Making Meaning Matter

The Evergreen State College

Author: fisgra11

Graham CST post #10

“Kapriel went over to the Walk of Fame to take pictures of the robotic movie stars doing acrobatic busking acts.” M 404

Replicas of a replicas of a replicas of a replicas transformed through differing media a time periods.  Robots were created to mimic persona made famous by the theatre of the television screen.  A television series was filmed and broadcasted based on the persona of make-upped characters acting from fictional personality traits.  A screenplay was written for actors based on the perceived genuine persona of those people.  Is this not similar to the reproduction of goods?  China making fakes?  The real slowly gets distorted until the masses find it more interesting than real.  Then the distortion becomes what’s real and the actor has to fight to remain who they used to be.

Graham Iteration #4

Rotation: |

177 mm long

127 mm wide

63 mm tall

170 g

8.5 hour print time

photo 2

photo 1

Graham CST post week #9

“Better to keep your mouth shut and be thought a fool than to open it and remove all doubt.” Makers 401

Why is clear thinking so often associated with clear speech?  Obviously one who has the capacity to be intelligent and has the gift of language would not be considered a fool but why do we automatically assume the most vocal to be the most worldly?  Why are speech impaired people called “dumb”?  In my experience the most intelligent people do little talking, they are often the ones who listen to what others are saying and perceive their conclusions many steps in advance.  I believe in many cases people who vocalize their ideas are sharing them in order to help themselves fully understand them and to offer them up for peer scrutiny which is not a negative exercise but if they fully understood the concept it certainly would not be necessary to externalize it.  I believe language is a knowledge refining process.  One has to filter ideas through language to be able to share it and interrogate it.  True knowledge does not have a dialogue; it merely exists and is utilized in its pure form, enacting itself without the mediator of language.  Some of the most intelligent people in the world cannot speak.  Are babies still human before they gain speech?  Are they any more intelligent after they’ve learned?

Graham Blue Rabbit #3

What is the future of music?

How do we get there?




photo 1Blast Block

photo 2


1111Caxixi percussion ring

photo 3

photo 4

photo 5 Now I’m working on creating a 3d printed replacement leg for my floor tom.

The future of music is increased accessibility, custom timbres and instruments.  I began with this thought in mind and ran with it.  What can I create that I would not be able to afford?  What are the musical frontiers of this technology?  How can I use this technology to positively impact my music creation?  This is just the beginning.


Graham CST post week 8

“Webcam sites are a recent invention in a long line of practices in which human animals capture their nonhuman counterparts for the explicit purpose of watching them.” Yes Naturally 165

“I argue that MSA marks and lines externalize nothing but the very process of externalization.  That is, they are enactive projections.” How Things Shape the Mind 193

How are humans projecting “themselves” and how are those experiences mediated? Are we expanding our consciousness to other avatars or merely looking through little glass windows?  We create machines that enable us to view a scene transmitted from thousands of miles away, are we there experiencing it?  If our creations are physical projections, manifested cognition, has our agency been funneled into an entity with self-governance separate from out own?  If a man clones himself do they collectively have the same level of agency or is the progenitor the master?  Chronology is the only difference between them, if the clone went back in time he could be the creator of the original.  Perhaps the relationship should not be hierarchical.  Perhaps as we continue to create machines that outperform our abilities we should view them as “enactive projections.”  However we should be wary of possessive creating.  It is true that without the creator there would be no creations but humans are not the only creators.  Evolutionary progress is inevitable and can occur by an infinite variety of means.  It is conceivable that robots and machines could be born without our interference.  Given the impossible scale of the universe and its timeline, random particulates in space could construct themselves haphazardly, asteroids striking planets, diasporas of elements rippling outward by supernovas.  Perhaps in some place and time in the universe debris from a passing comet collided with lunar satellite, smashing them perfectly to form a robot.  Entropy fluctuates by itself, we are not its only regressor.

