the final stretch

The TAKEOVER took over this week and was deemed a success by virtually all involved. I enjoyed the process of setting up, delivering my project to the public, interacting with them and having a post exhibition drink with some interesting people. Brilliant!

My project – home from home was a treasure hunt for hidden sounds in Aberystwyth Arts Centre, featuring EMF sounds and address music accessed via QR codes on posters placed in different locations around the building.

And now that’s over there are essays to write, portfolio presentations to create and an exhibition space to construct that will host my graduate show exhibition – the sound behind the silence.

It’s a complete whirlwind of tasks… and I feel that my response to the challenges of the work should be so much better. I get stressed, confused, procrastinate and prevaricate… in my mind I think it should be easy and relaxed, but it never is. Maybe, I wouldn’t have it any other way?

broken easter egg

Over the Easter break I prepared all my work for the TAKEOVER project proposal presentation.

There was a lot to do:

  • Ten audio pieces from ten locations in the Arts Centre, combining EMF recordings and address music
  • One Treasure map and ten QR code posters
  • Ten blog posts, linked to QR codes, to contain the audio files

Preparing the proposal form has been difficult previously, but I delivered a completed and coherent form to the class. I even managed to evidence a secret installation at the Arts Centre.

There is little time for research now, it’s all process and practice.

the right to repair

I’ve had some technical complications recently. Some downright failures, too. My audio interface stopped working with my computer… right in the middle of the writing and recording of my song for the semester – Home on the coast. Whilst waiting for a new piece of expensive technology to arrive I was able to practice and develop the song, so it’s not all bad.

The song is very loosely based on Home on the range, that ol’ cowboy song we all know and love. My song is a somewhat deranged offspring of that genre.

There have been student presentations… mine being two of them. I always enjoy the challenge of being given a word and researching an artist whose work is appropriately as kin to the presentation topic.

My word – function/dysfunction.

I choose to look at the work of Harrison & Wood. I enjoy their humour and deadpan delivery very much.

I also researched the composer Max Richter after seeing a TV programme about his piece – Sleep. Totally amazing. It’s the one where people turn up and can sleep in a bed whilst the performance happens… for hours and hours and hours. Due to a slip-up I re-discovered Hans Richter. What a bonus.

I also took part in a workshop that required me to act as a character (of my own making). I became a belligerent, washed up, drunken photographer to the stars from the 1980’s.

Stuck in the past, lost in the present… no future!

Out & about

Had a trip to the Arts Centre in anticipation of the TAKEOVER pop-up exhibition in May.

What a photogenic location!

I continue to research artists using my Research Tree method. So many, so little time. My explorations uncovered Bytebeat artist Viznut, the Demoscene and a whole host of artists who involved themselves with programming computers to create music and art.

Workshops, they come and they go. I had fun with paper, chalk and my imagination. I created – death by a thousand cuts.

musical music and shadows

A productive time. I developed a system to extract musical notes from my home address. No cogs and gears, no clever computer programming, just a note grid that allows me to substitute various letters in an address with musical notes.

I’ve got plenty of ideas on how to develop this to work with the themed project.

In other news, esteemed photographer Steve Bailey helped me with a photo shoot. I got lots of circuit board pictures. Here’s my favourite:

New term, new germ.

Another year, another semester, another project, another heartache…

In the run up to the end of my final year I am continuing with my explorations of EMF. Where will it end?

I am trying to create a more effective strategy for artist research and have developed the idea of a Research Tree.

The root for this first tree is the German artist Peter Vogel. He was an astonishing creator of intricate, beautiful and innovative works that employ sound and interaction, often within a sculptural form. One of my favourites is his “Sound Wall” which is a circuit sculpture made from electronic components, light sensors and loudspeakers. The sculpture responds to shadow and can be played like a musical instrument. There’s a great video of Vogel demonstrating his work here: https://vimeo.com/59829961

The Interactive Sound Art of Peter Vogel – Make Magazine https://makezine.com/2016/01/31/the-interactive-sound-art-of-peter-vogel/

Vogel Exhibition site: http://vogelexhibition.weebly.com/

The branches of this tree reflect sound, circuitry, physical objects and a whole lot of inventive brilliance. I found it to be a fruitful journey and many of the leaves still impact on my senses.

I feel enthused and have a number of projects up and ready to go, all based around this semester’s theme: home.

Songs, music, EMF recordings, installation developments, etc. Plenty to keep me busy over the next eleven weeks.

