way the tracks started revealing new layers of sounds, at times dense and tangible and at times more refined, elegant and precise.

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By producing compositions which are encountering these awesome nuances of Erebus which is constantly evolving and existing in all the financial affairs, Novi_sad aims to represent in acoustic terms this terrific chaos and infiniteness of data and information.

Sirens is the auditory reflection of this Erebus, it is the incarnation of numbers into music and the aural foot print of economic disasters.

Human beings are very much exposed against a huge mass of information and a myriad of data. This is a fact that has already changed the way we are living, perceiving this world and the way people communicating.

Sirens is an effort to poison the ground and this vast pool of information in a world where almost everything equals with a digit. It could be perceived as the juxtaposition between an aural sentimental longing and the dry cosmos of data. The economies’ stumbling across the globe determines a potentially hectic situation which could be accompanied and finetuned by epic and elegiac sounds. We are living in the era of irrational economies of blood or what Alan Greenspan once called ’’irrational exuberance’’.

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Economic downturns might mean progress, indeed, although it is absolutely impossible for the people of the so called first world to estimate and stabilize the human pain in these conditions and awkard circumstances…

Sirens is the soundprint of these downturns.

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As an epilogue, a John Kenneth Galbraith’s statement about the Wall Street Crash, 1929:

“Wall Street, in these matters, is like a lovely and accomplished woman who must wear black cotton stockings, heavy woollen underwear, and parade her knowledge as a cook because, unhappily, her supreme accomplishment is as a harlot.”

[ All images © Ryoichi Kurokawa ]

Posted February 9, 2012 in