Serendip is an independent site partnering with faculty at multiple colleges and universities around the world. Happy exploring!

Music out of noise: noise as information

kelliott's picture

Our conversations in class this past week reminded me of an installation I heard about at the SFMOMA called "Sonic Shadows." The artist, Bill Fontana, is a San Francisco-based "sound artist" who uses sound as a sculptural medium. The exhibit itself transforms the museum's circular skylight and fifth-floor bridge into musical instruments. Fontana explored all areas of the building to create an "acoustic translation of the space."  In an interview with KALW News, Fontana talks about sound as "modulated beams of ultrasonic frequencies" that form "laser beams of sound" which then are perceived by the individual as "spatial sensations." The sounds go through an audio software program that transforms the sound for people's ears. We identify these frequencies as "tones." So...he uses sound found in noise to make music... Would music in this case be information? (side note: sound v. noise, "Sound is what we hear. Noise is unwanted sound" according to this website).

Fontana believes noise contains information. However, it is just a kind of information that we are not used to listenitning to. The sounds that come from the boiler room, for example, the creaking of the pipes, those are noises and they produce information. We are also constantly emitting information through the sounds we make. Fontana's "sound sculptures use the human and/or natural environment as a living source of musical information." Musical information. This information is produced by breaking down listeners' "temporal order" and creating an "immersive sensory experience." Thus, noise is music, music is information... Annnnd therefore, by the transitive property, noise is information. Information is anything that is perceived, translated, and transformed. 




Post new comment

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.
To prevent automated spam submissions leave this field empty.
1 + 2 =
Solve this simple math problem and enter the result. E.g. for 1+3, enter 4.