1,536 small speakers blanket a wall (8 ft. by 12 ft), each emitting tones tuned microtonally to span eight octaves (dividing each half-step into 16 pitches). This dense cluster of sound sources is the subject of a series of musical compositions, continuing Perich's investigations into the foundations of electronic sound. Each speaker, emitting a single, primitive 1-bit tone, becomes a microscopic voice in the total composition, substituting individual pitch for larger sonic masses.
1-bit waveforms are the simplest possible digital manifestation of sound. On and off pulses of electricity, produced by hand-programmed microchips and routed directly to audio speakers, cause the speaker membrane to vibrate and produce extremely raw tones. Data creates sound without intervening components such as digital-analogue converters, creating a direct link between the abstract and the physical.
Interested in the aural aesthetic and the concepts behind 1-bit audio, Perich first explored the medium in 1-Bit Music, a 40-minute "album" of electronic music programmed onto a microchip and packaged inside a standard CD jewel case with a headphone jack mounted through the side. These stereophonic compositions treated each headphone speaker as a discrete audio source. Working with microchip/speaker pairs as individual instruments, Perich began composing for ensembles of traditional classical instruments accompanied by 1-bit speakers on stage, such as "Active Field," for ten violins and ten-channel 1-bit music. He is currently working on a new composition for 50 violins and 50 speakers, probing sound through density.
"Microtonal Wall" is full-on assault on this idea, implementing a wall of thousands of small speakers. By tuning them precisely, Perich aims to work with electronic sound on the microscopic level. The series of compositions for the instrument will be scored geometrically and algorithmically to create 1,500-part pieces of music. The resulting modular art work can be comfortably installed on a gallery wall. His recent work, "Impulse Manifold," has been realized as a self-contained 15-channel audio panel, whose design could be multiplied to create the speaker wall: each 12" square circuit board is synchronized by a master chip. Most technical details have been satisfied by that project, and the construction of the wall is mostly reduced to the iterative task of soldering together many, many speakers onto molded boards. Perich is no stranger to working at scale, from daisy-chaning video generators to create an 18 television installation, to installing 1,300 fiber optic wires (approx. 2 miles) to create a low-resolution 3-D display.
A Rhizome commission is not expected to cover all the expenses. Other funding sources can be sought, or the project can be completed at a smaller scale.
|2.5" Speakers||1,550 x $2.05||$3,177.50|
|Microchips (ATMEGA168)||100 x $2.39||$239|
|Modular circuitboard||100 x $17.60||$1,760|
|8-channel transistor array||200 x $0.70||$140|
|Other parts (power, wire, screws, sockets)||~ $250|
|Research and small-scale testing||2 months|
|Part accrual, construction, mounting and testing||3 months|
|Music composition and programming||4 months|
|TOTAL||~ 9 months|
In all his creative activities, Tristan Perich is inspired by the aesthetics of math and physics, and works with simple forms and complex systems. The challenge of elegance provokes his work in acoustic and electronic music, and physical and digital art.
The WIRE Magazine describes his compositions as âan austere meeting of electronic and organic.â His works for soloist, ensemble and orchestra have been performed by ensembles including Bang on a Can (2008 Peopleâs Commissioning Fund), counter)induction, Calder Quartet, New York Miniaturist Ensemble, Due East, Y Trio, Hunter-Gatherer and Ensemble Pamplemousse at venues from the Whitney Museum, P.S.1, Chelsea Art Museum, Mass MoCA, Merkin Hall, the Stone and Issue Project Room to Los Angelesâ Zipper Hall.
In 2004 he began work on 1-Bit Music to experiment with the foundations of electronic sound, culminating in a physical âalbum,â a music-generating circuit packaged inside a standard CD jewel case, which has been released by Cantaloupe Music. The Village Voice calls the device âtechnology and aesthetic rolled into oneâ and Surface Magazine calls the 1-Bit Music sound boxes âprofound throwbacks to the traditional album, a response to the intangibility of iTunes and mp3s in the form of hand-held artwork.â Working with 1-bit music profoundly influenced his music for acoustic ensembles, resulting in dual works for musicians with 1-bit music accompaniment, pairing the performers with on-stage speakers, each physically capturing a single voice from the electronic side of the composition.
Perich attended the first Bang on a Can Summer Institute in 2002, where his music was performed in the galleries at Mass MoCA. He was artist in residence at Issue Project Room during Fall, 2008. He also works as a visual artist, creating pen-on-paper drawings made by machine. Like 1-Bit Music, these drawings unite the electronic with the physical, expressing digital process in traditional media.
Perich studied math, music and computer science at Columbia University after attending Philips Academy, Andover. More recently, he received a masterâs in art, music and electronics at Interactive Telecommunications Program at Tisch School of the Arts, NYU.
(2004-05) Self-contained music generating circuit, packaged in a standard CD jewel case. Programmed to play back 40 minutes of precomposed music. Released 2005 by Cantaloupe Music.
(2008) Eighteen-channel video installation. Each cathode-ray television receives a 1-bit video signal from daisy-chained hand-programmed video synthesizers.
(2008) Self-contained 15-channel composition and sound player. One custom-programmed microchip generates the entire 15-channel signal. Arrays of these will be combined to create the microtonal wall.
(2007) Composition for ten violinists and ten-channel 1-bit music. Exploring the interaction between acoustic and electronic sound, this twenty-part composition considers the foundations of computation and its relation to audio.
(2003) 1,331 strands of fiber optic cable splay out into a boxed grid (with 11x11x11 pixels) to form a low-resolution three-dimensional screen. Routing individual patches of color from a digital projector, the specially rendered image gets reproduced in three dimensions.