Sunday, March 05, 2006

March 6, 2006: Jason Freeman

March 6, 2006: Jason Freeman

Episode 95 of Some Assembly Required is on the way...
In fact, I'm trying something new this week. I uploaded the file before blogging, and about 12 hours earlier than usual. It is approaching noon, Sunday, as I type this. I usually wait until after midnight, in order to be able to say it was done on Monday, but what I'm learning is that if I want the podcast to be available by Monday at iTunes (which is its primary download location, I've found), then I need to start uploading the file earlier. This week 12 hours early, next week even earlier, if it looks like it needs even more time. We'll see...

The artist featured this week is Jason Freeman, who submitted to the SAR Q&A, very briefly, and is interviewed on the program as well. Freeman is another professor to be featured here, at the Some Assembly Required blog. I first heard about him while remodeling a basement in South Minneapolis. All Things Considered (NPR) was on the radio in the kitchen, and the owner of the house yelled down to me to come up and listen to an artist interview. She'd recently asked what I did with my spare time, and I'd told her all about Some Assembly Required. She was right to think I'd be interested in hearing that interview with Jason Freeman, and a couple of months later, I contacted him about doing my own interview, for Some Assembly Required.

The project we discuss in Episode 95, is something he calls Network Auralization for Gnutella (or N.A.G. for short). It's interactive software art, and its programmed to work with the user to create a musical sound collage. An individual types in a keyword or two, and the program looks for matches at Gnutella (an online file sharing network). After downloading matching MP3 files, the software then manipulates the audio files based on the structure of the Gnutella network itself.

I wasn't sure I understood that last part, so I went online to find more information... After reading an article about the project, at New Music Box (the Web Magazine from the American Music Center), I think I know enough to be able to explain it thusly: Audio files are prioritized by the length of time it takes them to download, so the selection of audio is first made by the program's user and then influenced by the program's design... So, files which download more quickly are heard more often, as they mix in and out, in conjunction with how many other sound files have registered, as a result of the user's selection criteria. I think...

Pretty complicated, huh? Perhaps not so difficult to try though. It sounded pretty user friendly, at least when explained to me by the man who designed it. The results are pretty noisy, but thanks to the concepts which drive them, they can be interesting to listen to. There are a couple of examples to be heard in this week's podcast of Some Assembly Required, along with an interview with Jason Freeman. Network Auralization for Gnutella was made possible with a grant from New Radio and Performing Arts, for its Turbulence website, where you can find more information about the project. And now... the very brief SAR Q&A with Jason Freeman...


*Name: Jason Freeman

*Tape manipulations, digital deconstructions or turntable creations: Digital deconstructions

I'm now based in Atlanta, but am originally from Miami.

*What is your creative/artistic background:
I hold a doctorate in composition from Columbia University in New York and currently am a professor at Georgia Tech.

I see my interactive "software art" as a way to reflect about the music we listen to and the ways we listen to it. By algorithmically generating collages from existing material, I also hope to reveal new connections and relationships between them.

*Web address:


Thanks to Jason Freeman, for participating in this week's SAR Q&A. He goes into far more detail in our interview, for Some Assembly Required, Episode 95 - coming up next - so be sure to check that out...

Let me know if you have any comments/suggestions about the site, the podcast, the blog, etc. We're growing quickly this year, and always working things out - so listener feedback is key! Please get in touch with me via my email address at the contact page, at the SAR website.

Thanks for listening!
Jon Nelson


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