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Composing Holochoric Visual Music: Interdisciplinary Matrices · PDF file 2021. 2. 3. · Composing Holochoric Visual Music: Interdisciplinary Matrices Michael Jewell Rhoades ABSTRACT

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  • Composing Holochoric Visual Music:

    Interdisciplinary Matrices

    Michael Jewell Rhoades

    Dissertation submitted to the faculty of the Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University in

    partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of

    Doctor of Philosophy


    Visual Art, Musical Art, and Computer Science

    Zachary Duer

    Sang Won Lee

    Charles Nichols

    Nicholas Polys

    Thomas Tucker

    October, 29, 2020

    Blacksburg, Virginia

    Keywords: Visual Art, Music, Computer Science, Holography, Holophony, Extended reality,

    Augmented reality, Virtual reality, Algorithmic Composition, Aleatoric, Csound, Maya, MAX,

    Head-Mounted Display, AR, VR, XR, High-Performance Computing, Clustering

    Copyright © Michael Rhoades CC BY

    Office of Scholarly Communications, University Libraries, Virginia Tech

  • Composing Holochoric Visual Music: Interdisciplinary Matrices

    Michael Jewell Rhoades


    With a lineage originating in the days of silent films, visual music, in its current incarnation, is a

    relatively recent phenomenon when compared to an historically broad field of creative expression.

    Today it is a time-based audio/visual territory explored and mined by a handful of visual and

    musical artists. However, an extensive examination of the literature indicates that few of these

    composers have delved into the associable areas of merging virtual holography and holophony

    toward visual music composition. It is posited here that such an approach is extremely rich with

    novel expressive potential and simultaneously with numerous novel challenges. The goal of this

    study is, through praxis, to instantiate and document an initial exploration into the implementation

    of holochory toward the creation of visual music compositions.

    Obviously, engaging holochoric visual music as a means of artistic expression requires an

    interdisciplinary pipeline. Certainly, this is demonstrated in merging music and visual art into a

    cohesive form, which is the basis of visual music composition. However, in this study is revealed

    another form of interdisciplinarity. A major challenge resides with the development of the means

    to efficiently render the high-resolution stereoscopic images intrinsic to the animation of virtual

    holograms. Though rendering is a challenge consistent with creating digital animations in general,

    here the challenge is further exacerbated by the extensive use of multiple reflections and refractions

    to create complexity from relatively simple geometric objects. This reveals that, with the level of

    computational technology currently available, the implementation of high-performance computing

    is the optimal approach.

    Unifying such diverse areas as music, visual art, and computer science toward a common artistic

    medium necessitates a methodological approach in which the interdependency between each facet

    is recognized and engaged. Ultimately, a quadrilateral reciprocative feedback loop, involving the

    composer’s sensibilities in addition to each of the other facets of the compositional process, must

    be realized in order to facilitate a cohesive methodology leading toward viability.

  • This dissertation provides documentation of methodologies and ideologies undertaken in an initial

    foray into creating holochoric visual music compositions. Interlaced matrices of contextualization

    are intended to disseminate the processes involved in deference to composers who will inevitably

    follow in the wake of this research. Accomplishing such a goal is a quintessential aspect of

    practice-based research, through which new knowledge is gained during the act of creating. Rather

    than formulating theoretical perspectives, it is through the praxis of composing holochoric visual

    music that the constantly arising challenges are recognized, analyzed, and subsequently addressed

    and resolved in order to ensure progression in the compositional process. Though measuring the

    success of the resultant compositions is indeed a subjective endeavor, as is the case with all art,

    the means by which they are achieved is not. The development of such pipelines and processes,

    and their implementation in practice, are the basic building blocks of further exploration,

    discovery, and artistic expression. This is the impetus for this document and for my constantly

    evolving and progressing trajectory as a scholar, artist, composer, and computer scientist.

  • Composing Holochoric Visual Music: Interdisciplinary Matrices

    Michael Jewell Rhoades


    In this paper the author explores the idea that, owing to their shared three-dimensional nature,

    holophons and holograms are well suited as mediums for visual music composition. This union is

    ripe with creative opportunity and fraught with challenges in the areas of aesthetics and technical

    implementation. Squarely situated upon the bleeding edge of phenomenological research and

    creative practice, this novel medium is nonetheless within reach. Here, one methodological

    pipeline is delineated that employs the convergence of holography, holophony, and super-

    computing toward the creation of visual music compositions intended for head mounted displays

    or large-scale 3D/360 projection screens and high-density loudspeaker arrays.

  • v



    Zachary Duer, MFA - Chair

    School of Visual Arts

    Sang Won Lee

    School of Computer Science

    Charles Nichols

    School of Performing Arts

    Nicholas Polys

    Advanced Research and Computing

    Thomas Tucker, MFA

    School of Visual Arts

    Approved by:

    Karen DePauw

    Vice President and Dean for Graduate Education

    William Huckle

    Associate Dean of the Graduate School

  • vi


    There are many individuals to whom this dissertation is dedicated. Certainly, it is dedicated to my

    beloved wife, partner, and best friend Janet. She has endured numerous trying effects in putting

    her life on hold to allow the pursuit of this work. The gratitude I feel toward her is immeasurable.

    It is also dedicated to my wonderful daughter Madison and to my wonderful son Jordan. They have

    each, in their own way, grown into capable, active, and dynamic human beings of whom I am so

    very proud. This dissertation is further dedicated to several friends and family members who have

    stuck by my side during my absence over the past several years. It is my steadfast wish that all of

    the above mentioned receive the extreme gratitude I extend in their direction. I could not have

    approached this work without their understanding and support.

    Lastly, it is realized that we human beings experience our lives through the lenses of our particular

    perspectives. Therefore, it must be mutually understood here at the beginning that it is in accord

    with this realization that these perspectival views are collected and assembled. A clear perspective

    may lend objectivity to perspectives in general and, if it is possible, allude to that which is beyond

    them. Such is the intent of this work. However, though the notion of denoting a perceived truth is

    tantalizing, no matter how clearly symbolized by language and thought, it remains elusive in that

    we seem to exist within a constantly changing and evolving system. This ceaseless moment-to-

    moment rearrangement of the reality we seem to perceive renders any apparent realization in one

    moment impertinent in the next.

    Therefore, the goal here is to achieve a generalized view from a limited position in space/time in

    order to contribute a voice to a very broad chorus of views… past, present, and future. It cannot

    be determined that such an endeavor consists of any inherent value, per se. We nonetheless

    persevere in attempting to organize the fathomless into some sort of a linguistically based

    (symbolic) structure. Such a structure is willingly relegated to the eventuality of failure in essence

    if for no other reason than the consistency of life occurring. (In this context the terms time, space,

    change, and life can be considered synonymous.) As such this work can be considered little more

    than the fleeting vision of the one inspired to it. We seem to possess a brief moment in that which

    we construe as space/time and so we must do something. This is an example, in an infinite sea of

    examples, of it being occupied and rearranged.

  • vii

    In summary, this work is ultimately dedicated to the ever-shifting sands of space/time to which

    each of us contributes but a momentary minute grain.

  • viii


    This research project would not exist in its current form without the steadfast and insightful input

    from Professor Zach Duer. His extremely perceptive and steadfast input and discus