End of term

As the semester closes I have been busy writing, filing in proposal forms, preparing my installation and presentation for the Interdisciplinary module.

My project is the sound behind the silence.

We are surrounded by electro-magnetic radiation. Our planet has an electro-magnetic field (EMF), as do our bodies. Man-made electronic equipment such as microwave ovens, mobile phones and computers, DVD players and TV screens contribute to the all day, every day bombardment of EMF. This interactive installation aims to facilitate an understanding of the proliferation of EMF and to encourage action to reduce our exposure. 

The project uses EMF as a soundscape, which is made from recordings of my journeys to and from the School of Art, where I encountered the EMF sounds from lamp posts, pedestrian crossings, shop window displays and ATM’s.

Visitors can contribute to the soundscape by using EMF listening devices to capture the emissions from various devices. The light shadows come from a range of prototype electronic circuits that I have built in the process of this project.

My journey into the world of EMF has deepened as I discovered research into the harmful effects of EMF exposure. I also found out about the appalling global e-waste situation where our old electronic junk is sent away to countries including Thailand and Ghana, to be “recycled” by low paid workers who are exposed to many toxic materials. This is another sobering aspect of our devotion to electronic devices which the sound behind the silence seeks to address.

My free WordPress account does not allow for the inclusion of video, so here’s a link to an excerpt from my installation:

I struggle with the amount of work required at this stage, but I have to keep “keeping on”.

The RPP presentation is a heavy task which causes me no end of stress… you can hear it in my voice.

Presentation presentations

The past few weeks have required me to present a group project proposal and a research project presentation. My descent into the doldrums gave way to renewed enthusiasm and direction.

My group project proposal was based on an EMF sound walk around the School of Art. Researching Christina Kubisch gave me some inspiration for my group project. She designed soundwalks in the 1970’s introducing people to the EMF emission from electronic devices, like ATM’s outside banks. 

I was also tasked with creating a research presentation based on the word: nonsense. My brainstorming took me from Edward Lear to Hugo Ball and finally Kurt Schwitters… a fascinating journey and a perfect link to the group project that was chosen in class.

I’ve been working on making a version of “These boots were made for walking” by Nancy Sinatra. Working on the presentation about Schwitters and nonsense inspired me to improvise a nonsense vocal part to go with the music and EMF recordings I’ve made walking to and from the School of Art.

I enjoy the process of composition immensely… building a foundational structure and then adding the details, bit by bit, until the picture is complete. It’s a process that I have utilised again and again… a real comfort zone. I like the mixture of intentionality and spontaneity, the planned and the unexpected, the not really knowing how it will end up until it is finished.

midpoint

I am lost… 

Rwy’n ar goll

Je suis perdu

Ich bin verloren

ana dayie

estoy perdido

… lost on my journey. I see no path, I lost sight of my goal. It was so clear at the start, but now…

My potato lies forgotten

My experiments have stalled

My research is overwhelming

I feel the weight of expectations

Blurred with no focus, I peer into the greyness of the sky and a bird flies by, free of all but the most basic instincts

Where is the thread, Ariadne? 

Where is the purpose?

I’m walking the labyrinth of shadows, blind in penumbra

the only sound my anxious breath and racing heart, as my footsteps bring me back to the start of it all… my journey

I am experiencing technical difficulties, broken equipment, supply chain problems, reduction of ambition

I am lost…

I took this from my I_P blog. It reveals my feelings at this point in the semester.

null island

I was given a new project in the I_P workshop… co-ordinates for null island and a sweet potato where the starting points. Given the task of exploring these, I defaulted to using photography with my iPhone as a comfort-zone activity. I found a shiny blue pick-up truck in the parking area outside the Creative Arts studio room and found the colour combination of the deep blue vehicle and the orange sweet potato most appealing.

I dispensed with the potato after a while and concentrated on the vehicle.

I found these photographs very appealing and the suggestion of landscape photos of null island (which isn’t an actual island, just a location at 0o N, 0W) highly satisfying.

The last photo in the block is of a Soma Labs Ether V2 EMF sensor which I bought to get me started with proper explorations of the EMF soundscapes we cannot normally hear.

I returned to the potato and recording the sounds of it rolling around and falling down stairs in the SoA lecture theatre. The audio pieces echo some of Steve Reich’s tape experiments of the mid 1960’s, like “It’s gonna rain”. I presented a range of sounds of the potato and then played with the rhythms inherent in the recordings to create something akin to African drumming rhythms.

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