Watching Europa Blog
I'm now onto the editing process for the project. From some 130 or so full size renders I've honed my selection down to the 53 clips which will make up the final show. These segments will be allocated to 13 seperate BluRay disks, each running 4 unique sequences (except for one, which will run 5 - as those of you who recognized my penchant for primes will have no doubt discerned).
This process is giving me a speed lesson in compression codecs - and it's about as mind-frazzling as it gets. I can tell you, though, that the end result is already panning out to exceed my expectations, and any of you who are anticipating the BluRay compilation are going to be very pleasantly surprised I think. Much of what I planned to do is not only possible but actually reasonably straightforward, including the full 5.1 soundtrack (which will feature on the compilation release only - the exhibition is designed to work in a different way, with each clip producing its own spatial source from the monitor on which it's played).
Because I need to keep track of so many different files (full rez clips, full rez with stereo sound, full rez with 5.1 sound, proxy editing files etc), I have a studio full of lists like the one above.
I've now completed the sound for each of the 53 individual segments that make up the entirety of Watching Europa.
In the same way that the images of WE are not meant to address the literal reality of Europan lifeforms, the soundscapes are designed to be evocative of the vast extraterrestrial oceans of Europa without attempting to be realistic. To this end, I've based the sound on the kinds of things we hear in terrestrial ocean recordings and tempered it with a musicality that I hope will give the sound the kind of cohesion that I've attempted with the image's colour palette.
In my studio I am able to simulate the final Watching Europa presentation by running 13 individual clip loops on my screens. I am pleased to say that the idea, which was necessarily executed in abstraction, is very succesful in practice. I wish there was some easy way for me to demonstrate it for you, but this is one experience you'll just have to witness in situ.
For those who are interested, the principle sound creation tools for the Watching Europa soundtrack were Native Intruments' Reaktor, Spectrasonics' Omnisphere and Sonic Solutions' Synplant. For environmental colour, I made extensive use of the Line 6 Podfarm and Audio Ease's Altiverb (particularly the TL Space Colors and Impressions modules). The tracks were designed in Cubase and edited in ProTools.
All the sound is created in 5.0 surround, and this is what you will hear on the BluRay release. The exhibition will necessarily require stereo sound from each of the 13 sources.
The March 2012 issue of Artlink features Watching Europa as part of its 'Pattern & Complexity' theme.
Curator and digital arts specialist Dr Melinda Rackham examines the works of Champagne Valentine, Mitchel Whitelaw, Tracy Cornish and myself, and the manner in which digital tools have informed the artistic aspects of the landscapes of pattern, evolution and complexity.
"Miller sees his work as a symbiosis between himself and the software he uses, rather than a linear process of cause and effect... Software sets a direction for the narrative to take, but does not dictate a fundamental endpoint. This is digital nature, where creative mutations come from uncertainty...
[In the highly rendered Watching Europa], randomly displayed combinations of strange creatures of unknown scale but undeniable beauty emerge contemplatively from purple and blue-hued depths. Watching these mysterious creatures, swirling in dusty water, communicating via harmonics, takes me to a poetic place deep within myself."
The Artlink website is subscriber access, so I can't hotlink you directly to the article itself, unfortunately, but the hard copy version is a good issue to have if you're at all interested in the pointy end of current explorations into digital art.