“People doing strange things with electricity” – describes both the activities of global tech mischiefmakers Dorkbot, and how people are using the net increasingly as a means to organising meet-ups for like-minded enthusiasts. Latest group in the Dorkbot franchise? Dorkbot Melbourne, who meet last sunday of every month at Level 1, 124a Johnston St Fitzroy. As they did on May 27:
RocketCam + Inflight Wireless Video transmission (Michael Borthwick)
Number two search result for “rocket cam”, Michael uses off-the-shelf 2.4GHz wireless AV senders to transmit video footage from rockets as they travel up to 1500ft into the air, reach their peak then parachute back to earth. Every bit the obsessive hobbyist you’d hope to find at a Dorkbot meeting, the powerpoint display and talk zoomed in on the micro-details of fine tuning and customising the rocketcam to optimise the quality of video transmitted. The money shot is when the rocket turns over at its peak and the cam captures the curved horizon line of the planet – but this is also the rocket’s furthest point from the receiver and a range of workaround solutions are needed to really guarantee a good image and signal. Being a long standing member of the Melbourne Wireless community wifi networking group probably helps too. Michael’s personal website& rocketcam site (watch the vidi-yo’s! ) .
The Suspect Backpack ( Somaya Langley )
Visiting from Canberra, on her way to Montreal, NY, London & a residency at the Steim Institute in the Netherlands, Somaya demo-ed her “wearable mobile sonic media art experience”. A response to the climate of fear and paranoia around the war on terror, what we’re looking at is basically a backpack that produces sounds in relation to the distance of other people to the backpack wearer. A different soundtrack is also given to the backpack wearer via headphones, one which aims to induce a sense of alienation and tension in the wearer. The backpack is a heavy beast, filled then with a laptop running patch based software and a range of sensors detecting the closeness of others. Like a lot of ‘new media’ projects, it remains to be seen whether the results match the sentiment behind it, but in the end there’s no harm in a little more provocation on the streets. See http://suspectbackpack.blogspot.com & http://www.criticalsenses.com
Synthesising a Japanese Garden Soundscape ( Scott Brewer )
Never occured to me before, but there’s of course a sonic equivalent to visualists who try to document and replicate a natural environment virtually. Scott is a Master’s candidate at RMIT’s Spatial Information Architecture Laboratory (SIAL) Sound Studios and is researching the use of sound synthesis techniques to generate real world audio. Whereas visual modellers gain a capacity to use fancy camera angles and movements, and gain control over lighting and other elements, aural modellers gain abilities to vary individual components and effectively recreate a huge range of environments based on the one being synthesised. This might mean increasing the density of insects in one area, birds in another, the amount of reverb or space in another, and even the position of a waterfall etc. Original recorded sounds from a Japanese garden were analysed to determine the synthesising techniques, and the garden layers built up. How’d it sound in the end? Probably much more like a glitchy minimal techno party at slow speed than it was meant to, but somehow managed to convey a sense of atmosphere that ‘felt’ like a garden space despite that.