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Hazel Smith and Roger Dean

Mid-Air Conversations

Complete Reading (5:58): QuickTime (this link will launch QuickTime Player on your computer for the best listening experience)

A motile and spatial algorithmic speech piece, performed by Greg White and Roger Dean.

The text by Hazel Smith which forms the basis of Mid-Air Conversations consists of seventeen short fragments. All the fragments are stylistically and thematically different from each of the others, and explore a variety of locations or historical situations, but there are some overlapping concerns. The piece points to a range of political conflicts but also to another space, one without a specific geographical or historical identity, where such problems might be overcome. To this end the piece includes its own language, constructed out of the words that compose the piece, raising the question: is this the language of that other space and if so how can we begin to adopt and understand it?

For a real time performance of the piece (which is different each time) Roger Dean has constructed MAX/MSP patches which move between the different fragments, usually without completing them. Dean and Greg White each have a set of texts, with three in common, and project varying fragments of them around the four corners of the acoustic space. The piece offers the challenge of construction: the listener can choose to try to piece together the phrases into complete utterances, or may listen to them as separate entities. In the well known 'cocktail party effect', a listener can focus on the stream of words from an individual even in the face of multiple competing strands from different directions in the space. In this piece, in contrast, it would be necessary to listen to all the strands (from all the directions in the space) in order to piece together almost any of the single statements they derive from.

This is a quadraphonic Quicktime sound-only movie, lasting 5' 58", but will also play automatically in stereo. It requires Quicktime 7.1 or later, and according to the audio playback hardware you have attached to your computer and identified to it, Quicktime either sends four channels of audio, or mixes down to two. The four channels are sent to Quicktime pre-programmed speaker paths 'Discrete 0'.... 'Discrete 3'. This means that you can map the speaker positions within your audio set up (for example the Audio Midi Setup panel of a Macintosh in OSX). These four channels will send to speakers 1-4, and will also send to 4 of the speakers of a 5.1 playback set up. The file is not Dolby 5.1 encoded. The file streams, both in Quicktime, and other contemporary players such as VLC. The audio is AAC compressed and the file size is c. 18Mb.

If this piece is viewed in Quicktime Player (as opposed to the Quicktime Plugin), all the information about the nature and motivations for the piece is visible in the Quicktime annotations, saved with the file. These can be inspected using 'Show Movie Inspector' with Quicktime Player 7.2, or on some earlier Quicktime Player versions, the 'Show Movie Info' command; in each case these are accessible through the Window menu of the Quicktime Player application.

The Space of History (with Greg White and and austraLYSIS), 2006

Complete recording (9:19): MP3

Hazel Smith on PennSound Daily

These sound recordings are being made available for noncommercial and educational use only. All rights to this recorded material belong to Hazel Smith and Roger Dean. © 2007 by Hazel Smith and Roger Dean. Used with permission of the featured readers. Distributed by PennSound.