Thursday
Dec042014

Dinner For One Premiere

Louise Devenish will premiere a new work of mine for solo percussion Dinner For One at her DMA Recital on the 5th of December at the UWA School of Music. The concert includes a collection of pieces from other Australian artists including Graeme Leak, Anthony Pateras, Lachlan Skipworth, and Nigel Westlake.

Usually around about the time I reach a third draft of a work I have to throw it away and start completely fresh. Some might consider this to be disheartening but for me it’s usually a byproduct of some breakthrough which means that the piece finally has some direction and purpose. Dinner For One started with a simple exchange of ideas. Louise would take a draft and provide feedback to me as to what she thought did and didn’t work, while provided ideas of her own - a process made difficult through the filter of skype conversations and email. These multiple influences sat uneasily for a few drafts until I finally realised that I needed to get out of the piece’s way, and create a musical space for Louise to respond to the work in the performance itself.

There are two kinds of material in Dinner For One, notated material and instructional improvisation. In these later sections the performer must respond to the material they have just played in different ways. As the piece progresses the amount of time devoted to notated material diminishes inversely to the amount of the time the performer spends responding. The notated material becomes a focus point for the performers interpretation, a piece of history fixed at a moment in time amongst an otherwise permeable performance inevitably rooted in the now. A ghost at a table with one chair. 

For information available here.
Be sure to check out Louise's website to stay up to date on her work!

Thursday
Dec042014

Snowden (Social Network) performed at Successor States 

My latest work in the Snowden project was performed recently at an installation of 32-speakers alongside new works from fellow Perth artists Kynan Tan, Stuart James, Steve Paraskos and Zach Corrie.

Snowden (Social Network) is a fixed-media work specifically designed for Steve Paraskos's 32-channel speaker setup of interlocking octogons of speakers.  

Earlier this year I put a call out to a wide variety of friends and colleagues on Facebook with the following instructions: 

Read from your social network profile. Use a clear, steady voice but be as natural with your tone as you like. State your name and the text on your information page. Include work, education, where you live, where you’ve lived, birth date, relationship status, about you, religious and political views, and favourite quotes. Include the title of the section. If no information is provided state ‘not provided’.

Snowden (Social Network) takes these recordings as the basis for much of the musical content in the work. Individual recordings are torn apart in a number of different ways across the work, shifting between obsuring the content to offering a clear-spoken broadcast of their profiles. Fundamentally, Snowden (Social Network) is an experiment in recontextualisation of social media information - what is the effect of taking personal information, willingly provided in one context and repurposing it in the medium of performance.

Snowden (Social Network) also marks my first adventure into the world of wave terrain synthesis, constituting the predominant, non-vocal sound material in the work. Wave terrain synthesis is the translation of a multidimentional surface into sound waves, "analogous to the rolling of a ball over a hilly landscape". The idea of traversing and deriving sound from three dimensional data planes is a good auditory reflection of a social network and the non-linear, hypertext-infused environment of the internet.

Snowden (Social Network) was premiered at the Pakenham Street Arts Space on the 31st October, 2014.

 

Sunday
Sep212014

The Aura Implicit performed in Athens, Greece as part of the 2014 ICMC

My piece The Aura Implicit was selected for the concert program of the 2014 International Computer Music Conference. The performance took place in the, frankly stunning main hall of the Onassis Cultural Center (pictured as the audience was starting to filter in pre-show). The Aura Implicit was performed by Dimitra Triantafyllou, Ana Chifu, Marina Kolovou, Lindsay Vickery and myself on electronics. You can listen to the performance below.


Wednesday
Aug062014

Score Exhibited in Drawn From Sound (Sydney)

A page from my score for The Days When Crows Would Watch Us Play II will be exhibited at the Drawn From Sound exhibition in Sydney, from August this year.

Curated by Perth composer and sound artist Cat Hope, Drawn From Sound was originally presented at the Spectrum Project Space at Edith Cowan University, Western Australia with assistance from the New Music Network.

Drawn From Sound will be exhibited at the Rover Thomas Auditorium in Sydney and is presented by the Australia Council for the Arts. The exhibition runs from August 15 - November 4 and will feature a host of artist talks and other events.

More information available here

Monday
Jun302014

New Work: Snowden to be premiered in July/August

For the past few months i've been working on two different iterations of a new series of works captured by the broader banner of Snowden. The complete program note is included below, suffice to say that the works engage with the issues of surveillance brought to public attention by Edward Snowden in 2013.

  • Snowden, for electric guitar and electronics, will be performed by Chris Kotchie at The Bakery on 19 August, 2014 as part of Club Zho
  • Snowden (Eyes In The Sky), for bass clarinet and electronics, will be performed by Dr Lindsay Vickery at Školská 28, Prague on 20 July, 2014 as part of 'Improvising Across Borders' 2014

Program Note:

Like many people I struggled to understand the real-world implications of the revelations made by Edward Snowden during his initial leaks of the data mining activities of the NSA. After all, surveillance of this kind has probably been happening for a while and, if so, my life has been no worse off than before such suspicions were confirmed. I could satisfy myself that I wasn’t giving anyone anything that I considered to be particularly valuable. It wasn’t until several months later, following a change of government and the continued recurrence of media news stories that continued to hark back to the original leaks made by Snowden, that it started to dawn on me the truly awesome significance of the data mining activities of the NSA. As I type this, data pertaining to my electronic activities, in part if not in total, are being harvested by PRISM (or some similar program). The exact contents of this communication are not necessarily of interest; rather the surrounding metadata – the data about data – builds an impression of my electronic activities and consequentially me as an individual. From here the temptation is to fall into conspiracy theory. The reality is that we don’t know what the repercussions of such surveillance can be, but we can assume it is of some value to someone, somewhere. Perhaps we are all too used to, and preoccupied with, uncertainty in our immediate lives following the GFC that we can happily ignore the more vague, poorly defined uncertainty that surrounds the harvesting of metadata by security organisations.

Snowden is a work that engages with this modern day surveillance state. The instrumentalist performs a musical dialogue that is never heard in its undistorted form. The computer monitors his behaviour and reprocesses his performance according to the values and changes of collected metadata – pitch, volume, noise, and brightness. The instrumentalist is close-mic’d, and the musical dialogue is constantly monitored and sampled periodically. This exchange is then reprocessed live into a whirring, textural soundscape, a manifestation of these processes of surveillance. Ultimately, Snowden uses these systems of surveillance in an affirming way – instead of being used to predict behaviour they are used to create music, simultaneously exposing metadata control systems and harnessing them for the good of creating something new and abstract. To make a change we must first understand what we are trying to change, and to that end I hope that Snowden contributes to this ongoing discussion. 

 

Snowden was commissioned by TURA New Music.