Thursday, April 29, 2010

Preamps and Building the mics

I've bought a few of these little preamps to power the tiny little Panasonic microphone capsules I'm using inside the teacups. They need to be soldered up to a power source and mics at one end and and output jack at the other, should be fairly straightforward.

Soldering the little mic capsules is proving very fiddly indeed and I have wrecked a few already so have had to make another order. They're just so small and I think the soldering iron heats the capsule
up too much which is breaking them. I've spoken with a tutor today who has given me a few new ways to do it, and some soldering advice which should help.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Hooking up the Arduino

Currently I'm doing a few important steps at once on the project.
The first is getting the Arduino chip to talk to the computer and give information about how much light is being received by each sensor. This coincides with writing an Arduino 'Sketch' which will interpret the voltage data coming from the chip and enable me to send it to my Tea Set patch I have built in Max/Msp. Its all proving quite challenging. I'll post a few pics of how its all looking in a few days.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Linking Wabi-Sabi, and ancient Japanese Tea ceremony values to my project

'All things are impermanent' - Wabi - Sabi says the inclination towards nothingness is unrelenting and universal and this is one of the key concepts in my project. People will come to the tea set, make their sonic marking in each of the four cups and leave, but this sonic proof of their interaction will be short lived lasting only until someone else comes along to try. This transience is key to Wabi - Sabi teachings, and Japanese philosophy to some extent, and represents an intrinsic element of my project, and I think will effect how people use the tea set as-well.

'Everyone is equal in the Tea room' - This age old notion that is included in the teachings of Wabi - Sabi is another linchpin philosophy behind the installation. In days gone by the sanctuary and calmness of the Tea room represented one of the only places one could escape from notions of class and wealth. Nowadays, with the class system being what it is in Britain, this is still something of an issue and I want the tea set to provide this sense of equality among different people that the Wabi - Sabi/Japanese Tea room once did. Not only will the installation unite people in curiosity when in its final installation space, but the fact that everyone becomes equal by the recording process is fundamental too. All people are the same once recorded into the teacups. Who ever you are, your voice is recorded, for a time and then erased to be overwritten by somebody new.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Wabi-Sabi, values and ideas.

I've been reading 'Wabi-Sabi, for artists, designers, poets and philosophers' recently and have been using it mainly to build on my knowledge of both ancient Tea Ceremony practices and also the types of thinking and philosophy that were underlying in the cultures that practiced such things.

In short, Wabi-Sabi itself is a fairly expansive ancient Japanese aesthetic and world view anchored around such concepts as seeing beauty in the unusual and imperfect and also the acceptance of the transient nature of things. Here are a few underlying values that I have found and consider key to the Wabi-Sabi and also very linked to the way I have been trying to present my installation.

- All things are impermanent, the inclination towards nothingness is unrelenting and universal.

- All things are imperfect, this becomes clear when looking closer and nothing is an exception.

- All things are incomplete and in a constant state of either becoming or dissolving.

- Greatness exists in the inconspicuous and overlooked details.

- 'Material poverty, spiritual richness''

- One must find a balance of pleasure gained from things, and from the freedom of things.

I think that each of these concepts can be linked to the ideas I am trying to convey with my, simplest of installations. It will be impermanent, as it moves from venue to venue sometimes only being displayed for a matter of hours. It will be imperfect, as the sounds it will take from those who use it and will combine will certainly not always be pleasing or pleasant to the ear. It will be in a constant state of incompletion and dissolving, as each new user begins to fill the cups with their own verbalized thoughts some of the previous user will remain until overwritten, possibly allowing for a collaboration between people who have never met but inevitably resulting in the slow disintegration of one individuals efforts, one cup at a time. It will be materialistically impoverished appearing sparse and plain, but the sonic results it will yield will produce a richness that exceeds its appearance and aesthetic.

These are some of the ideas I am exploring and trying to convey with the piece and will, I hope, add to the users enjoyment and understanding of the tea set if I present them in a more detailed and accessible way to each user.

Saturday, April 3, 2010


Using these high quality elecret microphone capsules is the best option for capturing the sounds played/made into each tea cup. They are relatively inexpensive and while they do require some fairy extensive soldering and wiring to get them working I think they will produce a really clear sounding resulting audio. I have most of the parts required now and start building them in a few days. I'm glad to have found such a flexible, durable and (I'm told) good sounding microphone solution, and may start using them for a whole host of other audio recording situations.