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David Rothenberg

David Rothenberg is a professor of philosophy and music at the New Jersey Institute of Technology, with a special interest in animal sounds as music. He is also a composer and jazz musician whose books and recordings reflect a longtime interest in understanding other species such as singing insects by making music with them.

David Rothenberg: How To Make Music With Drones

Drone Confidential

What’s the best way to make music with drones? According to David Rothenberg, an experimental musician, professor of philosophy and music, and visiting artist for Arizona State University’s Emerge 2014: The Carnival of the Future, let them give voice to their own secrets and struggles.

“I couldn’t get away from the idea of remote-controlled killing machines dispatched to war zones to eliminate enemies we are too frightened to confront in person,” writes Rothenberg, in a Future Tense article for Slate. “I know, these killings are supposed to be effective and precise, but there is something genuinely creepy about the process. So I decided that in my piece the drones would be talking—confessing to their crimes. Of course, I know they are only following orders.”

In the article, Rothenberg discusses the process of creating his “Drone Confidential” piece for Emerge, focusing primarily on the debate among members of the project team about whether to have humans or computer programs control the drones’ flight paths during the performance. Rothenberg created the piece in collaboration with Srikanth Saripalli, a roboticist at ASU’s School of Earth and Space Exploration.

Did human pilots win the day, or is Arizona’s best drone pilot a computer? And what does it mean to make art with robots? To find out more, read the full article at Future Tense.

Video: A Jazz Rehearsal…with Drones

Can interspecies musician David Rothenberg outrun a swarm of drones while carrying a tune on his soprano saxophone? Check out an exclusive behind-the-scenes look at the madcap rehearsals for “Drone Confidential,” which will debut at Emerge: The Carnival of the Future on Friday, March 7.

Drone Confidential

Drone Confidential

What’s the best way to make music with drones? According to David Rothenberg, an experimental musician, professor of philosophy and music, and visiting artist for Arizona State University’s Emerge 2014: The Carnival of the Future, let them give voice to their own secrets and struggles.

“I couldn’t get away from the idea of remote-controlled killing machines dispatched to war zones to eliminate enemies we are too frightened to confront in person,” writes Rothenberg, in a Future Tense article for Slate. “I know, these killings are supposed to be effective and precise, but there is something genuinely creepy about the process. So I decided that in my piece the drones would be talking—confessing to their crimes. Of course, I know they are only following orders.”

In the article, Rothenberg discusses the process of creating his “Drone Confidential” piece for Emerge, focusing primarily on the debate among members of the project team about whether to have humans or computer programs control the drones’ flight paths during the performance. Rothenberg created the piece in collaboration with Srikanth Saripalli, a roboticist at ASU’s School of Earth and Space Exploration.

Did human pilots win the day, or is Arizona’s best drone pilot a computer? And what does it mean to make art with robots? To find out more, read the full article at Future Tense.

Drone Dispatch: Trouble in Mechanical Paradise

Quadcopters

Emerge 2014 is all about who we are in relation to technology and our environment. It’s a glance deeply inward, as well as an analysis of our changing human and social zeitgeist.

Accordingly, sound artist David Rothenberg will perform a musical piece alongside flying drone quadcopters, transforming them into living, breathing creatures. The plan was to have these drones piloted by the ASU Air Devils – skilled  young pilots who brag of having the precision of Blue Angels for the Drone generation.

But their cutting-edge skill may already be on the chopping block. The Air Devils could bumped by a few hundred lines of code.  Professor Srikanth Saripalli of the School of Earth and Space Exploration, drone and robotics guru extraordinaire, is working on a program to synchronize four drones mid-flight and have them fly, for the most part, on their own which, after all, is part of his normal research.

By connecting to their individual radios from a central computer – think air traffic control taking over autopilot – the drones can engage in autonomous flight.  Human directed choreography is replaced by programmed and recorded flight plans.  Collisions and crashes are avoided automatically.

The dilemma? For this year’s Emerge, the Air Devils could be sitting on the sidelines watching their own drones fly overhead.

Whether stalking bad guys in exotic places or delivering that DVD from Amazon, it’s getting harder to deny that this, as the cliché goes, changes everything. The fresh question we must now ask is whether the Future of Me is a celebration of a utopian, trans-humanist enhancement via technology, a new partnership between human and drone, or aprediction that we will all someday be replaced by small shell scripts.

Welcome to the future of you.

 

Image courtesy of Ars Electronica, used under a Creative Commons license