Generative

Void-Vibrations (WIP)

Void-Vibrations generates sonic and visual artwork to create a meditative and immersive experience.

Void-Vibrations (live code from https://labs.matto.xyz/generators/void-vibrations/)

Click on the image to select it, then double click or press ‘SPACE’ to begin playback (sound will not start immediately).

Open the browser’s console to view traits and additional data.

About the Work

“Void-Vibrations” is a generative art project inspired by principles such as presence, silence, and the release of control, resonating with the philosophies of John Cage. Created by Matto, a Buddhist artist, this project aligns with a practice that values meditation, awareness, and the openness to serendipity.

The project focuses on the interplay between sound and silence*, using a limited palette of one to eight notes to create atmospheric soundscapes. Drawing parallels with Cage’s work, it explores the boundaries of auditory perception and embraces silence as a core element, allowing for a deep engagement with the simplicity and immediacy of sound.

“Void-Vibrations” incorporates a unique visual component: the randomly generated images directly represent frequencies and amplitudes within silence. These visuals stand as timeless entities, providing a static representation of the sonic data. In contrast, the auditory aspect unfolds over time, ranging between 2 to 20 minutes, offering a temporal experience of the represented sounds. Together, the visual and auditory elements of “Void-Vibrations” create a multifaceted exploration of sound and silence, where the timeless intersects with the temporal.

The Subjective Experience of Time

In “Void-Vibrations,” the interplay between sound, silence, and the ambient canvas of environmental sounds invites a contemplation of time that transcends the objective ticking of a clock. This project delves into the realm of subjective time, where each participant’s perception of duration becomes a personal journey shaped by the immediate auditory landscape and their internal state. Unlike objective time, which marches forward uniformly, subjective time expands and contracts, ebbs and flows in response to the depth of our engagement and the intensity of our experiences.

Influence of Sound and Silence on Perception

By weaving moments of sound with intervals of silence, “Void-Vibrations” disrupts the conventional flow of time, inviting participants to experience the present moment with heightened awareness. This alternation between sound and absence acts as a catalyst for mindfulness, encouraging a deeper immersion into the now. It is within these stretches of silence—punctuated by the world’s natural symphony and one’s internal rhythms—that time seems to hold its breath, allowing for a personal introspection on the fluid nature of perception and being.

The Uniqueness of Temporal Experience

The unique temporal experience offered by “Void-Vibrations” underscores the profound impact of our surroundings and physiological state on how we perceive time. Ambient sounds, from the subtle shift of air to the distant hum of city life, alongside the viewer’s own heartbeat or breath, blend into the artwork, creating an ever-changing backdrop that influences the subjective experience of duration. This dynamic interplay highlights how factors such as mood, health, and even environmental context can shape our encounter with time, making each viewing a singular event, distinct not only in its auditory and visual composition but in its temporal signature as well.

Through “Void-Vibrations,” the audience is invited to explore the boundaries of time perception, to consider how the interweaving of sound, silence, and self can transform our understanding of the moments we inhabit. This project not only challenges our conventional views of time but also celebrates the rich tapestry of subjective experience, reminding us that within the void of silence lies the potential for profound vibrancy and connection.

The Mathematical Nature of Sound

At the heart of “Void-Vibrations” lies a fascination with the mathematical foundation of sound—where frequencies, rhythms, and harmonies can emerge from numbers. Central to this exploration are pure sine waves, the simplest form of sound waves, which are characterized by perfect, periodic oscillations. Unlike the complex tones produced by musical instruments, which contain a mix of frequencies, a sine wave contains a single frequency, offering a pristine auditory experience.

Harmony, Discord, and the Logarithmic Experience

In the sonic landscape created in “Void-Vibrations,” the project embraces both the consonance of harmonies and the tension of discordances, crafted through the precise arrangement of sine waves. These auditory experiences are not always conventionally “pleasant,” but they are intensely pure and thought-provoking, challenging the listener’s perceptions and expectations of sound. Also, some outputs employ logarithmic scales instead of harmonies, allowing random explorations beyond traditional musical boundaries, creating a spectrum of sound that alludes to the richness and depth of human experience.

