mandag 17. mai 2010

Professor Waffel's Skjærgårdsseminar 2010

Seminar report
Participants: Professor Waffel, Doktor Døv, Professor Fokuda-san
Venue: casa Waffel, Fevik.
Date: 14-16th of May 2010

Having arrived by zeppelin and camel caravan, Professor Fokuda-san and Doktor Døv were collected in Arendal by Professor Waffel in his GH 14 with a 9.9 hp outboard motor. Although the latter professor claimed to have spotted seals on his way in, this could not be verified. Setting up base camp at casa Waffel in Søm Ruagerkilen Nature Reserve, the participants were facing a busy schedule including field excursions by GH 14, hydrophone recordings and a bird imitation experiment. 
Recording rocks, shells and driftwood on Jerkholmen, the participants were approached by some locals who inquired whether they were part of some kind of cult. Frankly, we are not sure. Ascending ancient grave monuments to rearrange rocks wearing laboratory coats certainly borders on the occult. Meanwhile, out at sea, an impromptu sound experiment was conducted using battery-powered gadgets which refused to lie still as the GH 14 rocked back and forth in the waves. 
Since Doktor Døv’s camel caravan left during the heavy rain the following day, the two remaining professors set up their equipment in the attic laboratory. They experimented with a Roland MSQ 700 sequencer which was linked via midi to an AKAI AX60 synthesizer and via DIN-synch to a Roland TR606 drum machine. This triggered Profssor Fokuda-san’s Rengjøring and Professor Waffel’s W5 Secret Bird Oscillator and received outgoing Controlled Voltage signals from a Roland CSQ 100 sequencer which also happened to trigger an ARP Axxe synthesizer. The result was quickly dubbed Uncontrolled Voltage and more than anything resembled a jazz trio with upright bass, saxophone and a drum kit grooving into the night. We will have none of that, thank you.

lørdag 15. mai 2010

Bird Imitation Experiment

Research report
Participants: Professor Waffel, Doktor Døv, Professor Fokuda-san
Equipment: W5 Secret Bird Oscillator; Zoom H4; Panasonic Lumix GF1
Date: 15th of May. 2010
Site: Ruagerkilen Nature Reserve, Fevik, Norway

The Australian Lyre-bird (Menura superba), the Nightingale (Luscinia megarhynchos) and the Sky Lark (Alauda arvensis ) remain among the most inventive song birds in the natural fauna. The former is known to perform a ritual in which it clears a small circle in the forest and mimics all the other song birds in its’ region. Furthermore, it also interpolates imitations of human-related activities such as snapping photo-apparatuses, growling chain-saws and falling trees. In many respects, the Lyre bird resembles the famous CASIO SK-1 6 bit sampler, but it is not as circuit-bendable.

Professor Waffel constructed his W5 Secret Bird Oscillator from a cannibalized walkie talkie and other circuits which were placed inside a Test Oscillator from the 1950’s. Installing a hand-crank and joystick on the device, he found that it was capable of producing expressive sounds which could mimic local bird species. The current study was conducted during Hemmelig Tempo’s Skjærgårdsseminar 2010, and had two main objectives. 1) To examine whether the device was able to attract other song-birds. 2) To examine whether individual performance styles had an impact on the result.

A suitable location was selected within Ruagerkilen Nature Reserve. The W5 Secret Bird Oscillator was placed on a rock below a bird house which had been put up by Professor Waffel some time ago. Recording the performance with a Zoom H4 portable recorder and a Panasonic Lumix GF1 HD video camera, each performer was given 5,3 minutes to manipulate the bird imitation device using his own idiosyncratic methods.

The study remains inconclusive. It must be considered a major methodological flaw that local bird behaviour was not systematically monitored. Although Doktor Døv claimed to have established communication with a Northern Lapwing (Vanellus Vanellus), listening eagerly for reactions is hardly scientifically valid. Furthermore, there is evidence to suggest that Professor Fokuda-san’s aggressive performance may have scared away several species from the nature reserve, making the entire study ethically questionable. How Professor Waffel will ever be able to communicate with his neighbours should be the focus of a future study