Trevor Batten:
     Some Notes on the Works in the SOUND ECOLOGIES Series:
 
 

  O.  INTRODUCTION

        After several years of working with silent image systems, a decision
        was made to integrate sound based on data generated by the image.

        These early experiments lead to the development of the following
        three series:

                                -A NICE TRILOGY

                                -FORMS OF FREEDOM AND INVOLVEMENT

                                -THREE REACTIONARY PIECES
 
 

  I.  A NICE TRILOGY         -1993/94

            -UNTITLED COMPOSITION FOR OFFICE, HOUSE   AND TUNNEL VISION
            -UNTITLED COMPOSITION FOR NOMADS, FARMERS AND ARTIFICIAL NATURE
            -UNTITLED COMPOSITION FOR OFFICE, HOUSE   AND ARTIFICIAL NATURE
 

     The Theme:

        Although generally concerned with the evolution of images initially
        derived from the processing of empty space, a commercial commission
        lead to the introduction of images symbolizing "Offices" and a
        "House" as basis for the image processing. Although these semantic
        elements are contrary to the original concept they do undeniably
        add a visual (and semantic) focal point which perhaps should not be
        rejected purely on ideological grounds.

        If the basic image processing systems can be seen as symbolic of
        natural organic systems then Houses and Offices can also be considered
        as being symbolic for basic cultural needs as shelter and work.
        Although derived within their own systems of logic the complexities
        of modern life often cause the appearance of these cultural
        artifacts to be experienced locally as a shock to the system which
        must then try and integrate them into the local ecology.

        I am tempted to describe the ecology of procedures which form
        the works portraits of the artist but this is only partly true
        because the work forms the artist just as surely as the artist
        forms the work. Both are locked together in a feed-back loop
        between image and process creating an evolutionary universe of
        images defining and refining the artistic process. So is the work
        a reconstruction of the internal world or a deconstruction of the
        external world?

        The three works are basically conceptual games around this theme:
 

     The Work:
          UNTITLED COMPOSITION FOR OFFICE, HOUSE AND TUNNEL VISION
              Motto: The Ways of Life are Blind.
          In a test phase for the third work images were generated which
          suggested a romantic picture postcard of a city wreathed in a
          tunnel of flowers.
          This was rather static and so it was decided to increase image
          complexity not by adding another processing principle but by
          shifting the visual space that was being processed.
          The rather simple and mechanical sound/image process suggests
          "The Blind Watchmaker" and the fragmented images the visual
          problems of someone with tunnel vision.
 
          UNTITLED COMPOSITION FOR NOMADS, FARMERS AND ARTIFICIAL NATURE
              Motto: The Ways of Life are Manifold.
          This is a pure "organic" system in its original form, a complex
          ecology of processes. Some processes (the Nomads) are less
          structured than others (the Farmers). The balance between
          freedom and organization is of course a basic theme in all
          the works. The freedom from outside interference in this work
          is both the charm and the limitation of the system.
 
          UNTITLED COMPOSITION FOR OFFICE, HOUSE AND ARTIFICIAL NATURE
              Motto: The Ways of Life are Simple.
          An Audio-Visual ecology of automata which integrates suddenly
          appearing offices and houses into it's own artificial nature.
 
 
 
 
  II.  FORMS OF FREEDOM AND INVOLVEMENT         -1994/95
 
            -WANDERING NOMADS
            -TOILING FARMERS
            -INTERACTIVELY CREATING
            -CAUSING COSMIC EVOLUTION?
            -MULTIPLYING AND DIVIDING
            -INTO CONFLICT OR COOPERATION
 
     The Theme:
        This composite work was originally conceived as a computer
        installation consisting of six computers each continually running
        a different program. The programs are completely deterministic
        although they are randomly configurated when initialized.
        In the version with sound, sub-titles have been added and the
        programs have been chained together so that the complete work can
        easily be presented as a video recording. If presented as a live
        work the viewer can determine how long each section must last by
        pressing a key to move on to the next section. If preferred, the
        pieces can be split off again and presented as an installation
        on separate computers.
 
 
     The Work:
        The complete work contains the following pieces:
 
           Wandering NOMADS
              motto: The Romantic Individual Search
          Are a family of Movable Finite Automata which move around
          processing the image according to the (colour) values of
          the points within the space through which they move.
          Because the actions of the automata are not only controlled
          by their environment but they are also processing the
          environment in their immediate vicinity the machines are rather
          like organic systems interacting with(in) an environment.
 
 
           Toiling FARMERS
              motto: Organizing the Production
          Are a family of Movable Cell Automata similar to the "Nomads"
          but instead of freely processing individual points of space
          they scan through blocks of space before moving on.
 
 
           Interactively CREATING
              motto: When Animal Farm meets the Free Market
          Combines the first two works.
 
 
           Causing Cosmic EVOLUTION?
              motto: So Will You, Won't You, Join the Dance?
          Is a family of Movable Cell Automata based on a radial scan.
 
 
           Multiplying and DIVIDING
              motto: Diversity being our only hope for Survival)
          Alternates the three previously established procedures.
 
 
           Into Conflict or COOPERATION
              motto: Oh Mirror, Mirror on the Wall!
          Also integrates the three previously established procedures
          but with a modified time-sharing system to generate a cacophony
          of procedures fighting to perform.
 
 
 
 
  III. THREE REACTIONARY PIECES         -1995
                  -ONE
                  -TWO
                  -THREE
 
     The Theme:
          The computer is a mechanical processor of cliches. Languages
          are also based on the manipulation of cliches because if the
          words were not cliches they would be meaningless, and yet somehow
          they are able to transcend the cliche and apparently generate an
          infinite range of subtlety of meaning. The problem is how can the
          mechanical cliche of the computer be transcended so that its
          potential as a language based machine can be fully realized?
          Traditional image making elements (such as point, line, curve, etc.)
          which roughly coincide with the graphic primitives of the AmigaBasic
          programming language allow expression of a simple fascination for
          games of organization and variation, of pattern making and breaking,
          and of symmetry and asymmetry.
 
     The Work:
          Consists of a group of audio-visual automata which form a set
          of different dialogues between two deterministic systems (with a
          random start configuration) which are connected to each other by
          the processing of each others output to form a single closed
          deterministic system, in which the ghost of entropy is at least
          held at bay if not completely banished.
          The automata are not particularly intelligent but interact more
          as natural systems such as the wind and the rain or simple single
          celled organisms.
          Because they are reactionary they remind us of human
          characteristics that were once considered to be virtues in the
          days before the ultimate in global electronic communication,
          video pornography on demand, became the opium of the people.
 
 ONE:
-In Memory of Patience
               Groups of connected automata swim around in their environment
               (common to all three works) which makes a pattern from the
               result of scanning small areas of the screen.
             TWO:
                  -In Memory of Order
 The automata are similar to their environment, but are more
  restricted in their symmetry rules.
 THREE:
-In Memory of Memory
   The automata are in the form of blocks which move around
   capturing sections of the environment pattern and moving
  them (slightly) to a new location.
 
 
    Trevor Batten
    Amsterdam, March 1998