Silencer by Suzi Tibbetts

Sounding Bodies

I just got back from a frantic week of painting, drilling, and running around trying to find cable ties, a.k.a. curating my first show. Sounding Bodies is now installed and open to the public!

Sounding Bodies, part of Fringe Arts Bath’s 2012 Festival, brings together the work of six artists whose practices span electroacoustic composition, audiovisual installation, and mixed media. Asked to respond to the idea of the human body as a producer and receiver of sound, the artists have explored the transgression of boundaries between interior and exterior and self and other. From noise to silence, illness to pleasure, and intimacy to alienation, the works shown in Sounding Bodies explore ways of listening alongside ways of looking; they ask us to look inside, to lend an ear, and to consider sound ‘in the flesh’.

Stacey Sewell
Curator: Sounding Bodies

I’m quite pleased with how it’s turned out. The show is located in the fitting rooms of a disused shop; the cubicles and mirrors lead to a discomfiting feeling of watching oneself listen to another’s body in a space normally reserved for looking at one’s own. A you enter you hear Andrew Hill‘s piece Vox Loop-o, composed from various vocal sounds, before being drawn down into the mouth of Anna Sadler‘s The Other Foreign Body, Camera As Probe. The show also features work by Suzi Tibbetts, Katy Wallwork, Heloise Godfrey and Charlotte Nichol.

Here are some photos so you can have a bit of a sneak preview, but it’s a sound thing y’know so you really should go there and listen . . .

Mummel by Katy Wallwork

Silencer by Suzi Tibbetts

The Other Foreign Body by Anna Sadler

Sounding Bodies
Fringe Arts Bath
35 Stall Street
Bath, UK
25th May – 10th June 2012.

Click to download the artists’ biographies and notes.

Workshop: Tactile Noise Machines

Saturday 26th May 2012
WORM
Rotterdam, NL

“This workshop will be dedicated to constructions of touch-reactive noise
machines. Such devices, based on a simple amplifier chip, are able to
produce a variety unexpected tones and textures, depending on the
position, humidity and pressure of the fingers touching its circuits’
contact-points. The body becomes part of the machines’ electrical flux,
and is directly responsible for the generation of sound. Such
characteristics turn them into amusing sonic puzzles open to sensorial
exploration.

By the end of the workshop, apart from taking home an instrument of
their own design, guaranteed to put and end to the neighbours’ peace,
participants will become familiar with basic knowledge of electronics
and circuit building.

Participants are asked to bring non-metallic objects, such as boxes,
buckets, tupperwares, etc, to house their tactile noise machines.

All levels of experience welcomed.”

More info available on the WORM website.

Studio at Dartington College of Arts

What I learnt at school . . .

Studio at Dartington College of Arts

This post is a bit off topic, but I wanted to respond to an article in today’s Guardian about the skills gained through doing a music degree. I was left wondering whether the (anonymous) author had studied music, or had bothered to speak to people who had. S/he lists the following marketable points of a musical education:

What will look good on the CV?
· The ability to express, interpret and discuss arguments and hypotheses
· Awareness of spiritual and emotional dimensions
· Financial and business awareness, and entrepreneurship.

Short list, isn’t it? One of the reasons why this feature annoyed me so much is because it reduced my own (complex, sometimes difficult and frustrating, but ultimately worthwhile) learning experience into three bullet points. Three bullet points that promote a narrow, rather stereotyped view of music education. I studied music at Dartington College of Arts* between 2001 and 2005. I’ve done various kinds of work since then, musical and otherwise.  My music degree has proved to be an invaluable preparation for almost all of these roles and for life in general. While I don’t support a view of higher education that sees it as little more than a tool for getting a job, Dartington, for all its flaws, struck a good balance between the vocational/practical and learning for its own sake. I learned a lot.

In no particular order:

I learnt to organise and publicise events.

I learnt how to live and work within a small community (a process that featured a lot of learning from mistakes).

I learnt the importance of practice and persistence.

I learnt to listen (in different ways at different times, and I learnt to think about how I’m listening).

I learnt how to research.

I learnt communication skills that go beyond the written or verbal.

I learnt how to go about making work, and making money from it, if the job you want isn’t advertised in the Guardian recruitment section.

I learnt how to fill in health and safety forms.

I learnt to be resourceful.

I learnt to be analytical (in a range of ways, not just in the formal analysis of music).

I learnt how to liaise and negotiate with outside agencies.

I learnt about transferring or transcribing something from one medium to another, and to think about what is gained, lost or changed.

I learnt to do things differently.

I learnt to explore.

I learnt about the benefits and limits of technical languages, how to use them, and how not to use them.

I learnt to be self-reliant.

I learnt to work in a group.

I learnt to change my mind (and other people’s).

I learnt how to put fear and nervousness aside in order to stand up in front of an audience and play or speak.

I learnt how to explain my ideas to people who were studying different subjects.

I learnt to think outside the box. And inside the box. And to think about where the box was, who had put it there, and why. (I once did a performance in a box, but I guess that’s another story.)

I learnt to take insights from other disciplines and apply them to my own work.

