Memo Box (Noise Machine) – Ziyun


Title: Memo Box

Description: Memories, I believe, are made of 30% of oblivion, 20% of imagination and alteration, and maybe 50% of truth at the time. For when we try replaying them, they might be interlaced with other memories, the colors may not be correct, dialogues are sometimes non-sense, or even just white noises. The Memo Box is simply my attempt to mimic the “distortion” of memories in the sense of taking the memories from the original to dissected version, and then finally re-synthesize and add in noise flavor.


I’m recently very interested in glitch effects, and after a little googling I found a Max/MSP object that might fit my needs. Addition to that, I love crackling sounds, not sure if I’m using the right description words here but for example it’s like the sound of insects walking and their leg tips touching the soil or wood burning in the fire.

My sound source would be human voice telling one of his/her memory in one sentence and in a certain format [ Time, Subject Verb Object. I felt adj.: In 1995, I stole my mom’s lipstick. I felt exited. ]. I’ll manually chop the soundfile into individual words each in one clip.

(Optional) a background “music”, will also be modulated, glitched, distorted when interaction applies.


– The form of the interaction

Squeezing: The memory is stored in a sponge (not too soft), when you squeeze it, you’re distorting your memory, the harder you squeeze, the more distorted the memory would be. So I guess it’s the pressure sensor or the flex sensor that I’m looking for.

– The feedback of the interaction in terms of the sound will be

1. re-constructing the sentence with the same words but disordered.

2. stutter; pauses between words; speed;

3. sound texture: some word might be replaced by white noise, or  the word from other memories

4. lo-fi process and other effects: filter, reverb; delay; lfo, etc

Set up

A controller (sponge)

A headset

A chair

A computer (for max)

A screen ( visual feedback or not? )

Essentially I’ll need a surface to place my controller, a box to hide the computer, and a chair for people to sit comfortably and listen to the memories. The screen is something I haven’t decided on yet, but if I’m going to have it, then ideally I’d like it to be a television from the 90s.

Tools and Resources

Max/MSP for sounds ( 2d.wave~ object. )

Arduino for circuitry

Processing (for visual feedbacks)


Mike Kelley – Educational Complex : This is a sculpture work that actually has nothing to do with sound, but this where I initially got inspiration from. Mike tried to re-construct all the educational institutes he had attended fully from his memories but not from the actual blue prints. The final project certainly involves “distortions” but it’s also an interesting interpretation of how the author sees how these things.

Glitch music: As soon as I had the sentence and stutter idea, I thought of glitch music. Although I’ve always had interest in making glitch sounds but I realized that I actually haven’t listened to any glitch music! So I started listening through works of some glitch musicians such as Oval, Frank Bretschneider, Kim Cascone , etc. And I love the sound of it.

Research Plan

1. Experiment with the 2dwave~ object and sound effects in Max, extract the parameters that I’d like to implement into the controller, then make a “Knob” version out. Expect to spend most of the time on this part.

2. Experiment with the sensors and make the physical controller corresponds to the earlier “Knob” version.

3. Think about the visuals.


3 thoughts on “Memo Box (Noise Machine) – Ziyun

  1. Hi Ziyun,

    I was just thinking — and feel free to ignore this — but what if the voice of the visitors themselves was the interaction? Not sure exactly how this would work, but if you somehow were to encourage them to speak, and then this somehow affects the processing of the recording? I realize this adds a number of layers of complication, and may require your device to always be listened to on headphones…but anyway, just popped into my mind. 🙂

    • This is a great suggesting! I’m cool with headphones and was also thinking letting the visitors to speak their memories real-time into the machine, but then it would need auto word extracting/chopping if I still want to do the memory interlacing thingy. I guess for now, I might just experiment around and try to get a mockup. 🙂

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