Aesthetic Intentions and the Exploration of Sound

The decision to avoid effects like reverb, focusing instead on the purity of sine waves, speaks to the project’s aesthetic and experiential goals. This choice is a philosophical, inviting listeners to confront the raw essence of sound and its impact on the psyche. The intensity of the experience, balanced on the edge between comfort and discomfort, prompts a deeper engagement with the soundscape, encouraging a contemplation of the fundamental nature of sound, mathematics, and our emotional responses to them.

*Silence

What is void, is actually quite full.

Silence in “Void-Vibrations” includes the ambient sound from the audience’s environment as well as each audience member’s internally perceptible body noises, thoughts, and physical movements and vibrations. As beings of perception, we cannot ignore our surroundings any more than we can ignore our bodies. Experiencing this work changes with each individual’s current state of being and in each time of the day and location in which it is perceived as the world around us and within us is constantly changing.

This resonates with Buddhist philosophies and meditation techniques: living in the moment and not dwelling in it.

Concluding Reflection

“Void Vibrations” combines sound, silence, visual art, and mindfulness, weaving together a tapestry of experiences that challenge and enrich our perceptions. Drawing inspiration from avant-garde temporal artworks and the contemplative depths of Zen Buddhism, this project transcends auditory boundaries to engage with the visual, creating a symbiotic relationship between what is heard and seen. Through the mathematical purity of sine waves and an exploration of harmony and discord, it invites us into a profound engagement with the essence of sound. This is underscored by the elegance of its visual counterpart—a stylized spectrogram set against a backdrop of ever-shifting ambient shapes.

These visuals, representing frequencies and amplitudes within moments of silence*, serve as timeless entities that provide a static yet evolving representation of the sonic data. As the auditory elements unfold over time, the visual elements offer a constant, yet ever-changing, window into the vibrations that permeate the void. This dual experience of the visual and auditory elements of “Void Vibrations” creates a multifaceted exploration of sound and silence, where the timeless intersects with the temporal, inviting viewers into a space where the seen and the unheard merge in a dance of sensory perception.

“Void Vibrations” serves as more than a generative art project; it’s a mindfulness practice that beckons the audience towards presence, blending the temporal with the timeless, the auditory with the visual. In creating this project, my aim has been to nurture a space where art and audience converge in a shared experience of reflection and connection. It is my hope that this work not only challenges perceptions but also serves as a gateway to moments of deep introspection, where the complexities of sound, the awareness of the ambient, and the correlation of visual expression coalesce into a meaningful experience of the present moment.

Technical Details and Interactivity

The project is made with JavaScript and Tone.js.

Interactive Controls:

    • SPACE (or double click) to start playback (it cannot be stopped)
    • S to save spectrogram
    • O to show data overlay
    • P to toggle play head

URL Customization:

    • message-duration=<seconds to show intro message>
    • duration=<length of playback in seconds>
    • hash=<random hash>
    • dark=<true/false>

Inspiration and Motivation

Abstraction to me is about enhancing simplicity and discarding the mundane for a minimalistic purity. Many years ago, while exploring methods and techniques of image abstraction, I discovered spectrograms, which were wildly different from the sheet music I was used to as a pianist. I was fascinated by this graphic visualization of sonic information, and I began experimenting with processes that started with images and ended with the creation of meditative soundscapes. Now, with the help of JavaScript and Tone.js, I have revisited my research and created Void-Vibrations (WIP / working title).

The nature of generative art and the artist’s release of control, is, to me, beautifully Buddhist. It’s like planting a seed in a prepared garden, tending it and managing weeds and pests, and over a season, watching a flower grow. Beyond my interest in abstraction, minimalism, presence, music, silence and entropy, this project is special to me in that it also includes a structured temporal aspect, connecting me back to my early time-based artworks: experimental films. “Void Vibrations” is my first, code-based generative, experimental A/V project.

Some Early Outputs (WIP – JPEGS)

While each piece should be experienced live – and can be generated entirely in your browser – the visual outputs from the project are unique and varied. Here are some JPEGS I saved from a recent Void-Vibrations script version.

Each image is a direct representation of sound data the piece creates – the image and sound are closely linked. The simularity between the image and vibrating strings alludes to this connection, and while the forms are stratighforward and simple at times, they are nonetheless completely generative and relying on chance and randomness.