I learnt to take insights from other disciplines and misuse them in creative ways.

I learnt about other cultures.

I learnt to critique and evaluate my own work and its relationship to the context within which it took place.

I learnt to be myself.

I learnt to play a part.

I learnt how little I know.

Sadly DCA no longer exists. I learnt – a little too late – the importance of standing up for what you believe in.

This is just my experience of doing a very particular course in a very particular place. There are as many different music degrees as there are universities offering them; nonetheless,  I think these courses, and their graduates, all have a bit more to offer than can be communicated by a brief entry in a university guide.

* I struggled to find a suitable link. The college’s old URL redirects to the website of University College Falmouth, the institution with which DCA merged in 2008. The Wikipedia page I eventually linked to contains a number of inaccuracies, but hopefully people will continue to improve it. I have added it to my own ‘to do’ list. What I recommend you do, if you want to read more about Dartington College of Arts (from a point of view even more biased and rose-tinted than mine!) is to type the old web address (www.dartington.ac.uk) into the Wayback Machine.

Bodily Hearing: Infrasound

There are some lovely, lovely sounds and sound-makers in the current issue of Art Practical (13.3 The Sound Issue). Matt Sussman’s short article introduced me to an aspect of Randy H. Yau’s work that I hadn’t come across before: his collaboration with Scott Arford under the name ‘Infrasound‘. The duo’s manifesto strikes a chord (*groan*) with the interests of this blog:

“Hear with your body.  This is not about music. This is not about performance or the performer . . . It is about provoking new modes of perceiving and experiencing one’s own body “

Yau and Arford create performances using sounds in the 20 – 60 Hz range, playing with acoustic phenomena to higlight sound as a physical force. Bodies abound in Sussman’s account: “The fact that I’m wearing earplugs is now irrelevant. Crossing to the other side of the room is more like swimming than walking. With every step I am more conscious of my body and the invisible particles brushing against and off of it, their paths tracing and re-tracing the surfaces of every other body and object within the room.” This is more than just a psychological submersion in sound; it’s a process of feeling as hearing, the listening body as more than an ear. As for swimming . . . I’ll be coming back to immersion later. Stay tuned.

Beats/Bodies

Recently there’s been a flurry of news coverage of the premiere of Anna Meredith’s HandsFree, a 20×12 Cultural Olympiad commission. Written for the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain, the piece requires the players to put down their instruments and produce sounds by stamping, clapping and beatboxing. 

Meredith is by no means the first musician to draw on body percussion, though hers is the first piece I’ve come across that requires a whole orchestra (please leave a comment below if you know of any other ‘orchestral’ body percussion pieces!). Body percussion has formed part of the sound world across a range of musical styles, from the pop-infused work of Bobby McFerrin to the more noticeably avant garde. My favourite example is Vinko Globokar’s Corporel:

Sound can be produced by stamping the feet, patting or slapping the thighs, chest or buttocks, clicking the fingers or clapping the hands. Different parts of the body produce different sounds, and different techniques can be used to modify the sounds produced.  The sounds produced by striking the body are sometimes supplemented by vocal clicks and pops.

But what prompts this musical self-flagellation? A desire to explore a timbral palette beyond what might be offered by orchestral instruments surely plays a part, as does the inherently performative nature of this method of sound production. For me, these works offer an interesting take on the body-as-instrument. They play out a complicated relationship between different ways of thinking about the body and/as self. On one hand (no pun intended) they show the body-as-mind, the instigator whose choreography brings sound the music to life. On the other hand the body is treated as inert flesh, little more than meat that can be slapped and hit. The body becomes a resonator box, at once a sounding force and a hollow space that provides a home for the soul or self.

[CFP] Artistic Research – Strategies for Embodiment

Here’s another cfp that might be of interest to readers of Bodies|Sounds|Technologies:

Nordic Summer University / Nordiskt Sommaruniversitet
Artistic Research – Strategies for Embodiment
27 July – 3 August 2012
Brandbjerg, Denmark

The Summer Symposium 2012 is the final of six meetings in the Study Circle 7: “Artistic Research – Strategies for Embodiment”, organized by the Nordic Summer University (NSU). The study circle invites researchers and artists from all fields to take part in discussions on the theme: Strategies for Embodiment within Artistic Research; questioning and probing ways of embodying and communicating artistic research processes and their outcomes.

The theme for this, the third year of our study circle, is writing and dissemination. The focus will be on language and discourse, and the development of strategies for writing and disseminating the experiences drawn from the field of Artistic Research.

As a rapidly evolving discipline Artistic Research is the site of ongoing epistemological debate regarding the foundation, scope and validity of the knowledge it uncovers and creates and the mechanisms by which it embodies such knowledge. This symposium will address the issue of writing about this knowledge. In order to advance the debate, we will focus on notions of embodiment as they have emerged in our discussions to date and also with regard to the proposals received in response to this call.

At the Winter Symposium 2012 it was agreed that the theme for our Summer Session 2012 would be: writing about artistic research and artistic research on writing. For the Summer Symposium we welcome proposals for presentations of artistic research on writing in various formats, ranging from demonstrations and presentations/excerpts of artistic work, to theoretical reflections in the form of short papers and suggestions for panel discussions.

