Anthropology, Art, Biological Computation, Biology, Biometrics, Brain, Deep Learning, Music, Neural Networks, Psychology, Science, Social intelligence, Society, Sound

The Neuroscience of Improvisation

Charles Limb has been investigating rap. “It’s what kids are doing spontaneously when growing up… and improvisation is a strong theme. It incorporates language and rhythmic music very equally.” Limb has been scanning the brains of rappers the same way he looked at jazz musicians: comparing fMRIs when they recited memorized passages to when they “freestyled,” or improvised in rhyme. Although the study is still in progress, preliminary data suggest “major changes in brain activity when you go from memorized rap to freestyle.” Can studies of improvisation unlock more general secrets of creativity? Limb hopes to do similar investigations of artists as they draw or paint. The moderator ended with an inevitable question about art and science: “It is worth the effort to measure and quantify something abstract and artistic… to demystify what we enjoy the mystery of?” Limb saw nothing “threatening or reductionist” in the work of neuroscientists. “Humans are hardwired to seek art, and there are very few things that engage the brain on the level that music does. To understand the neural basis of creativity teaches us something fundamental about who we are, why we’re here.” Improvisation “shows us what the mind can do,” Marcus added. “The ability of human beings to improvise tells us a lot about the ultimate scope of our capabilities.”


Education, History, Logic, Music, PDF, Radio, Sound

La telegrafía rápida: el triteclado y la música eléctrica (Castillejo 1944)

“In this curious book, a Spanish priest proposes to combine the developments in telegraphy, teleprinter keyboards, typewriters and “electric music”. He describes how in the 1930s he built and perfected an ”electro-composition device”, equipped with lamps, transformers, capacitors, resistors, dozens of speakers and several engines. He intended to cause the perforations in the telegraphic tape to be automatically selected by different engines that would trigger the various sound tracks recorded, and thus cause each of the “books on the perforated tape” to become an “audio book”. The purpose behind this idea was to enable the future creation of “spoken libraries” and “speech archives” in which the item being searched for could be instantly found. He performed practical experiments by means of a radio station where he managed to make the radio transmitter “speak automatically”, repeatedly broadcasting random announcements without anyone being present. He also intended this “talking device” to become an electric orchestra that composed “a music of chance configurations that was subjected to a number of panels governing its harmonic possibilities”, as well as bearing in mind the multiple possibilities that it offered in the field of improvisation.”


Bacteria, Bio hacking, Biological Computation, Biology, Biometrics, Code, DNA, Medicine, Music, Nature, Neural Networks, PDF, Radio, Science, Sound

Bacterial Radio

“There has been considerable interest in bacterial communities wherein a bacterium is connected to neighbor- ing bacteria by means of narrow nanowires. It is believed that the purpose of the nanowires is to allow for intercellular electronic communications. More advanced on the evolutionary scale are the more modern bacterial communities which are wireless. The electromagnetic signals sent from a bacterium to neighboring bacteria can be due to relatively low frequency electron level transitions within DNA.”


Algorithm, Art, Brain, Man/Machine, Music, phenomenology, Sound

Andrew Lucia : Rhythm to Pitch

“To the human, the transformation of rhythm to pitch occurs at a particular perceptual threshold of roughly 16 to 20 Hz. For example, a sonic rhythm sped up above roughly 20 pulses per second will blur perceptually from a rhythm to a pitch. For our studies, we specifically examine these gaps between each new bit of information received by an observer. These gaps can exist spatially as the interval between each bit, or temporally as the duration between each bit. Our investigations presented here visually demonstrate formal aspects of underlying frequency space and structure inspired by the examination of two particular works of the composer Karlheinz Stockhausen; Kontakte and Elektronische Musik Studie II.”


Architecture, Art, Automata, Chaos, Drawing machine, Kinetic, Maker, Man/Machine, Sound

Jean Tinguely Art Machines, 1959.

“His best-known work, a self-destroying sculpture titled Homage to New York (1960), only partially self-destructed at the Museum of Modern Art, New York City, although his later work, Study for an End of the World No. 2 (1962), detonated successfully in front of an audience gathered in the desert outside Las Vegas.”


Algorithm, Architecture, Automata, Bio hacking, Brain, Cybernetics, DIY, Interface, Light, Maker, Man/Machine, Mathematics, Music, Neural Networks, Robots, Science, Society, Sound, Tactical Media

History of Computer Art : Cybernetic Sculptures

“In 1968 artists and musicians like Stephen Antonakos, Terry Riley, Charles Ross and Robert Whitman realised installations producing light and sound events for the exhibition “The Magic Theatre”. James Seawright constructed “Electronic Peristyle” 37: an uncommon work for an uncommon exhibition. He installed “power supplies” in a base under a sphere. The sphere was made of transparent plastic and contained 12 photocells. A “cylindrical metal box” with 12 “light beam projectors” was mounted underneath the “plastic sphere”. The electronics in this vertical structure with round segments “was either digital (the earliest family of Motorola RTL logic chips)” or it contained “conventional analog transistor circuits.” These electronics controlled the generation of sounds by “electronic synthesizer modules”. These modules were developed by Robert Moog. He integrated his analog equipment in Seawright´s installation.”


Architecture, Art, Astrology, Automata, Economy, Light, Society, Sound

Nicolas Schöffer and Luminodynamism

“Echoing El Lissistsky’s ‘prouns’ defined as the midway point between architecture and painting, Schöffer would extend the scale of his sculptures to monumental proportions. His 52m high Cybernetic Tower in Liège, created in 1961, senses its immediate environment using microphones, hygrometers and anemometers (wind measurement). The information collected from these sensors is used orchestrate the movement of mirrors and lights on the towers, and also to generate environmental sounds to be played back to the city. Viewed at night time the mirrors act more as colour switches giving an overall impression of network interactions and connections inferred via pulsing colours. With nodes of interconnected light existing in a lattice perhaps Schöffer was attempting to mimic the invisible communication infrastructures that were developed during the 50′s and 60′s and who’s influence had grown to create the science of Cybernetics.”