THE IDEA MACHINE
SITTING DOWN TO CREATIVE WORK OFTEN MEANS A CONFRONTATION with a hideous beast — the blank page. You probably like particular sounds, rhythmic patterns or melodic schemes; color combinations, subject matter or formal techniques; or lyrical concerns and beat-flows. Yet the need to proceed makes you wish that, at least temporarily, you weren’t you.
You need a jolt to see new sights within yourself, to get into the habit of breaking habits. And Akira Rabelais’ Argeïphontes Lyre software, a number of versions of which he’s made available in recent years, can help with that. AL is a macOS application that creates an environment in which sound, words and images (and various combinations thereof) can be generated, ripped open, melted down, subtly enhanced or annihilated. The running theme is that, though the user can specify the parameters for manipulating the sound file or images or text, most likely the result will be entirely unpredictable. This elevates Argeïphontes above being a mere digital-effects software; you might think of it as an ideas machine. But your own good or even mediocre thoughts are what allow it to collaborate successfully with you — you have to feed it first. The experience is humbling; as you shovel in a favored sound or video image, you’re conceding that you hunger to interact with something/someone outside of yourself. In the process, though, you get to know yourself by asking yourself questions.
Argeïphontes Lyre is roughly based on the concept of granular synthesis, a means of making a big new sound by breaking apart and reordering smaller amounts of audio material. The user determines the new sound’s parameters (timing, pitch, envelope, etc.) with a set of puckishly named functions such as Eviscerator Reanimator (procedural recombination, granular resynthesis, segmentation), Faltung In Zeit (convolution with a time domain aspect), Time Domain Mutation (recombination based on genetic algorithms), The Lobster Quadrille (live recombination with various time/frequency effects) and Widscriðel Scrythylle (wave cycle distortion with draw function crest and trough shaping). In addition, Rabelais has taken these ideas about sound potentials and broadened them to visual and text milieus. Perhaps most interesting about Argeïphontes is its ability to dissolve borders between artistic modes via utilities tools like Shifting Paradigmatically, which can translate audio to text, text to audio, audio to video and video to audio.
To paraphrase Thomas Pynchon: There is more randomness in life and the universe than any of us can admit to and stay relatively sane. Embracing the randomness, however, helps us see the possible in daily creative expression.
– John Payne | LA Weekly
Argeïphontes Lyre is a set of Creative DSP filters, generators, and synthesis techniques for audio, video and text files on the macOS platform. Recombination, Mutation, Distortion, Symmetries, and Strange Attractors. Chaotic implementations of various contradistinctive arithmetic branches: ambition, distraction, uglification, and derision.
Audio filters: Sinuosus (sine/square/sine wave cycle generator with draw function define, equal temperament and microtonal tunings), Asteriscum (ring modulation), Faltung In Zeit (convolution with a time domain aspect), Yggdrasil raíces (polyphonic vector wavestacking note constructor, somewhat chaotic), Time Domain Erosion (erosive distortion physical modeling), A Subtle Despondence (granulated time domain phase distortion), Dynamic State Veryabyll (second order filtering), Loplop et la Belle Jardinière (continuous recombination with various time/frequency effects), la poquito Translocación Binaural (stereo positioning with draw function define), Sleightes sorting and shuffling (Blumlein delta algorithm stereo shuffling), Wrought of sterres bryht (mean amplitude displacement), Baktunkatuntunuinalkin (20 x 20 matrix delay with oblivion modeling), Eviscerator Reanimator (procedural recombination, granular resynthesis, segmentation), Time Domain Mutation (genetic algorithm recombination), The Lobster Quadrille (realtime recombination with various time/frequency domain effects), Widscriðel Scrythylle (wave cycle distortion with crest/trough shaping), Concatenate (file concatenation utility), Ouroboros (file looping), Kinbakubi (algorithmic thread layering with time domain effects), Noise (tunable noise generator)
Image filters: Animated by the winding of horns • (graphical representation of audio), Kinetograph and Kinetoscope (images to video), Symmetries Seventeen (symmetry generator based on crystallographic groups), L’attraction étrange (image/video generator based on chaotic math trigonometry), Area = π r² Generalization (monochrome spatial data generalization), Blocks Circles * (layered data generalization)
Text filters: Mutacyouns of fortune fletyn with-owte (genetic algorithm recombination), Signing for Soul and Body, set to them my name (file renaming), Oh fie, fie, ’tis an vnweeded Garden That growes to Seed (algorithmic text seed generation), Exit pursued by a Beare * (casual Shakespeare game)