Graham CST post #7

“Transposing the conventional demarcation line of human conceptual architecture outside the brain but still inside the skin, the embodied-mind approach may have resolved the traditional “ghost in the machine” paradox by way of what Anderson (2003) calls the “physical grounding project,” but it also has created a sort of embodied cognitivism in which the material reality remains external and epiphenomenal to the cognitive structure.” Malafouris p. 65

While beginning to bridge the “mind” with the “external” Malafouris still cannot abstain from creating certain demarcations of the self.  The holographic nature of the universe ensures that everything is an order of magnitude within another order of magnitude.  The macro is mirrored in the micro and vis versa, they cannot be unraveled or untangled.  The problem is that humans are too used to inhabiting one’s own body, we must explore other ways of existing to realize that we are viewing the universe through just a tiny porthole.  It is interesting to me that we leave our ego behind each night in our dreams and join the ocean of consciousness only to be refunneled upon waking.  Does the same essence that left the body come back, or does a different essence enter us every day, functioning under the mode of our particular neural topography?

Graham’s 2nd iteration

Graham Fisher

Iteration #2: The Text


What are the boundaries of creating musical instruments?

Struck by a blinding flash of luminous innovation, by a fertile moonbeam of unencumbered imagination, my gaping mouth opened like a landing strip.  I hoped that the vacuum of each of my inhales would draw the object of my amazement just a bit closer, reeling in the machine and the person who pulled it down the sidewalk.  The little man who pulled the machine was drawing quite a lot of attention from the passing crowds, children everywhere dropped their ever-changing lollipops and let go of their kaleidoscope balloon animals as sounds from the machine hit their ears, their parents had to pry them away.  But the man kept rolling down the street, a big smile on his face and an arm behind him towing the enigmatic piece of audiophonic equipment mounted in the bed of a bright red radio-flyer wagon.

I could not let this opportunity pass me by, this little man had created something magical and I would never forgive myself if this wonderful device was blogged by one of my competitors.  My paranoia began to escalate as more and more eyes, undoubtedly endowed with retinal mounted computer interfaces turned to the man’s singing, trilling creation.  And so I shook off my dumbstruck pose and took off to get the scoop for my tech blog.  Walking up to the man he seemed slightly perturbed as I blocked his way.  Before he had time to utter a grievance I tapped my teeth together, enlivening the audio recording device implanted in my front tooth, and let spill out a long embellished streak of compliments and ass-kissing whirlwinding him into a docile mindset, ripe for an interview.  He was clearly proud of his work and the attention it was getting.  “Nothing in the world like it,” he boasted to me with a grin from ear to ear.

First, before you hear the noble words of the machine’s most illustrious creator, I will attempt to describe his device without a breadth of mechanical understanding or the aid of photographic evidence.  Positioned upright in its red radio-flyer trolley, the apparatus looked like a disheveled heap of band instruments smushed together, as if on the way to a concert a brassband’s tour bus had crashed, entangling all the components of the luggage compartment.  But instead of a static pile of brass and wood the machine bent and moved, constantly rearranging its flexible parts into different formations, never staying in one position for very long but resurgences of familiar shapes happened in varying intervals.  It all seemed to be made of the same material, its dullish grey hue was characteristic throughout however the flowing nature its movement was alien to any alloy I had knowledge of.  Suddenly down the street an AI driven magnetic railcar shrieked on its tracks to halt for crossing pedestrians, from a passenger seat someone yelled and shook their fist out the window.  Instantly, as if struck by the lightening, the mysterious device remodeled itself, shaping a corner into a dull grey cone.  Simultaneously another corner took on the characteristic of a semi hollow box.  Emanating from these two openings I was amazed to hear audio loops of the sounds of the shrieking railcar and the yelling passenger mimicked perfectly.  These sound clips were then stretched and rephrased, woven into an audiological ecosystem of other sounds from the busy street being mimicked by the machine.  This was an incredible invention indeed.  The ability to create an entirely unique and creative soundtrack to one’s environment based on the sounds present in one’s environment in real-time without digital interference, staggering.  The implications are earth-changing.  What does this mean for the future of music?  What does this mean for the future of musicians?  How does this change how we interact with sound?  I intended to find out.

“What is this thing?” I asked, clearly still dumbstruck.

“My latest invention! It’s a Phonaudiopneumatic-transmogrifying-soundscapliofier!” explained the visibly bubbling inventor while stumbling over the name.  I had to ask him to repeat it at least five times.