Presentations may be in one of the following time-frames/formats:
– 5 min presentation + 25 min discussion
– 15 min presentation + 15 min discussion
– 40 minutes presentation + 20 min discussion
– Anthology session. Session based on a draft of the article for the anthology.
Please specify which of the above formats you wish to use in your proposal.

Specifications of the different formats
– The 5 min presentation followed by a 25 min discussion is appropriate where material has been distributed beforehand. This may include regular papers but also material from work in progress, for example posters, drawings, sound, film, other textual material etc. We will accept papers of maximum 4000 words, these papers may be drafts or work in progress. Text and drawings must be sent in PDF or JPG format. Sound and film material must be accessible through a web link. Please note that there will be a deadline for pre-distributed material and articles.
– The 15 min presentation is a free format for any kind of presentation: performance, paper or other. It will be followed by 15 min for discussions.
– The 40min. + 20min. is exclusively for practical work like panel discussions, performances, workshops, work-in-progress, showings etc.
– Presenters may also propose one to three short quotations (distributed to the other participants in advance) as a starting point for a discussion and or a process of reflecting on theory.
– We welcome proposals for poster presentations.
You are welcome to use additional materials such as images, audiovisual footage or whatever is relevant to your work.
The length of the proposals should be no more than 350 words, plus a short CV, (or just a short CV if you intend to participate without presenting).
Please, let us also know:
1. In which format(s) you wish to present.
2. What facilities you need, i.e. what kind of equipment, space etc.
3. The language of your presentation.
4. The proposed length of your presentation

Presentations may be either in a Scandinavian language or in English. Please consider that there are participants who may not speak a Scandinavian languages. Presentations in English will be favored.

The extended deadline for proposals is 15th June 2012. You can find out more at www.nsuweb.net.

[Call for Papers/Performances] Live Interfaces

 

LIVE INTERFACES
Performance, Art, Music
http://icsrim.org.uk/liveinterfaces/
7th-8th September, 2012

CALL FOR PAPERS AND PERFORMANCES

Live Interfaces is a conference on live, technology-mediated
interaction in performance. The conference seeks to investigate
cross-disciplinary understandings of performance technology with a
particular focus on issues related to the notion of ‘liveness’ in
interaction.

Live Interfaces will consist of paper and poster presentations,
performances and workshops over two days. Researchers, theorists and
artists from diverse fields are encouraged to participate, including:
digital performance, live art, computer music, choreography, music
psychology, interaction design, human computer interaction, digital
aesthetics, computer vision, smart materials and augmented stage
technology.

We invite submissions addressing the conference theme of
technology-mediated live interaction in performance, and suggest the
following indicative topics:

– Audience perception/interaction
– Biophysical sensors
– Brain-computer interfaces
– Computer vision/real-time video in performance
– Cross-modal perception/illusion
– Digital dramaturgy/choreography/composition
– Digital performance phenomenology
– Gesture recognition and control
– Historical perspectives
– Live coding in music, video animation and/or dance
– Participatory performance
– Performance technology aesthetics
– Redefining audience interaction
– Tangible interaction

Paper submissions should be in extended abstract form, with a
suggested length of 500 words. Please format all submissions using
either the Word or LaTeX template available from the website.

Performance proposals should include a description of the performance
and the live interaction technology used, as well as a list of
technical requirements. Attaching recordings of past performances is
strongly encouraged.

We hope to announce a journal special issue on performance technology
following the conference as a publication opportunity for extended
papers.

Extended abstracts must be submitted electronically via the website by
midnight (GMT+1) on the 17th June 2012. All submissions will be
subject to cross-disciplinary peer review, and notified of acceptance
by 1st July.

Please address all queries to liveinterfaces@icsrim.org.uk

Key dates:

– 5th May – Call for extended abstracts
– 17th May – Submissions system open
– 17th June – Submission deadline
– 1st July – Notification of selected papers/performances
– 29th July – Camera-ready deadline for accepted papers
– 7-8th September – Conference

Registration will open nearer the date, with a fee in the region of
£25, including lunch for both days.

Please keep an eye on one of the following for updates, including
information on conference workshops and co-located events.

Website: http://icsrim.org.uk/liveinterfaces/
Facebook: http://facebook.com/liveinterfaces/
Twitter: http://twitter.com/liveinterfaces/
Identica: http://identi.ca/liveinterfaces/

Planning committee:
Alex McLean, University of Sheffield, University of Leeds (from August)
Kate Sicchio, University of Lincoln
Maria Chatzichristodoulou, University of Hull
Scott Hewitt, University of Huddersfield
Ben Dornan, University of Sheffield
Stephen Pearse, University of Sheffield
Phoebe Bakanas, ICSRiM, University of Leeds
Ash Sagar, York St Johns University

Senior advisor:
Kia Ng, Director of ICSRiM, University of Leeds

Supported by Vitae Yorkshire, the University of Leeds and the Arts and
Humanities Research Council