sonic panoramas

Tara Rodgers (2007-09)

Digital images, custom software, stereo audio, variable durations
Recommended for headphones or speakers that reproduce a wide range of frequencies.

A series of panoramic portraits of cities, with red, green, and blue color data converted to sound. The Sonic Panoramas explore ways of representing place and landscape using digital information rather than more conventionally representational location recordings. Color information captures the light, weather, architecture, and vibrancy of a location at particular moments in time. Data in digital images become source material for music. Sites were selected for their reputation as characteristic vistas of these cities, like postcard images. Sound palettes and data mapping decisions were inspired by the atmosphere in the photographs. In most cases, the spatial location of a sound in the stereo field is related to the location of the associated pixel in the panorama. The Vancouver series was originally composed and presented in 4-channel surround sound. The New York City series utilizes 1-minute field recordings from the time and place of the panoramic photos, which are time-stretched and processed by a resonant filter whose properties are shaped by the color information in the photos.

These Sonic Panoramas and others were created for the Damn Your Eyes: the infinite dimension of sound exhibition at the Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art, Toronto (2008), and with support of residencies at the Western Front, Vancouver (2007) and Diapason Gallery, Brooklyn (2009). The project began in a residency at the Western Front, where I was given an assignment to make a piece of music using a mobile phone – not nearly as obvious a tool for creative music and soundmaking in 2007 as it is now. The phone used for gathering images in all of these pieces was the Nokia 6103, pictured below. I used Graphic Converter and SuperCollider for image conversion and sound generation, respectively. Audio and selected images from the Sonic Panoramas follow.

Sonic Panoramas: Vancouver, BC (2007)




Image #2 from Queen Elizabeth Park:


Sonic Panorama: Montreal, QC (2008)



Sonic Panoramas: New York City (2009)


Sonic Panoramas installed at Stamp Gallery, University of Maryland, August 2012

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The Nokia 6103: