MICHAEL J. SCHUMACHER
Five Sound Installations
A DVD-ROM (for MAC and PC) that contains 5 sound compositions generated in ³real time² by a computer algorithm. The works are: Room Piece Twenty-four; Noema; Steiner Suite; Unintending; Scene
NOTE: These compositions must be installed on a computer to be heard. Instructions are enclosed. Minimum system requirements: PC: Windows XP, Vista, 1 gig processor speed, 5 gig free disc space. Mac: OS 10.3 or higher, 1 gig processor speed, 5 gig free disc space.
Sound Art, algorithmic composition, chance operations, multi-channel sound systems, immersive installations, computer music; these terms all intersect at a point defined by the new XI release "5SI" by MJS. Schumacher is a composer, curator (he runs Diapason, NY's only "sound art" gallery), and performer, and has been creating computer-generated installations for close to 20 years. His output includes 5 solo CDs, but these were by necessity adaptations of works designed for more or less "permanent" listening situations, in which auditors could explore various modes of listening within sound environments. These works were composed with installation settings in mind, they had no "beginning-middle-end" (even out of order) in the traditional sense. For the CD releases, the pieces needed to be manipulated in various ways to accomodate the medium. A better way needed to be found.
Schumacher has always been interested in creating algorithmic works that extend the boundaries of the genre, investing them with 100s of constituent parts that form sonic mobiles in space and time. Now he presents the ambitious (and technically savvy) listener with a means to experience Schumacher's installations in the home, through up to 8 separate speaker channels and for as long as the computer keeps running. No question, this is not an ipod experience! For some, just understanding the reason for such a project will be difficult. But the composer and XI believe that the time is apt for challenging a complacent public and industry. This release, more than anything else, is a challenge to break boundaries in both content and distribution, a call for a new way of thinking about sound in the home, which is more than ever the predominant place for listening. Think of the iPod shuffle: "Life is random". Cage said it (more or less), 50 years ago. The pieces on 5SI are random as well, but within limits defined by the composer. Each piece has its own character, exploring a group of sounds that interact both temporally and spatially, continuously recontextualizing each other. Each piece is also quite distinct from the others, each an exploration of a particular mood, feeling, or soundscape. Though not "interactive" in the narrow sense of the word, 5SI makes considerable demands on the listener in terms of setting up and refining the sound system. Part of the reason for this release as a DVD, as opposed to a web release, is the size of the files. Each piece contains, in addition to the algorithmic "instructions" that "play" the sounds, up to 1.5 gigabytes of high quality soundfiles. These include recordings of improvising musicians that are manipulated in real time, field recordings, and recordings of analog synthesizers, an obsession of the composer's. MJS was uncompromising about the soundfiles, many are long, so that no "looping" is apparent. They are all 44.1, 16bit, no compression. Even so, given the increasing speeds of the internet, it is presumed that in the future, as operating systems are updated, that new versions of the pieces will need to be made available through download.Already, an itunes movie is often 1+gigabytes. So the key issue of updates is addressable. Each time a piece is played it will be different. Though the mood and sounds will be recognizable, the specifics will change. As the piece plays, more and more combinations of the elements will reveal themselves, more and more interesting and unpredicted simultaneities will occur. Thelistener will also discover new experiences, as different modes of listening become apparent. The pieces are at times ambient or immersive, and much in between. In short, they acknowledge the complexity of the listening experience. Schumacher has created a page on his website devoted to 5SI, where he will post, if necessary, answers to questions about installation and playback, as well as updates to the program as operating systems change. The address for the site is www.michaeljschumacher.com.