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.


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