Archives for the month of: September, 2012

TBO is going to be a laboratory, an atelier, a workshop in the sense of werkstatt. The idea is that each of you brings an idea for “instrument” you will build as part of the biotec orchestra – each together with some of the participants. Connectivity between the instruments and/or collaboration between all of you is crucial and very much apprectiated, that´s why we ask you to send a short description of you idea until end of june, so we all know what the others have in mind. We allready had a great brainstorming talking with all of you, but think it´s more clear if you write down the ideas in your own words (plus they maybe have changed in the last weeks…)

There was some confusion about if this is going to be an installation or the preparation of a live act: The answer is both. As we are in a biotechnological border area, the utopia is that the space (ausland) will get it´s own life as well as be playable as an orchestra (by us). KH expressed the wish for musical supervision, one person whose task is to accompagny the development of sound in space (in order to prevent a bricolage-cacophony, OR, if not, then concsiously choose one) and develops a score along the process which can be performed at the presentation friday night. Haco is interested in doing that.

Don Hill proposed a public discussion about sonic architecture and the biotec orchestra – we have the possibility to have one at Sophiensaele on the 9th of decembre (just before the workshop) – it´s a great idea, we´ll have to get more precise about that. All the festival is either broadcasted by reboot fm or streamed from our website.

A few words to astroturf homegrown for the ones who don´t know: For the final night and 10th anniversary of ausland ASTROTURF HOMEGROWN – THRIVE AND PROSPER: a tropical night of vegetable and musical blossoming happens saturday night. As it will take place in the setting of the biotec orchestra, Torsten Schlopsnies, one of the astroturf arstists will be a collaborator and regular guest at the workshop. astroturf homegrown has been part of most ausland festivals and the regular program and is a hybrid of (live)installation, performance and party which builds itself on the fly during the night it takes place.

We are happy that Olivia Oyama, Haco, Don Hill, KH Jeron and Kaffe Mathews are with us. Furthermore there is Bruno Pocheron, the festivals light designer, Torsten Schlopsnies, one of the artists of astrourf, the event which will take place as the final event of the festival, 15 workshop participants and Christina and Ruth from ausland as hosts.


a workshop-laboratory
Deadwood sings slowly. Trees rooted in the sky. Sonified metabolism of evergreens. Plant driven musical devices. Crystal gardens.

The biotec life orchestra is an electro-acoustic jungle – an orchestra of plants and a jungle of instruments: connecting, amplifying, generating, listening, manipulating, growing, playing, mixing rotting trees, potatoe oscillators, aeolian harps, mushrooms in glasses, electromagnetic fields, wind singing in leaves, a diorama, piezos, wires, moss, telluvian currents, sensors, cacteens, photosynthesis and field recordings.

The Workshop consists of 5 different, hopefully interacting Modules, each proposed by the following artists:

KH Jeron

Kaffe Mathews

Olivia Oyama


Don Hill

more people:

christina ertl-shirley and ruth waldeyer for the festival

todosch schlopsnies for astroturf

bruno pocheron and florian bach for lights

Karl Heinz Jeron:

Interacting with plants to create electronic music

Do plants communicate with other species?

I will utilize electronic sensors, to graph subtle changes occurring within the physiology of plants. Special galvanometers sense subtle changes in electric conductance across the leaf surface. My algorithms transform this fluctuating data stream into notes and control values. I then use these notes and controls to trigger and modify sounds that were sourced from partzipating artists and musicians. In a mechanical sense, the plants are “controlling” the sounds that guests hear in the installation — I am graphing the changes in a plant’s internal state in a way which is knowable to humans, using sound. Sounds will be curated in order to create an atmosphere which will not be necessarily pleasing or relaxing to the viewer. Raw data has a sound of its own. But there will be sounds which convey changes occurring within the plants in a recognizable way. The soundscape produced will probably be affected by guests walking through the installation.

Kaffe Mathews

Currently, I’m interested ..

1. …to participate and learn and build and work and contribute to all other workshop participants proposals.
Extremely curious and inspired at the possibility of finally working directly with plants and their activities.
Also, rather than just recording what plants do during workshop, I’d also like to make live processing music experiments which could be fed back to them. Even to have a few evening soirees.. where we all kick back and enjoy musics made ?
My specific interest is vibration

2. …to collaborate with Haco on devising and building a score and exploring musical possibilities with everyone as appropriate.

3. ..also look at text… that can be processed by plants to build another language….

4. NOTE: i am not a programmer… I use Max/MSP and LiSa with patches someone has built for me that we co design. Any Max programmers in the workshop? Although of course PD is something i’ ve been wanting to look at for years..

5. Re. our gallery presentation on 14th….
I work with multichannel sound systems to be able to articulate space. If poss,
It would be great to use an 6 or 8 channel PA for this event. however small the space,
we use small speakers if small space… thoughts?

Olivia Oyama:

My current plan is to record the changes in metabolic rate of different evergreen plants through out the day and night as the sun light changes, with EKG pads and schmetterling needles wired to PIC microcontrollers. My plan is to sonify this data in Pure Data to control both audio signals and effect parameters, however the conductor sees fit, which can include synthesizer pitches, distortion saturation, sample playback speed, etc…

I hope to have the participants (and myself) build 20 PIC controllers as data recorders on the first workshop day, which we will connect to 20 plants (less is also possible, but this would account for 15 participants plus 5 more controllers in the case that some of them fail for various reasons). The day before the performance we can take the data recorded over the past 3-4 days and load it into Pure Data. During the days in between, I will have some pre-made data recordings that the participants can experiment with in anticipation of their plant data, exploring different methods of computer based sonification.

I thought it could be nice, as a performance effect, to have a single, bright overhead light to represent the sun and have that light fade in and out over the plants that were recorded, timed with the changes in metabolic rate of the plants. I can imagine the sounds being deep and sluggish during the “night” and rising as a large chorus of mid-high pitched oscillators and saturated distortions, ebbing and flowing like very slow tides.

Not having to do exactly with the workshop, Karl Heinz and I had the idea (more for the aesthetic appearance) to place some pressure sensors inside open jars that will grow mushrooms. The data collected by the pressure sensors (and PIC controllers) can also be sonified and used in the final performance. Plus having jars with mushrooms and wires coming out of it will look very nice.


Develops a score along the process which can be performed and seek the possibilities musically with the participants.

Don Hill
SOUND + IMAGE: Deadwood sings slowly. Trees rooted in the sky.

In Ausland’s courtyard area outside the gallery, I envision a grove of salvaged deadfall (birch trunks and branches, or similar type trees over 2 metres tall but no more than 3.5 metres); the treetops are knit together by a ‘dreamcatcher’ of thin coloured wire (recycled materiel donated by Deutsche Telekom?), as well as fine antennae wire (configured in such a way to receive ambient VLF frequency); the _root system_ of the tree for sustenance from above. The trees are tightly-knit in spots (so I’m going to need a _lot_ of deadfall — or trimmings from this summer?), painted in numinous fluorescent-like colour to serve as a decoy to _redirect attention to the ‘in situ’ sound from the street that’s filtered by the fine-tooth comb spacing of the trees (technically, a ‘sonic crystal’ effect).

The tree’s root antennae is outputted (XLR connector) to play as a drone accompaniment for the Biotec Orchestra’s gallery performance. Yes, 50 hertz and car starts and whatever else perturbs the electromagnetic spectrum in the neighbourhood will be picked up. Filtering and manipulation will be part of the ‘performance’ piece.