the New Pulsar Generator Manual - a sound installation for 3.1 speaker system, synthetic voice and computer-generated sounds

 

 

The material point of departure for the work is the user manual of the New Pulsar Generator (nuPG) program, developed in the audio programming language SuperCollider 3. The nuPG program encapsulates and extends a sound model of a pulsar synthesis, a technique originally invented by Curtis Roads and popularised in his book 'Microsound (2001)'. As an audio technique, the origins of pulsar synthesis can be traced tao historical analog techniques built around a principle of filtered pulses. The vocal-like, 'glottal' characteristics of its timbre can be linked with early experiments in speech synthesis at the Westdeutscher Rundfunk (WDR) in Cologne by Werner Meyer-Eppler, Herbert Eimert and Robert Beyer. The sound work of The New Pulsar Generator Manual attempts to mobilize these complex attributes of the pulsar as a synthetic object and present the computer program as a cultural artefact.


The central place given to a computer program within the work positions itself against a view which sees technology as a mere tool - neutral and not worth meaningful engagement in thinking about a "true meaning of music". The work provokes us to look through and beyond this ostensive neutrality of technology by working with the specificities of a computer program at various levels of its articulations, exploring a rich seam of conjunctions within which computation meets with its ostensible outside - culture, aesthetics, history and epistemology.

Integrating a novel hybrid sound synthesis design and a synthetic voice reciting the text of the manual, the work probes the experimental capacity of the gallery space as a site of exploration, manipulation and amplification of the relationships between the audible and utterable. The synthetic voice plays a double role; firstly, as the narrator, its role is to thematize processes of synthetic formulation and elucidate the sound model, its primitive objects and their conjunctures; secondly, as an integral sound generating device its role is to engage with its synthetic counterpart productively and to stage its own disarray. Throughout the course of the work, the sound of the voice gradually merges with the output of the new pulsar generator presenting a listener with an elemental synthetic site where the sensible, the intelligible, the artificial, and the natural are animated and combined.

A first iteration of the work has been produced for Remote Viewing Gallery in Philadelphia and has been on display November-December 2019.

The work is an iteration of an ongoing project 'The New Pulsar Generator Recordings' focused on a systematic practice of computer music composition with historically inherited materials (computer programs, scripts, musical forms, staging).