The following excerpts are from
Sound Into Image:
The Collaboration Between David Tudor and Sophia Ogielska
Billy Kluver and Julie Martin
Copyright 1996 Billy Kluver and Julie Martin
The defining characteristic of Tudor's music is that the source of the
sounds is the behavior of the electronic circuits themselves: oscillations,
amplifications, modulations, frequency filtering, attenuation, switching.
By interconnecting discrete units that perform these various functions,
Tudor builds up his musical instrument.
Tudor's "scores" consist of what looks like block diagrams
of circuit design . . .
Sometimes Tudor used color in his diagram, such as in 'Pepscillator,
where the colors served as added dimensions of information about the functioning
of the system . . .
In 1994 the Merce Cunningham Company had revived 'Soundance', for which
Tudor played 'Toneburst', and the company wanted to make it a permanent
part of the repertory. 'Toneburst', is a physically demanding piece, and
as his fellow musician John D. S. Adams told us that in performing it,
"David used every musical bone in his body." Each performance
left him exhausted and close to tears, but exhilirated. Tudor was thinking
of ways to develop a "robot" that could "execute" some
of the functions during a performance. He was always fascinated by mechanical
motion and as John Adams recalls, he was thinking of a construction that
would execute physical movements.
We introduced Tudor to our neighbors Sophia Ogielska, an artist and
Andy Ogielski, a scientist from Bell Laboratories, thinking that some of
the technology that Andy had developed in his laboratory -- in particular
work with network chips -- would interest Tudor. However, when Tudor visited
them in the spring of 1994, and looked at Sophia Ogielska's paintings,
he responded to the way she organized visual information.
In her paintings, Ogielska was interested in "visual synthesis
of complex structures . . . following the observation that the appeal of
complexity arises neither from predetermined organization, nor from complete
randomness: complex structures emerge from interactions of their parts."
They were assembled from many "fragments" creating images of
structured disorder of desert stone patterns, fractured earth, and other
natural subjects . . .
Tudor suggested that he and Ogielska develop a project together that
combined sound and images. They immediately decided to concentrate on one
piece 'Untitled, 1972', and its performance as 'Toneburst' . . .
The project took its present form when Ogielska copied Tudor's circuit
diagrams 'Untitled' and 'Toneburst' onto transparencies and brought an
overhead projector to Tudor's where they projected the diagrams on the
wall of the room. She watched as Tudor silently "played" the
work in different "performances", moving his hand from component
to component, trying out different versions. Over time, they realized that
though there were many more components in the original block diagram, Tudor
only activated 23 of them. . .
Since Tudor operates on a number of electronic components at once during
his performance, Ogielska and Tudor decided to work on transparent media
to represent these simultaneous multiple operations. The use of multiple
layers and color shadows became a natural element of their work.
Andy Ogielski at the time was writing an interactive graphics program
using spline functions, where a transformation brings a two-dimensional
image onto a surface in three-dimensions. With the program you are then
able to manipulate or shape this image in three-dimensional space -- enlarging,
elongating in any direction, folding in on itself, etc. The manipulated
image is finally projected and drawn on a two-dimensional surface. To test
his program Andy Ogielski input one of Tudor's circuit diagrams and performed
some simple manipulations on them. When Sophia Ogielska showed the results
to David Tudor, he loved the idea of working with the program -- conceptually
and visually. They began to work together to evolve new shapes for each
of the 23 active components. Sophia Ogielska learned the program and would
produce images to show Tudor, or they would sit together at the computer
and manipulate the shapes on the screen.
David Tudor and Sophia Ogielska demanded that the surfaces and the morphology
of the shapes became more complex, and Andy Ogielski was required to expand
his program several times to keep up with them. They would agree on the
final "shape" of each component, Sophia Ogielska remembers, "I
would say, 'That looks good,' and David would say, 'That sounds good.'
Three different colored groups of graphic shapes describing the active
elements in the performance emerged: 12 blue images of potentiometers for
controlling signal distribution; 6 red images of input output switching;
5 green images for frequency control and selection and phase shift; yellow
lines represent the contstant input from tape recorders. Delighted with
the 23 lively, colorful, almost ideograms, Tudor declared, "Now I
have a language."
They then assembled the 23 graphic shapes into a new block diagram,
leaving out some wires connecting the components. This new diagram became
the image that Sophia Ogielska and Tudor repeated in assembling the large
Maps . . .
The 'Maps' can be read as scores, which can be entered at any point and traversed in any direction, producing, in effect, one performance or many performances. The collaboration between Sophia Ogielska, Andy Ogielski, and David Tudor has produced bright, energetic works that not only act as a visual equivalent of his music, but also are the visual expression of Tudor's committment to freedom, choice, and responsibility that have guided his work and life.