After taking me back to his workshop and walking through a hanger full of tools and failed versions of the machine I came to learn that it was made out of a special composite material (patent pending) only recently developed by the inventor that reacted sympathetically with the sound wave vibrations in the air.  The waves acted like ocean waves on a cliffside, eroding it particular depressions based on the characteristics of the sound, bass sounds dug out large caves, higher sounds cut out little swaths, etc.  The real insight had come when the inventor had discovered that he could use high functioning computer analytics to process the raw data from the material, introduce counter frequencies and use the depressions from the incoming sounds to emanate outgoing sounds in the exact same frequency.  Then he implanted a music generative algorithm AI into the whole system to coordinate the process and BAM the device was born.  The radio-flyer had been the easiest way to get it around town without having to build an integrated housing.  He told me his favorite activity was to going to the park or the beach and watching the machine draw a crowd of children as it sung them bird songs and sea shanties.

“Where did you go to school?  From whom did you get your chutzpah?” I asked, anticipating loads of emails from my blog readers.

“I was launched into this direction by fellow student collaborators from the Evergreen State College.  For decades their 3d printers have been churning out inventions in acoustics, experimenting with materials and designs for the exploration of sound.  But what initially attracted me to the idea of combining computational design with musical properties was an article I found online.”

“The person who created this article clearly understood the effect that computational design could have on music and musicians.  They catalog experimental instruments, instruments that have no equivalent using traditional building techniques, instruments that could not be made without computers and 3d printing.  The article also explores 3d printed enhancements to traditional instruments as well as the printing of the instruments themselves.  This is where I got the idea to take advantage of natural occurring sounds but then also to advance them past the limits of traditional sound making.”

“Another landing point of discovery was a design I encountered from a Swedish drum manufacturing company.  This company sought to compress all the timbres of a full drum set into a small and portable package, the Gigpig.  This self-contained percussion instrument set up can be folded into itself, allowing a drummer to set up quickly and easily, making impromptu performances virtually anywhere possible.  The intelligent design, created using computer software turns a huge drumset with five or six different drums as well as all the hardware and components into one small fully functional, full sounding instrument.  Finding this liberating contraption bolstered my confidence in computational design’s ability to craft instruments perfectly designed for the performer.”

“As much as I love browsing the internet for ideas and inspiration, when it comes down to the nuts and bolts of a project academic journals and peer reviewed articles are far more reliable for credible and well thought out information.  One of the first pieces of academic writing that I came across which applied to my purposes was a biomedical journal that explored the acoustic properties of a common 3d printed filament, PLA.  This information was extremely valuable when I was composing an easily moldable material that would be ideal for my project.”

“Another model for my experimentation with 3d printed instruments came from a case study out of Oxford.  In this instance, a professional cornet’s interested in 3d printing found archaic designs for a cornet which hadn’t existed for hundreds of years.  With lots of diligence and hard work she was able to create a computer model of the ancient instrument and print it out.  While not playable it did provide a working model for master craftsmen to be able to create the instrument in its native form.  Just another example of lost arts being revamped by 3d printing.”

“Finally, the last component of research which aided my developing project was a glimpse into the business and anthropological impacts of the 3d printing revolution.  As many new technologies inspire competitors and thieves I was quite worried about attracting people who might choose to steal my idea and hamper my research so this article was very helpful, outlining ways to prevent this and how to launch my idea to the free market.”

I closed the interview with a handshake and goodbye, the sounds of which were promptly mimicked and mixed into a composition by the Phonaudiopneumatic-transmogrifying-soundscapliofier, a soundtrack to my departure.

Works Cited

“3d Printed Instruments.” Printed Instruments -. N.p., n.d. Web. 04 Nov. 2014.

“Biomedical Materials.” Longitudinal Acoustic Properties of Poly(lactic Acid) and Poly(lactic-co-glycolic Acid). N.p., n.d. Web. 04 Nov. 2014.

“Early Music.” CAD Modelling and 3D Printing for Musical Instrument Research: The Renaissance Cornett as a Case Study. N.p., n.d. Web. 04 Nov. 2014.

“Home.” Gigpig Percussion Instruments. N.p., n.d. Web. 04 Nov. 2014.

