Cathy van Eck

Schedule and Keynote

Reembodied Sound 2024 Symposium
February 2–3, 2024
EMPAC Theater

In a series of demonstrations and paper presentations, the symposium will address topics around the histories and futures of transducer-based art, as well as their attendant aesthetic, engineering, and technical concerns as well as their performance, pedagogical, and social practices. Question and answer portions will allow participants the opportunity to engage with the presenters’ themes, concepts, and works. Noted scholar and composer Cathy van Eck gives the symposium’s keynote address on February 3.


Full Schedule

  • FRIDAY, February 2
  • NOON–12:30PM
  • Opening remarks & Orientation
  • 12:35–12:55PM
  • Digital Somatosensory Sound for Music and Art: Overview, Theory, Aesthetics, Techniques / Alexis Crawshaw
  • ABSTRACT: This presentation provides a comprehensive artistic and musical overview of the use of sound to engage the somatosensory system, expanding upon our 2022 dissertation on this topic. With a special focus on methods using transducers, we explore computational, physical, biological, perceptual constraints and features for guiding the aesthetic and technical expression of somatosensory music and sound art. From an information aesthetics perspective, we propose best practices for transposing auditory to somatic sound, developing original content, and orchestrating for somatic sound within time-based multimedia contexts. In particular, we discuss an original theoretical and technical framework for spatial expression, grounded in original proofs-of-concept and historical works. We outline two distinct spatial reference approaches: 1) one that treats the surface or volume of the body as a spatial field for somatic events and 2) one that treats an external environment as a spatial field for such events. We also address four spatial rendering approaches: 1) the physical arrangement of transducers, 2) leveraging the acoustics of spaces and the body (biomechanics), 2) designing virtual spatial models (e.g. for multichannel arrays and navigable environments), or 4) evoking non-intuitive spatial illusions (tactile, kinaesthetic, and vection). Together, these parameters provide a conceptual framework of eight creative categories, each holding many possibilities for future exploration. Moreover, these techniques allow for a range of complex spatialized effects and behaviors, sometimes using only one or two transducers.
  • 1–1:20PM
  • An attempt at the fusion of ambient sounds and instrumental music, through the piece Shitatari for hybrid piano / Keita Matsumiya
  • ABSTRACT: Shitatari is a mixed music piece created by orchestrating the sound of water droplets recorded in the field. It involves using transducers to resonate the piano soundboard and live modulation of the piano and electronic acoustics through a pickup microphone, resulting in a live electronics/chamber music composition, aiming to integrate the strengths of both descriptive, recording, and improvisational elements.
  • 1:25–1:45PM
  • A Subject-Oriented Approach to Sound and Music / William Fastenow
  • 1:50–2:10PM
  • Vibrant Matter / Julian Day
  • ABSTRACT: A tour of a series of sculptural works in which subsonic vibration enlivens elemental materials such as paper, wood, silk and Mylar. Over the course of a decade, the pieces have developed from simple geometric displays to complex arrays that destabilize the viewer and lend apparent agency to museum spaces.
  • 2:15–2:35PM
  • Transducing Sounds from the Past of Media: Mary Had a Little Lamb (2019) and We Were Away a Year Ago (2023) / Jo Kazuhiro
  • ABSTRACT: In this talk, we aim to explore the utilization of printing with electromagnetic induction as transducers for sound production, with a specific focus on two artworks: Mary Had a Little Lamb (2019) and We Were Away a Year Ago (2023). Rather than engaging in scholarly or archaeological investigations of off-told tales of media technology, our practice focuses on creating objects that functionally transduce sounds along with their distinctive noises or voices. We aim to deviate from the linear history of technology by producing sounds from the past of media that have been excavated.
  • 2:35–3PM
  • Lunch break
  • 3–4PM
  • Practice and Technique / Justin Boyd, seah, Moon Ha
  • ABSTRACT: Justin Boyd Resonant Objects
    Why do Blue Jays sound like guy-wire lazer guns?
    Could they sound more futuristic?
    What if the AI in William Gibson’s Count Zero
    or Wall-e made sound sculptures?
    Can sound embody an object?
    What will happen with all of this stuff?
    Can we experience the everyday in a new way?
  • ABSTRACT: seah conduits of the hydrosphere
    The 5 a/v compositions, conduits of the hydrosphere, are made through the interface where the human body, environmental bodies, and technology synthesize. The intra-actions of this artistic entanglement further interface with the philosophical movements of Critical Feminist Posthumanism and New Materialisms as they process through my body. For me, sound art begins in the human body, through somatic movement practices (Butoh, Body Weather Laboratory, and Noguchi Taiso) and spirals out from there. These practices open the practitioner to experiencing their human body as a resonant chamber. The skin acts as another interface between inner and outer worlds. These somatic movement practices develop a sensitivity to subtle systems that flow through our sense organs. It is through these movement practices that I investigate the outer terrain, using field recording technologies that I then bring back into the studio. I am less interested in pure field recordings. Rather, the final audio-visual compositions reach toward evoking the felt experience of place, porosity, and being a multiplicity of bodies.
  • ABSTRACT: Moon Ha Sonic Explorations: Transducers, DIY Interfaces, and the Evolution of Laptop Orchestras
    In this presentation, I will focus on utilizing transducers as a solution to challenges encountered in limited situations, such as a classroom project and the laptop orchestra. These challenges include the need for cost-effective setup solutions, leading to the adoption of the Dante system and the creation of Music Interaction interfaces using Piezoelectric sensors to avoid feedback issues and enhance sound capture in water. The presentation aims to share insights gained from these experiments and outline future plans for the development of new_LOrk, the New York University laptop orchestra.
  • 4:30–4:50PM
  • Reembodied Sound and Its Implications / Matthew Goodheart
  • 4:55–5:25PM
  • Why transducers? Reasons and methods used in 5 electro-acoustic works / Kristin Norderval
  • ABSTRACT: I have used transducers in various works over the last 15 years, beginning in 2009 with Our Lady of Detritus, a meditation on our use-and-discard culture created with choreographer Jill Sigman. Our Lady of Detritus traveled to four of the five boroughs in New York City with a solar- and hand-powered music system built in a cargo trike, and it used transducers mounted on plastic jugs as one of two speaker systems.

