What Is Life ?

What Is Life ? (2012) is a computer visual and synthesised sound composition for live performance. The piece uses a custom visual sequencer called SoundLens which comprises an OpenFrameworks visual interface and an OSC controlled SuperCollider patch. These combine to imply an analogue between a simulated visual focal effect, reminiscent of a camera lens or microscope, and auditory depth of field. Into this world are placed multiple copies of a sound producing mechanical object. Inspired by a coincidental similarity between certain arrangements of these objects and the double helix structure of DNA, the piece takes its title from the name of Erwin Schrödinger’s book in which he develops the concept of a complex molecule with the genetic code for living organisms. Nevertheless, there is a deeper connection between title and piece in that it progresses solely through the copying and mutation of its own material.