Axial, PhD Thesis
Axial is a sound installation in which a cargo container is employed as a resonant object: resonant in its acoustic sense because the container is used as sound generator, but also resonant in its metaphorical connotation because the container and the generated sounds translate and represent the geological properties of Axial, an active submarine volcano on the Juan de Fuca Ridge located about 250 miles off the coast of Oregon. The container is also the space-instrument for interpreting the scientific data obtained during the oceanographic expedition Enlighten’10, during which the artist recorded the sounds of the hydrothermal vents located in the area at depth of over 4,500 feet.
This thesis describes in detail the entire compositional process as well as the concepts, procedures, and context of the artwork. Chapter one offers a general description of the project and should be the starting point for a first-time reader because it helps to establish the context. Chapter two describes the concept of digital plurifocality and presents the properties of the Plurifocal Events Controller, a technological infrastructure for creating spatially distributed sound works. Chapter three describes Juum, a piece of software that helps to organize and create digital artworks using an extended timeline logic employing scripting programming. Chapter four presents the concepts, logic, influences, and preoccupations behind Axial including personal preoccupations about sound art and digital art. Chapter five presents the preparation process required for the creation of the work, explaining the different versions and explorations that were required to achieve the final iteration. Chapter six describes the compositional process of the final version as well as the installation and exhibition process. The last chapter presents a set of conclusions that summarizes the experience, the contributions to the field, and the obtained artistic achievements. This chapter relates the work to the artist’s current artworks.
A set of five appendixes complement the thesis, offering technical details, links to digital materials and digital scores that help to round the description, and explanations of the realized work which was developed during the doctoral program in Digital Art and Experimental Media at the University of Washington. One of these appendixes presents a basic marine geology context and presents the Ocean Observatory Initiative, an ambitious oceanographic research program that embraced the scientific aspect of Axial.
Thesis supervisor Juan Pampin