    My opera The Trials of Patricia Isasa (2016) also incorporated the use of transducers, as did several study works in advance of the opera. Further explorations with transducers accompanied my development of a performer-controlled interactive vocal processing system on a research fellowship at the National Academy of Opera in Oslo, Norway. The resonant characteristics of augmented instruments; the relationship between acoustic (un-amplified) vocal signals and the electro-acoustic signals from augmented-instruments; and spatialization and mobility are all topics that will be discussed in the presentation.
  • 5:30–5:50PM
  • Rethinking the Politics of Media in Rainforest IV / Colin Tucker
  • ABSTRACT: This paper reads David Tudor’s Rainforest series through Black study scholar Denise Ferreira da Silva’s critical analysis of racializing mechanisms inherent in modern subjectivity. This move reveals in the piece an underlying Primitivist logic, complicating and deepening prior discussions of issues of media, materiality, and instrumentality in the piece.
  • 5:55–6:15PM
  • Reconstructing Coefficient, David Tudor's composition for frictional percussion and electronics / Stuart Jackson
  • ABSTRACT: This presentation will describe in detail my methods for reconstructing David Tudor's Coefficient: Frictional Percussion and Electronics (1991), which was composed for the percussionist Michael Pugliese. This piece was performed only twice and remains undocumented except for a digitized cassette tape recording held by the Merce Cunningham Dance Company Foundation at the New York Public Library (NYPL), and sketches from the Getty Research Institute (GRI).
  • 6:15–8PM
  • Reception, Sound Art Gallery Opening
  • SATURDAY, February 3
  • 10–10:20AM
  • Resonant Object Interface / Sasha Leitman
  • ABSTRACT: The Resonant Object Interface is a sensing methodology built from resonant objects, vibration exciters, and contact microphone. Objects are excited with vibration transducers; as the user touches the object, they alter the magnitude of higher harmonic frequencies; those magnitudes are measured and turned into control data that can be used in music software. It is an acoustic input system into a digital musical environment and it engages with many of the issues that make transducers so compelling—materiality, embodiment, liveness, nuance, tangibility. This presentation will give an overview of the system and talk about the challenges of developing the Resonant Input Device and engaging new users.
  • 10:25–10:45AM
  • Sounding Water Inhabitants: An Exploration of Toronto's Seasons / Lauren Knight
  • ABSTRACT: Sounding Water Inhabitants is a paper (and audio project in early development) that traces a lineage of research and artistic practice of listening through/in/with water. The work questions how one might engage with water as inhabitant, communication media, medium, recording device, storage, sounding object, and listener.
  • 10:50AM–11:10PM
  • 38hz 7.5 Minutes / Ted Krueger
  • ABSTRACT: 38Hz. - 7.5 Minutes is concerned with a series of odd behaviors observed in a steel plate perturbed by a transducer running at a constant amplitude. Rather than a monotonous output, the plate produced a surprising variety of sounds, volumes, and rhythmic structures not present in the input. The physical conditions surrounding the plate and its apparatus were found to have a strong effect on the kind of behaviors that the plate exhibited. I documented spontaneous shifts in behaviors after many hours in a stable vibrational state.
  • 11:15–11:35PM
  • In and Out of Phase: The Unified Sound of a System of Human, Computer, Instrument and Transducing Agents / Teerath Kumar Majumder
  • ABSTRACT: In this project, the artists extend the relationship between a double bass and a bassist by introducing a computer, two transducers, and a computer-transducer player. This fosters new relationships among heterogeneous agents that may inspire perspectives venturing beyond the human-nonhuman binary and emphasize the significance of the process that emerges from a complex system.
  • 11:45–12:45PM
  • Rainforest and Its Legacy / Phil Edelstein, John Driscoll, Cathy van Eck
  • 12:45–1:30PM
  • Lunch break
  • 1:30–1:50PM
  • Two-Voiced Gesture-Controlled Electrolarynx (TVGCEL) / Alexander Cohen
  • ABSTRACT: The Two-Voiced Gesture-Controlled Electrolarynx explores the reembodiment of sound through the human body by opening up the possibility of utilizing the vocal tract as a timbral controller for duophonic instrument. Related work, conceptual motivations, and compositional challenges concurrent with the development of the instrument will be discussed.
  • 1:55–2:15PM
  • Aurum: multimodal engagement with sound through haptics and cymatics / Patricia Alessandrini
  • 2:20–2:40PM
  • Tigris: Incorporating and Integrating Multi-Channel Transducers and Speakers in Installation Settings / Christophe Preissing & Amanda Love
  • ABSTRACT: The book is the original icon to disperse fact and fiction by those in power. Historically, stones, walls, tablets, and codexes were destroyed during power transfers, colonialism, and divided communities. Books and the buildings that hold books (e.g., libraries, museums, religious centers, governmental spaces, homes) continue to be the target of suppression or destruction. As a result, countless people and cultures have been deprived of their identity and heritage. The remnants of those words and ideas are becoming memories.

