And we’re off: RITMO Centre for Interdisciplinary Studies in Rhythm, Time, and Motion

I am happy to announce that RITMO Centre for Interdisciplinary Studies in Rhythm, Time, and Motion officially started last week. This is a new centre of excellence funding by the Research Council of Norway.

Even though we have formally taken off, this mainly means that the management group has started to work. Establishing a centre with 50-60 researchers is not done in a few days, so we will more or less spend the coming year to get up to speed. The plan is that the faculty group will begin working together from January, while in parallel recruiting PhD and postdoctoral fellows. We aim at moving into our new spaces and having most of the people in place by August 2018, and that is also when we will have the kick-off party.

At least we now have a small web page up and running, and more content will be added as we move along. Here is a short summary of what we will be working on:

RITMO is an interdisciplinary research centre focused on rhythm as a structuring mechanism for the temporal dimensions of human life.
The research will be highly interdisciplinary, combining methods from musicology, psychology and informatics to study rhythm as a fundamental property that shapes and underpins human cognition, behaviour and culture.

Rhythm is omnipresent in human life, as we walk, talk, dance and play; as we tell stories about our past; and as we predict the future. Rhythm is also central to human biology, from the oscillations of our nervous system to our heartbeats, breathing patterns and longer chronobiological cycles. As such, it is a key aspect of human action and perception that is in complex interplay with the various cultural, biological and mechanical rhythms of the world.

RITMO will undertake research on rhythm in human action and perception, using music, motion and audio-visual media as empirical points of departure. Our core idea is that the human ability to experience the world and our actions as rhythmic, points to a basic cognitive mechanism that is in itself rhythmic in nature. The vision of RITMO is to understand more about this cognitive mechanism, and through this generate ground-breaking knowledge about the ways in which humans structure and understand the temporal dimensions of their life.

The centre is interdisciplinary and will combine perspectives and methods from music and media studies, philosophy and aesthetics, cognitive neuroscience, and informatics, using state-of-the-art technologies for motion capture, neuroimaging, pupillometry and robotics.

RITMO is to reveal the basic cognitive mechanism(s) underlying human rhythm, using music, motion and audiovisual media as empirical points of departure.

The research will be highly interdisciplinary, combining methods from musicology, psychology and informatics to study rhythm as a fundamental property that shapes and underpins human cognition, behaviour and culture.

Sverm-Resonans – Installation at Ultima Contemporary Music Festival

I am happy to announce the opening of our new interactive art installation at the Ultima Contemporary Music Festival 2017: Sverm-resonans.

Time and place: Sep. 12, 2017 12:30 PM Sep. 14, 2017 3:30 PM, Sentralen

Conceptual information

The installation is as much haptic as audible.

An installation that gives you access to heightened sensations of stillness, sound and vibration.

Stand still. Listen. Locate the sound. Move. Stand still. Listen. Hear the tension. Feel your movements. Relax. Stand stiller. Listen deeper. Feel the boundary between the known and the unknown, the controllable and the uncontrollable. How does the body meet the sound? How does the sound meet the body? What do you hear?

Approach one of the guitars. Place yourself in front of it and connect to your standstill. Feel free to put your hands on the body of the instrument. Try closing your eyes. From there, allow yourself to open up to the sound-vibrations through the resting touch and listening. Stay as long as you like and follow the development of the sound, and your inner sensations, experience, images, and associations as the sound meets you. As opposed to a traditional instrument, these guitars are “played” by (you) trying to stand still. The living body interacts with an electronic sound system played through the acoustic instrument. In this way, Sverm-Resonans explores the meeting points between the tactile and the kinesthetic, the body and the mind, and between motion and sound.

