Systems Aesthetics: A Later System Degrading Sound




For the System 3 assignment I attempted to make a system using Processing’s minim library. Getting up to speed with minim’s language was quite a task to begin with. In particular, I struggled with the complex manner in which classes are utilized by minim. Once I got a very simple tone instrument set up, I felt quite accomplished.

My next idea was to map a quality of the instrument to a quality of a shape. I ended up mapping amplitude to the diameter of a circle, creating a very simple positive relationship—as the diameter grew, the amplitude increased. I then decided to incorporate more shapes and to try having the shapes trigger a new instrument. Again very simply, I had to squares appear at the chosen maximum diameter/amplitude of the circle/instrument, both of which triggered an instrument on appearance.

Now, as described, this is not really a system. It’s just a set of commands. However something surprising happened when I ran my code. The computer somehow couldn’t run the sound effectively, or there was something I had not taken into account within the relationship of increasing diameter to amplitude. What ended up happening was that each tone overloaded the previous (or something like that…) and the sound gradually degraded, producing a sort of weird phasing effect alongside the rhythmic pulsing of the circle. This degrading effect seemed quite random as well. Each time I ran the program, it sounded a bit different, dependent on whatever goings on were in happening in the back of my hard drive (or something, I don’t really know why it did what it did).