Striukova, Thierry Rayna And Ludmila. “The Impact of 3D Printing TECHNOLOGIES on Business Model Innovation.” (n.d.): n. pag. Web.

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Graham CST post week 6

“The Carballos do not feel particularly safe, secure, or comfortable.  Now they’ve been robbed twice and are scrambling economically and have moved around so much that they feel like they have few friends. Times are hard; they have had to move in with Marta’s aunt.  Juan Carlos pinned his hopes on a Kreonite machine that could develop large transparencies for commercial use – the only machine like it in their town of Salta.” Material World p. 125

Simple technologies put in the hands of an individual with a creative mind and a creative goal can change the world.  Give people the skills and tools to affect their environment and they will, especially if some impasse had impeded them without those skills or tools.  Restrictions and setback strengthen the foundations of a process like the tempering of a blade.  Observing the opposite group tinkering with 3d design programs throughout these weeks I have been witnessing people engaging oppositions to their success with tools previously unavailable to them: computer knowledge, 3d printers, and experts.  How frequently are one’s dreams of creating something, doing something, building something deemed impossible when the tools or the expertise are not present?  Do the tools necessitate the dreams or do the skills necessitate the dreams?  In a story I wrote last year called “Space Pirate” I explore a scenario where a man’s singular vison of spaceflight overcome his lack of tools, expertise and finance.  Here’s an excerpt:

“Day and night were spent drawing up diagrams and schematics, making lists of parts to acquire and books to steal from the library.  Fred was the first space pirate.  Students noticed a man at universities sneaking into lectures by chemical propulsion specialists, aircraft engineers, rocket scientists.  Campus guards were told to watch for a man watching through windows as students were taught welding, riveting, carpentry, woodworking and forging in community colleges, but they didn’t know that he was sure to tape the latch as they left so he could practice at night.  Wrecking yard security officers were on the lookout for an average build man who was seen in surveillance records hitting junk yards in the area nightly, tossing whatever he could over the chain link fence before the dogs got to him.  Librarians all over the city remember a man inquiring about books containing information about electrical engineering, home improvement and astrophysics and when they went to check on his progress they found whole sections of the library cleaned out.  The news of a local television station reported that a salvage boat captain allegedly had his vessel stolen out the marina near the waters where expended rocket boosters from an Apollo mission had been jettisoned before exiting the atmosphere.  The manager from a novelty food store found his entire stock of Food-in-a-Tube, all six flavors including mashed potatoes and gravy, spaghetti with meatballs, chicken noodle soup, even waffles and maple syrup had completely disappeared from the minute backroom warehouse of his small specialty grocery.  Wholesaler and local grocery stores alike would be stuck ordering twice the amount of plain sugar and potassium nitrate (stump remover) week after week without anyone putting together that these are the exact ingredients for homemade rocket fuel.”

Graham Fisher CST post week 5

“If the human mind is not the clearly demarcated information-processing representational device so neatly objectified in the familiar exemplar of a computer, what is it?” Malafouris p. 31


Our mind has developed to be the vehicle that keeps us alive.  Looking at it in a way in which one categorizes it as separate from the body or the external world fails to acknowledge the role that other aspects have had in shaping who we are.  The brain is only a particular function of the body and is not the sole embodiment of our system of life and propagation.  In our anthropological studies of 3d printing how can we keep this in mind when studying our fellow students?  Should we not ask the hands questions? The eyes? Or have we only really ever been communicating with our mouths and not our brains at all?

Graham Fisher Iteration #1: The Idea

Graham Fisher

Iteration #1: The Idea


What are the boundaries of creating musical instruments?

On a planet already loaded with too much stuff, what idea is worth turning into more stuff?  Stuff that transcends stuff.  Stuff that makes music, oscillating vibrations of the air and/or itself. Stuff that dematerializes and then rematerializes meaning.  Stuff translating a dialogue between matter and immateriality.

My idea is to create a plethora of 3d printed instruments.  Some initial ideas include a variety of percussion instruments: a guiro, a series of tonal “wood” blocks, a cixixi rattle ring, a few shakers and perhaps a “steel” drum.  I will certainly have to experiment with designs to perfect the acoustic properties of each idea since for the most part these instruments were created using wood or other non-plastic materials which have quite different timbre profiles than the P.L.A we are using.

