PAMELA L. JENNINGS, PHD (WORK)
MAX/MSP Real-time Audio Processing (2007 & current)
Speaks Volumes is a memorial of sound, repetition, spoken names and silent consonants. Inspiration for this work was borne from our societal haze of sorrow and senseless loss of life in the 21st century. This should be a time of collectively celebrating and living authentic lives. A time when an unbridled abundance of technology and tools that connect, broaden, and explore ushers a movement of tolerance, peace, and enlightenment. However, this burgeoning plethora of connectability has brought a continuous barrage of struggle, strife, borders, walls, intolerance, and death. Speaks Volumes is a moment of reflection and meditation.
Speaks Volumes is an audio memorial dedicated to those who have senselessly lost their lives in battles, at borders, in city streets simply because they desire to live freely and to live authentically regardless of nationality, beliefs, or origin. For reasons of being thought as other or put in harm’s way for battles that might or might not have been their own they have become the collateral damage of civic strife. As a work in perpetual progress, the database of names continues to grow. As an audio, visual metaphor and cultural idiom, Speaks Volumes encourages deep reflection in the sound tracings of the spoken names. This is a work of meditation and patience. The repetitious and recombinant ocean waves are juxtaposed against the spoken names as they fade in and out of sonic interpretation. The sense of tension and anticipation whelms and crests at the seam of the video loop.
The Names have been culled from databases, online lists, and news resources. They are read out loud by a variety of voices, each with unique tonalities, timbres, inflections, and culturally learned intonations. Randomly, some names are plainly spoken; some names are accompanied by synthesized instruments that mimic the primary components of the sound; some names are only sound; and others become the raw sinusoidal qualities of the spoken words. Each name, regardless of its form is separated by a solemn gong.
Speaks Volumes is a MAX/MSP application that analyzes the spoken names for their primary components of pitch, amplitude, and duration. The program uses a fast Fourier transformation analysis process based on work from Miller Puckett and Tristan Jehan. The MIDI sound components are generated using a softsynth that is installed on the presenting computer for ease of installation and portability.
The ideal presentation format for Speaks Volumes is an isolated space that envelops the experiencer with spatial sound and multi-walled video projection of the ebb and flow of ocean waves - the water that nourishes, supports, challenges, and consumes.
This project was realized as a “call to arms” for those who have perished during the 21st century global unrest. First initiated in response to casualties of the Iraq War, the project continues to reflect, dissect, and intersect the end-game of all humanity. I want to thank friends and colleagues for inspiring me to create this machine and instrument of reflection.