Cartography – Interactive Map

Cartography is an interactive sound and visual composition based on the map of a former mining village in the South Wales Valleys, Treherbert.
Inspired by its cultural heritage and the effects of industry on its natural landscapes; Cartography invites an audience to explore Treherbert on an interactive map surface.
By placing a tracking object on parts of the map, the table responds with music and visuals relating to that specific location.
In this piece, Treherbert is sonified as a musical world that draws from landscape, the past, present and my own reflections on growing up there.
Demand for coal in the 1850’s brought families and job seekers to Treherbert. Since the decline of industry in the 1920’s the area has been left quiet, and evidence of the mines and machinery that sparked this growth have disappeared; or left derelict, slowly becoming reclaimed by the land they once dug into.

The intention of Cartography is to be experienced through choice and exploration. There are 10 pre-composed audio/visual sections, the structure is defined by a users own experience when interacting with the table.

This project uses Max to split a camera feed from underneath the table into zones, divided into X and Y co-ordinates relating to the map on the surface.
Using cv.jit objects, the Cartography patch tracks an Infrared LED from the tables surface, and triggers different pre-composed audio and video files relating to the point on the map where the LED object is placed.
Max is also used in the composition of the music. Whereas some of the sounds used are real field recordings and instrument recordings, many of the audible sounds are synthesised using Max, combining and multiplying audio waveforms.

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Jul 21 2013 | 3:36 pm

Beautiful Sounds, great project! how do you approach composing the music?

Jul 22 2013 | 8:20 am

Hi James, thanks very much! I began by taking field recordings at certain points on the map and then seeing how I could creatively manipulate them. I then built up harmonic material around the flow and rhythm of those real world sounds. I use Max to synthesis the harmonies and record and arrange them using Reaper, Once I’m happy with a texture and structure I like to write simple vocal and instrumental parts to record into the mix.
The whole piece is made up of 10 compositions and it is the audiences part to chose between them. Each of them vary in inspiration, for example some are inspired by the landscape and natural beauty of the area, and some intended to re-create the sounds of industry.
I have no set approach when composing the music, I just alternate and combine techniques and see what I come out with. It’s very much an experimental process.

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