As technology advances so does the art of the time period.  Advances in recording techniques and manufacturing materials in the early 20th century completely altered the popular music landscape, increased its accessibility and dramatically changed its artistic direction.  Developments in music production in the past few decades have changed the way music is created.  DJs and producers can be inspired, write, record, mix and perform all in the same day using a computer with infinite varieties of digital instruments and orchestration, some prerecorded, some altered and even some completely imaginary.  3d printers allow a further level of customization and manipulation of sound.  Computers using 3d printers are able to create impossible to construct instruments through traditional means of instrument.  The possibilities are endless: exotic timbres, acoustics built into architecture, custom instruments, at home, printable orchestras.  This is the new evolution of our ever-changing musical tools.

Parker, N. G. “Biomedical Materials.” Longitudinal Acoustic Properties of Poly(lactic Acid) and Poly(lactic-co-glycolic Acid). 9 Sept. 2010. Web. 21 Oct. 2014.

There are a number of science labs across the country and the world experimenting with P.L.A (the filament we print with) and using it in surprising contexts.  This particular study test P.L.A for use as a sound dampening material to use in construction.  Traditional sound dampening materials are heavy and expensive but specially designed P.L.A fiber pockets could be quickly printed and used cheaply in modern construction. (This application of P.L.A is kind of the opposite purpose that I would be using it for in my experimentation but the research data is extremely valuable.)

“3D Printing In Popular Culture: A New Character Is Born – Blog-” 3D Printing In Popular Culture: A New Character Is Born – Blog- Web. 21 Oct. 2014.

3d printing is so new that much of the general public doesn’t even know it exists.  This article documents a few examples of the emergence of 3d printing into popular culture and its applications in fashion, representation in media and potential in video games.  It could turn into a fad.

“3d Printed Instruments.” Printed Instruments -. Web. 21 Oct. 2014.

3d printed instruments are of course the subject of my inquiry and this article was what first inspired me to appreciate its potential.  This page contains hundreds of prototypes and tested examples of theoretical and applied 3d printed musical instruments.  Some are variations on existing instruments enabling new sounds; others are attachments and accessories, still others are imaginary instruments with the potential to create some very unique timbres.

So what?  How can that question even be asked?  The implications and applications of 3d printing have not yet even begun to be explored.  We have no idea how this device might alter our culture, our perceptions, our religions.  This is assuredly an exciting time to be watching all this unfold and I believe that music and musicians, undeniably at the forefront of experimentation and technological innovation, is an interesting place from which to observe the progress.  Plunging into this avenue of investigation will not only allow me to do research in a field that is at its infant stage and which requires an enthusiastic involvement that I luckily possess but will further progress my own musical development.  I hope to exit my investigative engagement with tacit knowledge in the process of 3d printing and its acoustic properties as well as a few useful creations that I can be proud of and utilize to their full extent.

CST post week 3

“According to Wegner, it is instead the potter’s brain that has the reasons, in the form of a ‘readiness potential’ (RP), at least 350 milliseconds before the potter’s conscious awareness of the wish to act.” Malafouris 220

Does a RP precede every conscious action? Is this why artists and creators let their work flow through them instead of imposing themselves onto the work?  If the conscious mind was involved in every action would this be too slow?  Perhaps this is a place to contrast humans and animals.  Are animals able to react quicker than humans to stimuli because they don’t have to bounce a thought off their conscious awareness before they act?   We are forced to funnel our thoughts through an “ego filter” before we are able to make any sort of action, serving to alienate us from our environment and a common reference of time.

Week 1 CST

The lab bustled with activity.  Computer arbiters seized their processing machines, wrenching the controls furiously.  Involuntary facial expressions on the faces of these young 3d world builders allude to a subconscious turmoil, a pull between potentiality and reality.  In their minds millions of tiny skirmishes are taking place on a microscopic level.  At a crux, when a neuron faces the impasse of two choices, one synaptic branch or the other, this is the firefight.  A metronome of futures engaged in combat.  There can be only one.