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Salman Bakht

Graduate Student, Media Arts and Technology, UC Santa Barbara

Salman Bakht

Salman Bakht is a new media artist and composer currently studying in the Media Arts and Technology Program at UC Santa Barbara. Salman’s work focuses on the reproduction and transformation of recorded audio through algorithmic and natural processes. Combining the fields of media ecology, information theory, soundscape composition, and sound installation art, his dissertation research explores compositional techniques involved in the representation of media types as sonic environments.

Salman’s recent artistic works include the sound installation Cooper Union: Nodes and Passages presented at the Rites of Passage exhibition at The Cooper Union in New York and the multimedia installation LovelyWeather created in collaboration with Christopher Jette and Alejandro Casazi. Salman’s compositions have been performed at the Toronto Electroacoustic Symposium, Sea and Space in Los Angeles, and the New York-based free103point9, and he has curated several concerts on the UCSB campus.

His academic work includes software development for Clarence Barlow’s automatic accompaniment program, PAPAGEI and development of software and research reports for the University of California’s Transliteracies Project. Salman has a master’s degree from Columbia University and a bachelor’s degree from The Cooper Union, both in Electrical Engineering.

Links: Home page | CV | Nodes and Passages

Research Sample: From “Noise, Nonsense, and the New Media Soundscape” (2009)

[W]hile this channel noise is an undesirable limitation of physical existence, an understanding of these disturbances provides knowledge of the nature of the environment we inhabit. A work of art that aims to represent a physical space or any other communication medium must therefore represent these disturbances. However, many of these disturbances can only be perceived when a signal is introduced into the channel. Further the perceptual result of a disturbance on a signal is dependent on the nature of the signal. Therefore, in order to understand our relationship to a medium, the signal that excites the communication channel must resemble the type of signal commonly used. To fully appreciate the qualities of a concert hall, one must listen to a musical performance, and one of the appropriate genre, within it. But by creating a work of art in this manner, presenting a realistic signal within the medium to be observed, the artist risks drawing attention to content rather than the medium. This is where nonsense can be of use. . . .

These nonsense signals may be used as an element in a larger artistic work aimed at representing the properties of the medium they inhabit. Although nonsense signals lack intrinsic meaning, this does not imply that the work of art as a whole lacks meaning. On the contrary, the use of nonsense signals shifts the level of interpretation outside of the channel itself so that we are immune to what Marshall McLuhan describes in Understanding Media as the “numbness” or “blocking of perception” caused by the medium. . . .

The practice of using nonsense in art brings attention to a signal that lacks meaning, or one with low information content. I suggest that this constitutes a fourth listening practice that I call “directed listening.” Just as distracted listening is accomplished by the listener’s deliberate shifting of a high information sound to a low level of attention, directed listening is accomplished deliberately by the electroacoustic artist either by drawing attention to a low information sound or by the removal of information content or meaning from an existing sound signal source.

Contributions to Transliteracies Project:

  • MONK Project (with Pehr Hovey and Kris McAbee)

  • Open Journal Systems (with Pehr Hovey and Aaron McLeran)

  • A Comparison of Development Platforms for Social Network Data Visualizations

  • Document Database Integration for the Professional Social Environment (ProSE)
  •   Kimberly Knight, 05.17.09

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