Tomato Quintet

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music from tomatoes in a sound art installation

(2007 – 2011)

Summer 2011 at  NAMOC , Beijing.

A collaboration with Greg Niemeyer first presented at  Machine Project Gallery, LA

The sensor data has been used in five movements, including  Cefiru  a celletto solo composed after the installation piece. See also Greg’s  tomato  site.  Hi-res image:  Photo © Susan LaTempa

Description

Five vats of tomatoes were ripened for 10 days in the Tomato Quintet exhibition. Greg calls it a “New Media Still Life.” During the ripening process music was generated in real time by computer algorithms influenced by CO2, temperature and light readings from sensors in each vat. After the ripening, time was sped up and new music created at different time scales. A stand-alone computer music piece, “Tomato Music,” captures the spirit of the whole thing. At dinner time, a (human) trio accompanied one of the movements during the closing pasta-fest. Recent versions with salsa feed at the closing and salsa music by Jacob Wittenberg.

Movements

Tomato Music

Tomato Music (10′)

(2007) Chris Chafe

computer-generated sound made with the Hydroponic Hydraulis

Premiered at CCRMA 19-Nov-2007

Tomato Music is a concert piece to be played apart from the Tomato Quintet sound art installation. It can be performed as a purely loudspeaker work in stereo or up to 15 channels.

The music is a sonification at high speed of the ripening of tomatoes grown in my backyard. Picked early and displayed in an installation at the Machine Project Gallery (LA) they produced a week of music before being cooked for the exhibition’s closing reception. Artist Greg Niemeyer monitored environmental conditions including carbon dioxide output of the ripening process, right up to the point where they hit the sauce pot. The first movement uses four days worth of the data scanning it 600 times faster. The musical instrument is a software simulation of the ancient Greek hydraulis, or hydraulic organ. Both the simulation and the use of tomato data to play it belong to a fantasy in the spirit of the gallery exhibition. While neither is properly scientific, the two are combined to draw the listener into “a world where if you’ve ever sat in a forest or a garden and sensed the plants breathing, you’ll appreciate how the exhibit heightens and celebrates this sensation.” [Susan LaTempa, LA Times]

Speed Ripening

Speed Ripening, closing music from the Tomato Quintet (45′)

(2007) Chris Chafe

computer-generated sound

Premiered at Machine Project Gallery 31-Aug-2007

This is the music that was played in the gallery to an audience at the close of the Tomato Quintet exhibition. The ripened tomatoes were cooked into a sauce and served over pasta. During the meal the diners were treated to a symphony of sound from a fast scan through the previous days of the installation. Time was sped up to compress 10 days worth of data into about 45 minutes. The voicings here are exactly the same as the real-time ambient voicings during the 10 days.

Dinner Trio

Dinner Trio

(2007) Chris Chafe

Percussion, Viola, Bass Clarinet

Premiered at Machine Project Gallery 31-Aug-2007

At the close of the Tomato Quintet exhibition, ripened tomatoes were cooked into a sauce and served to the audience. During the meal, the diners were treated to a symphony of sounds derived from the previous days of the installation. A trio of musicians accompanied the sonification in a semi-scored improvisation. On the recording:

Lewis Keller – Percussion

Cat Lamb – Viola

Arrington de Dionyso – bass clarinet

Still Life

Still Life

(2007) Chris Chafe

ambient computer-generated sounds from the Tomato Quintet installation

Premiered at Machine Project Gallery 20-Aug-2007

Still Life plays back sounds recorded in the gallery during the exhibition.

Five vats of tomatoes were ripened for 10 days in the Tomato Quintet exhibition. Greg calls it a “New Media Still Life.” During the ripening process music was generated in real time by computer algorithms influenced by CO2, temperature and light readings from sensors in each vat. After the ripening, time was sped up and new music created at different time scales. A stand-alone computer music piece, “Tomato Music,” captures the spirit of the whole thing. At dinner time, a (human) trio accompanied one of the movements during the closing pasta-fest. Recent versions with salsa feed at the closing and salsa music by Jacob Wittenberg.
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