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Ben Houge

Somerville, MA      

Ben Houge is an internationally active American artist exploring sensory interplay, interactivity, and digital art. Since 2012, he has produced a series of “food operas,” in which a customized musical score responds to diners’ choices and the indeterminate timings of a five-course meal. For his multimedia projects, Ben draws on his 19 years of experience in the video game industry, which includes work on projects such as Tom Clancy’s EndWar, Arcanum, Half-Life: Opposing Force, and King’s Quest: Mask of Eternity. From 2004 to 2010, Ben lived in Shanghai, China, where he developed video games for French game developer Ubisoft and was active in the Chinese sound art scene, performing alongside artists such as Yan Jun, Yao Dajuin, Wang Changcun, and Torturing Nurse in venues including the Shanghai eArts Festival, the 2Pi Festival, the miniMIDI Festival, D-22, XP, and Yu Yin Tang. Ben is also an active composer of choral music whose music has been performed by the Esoterics, the Northwest Girlchoir, the Minnesota Compline Choir, and Dale Warland. In 2012, he was a visiting artist at the MIT Media Lab, working on the sonification of ubiquitous sensor networks. Ben Houge currently teaches in the Music Technology Innovation master’s program at Berklee College of Music’s new campus in Valencia, Spain.

Food Opera Taster

This excerpt attempts to convey the spatial experience of being at Bondir during one of our food operas. It begins with a single music texture, such as would emanate from a single speaker in the restaurant. The perspective gradually pulls back to encompass other musical textures, such as one might hear coming from neighboring diners’ speakers, until all twenty-six channels are playing.

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Main Theme from Arcanum

Part of the 45-minute string quartet soundtrack I composed for the role-playing game Arcanum: Of Steamworks & Magick Obscura (2001), performed by members of the Seattle Symphony. More information about this project is available here: http://benhouge.com/arcanum.html

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Self-Portrait, Dusk, at the Point of Departure

18 channels of video, 4 channels of audio, a generative audiovisual installation controlled by a bank of 9 networked computers. This work uses generative algorithms to take a poignant moment in time and make it last forever, something different from freezing a moment (as in a photograph) or repeating it (as in an infinite loop). Developed during a six-month artist residency at the True Color Museum in Suzhou, China.

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NewMusicBox Articles

Articles November 23 2015 | By Ben Houge
Complicity and the Chemical Senses

The visual arts and the sonic arts arrive to us from a distance, via electromagnetic radiation or fluctuations in air pressure, but taste and smell require direct contact. Philosophers have...

Articles November 16 2015 | By Ben Houge
Vinfonies, Nessun Dorma, and Gastromorphology

It’s easy to recognize several time scales to a meal, from the succession of courses (even simply saving dessert for last) to the entropy that occurs as a hot dish...

Articles November 9 2015 | By Ben Houge
Bridging Gastronomy and Art Requires Making Connections

As we’re moving beyond the mere novelty of pairing sound or visuals with a meal, the focus needs to shift to what is being communicated by the resulting amalgamation; it’s...

See more of Ben Houge's articles on NewMusicBox.