No. 66

From Form (2019)

By : Luke Dobbin

Entrant’s location : United Kingdom



FromForm is a collaboration project between Portuguese architect Liliana Carvalho and Irish sound artist Luke Dobbin. It is an interdisciplinary study project that explores how structural form correlates to the medium of sound.

What did you create?

From Form is an interdisciplinary exploration in the common language shared in both Sound and Architecture. This study’s main focus is to examine the form of a selected structure/building and translate this same form to Sound through digital processes. As an extension of this, we wanted to highlight how perceptions of structures in physical reality can be warped by the Duchampian method of removal of context, placing the structure within a new set of boundaries and planes that relate to sound as opposed to physical material. The core project is a digital process that can be applied to multiple sonic methods, the main focus was on resynthesising the form through additive synthesis, but can also be used to manipulate recorded sound, modular synthesis and even visuals. For further development, we also plan to use this control laser projection alongside a physical representation of a selected structure and further explore how the relationship between form and sound can be represented.

Why did you make it?

By connecting existing physical structures to the spectral domain, we thought about the experience of synthesia, and how different perceptions of sense are blurred together, which posed the question of how architectural experience could be included within a similar context. While the approaches of each practice diverge and evolve over time, modern digital tools grant greater connectivity between different fields than ever before, allowing us to directly branch between the worlds of architecture, sound and visuals for a possible discourse and awareness of their systems. Through this, we are able to examine pre-existing past forms, and think about how they can be adapted to new perceptions and expressions. Following Jack Burnhams work on ‘Systems Aesthetics’ [1968] where he describes a ‘transition from object-oriented to a system-oriented culture’ by acknowledging that a ‘change emanates not from things, but from the way things are done’. It could be said that the form of these structures lies not in its physical materials, but through the method they are structured. Through the process of separating the form of the structure from its physical materials and examining it, by extension it could be argued that it represents a distillation of the creators original language.

How did you make it?

Our example explores the iconic Munich Olympic Stadium [1972] designed by Frei Otto as a case study, chosen for its unique tensile form. We were inspired by previous explorations of the commonalities shared by architecture and sound as a touchstone, such as the work of Iannis Xenakis, but we sought to expand on the application of this methodology by retaining digital faithfulness to the original structure, keeping translation as exact as possible. This was accomplished by communicating data directly via OSC between architecture-focused software (Grasshopper) and sound focused software (Max 8). Our starting point was the idea of examining the form of a structure at a given point in space. Architecture practice makes use of cutting plans for this analysis and understanding of buildings/structures shape and form - through plans and section drawings. Similarly to this procedure we can create with software a boundary representation [BREP]. The resulting curve is the seperated into co-ordinate lists, which are communicated to Max through OSC. In Max, these co-ordinate lists are converted to sonic material through resynthesis/additive synthesis, where they are mapped to frequency across the X-Axis, and amplitude across the Z-Axis.

Your entry’s specification

Software: Max MSP Rhino/Grasshopper Equipment: 2x Computers Modular Synthesizer