Molecular Machine Music



Molecular Machine Music is a meditation on feedback, generative synthesis, cybernetic systems, and rock and roll. The work is indebted to Lou Reed’s Metal Machine Music and Yasunao Tone’s Molecular Music, and is thus named after both.

Molecular Machine Music adapts several techniques from generative synthesis, which, relative to music and art, is a system that has been designed to operate autonomously during a performance without human input. In this respect, Molecular Machine Music is not entirely generative, as it will not perform to its fullest potential without an audience. Nevertheless, parts of the system operate autonomously.

Like the mythical Ouroboros, this cybernetic audiovisual system is a self-perpetuating feedback loop. A guitar placed in front of an amplifier responds to the sound waves emanating forth, vibrating its strings. Those vibrations are transduced into electrical energy and sent to the amplifier to be output as sound waves, which are picked up again and fed back to the input ad infinitum. A computer analyzes frequency and amplitude shifts in audio and outputs a visual interpretation, and the dynamic shifts in light from the video projection are transduced into voltages that control modular processors in the audio signal. When the computer senses the presence of an observer, it adjusts its output to reflect the change in ambiance. The result is an interactive, generative performance by the fundamental tools of rock and roll that “play the room.”

This installation is dedicated to the memory of Dr. Martin Jack Rosenblum.

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