    In 2003, reporter Robert Fisk was quoted, “The Tigris River ran black with the ink of books,” after libraries were bombed in Baghdad. This devastating loss was 20 years ago but it is sadly not unique in our collective world history. The destruction of books continues today in Ukraine and in subversive acts to remove books from schools and libraries in the US. The magnitude of the historical loss and the current attack on the freedom to read what one chooses to read informs this work.

    In creating the sound for Tigris, the goal was to create a varied and layered immersive sound environment using multiple sound sources that surround museum visitors. Water, Wind, Fire, and Words—the aftermath of the library bombing in Baghdad. After the bombing I imagined a relative quiet or calm, water lapping the shores and small boats in the river, wind in the tall grasses and resounding off buildings, the crackling of fire and sizzling of burning objects as they float down to the river. Tigris’s audience is both under water—the river—and looks down at the destroyed books which are displayed on small alters for examination. The artists will discuss the inception, development, and construction of Tigris within the context of their current and recent work and the use of language—texts, paragraphs, words, and phonemes—within Tigris and their overall work. Compositional/creative strategies including acoustics, construction, and integration of multiple simultaneous layers of sound projected through three different speaker/transducer systems distributed horizontally and vertically throughout the space will be presented.
  • 2:45PM–3:05PM
  • VibraFusionLab and Haptic Voices / David Bobier
  • ABSTRACT: Haptic Voices brings VibraFusionLab’s vibrotactile technology to an interactive hybrid-online venue transmitting sound information through the sense of touch that is expanded into a ten-channel haptic wall. Online participants can vocalize into their computer microphones as their sound is played through the vibrotactile transducers in the wall in real time thus transporting global voices into an immersive tactile body experience.
  • 3:15–3:55PM
  • Creating Rainforest / Rensselaer Music & Technology II students
  • 4–5PM
  • Why Maria Schlatter Didn't Invent the Loudspeaker—An Investigation into the Borders of Sonic Transmission / Cathy van Eck
  • 5–7PM
  • Dinner break
  • 7–9:30PM
  • Transducer concert

Main Image: Cathy van Eck. Courtesy the artist. Photo: Marije Baalman. Background extended by AI.

Dates + Tickets

Schedule and Keynote
Reembodied Sound 2024 Symposium
Friday 2
February 2024
------------ thru ------------
Saturday 3
February 2024

Symposium registration closed on January 19.

Festival events accepting RSVPs and walk-up attendance.

Presented By

EMPAC, Arts Department

Production Credits

Symposium Chair: Matthew Goodheart
Symposium Co-Chairs: Kate Galloway & Rob Hamilton