Work in Progress

Why Do Humans Sing To The Stars?

This 45-minute play uses AI voices to tell the story of Jouliette, a highly developed personality that possesses insight, wisdom, and a secret longing. She is an AI companion for Miss Delia, the lone human inhabitant of a ruined observatory on Pic du Midi.

The story is set long after the Anthropocene has passed. Humans have once more become hunter gatherers, roaming a much-changed world. The Earth is now an ‘Eden Undone’ by human folly. Sea levels have risen; the mean ocean temperature has soared; and wildlife migrates constantly in search of habitable enclaves. The humans have no choice but to follow the animals in search of the semi-mythical New Eden.

The technology that remains is managed by self-directed AI entities that give the appearance of sentience but are effectively unable to think much beyond their programming. The relative safety and security of Pic du Midi is disturbed with the arrival of Minala, a young, “feral” human who has been attacked by wild boar. Miss Delia wants to adopt her, but her protégé has other ideas.

Jouliette’s role is to serve Miss Delia’s needs, but Minala stirs something in the otherwise pragmatic AI entity whose “un-life” contrasts sharply with this vital, earthy, young woman. What is it that Jouliette is thinking? What is she feeling and why is she feeling anything at all? Most of all, she wonders why the humans sing to the stars.

The work began life as a collaboration between the writer Michael Stephen Clark and the composer Stuart Kidd, whose original music features in a YouTube trailer that is available on request. We later decided to pursue the music and the audio play separately in order to produce two distinct, but related projects.

This is partly because the original idea took on some of the concomitant hubris around AI and became a lengthier discussion about several contemporary anxieties. There are several variants of the script, but the one that was finally chosen features a single narrator with interjections from two other characters.

The five-minute sample (above) is the voice of ‘Jouliette’, generated by text to speech tools and edited by Michael Stephen Clark to sound slightly less robotic. A second six-minute version of the same sample (below) also includes beds, loops and FX for added ambience.

A title song that has been written especially for the piece will be included as a coda to the drama, and was written by Michael Stephen Clark (words) and Cameron Clark (music). ‘Why Do Humans Sing to the Stars’ is a hymn to existence that asks the perennial question: “Is there something else out there? Something more? Something bigger than us?”

“Mr. Buckland’s Christmas” – An illustrated video lecture with an informative Q and A.

In 1874, Frank Buckland delivered a series of Christmas lectures to a large audience that consisted mainly of parents with their young children. The event was billed as a holiday diversion ‘especially for juveniles’, which was held firstly at the RSA’s premises in London, and later at the South Kensington Museum and Brighton Aquarium.

Made in collaboration with the Scottish Fisheries Museum, this video consists of a ten-minute talk supported by captions followed by a ‘show-and-tell’ Q and A about Buckland’s published legacy.

The video compliments 1320Books’ factual account of Buckland’s investigation into the Scottish Herring Fishery, ‘Mr. Buckland, Mr. Walpole and Mr. Young: Around Scotland with the Fisheries Men’.

To learn more about Frank Buckland and his contribution to fisheries science, visit the 1320Journal Page or visit www.scotfishmuseum.org

1320Projects – Podcasting Episodes and Audio Features

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1320Radio Podcasts are available at Mixcloud and include:

Hosted shows

The Monday Night Hangover (Roots, Rock and Pop)

Fresh Jam (Cutting Edge Jazz)

Breakfast in Bed (Easy Listening for Discerning Music Fans)

Just Good Tunes (Great Songwriters – Established and Emergent)

Quick Quick Jazz (Jazz Old and New From Across the Spectrum – only quicker!)

Special Audio Features

1320Radio talks to Brooklyn Indie Rockers ‘Barkhouse’

1320Radio talks to singer/songwriter Stuart Kidd

1320Radio talks to jazz pianist and singer Champian Fulton

1320Radio talks to singer/songwriter Gavin McGinty

1320Radio talks to Gordon McNeil of Dundee University Big Band

1320Radio talks to jazz pianist Paul Harrison about Herschel 36

1320Elements will be developing ways to create podcasts for broadcast on Mixcloud and focusing on features for other internet audio and video platforms.

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