The British Art Show, a national touring exhibition of new art organised by Hayward Touring at London’s South Bank Centre, recently opened its eighth edition at Leeds Art Gallery. Works by 42 UK-based artists were selected or commissioned by curators Anna Conlin and Lydia Yee, and this scale made taking in all that was on offer something of a challenge, especially as many of the works were films of quite some length. As a result, I don’t think I was able to give each and every work the attention it deserved, but here are some of the highlights that stood out.
Last weekend saw the opening of the 2014 edition of Whitstable Biennale, a festival of new visual art located in a quaint little Kentish coastal town. Having spent a couple of years living in Whitstable, helping out on the production team for the previous two editions of the Biennale, I was much looking forward to exploring this year’s festival as a punter. The main programme for 2014 seems bigger this time round, bolstered as usual by a healthy satellite strand.
While in Oxford for Audiograft festival I had the opportunity to visit Hannah Rickards’ solo exhibition at Modern Art Oxford. The show comprises various works made over the past decade related to meteorological phenomena — or rather, to different attempts to describe or otherwise represent experiences of such phenomena. In the film No, there was no red. (2009), people recount experiences of seeing aurorae, sometimes agreeing or disagreeing over the appropriateness or accuracy of particular descriptions, metaphors, or similes; Like sand disappearing or something (2013) is a multichannel audio installation of further (or the same?) attempts to describe and explain similar experiences.
An article I wrote in 2012 about polders, nature, and experimental ambient music has just been published over at the newly re-designed Fluid Radio. I think what I was trying to say was that Nature appears in the interactions between at least two (other) objects — a tree and a camera lens, for example, or a bird and a tree branch. Have a read, see what you think.
While you’re there, you can take a look at some of my recent music reviews and interviews.
There’s an interesting discussion going on over at Caleb Kelly’s Sound Thoughts blog about the nature of field recording to which I’d like to draw attention. To summarise: the discussion centres around Chris Watson’s Ynys-hir Dawn Chorus recording, in which the morning calls of various birds and animals can be heard. Kelly argues that an edit Watson makes in order to cut out the sound of a passing military jet results in a less authentic field recording, because while it seeks to remove traces of human intervention in a natural soundscape, the edit is in fact itself a human intervention, altering the record of what is found.
Arboretum is a short film made with leaves and twigs from the Forest of Blean, a study for a forthcoming larger project on tree dieback. Enjoy!
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
You will need 1 or more of each of the following: performer, contact microphone, omnidirectional microphone, mic stand.
You will also need a computer running a real-time audio processing environment such as Supercollider or PureData, and some way of outputting sounds from the computer (inbuilt or external speakers, a PA system, etc.).
First attempt to make a piece of music using sounds from a flute. I even made a short video to go with it, though panning on my cheap tripod wasn’t exactly smooth!
Here’s the full-length piece:
This download contains a high-quality FLAC file, SuperCollider source code and required audio:
I wrote about Disquiet Junto, an “association for communal music/sound-making” in my end of year review for Fluid Radio recently, but I never got round to actually joining in the fun, until now. Every week a music- or sound-making task is set; for the 55th project the task was to make a track using two piano pieces by Nils Frahm. I made a piece in SuperCollider that fed one of Nils’ tracks through a high-pass filter, the bandwidth of which was modulated using the spectral centroid of the second track. This was then mixed with a clean version of the filtered track.
You can listen to the results here.
I ran a little experiment to see what sounds I could make from a single field recording using the open source programming environment SuperCollider. You can hear the results in the sound file below - the original recording comes at the end. All of the sounds heard come from analysing and manipulating the recording.
This download contains a high-quality FLAC file, plus the SuperCollider source code and audio files. Feel free to use the code with your own recordings too - I’d love to hear the results! Suggestions for improving the code are also very welcome.