Technical information

The technical setup of Sverm-Resonans is focused on the meeting point between digital and acoustic sound making. Each of the guitars is equipped with a Bela micro-computer, which produces electronic sound through an actuator placed on the back of the guitars. There are no external speakers, all the sound generation is coming the vibration of the acoustic guitar. Each of the guitars produce a slowly pulsing sound – based on an additive synthesis with a slight randomness on the sine tones – that breathes and gives life to the soundscape. The guitars are also equipped with an infrared sensor that detects the presence of a person standing in front of the guitar, and which inversely controls the amplitude of a pulsating noise signal. That is, the longer you stand still, the more sound you will get.

About the installation

Sverm-Resonans at Sentralen

Sverm-Resonans is a new sound installation by Alexander Refsum Jensenius, Kari Anne Vadstensvik Bjerkestrand, Victoria Johnson, Victor Gonzalez Sanchez, Agata Zelechowska, and Charles Martin.

The installation is the result of the ongoing art/science research projects Sverm, MICRO and AAAI, three projects which in different ways explore human micromotion and musical microsound. Supported by University of Oslo, Research Council of Norway, Arts Council Norway, The Fund for Performing Artists, The Audio and Visual Fund, and The Nordic Culture Fund.

SMC paper based on data from the first Norwegian Championship of Standstill

We have been carrying out three editions of the Norwegian Championship of Standstill over the years, but it is first with the new resources in the MICRO project that we have finally been able to properly analyze all the data. The first publication coming out of the (growing) data set was published at SMC this year:

Reference: Jensenius, Alexander Refsum; Zelechowska, Agata & Gonzalez Sanchez, Victor Evaristo (2017). The Musical Influence on People’s Micromotion when Standing Still in Groups, In Tapio Lokki; Jukka Pa?tynen & Vesa Va?lima?ki (ed.),  Proceedings of the 14th Sound and Music Computing Conference 2017.

Full text: PDF

Abstract: The paper presents results from an experiment in which 91 subjects stood still on the floor for 6 minutes, with the first 3 minutes in silence, followed by 3 minutes with mu- sic. The head motion of the subjects was captured using an infra-red optical system. The results show that the average quantity of motion of standstill is 6.5 mm/s, and that the subjects moved more when listening to music (6.6 mm/s) than when standing still in silence (6.3 mm/s). This result confirms the belief that music induces motion, even when people try to stand still.

We are also happy to announce that the dataset is freely available here.

 

New Master’s Programme: Music, Communication & Technology

We are happy to announce that “Music, Communication & Technology” will be the very first joint degree between NTNU and UiO, the two biggest universities in Norway. The programme is now approved by the UiO board and will soon be approved by the NTNU board.

This is a different Master’s programme. Music is at the core, but the scope is larger. The students will be educated as technological humanists, with technical, reflective and aesthetic skills. We believe that the solutions to tomorrow’s societal challenges need to be based on intimate links between technological competence, musical sensibility, humanistic reflection, and a creative sense.

A core feature of the programme is the unique two-campus design. The student group is physically split between Oslo and Trondheim, 500 kilometres apart, but with a high-quality, network-based multimedia connection that allows for discussions, socialising and playing music. As a student you will get hands-on experience with state-of-the-art facilities, including motion capture systems, music production studios, and large loudspeaker arrays. The theoretical components include acoustics, music cognition, machine learning and human-computer interaction.

New publication: Sonic Microinteraction in “the Air”

I am happy to announce a new book chapter based on the artistic-scientific research in the Sverm and MICRO projects.

Citation: Jensenius, A. R. (2017). Sonic Microinteraction in “the Air.” In M. Lesaffre, P.-J. Maes, & M. Leman (Eds.), The Routledge Companion to Embodied Music Interaction (pp. 431–439). New York: Routledge.
Abstract: This chapter looks at some of the principles involved in developing conceptual methods and technological systems concerning sonic microinteraction, a type of interaction with sounds that is generated by bodily motion at a very small scale. I focus on the conceptualization of interactive systems that can exploit the smallest possible micromotion that people are able to both perceive and produce. It is also important that the interaction that is taking place allow for a recursive element via a feedback loop from the sound produced back to the performer producing it.