wp_db_version = 7558; ?> 2008 June archive at Madeleine Flynn & Tim Humphrey

Time-frames and Hierarchies

June 20th, 2008

A focus of our visit this week has been to record literal sound and vision as possible sources for our composition.

The abstract quality of the data that we have been streaming has belied the intense and present physicality that the hard-working scientists associate with those little numbers so literal recording seems like one way to represent this “attachment to data”.

While many of the machine sounds are based on cooling fans and the hum of electric motors, their rhythm, in some cases the regular heating and cooling cycles that enable the propogation or “amplification” of genetic material have very particular sonic identities that we can map in some kind of referential (if not reverential) way when the time comes.

Even the time frames themselves are becoming more central to our thinking – genetic processes are complex time-based chains of events that will have a analogue in the proportions of our musical mappings.

It has been interesting to be exposed to the workings of the Institute over a longer, more intermittent time-frame. This has allowed us to realise or appreciate the time frames over which results become known – the experimental process for a biology that is measured in nano-seconds, has a rather longer time-scale, several months, or even years.

Of course, the pace of experimental result has been accelerating at a very fast rate over the very recent past, such that increases in orders of magnitude in terms of the number of processes that may be investigated at once are now possible within a far shorter time-frame.

Which leads to another interesting parallel between the interpretation of data and music compositional sensibility: The navigation of hierarchies of interpretation, In the dynamic data interpretation we are concerned with “levels of specificity” that allows more or less focussed views.

We are sometimes concerned with broad and sometimes with fine-grained or detailed structures. But in data, in life and in music, we are concerned that each level, each layer, is functionally connected to the next. Eg the gene ontology groupings of our data provides another way of phrasing the musical material.

Madeleine and Tim

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