Steve Heimbecker - Songs of Place
  Year :   2001
  Location :   Canada
  Worktype :   DVD / Installation Series
  Materials:   -
  Info :   -

  Work Details  
  Songs of Place is a series of experimental audio art portraits of places which use innovative surround sound production and split screen video techniques to create immersive audio and video portraits of places that range in length from 30 to 50 minutes. Begun in 2000 by artist / composer Steve Heimbecker, Songs of Place is an ongoing worldwide portrait series, and is based upon Heimbecker’s audio research dating back to 1992. The first European portrait, Songs of Place: Vienna, was completed in 2005. The compositional and conceptual structure of Songs of Place freely uses a combination of time / space / relativity theory, cartographical mapping architecture, and a system of proportion refered to by the alchemists of the 16th and 17th centuries as the squaring of the circle. The first 4 productions of Songs of Place which are presented in the Songs of Place box set publication (2005), represent 4 Canadian places: Halifax, N.S., Montréal, QC, Springwater, Sk., and Vancouver, BC. Each composition in this series group, creates a portrait of the selected place by using 8 Acoustic Mapping Process (AMP) recordings, which are continuous 4 channel surround sound location recordings. These recordings are taken from 8 different environmental locations of the place, each representing the perimeter points of the 8 major directions on a compass, creating a template that is layered upon a recent road map of the place to be recorded. In the composition, the AMP recordings are layered and edited together with another system called Dynamic Voltage Mapping (DVM). DVM is a sound diffusion editing technique that incorporates analogue or digital noise gate technology, allowing quadraphonic AMP recordings to be cut up without changing the continuity of their time line. DVM randomizes the temporal occurrences (augmenting space) of each of the AMP recordings by using the recorded amplitude events of a secondary sound source that is also found within the place of portraiture, to control the diffusion editing of the composition for surround sound presentation. This secondary non metered (natural) sound source controlling the edit points can be either another 4 channel AMP recording or a mono recording. In either case the DVM system is applied in augmented or delayed time lines to weave all 4 directions of all 8 AMP / DVM recordings together in the composition, to create a completely immersive and omni vibrational representation of the environmental portrait of place. With my Songs of Place AMP / DVM compositions I am proposing to the listener a unique way of perceiving time and space through sound. In each Songs of Place production, my DVM editing technique reduces the linear information from each AMP recording location and replaces it with information from another at edit rates between 10 and 40 edits per second, which is diffused or divided by the 4 audio channels in the surround sound field. When AMP recordings are layered together, the 4 cardinal directions remain constant, so that for example, the sound of north is always comprised of the sounds of north. For the visual component, one take continuous digital video is shot at the same time as the AMP location audio recordings, visually referencing each location. The framing of each video recording does not move, so that like the audio, objects enter and leave the picture without artistic direction. These many videos are then collaged together on one screen, poetically documenting the geographic iconography of the place, using slowly unfolding motion masking and changing opacities, layered upon a moving environmental colour field, also taken from the place of portrait. In the Songs of Place series I am interested in creating a vibrational sonic and visual portrait of a particular place at a particular time. It is my contention that to fully hear a place one needs to hear the space of that place. By using my Acoustic Mapping Process, and editing techniques such as my Dynamics Voltage Mapping, I create illusions of repetition which result in intense spatial compositions that are the Songs of Place. Songs of Place: Vienna, commissioned in 2004/05 by ORF Kunstradio, represents 31 minutes of the daily life occurrences of all 23 city districts in Vienna, Austria, which spiral outward from the centre district 1, represented by the upward shot of the sky. In the previous Songs of Place productions, 8 different locations were recorded with audio and video. Songs of Place: Vienna required the recording of 23 locations, resulting in 3 times the amount of usable data to create the portrait. As a consequence, Songs of Place: Vienna contains 23 points of view, 53,946 video edits (1 edit per frame, centre frame), and 74,400 surround sound diffusion edits (40 edits per second). Many thanks to Etienne Grenier for the creation of the software Max patch for the video editing. PRODUCTION RESIDENCY PROCESS Songs of Place portraits have been created “in situ” through artist residency programs and commissions offered by host organizations. To create a Songs of Place portrait, Heimbecker requires 1 to 2 weeks in residence (depending on the geography of the portrait place), for the recording all source materials. A second period of production time, typically in his own AV studio in Montréal, is required for Heimbecker to prepare, edit, and produce the Songs of Place production. The duration of this production process has varied from 2 weeks to several months. Now with newly available portable AV digital technologies Heimbecker is striving to complete projects in situ, over a 2 to 3 week residency period, but many variables do come into play, including the total area (size) of the portrait place and the weather. Once the master files are complete, a presentation of new the Songs of Place portrait can be made for the host organization. Songs of Place portraits use a combination of resources from both the host organization and from his own production company Qube Assemblage. Residency scheduling a Songs of Place portrait may require a production invitation up to a year in advance. For information on becoming a host organization for a Songs of Place portrait, contact Steve Heimbecker directly. ONGS OF PLACE CONCERT AND GALLERY INSTALLATION PRESENTATIONS Songs of Place productions presented in concert halls are best presented from high quality digital video and digital audio files, played directly from a computer and suitable audio and video presentation hardware. Heimbecker will present a selected Songs of Place production from his own laptop, using Protools and Quicktime software, plus external hardware, and will mix a new sound diffusion using the original source audio files with the addition of “outboard” processing hardware creating another layer of the DVM sound diffusion process, mixed “live”. Installation exhibitions of Songs of Place can be presented from a series of DVDs, or in special cases from the high resolution master files played back from a specialized software and computer system. While most of the computer equipment and hardware for the presentation can be provided by Heimbecker, items like video projectors, video screens, 4 channel sound system, and the sound mixing console (live), will be provided by the host. The sound system required for any presentation must be a professional quality 4 channel quadraphonic surround sound system with a LFE