Critical Climate Machine 2/4 : DYCI2 in the climate machine

Artistic Residencies: The Blog

Gaëtan Robillard adds an important element to the sound space of the artwork: Critical Climate Machine. Today we focus on the sound material used and the way it is sculpted in space.

In order to better address the subject of climatoskeptic rhetoric, Gaëtan Robillard aims to show how their accumulation, by climatoskeptic activists and lobbyists, saturates the media. To do so, he recorded pupils from the Lycée international de Noisy-le-Grand and students from the Gustave Eiffel University (6 voices were selected for the final recording) during educational workshops, reading 34 dialogues pitting climatoskeptic arguments—mostly found on the Internet—against their refutations, written by scientists. The pupils and students themselves participated in the development of the dialogues through a specially designed card game: the "Rebuttal Game".

These 34 dialogues serve as a "sound memory" for the OM-DYCI2 generation engine. In the words of Jérôme Nika— its author in IRCAM’s Musical Representations team— a "musical memory whose internal recurrences will be analysed by the algorithm in order to create material that is not only new, but also, for example, follows a predetermined audio profile or a harmonic evolution".

Dionysios Papanicolaou, Gaetan Robillard et Jérome Nika at ircam studios

“Simply put, OM-DYCI2 is a library that performs concatenative synthesis (we assemble fragments of sounds end to end)," explains Dionysios Papanikolaou, a composer (who studied with Yan Maresz and Jean-Luc Hervé) and computer music designer working with Gaëtan Robillard. "In other words, it reconstructs, from a set of audio files, a series of sounds that follow the parameters and constraints that we determine beforehand: duration, pitch, intensity. The result is a huge collage of sounds that is as close as possible to what we asked for.”

From this material, and from what OM-DYCI2 produces, a vast work of composition begins, in the true sense of the word.

“The guiding principle of this composition," says Gaëtan Robillard, "is to work not only with the sound of these voices, which we perceive precisely as the sound of a voice and as (constructed) speech, but also, by contrast, on what the machine deduces from its sound memory, as being the sound of a voice and constructed speech. The generative work allows us to stretch out paths into a new sound space.”

Photos© Gaëtan Robillard

“During our second studio session in November," says Dionysios Papanikolaou, "we tested different parameters of OM-DYCI2 and established certain rules of transition to determine the progression of the message. The idea is that, in each piece composed, we always progress towards more tension in the sound material. For example, we can start with natural and pure spoken voices, without any treatment, and progress towards voices with slight variations, to end up with completely deconstructed voices. Like an entropic evolution towards more and more disorder. This is accompanied by a work on spatialization, with a dialectic between voices specifically located in space for certain affirmation/refutation couples, and others in movement. In the same vein, in some cases, the climatoskeptic assertion will be perfectly understandable and situated, and its refutation totally granulated and diffracted in space - or the other way around."

This initiative uses the research and software from the REACH project by IRCAM's Musical Representations team directed by Gérard Assayag.

In the next episode, all these sounds will be worked on by Tony Houziaux, the project's sound designer.