Parameter Mapping Madness


Gamer’s actions (jumps, kills, bullets, grenades, etc) are transposed into a graphical score for a percussion ensemble to play back in realtime.

All good art must reveal something
. So what’s the revelation here? That in the digital medium we can easily map anything to anything, and even output real-time scores that real musicians can play.

… but we know that already!

In this particular example, I suspect that the end result would have been more potent if the musicians had just been looking at the action on the screen, and interpreting it that way. “silent-film” style.

What revelation is exposed through this particular choice of parameter mapping? That’s the question I’d throw at these media-ists. But ofcourse, I’d ask knowing full well that it is just a bunch of technology-savy players having fun.

That’s what you do… you ‘hook’ stuff up to other stuff, export some stuff, have a bit of real-time performance and WHAMO! You reveal to your audiences that in the digital medium you really can hook anything up to anything else. These are not artists, they are just people having fun.

It can be a bit fun to watch other people having fun, but ultimately the viewer needs a revelation. To reveal something by mapping one parameter to an other takes very careful and clear consideration of the meanings / orders / contexts of those parameters. I believe few digital artists achieve revelation through parameter mapping … some do, Glow does.

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5 Responses to Parameter Mapping Madness

  1. Mark Havryliv says:

    You’re missing the point of this (I’ve got no idea if these guys get the point, either). But your most recent post on Xenakis answers your questions here. Let’s proceed in steps: 1) I would like to write a piece of music for percussion. 2) I decide to use rhythmic/timbral density as the main compositional device I want to control through time. 3) Button presses in a computer game are a useful source of data in this respect: they are already time-stamped (i.e. they have real temporal significance, unlike some other types of data), they are based on a form of interaction that is very finely-tuned to ebb-and-flow as the game progresses (particularly in this type of FPS), and, addressing your suggestion, they avoid any foolish attempt at interpreting the emotional state of the gamer as though in some silent film: the only material that gives us an insight into the gamer’s state of mind is the rate and type of button pressing. We are interpreting Xenakis’s statistical laws in a brutally simple way.

    It’s odd that you would rather retreat from this black-and-white mapping into the realm of classical percussionists trying to impose their own musical experiences onto what might be going on in the mind of a gamer.

    • Hey Mark,

      Xenakis made the observation that the laws that describe things like the movement of gas molecules also worked at the human experiential level ( like in mass demonstrations ). He worked out how to map that to orchestral intrumentation such that the resultant sounds was totally foreign (in aesthetic) yet somehow capable of resonating with human emotional experience.

      I dont believe that these guys have made any observation about a resonance between the order of the gamer’s movements in the game, and how to sonify them. Its just a dadaist / fluxus generative-sound percussion piece.

      The ultimate judgement is, when you listen to it, are you drawn in? Is there an unknown inner beauty that compels you to listen to it further? (which to me is like saying: is there anything revealed?)


  2. Mark Havryliv says:

    And, as for revelations, I suspect this piece may be more interesting if played without watching the action. It could just be a nice, serialist percussion ensemble piece.

    • I agree, its a nice serialist percussion ensemble piece. … I’d add fluxus. Its a nice fluxus percussion ensemble piece.

      The fact that it is produced with a video highlighting the technical shenanigans, to me, reveals a lot about the nature of their journey.

  3. Pingback: The medium is the message. | Etienne Deleflie

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