This Weds, 23rd July, I will be joining Ray Lee, Kaffe Matthews, Prof Allan Cochrane and Dr George Revill of the Open University at MK Gallery for a panel discussion entitled One Person’s Noise is Another Person’s Music – the panel will discuss the ways artists can embed their work into a place, challenge perceptions of sound and encourage us to listen and hear differently. The talk is part of the Milton Keynes International Festival IF:Sonic Day and is free to attend.
MK International Festival talk
Composing with light
I have been experimenting with the use of light as an element of composition.
This is my first experiment using light levels to influence the composition. The tones are natural solar resonances that I have ’sonified’ from data collected by the BiSON research team.
Light Readings from a Light Dependant Resistor trigger the playback. I can influence the light levels (and therefore the composition) by moving my hands toward or away from the LDR. Different samples are triggered according to how much light is being detected by the LDR.
I have started a new blog, Poetics of (Outer) Space to publish developments throughout the residency.
I am two months into my artist residency at Birmingham and I have been busy discovering the solar and stellar physics department, the university and Birmingham itself. The city has been host to the excellent Frontiers Festival throughout March and I attended a talk by Susan Philipsz at the Barber Institute as well as a deep listening meditation by Pauline Oliveros at the Ikon Gallery.
I had travelled to Bristol in February for a performance by Ellen Fullman of a new work for her Long String Instrument at Arnolfini. I had always assumed I would need to visit the US to hear the long string instrument so when I saw a UK date advertised, I promptly bought a ticket and rushed down to Bristol for the day. Having read so much about the practice of both Oliveros and Fullman, it was amazing to have the opportunity to hear them talk and perform in the UK within a few weeks of each other.
Frontiers Festival events resume in June and include a performance of Rhys Chatham’s A Secret Rose for 100 Guitar Players. I look forward to Susan Philipsz show at Eastside Projects in Birmingham later this year.
LSE Literary Festival
I will be talking about my practice at the LSE Space For Thought Literary Festival next Saturday, 1st March at the London School of Economics. I’m looking forward to joining Trevor Cox, professor of acoustic engineering at Salford University and composer/sound artist, Aleksander Kolkowski for a panel discussion chaired by Professor David Hendy entitled Sonic Landscapes: understanding the world through sounds.
The event is free and open to all. E-tickets are required and can be booked via LSE E-shop.
Leverhulme Artist in Residence
Next week, I will be starting a ten month residency with the Solar and Stellar Physics group in the School of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Birmingham in February, funded by the Leverhulme Trust. This is a fantastic opportunity to collaborate further with the BiSON research team headed by Professor Yvonne Elsworth and Professor Bill Chaplin, whose data I used as raw material for my 2012 sound installation, 5 Minute Oscillations of the Sun.
I will be learning more about helioseismology and asteroseismology – the study of the sun and other stars by observation of their natural acoustic resonances. The residency will allow me to realise a new body of work using real Kepler data gathered over the past three years and develop my compositional practice in this area to the natural resonances of other solar type stars, including those that host newly discovered planets.
An exhibit combining extracts from 5 Minute Oscillations of the Sun with information about BiSON research is currently installed at the entrance to the Planetarium of Thinktank Science Museum in Birmingham.
A lovely sunny day for On Air, my large scale sound installation throughout The Open University campus in Milton Keynes. On Air is a 60 channel work that floats in the air around the campus. More than 100 speakers diffuse an acoustic layer made from the voices of OU researchers, archive material, echolocations of local bats, musical elements, electromagnetic signals and field recordings gathered from around the site. The recordings are re-introduced back into the environment from which they came, as though the ideas, lines of enquiry and histories of The Open University exist permanently on the air currents throughout the campus and are made temporarily audible by the work.
On Air is one of four artworks commissioned across the regions for the University of the Air project, which celebrates the 50th anniversary of the Harold Wilson speech and OU research. On Air is the commission for England and focuses on design and technology research.
Shortlisted for BASCA British Composer Awards
I am delighted to have been shortlisted for the British Composer Awards with my sound installation, 5 Minute Oscillations of the Sun. I am one of three composers shortlisted in the Sonic Art category. The British Composer Awards ceremony will take place on 3rd December. More information is available here.
5 Minute Oscillations of the Sun is an outdoor multi-channel sound installation exploring naturally occurring radio signals and the acoustic and electromagnetic energy of the sun. The work combines data on the sun’s natural resonances from the BiSON research team at the University of Birmingham with VLF natural radio signals.
The work was sited within a parabolic dome in Milton Keynes Theatre District for six weeks from 21st June 2012. The acoustic attributes of the space allowed the dome to be used as a form of “meta-instrument” – the dome acted as a giant sounding box and further focused and amplified a multi-channel composition that was diffused through a network of speakers towards its roof.
My new piece, Earth Loop is finally installed in the lift of MK Gallery. Earth Loop allows a visitor to travel through a parallel radio universe as though they have antennas as well as ears.
This was an intriguing piece to make as I had wanted to record the vibrations in the strings of a lift for some time and I have gained considerable knowledge of the workings of a hydraulic lift along the way. With the assistance of Otis engineers, I was lucky to be able to record sound inside the lift shaft by placing microphones and a recorder on the top of the roof of the lift and sending it off for a journey up and down – the first time that my recorder had made recordings by itself. It was very exciting to listen to the results on its return and hear that I had managed to capture some excellent sounds from the strings themselves.
Earth Loop is made from a collection of lift sounds, voice, sine sweep and auroral chorus and is permanently installed in MK Gallery lift. The new summer exhibition, MK Calling opened last night and runs until 8th September.
Brave New Worlds at Barbican Pit Lab
I will be collaborating with director Valentina Ceschi next week at Barbican Pit Lab on development of Brave New Worlds 1 – a primarily design-led performance exploring notions of utopia. Thomas Eccleshare and I will respond to the work of Valentina Ceschi, Kate Lane and Guoda Jaruseviciute. Open rehearsal and informal discussion 4pm, Friday 24th May 2013, The Pit, Barbican Silk St.
SPACE HAM PICK OF THE WEEK BBC Radio 4
SPACE HAM featured on Radio 4’s Pick of the Week on Sunday.
Space Ham is available to listen again on the BBC iplayer until the new episode of Between the Ears airs this Saturday.
Review by David Crawford in the Radio Times
The image of amateur radio enthusiasts is indelibly linked in my mind to that of Tony Hancock. But it seems they’re a much more inspiring bunch than that, as this fascinating feature shows.
Since the beginning of the space age, “hams” have been intercepting transmissions from space and, in the case of astronaut Owen K Garriott, taking amateur radio broadcasts onto space stations.
“Found space-sound” artist Caroline Devine weaves these transmissions into her own composition, combining them with ethereal sounds of space to hypnotic effect. It’s a space oddity, but entrancing and magical.