Sculptural Sonic Agents

Sculptural Sonic Agents is a collaboration between Andrew Brown and John Ferguson. The goal is to explore the development of sonic sculptural agents, these ‘agents’ are bespoke instruments that comprise artificial listening and sound generating capabilities. They listen to the sonic environment around them (including other machine and human performers) and respond in ways programmed by the composer/designers. This project celebrates the creative possibilities of technological miniaturisation and foregrounds the computational power of single board computers, thus no attempt to conceal the underlying technology is made. 

This interactive installation creates an audio-visual ecology featuring a combination of acoustic and sampled sounds and associated lighting effects generated by especially constructed microcontroller-based devices. The electronic devices are bespoke handmade electronic instruments that comprise artificial listening and sound/light generating capabilities. These would be positioned in the space and project into the room. The devices listen to the sonic environment around them (including people and other machines) and respond in ways programmed by the designers. This installation features an ensemble of these bespoke machines and some acoustic sound tools (clickers and bells) for people to play to activate the machines. All agents in the space, human and machine, have the capability for sonic feedback between one another, thus enabling the interactive exploration of an orchestrated human-machine ensemble.

In 2017 Sculptural Sonic Agents was presented at 1) World Science Festival Brisbane as part of 100 Ways to Listen 2) the national conference of Museums Galleries Australia 3) Sensory Ecology at Gympie Regional Gallery 4) Perspectives on Listening: Biosphere Soundscapes, an International Workshop and Symposium at Queensland Conservatorium. In 2018 100 Ways to Listen won the Queensland State award and was a finalist in the national APRA AMCOS Art Music Awards in the Excellence in Experimental Music category.

Developing the 2017 versions of the Sculptural Sonic Agents

All agents, human and machine, have the capability for sonic feedback between one another, thus enabling the interactive exploration of orchestrated human-machine ensembles. This work extends the boundaries of new musical practices and help us better understand musical agency and interaction in general as we attempt to imbue our devices with these capabilities.

Pure Data patch controlling the agent’s behaviour.