IN PROGRESS WORKS Not all media for these works is available for the public domain at present. In some cases, because they're part of a collaborative project and/ or sensitive, in others because they're still at early prototype stage.
South of the River
[re]Sounding Balloon is a sculptural installation using spatial audio. A helium-filled weather balloon, attached to a weighted pulley system, determines the listener’s sonic experience, via an ultrasonic sensor. Expending effort, the listener can hoist the balloon - counterintuitively - upwards, to hear the piece in dynamic binaural reproduction. This installation was inspired by infrasound recordings of the ocean collected from weather balloons at high altitude. Its sonic materials are hydrophonic and found recordings, alongside infrasound taken from actual ocean monitoring by marine biologists. South of the River uses dynamic binaural sound for a short cinematic VR film which explores painter Barry Bish’s connection to the Thames River. Born and raised in south-east London to working-class parents, he represents (in work and life) a slice of London culture which is fast disappearing. Sounds of the Thames, opposite the iconic Tate & Lyle factory, pervade his studio and thoughts. He is a window into a dimension which signals authenticity, whilst appealing to a fetish-like commodification of its symbols. Sundowning uses interactive binaural sound for short cinematic VR film. This film won an initial award and further funding, and was invited to Sheffield Docfest makers’ market 2017. Sundowning is a symptom of Alzheimer’s disease - this film explores what it is like to experience sundowning from a first person perspective. Shot in one take, it combines the technology of 360 degree filming with the stagecraft of theatre to create an immersive, unique and, at times, unsettling virtual reality experience. Based on personal experience of my mother’s diagnosis and decline, ‘Sundowning’ is an artistic representation of what it feels like to have Alzheimer’s that aims at new understandings of this isolating disease. More here.
EXISTING WORKS Porcelain Heart Porcelain as a material is a complex and robust composite. The lengthy evolution of its production contains a wealth of historical and cultural significance. Using the techniques of granular synthesis, and sampled spoken word, Porcelain Heart attempts to forge form and content, taking as its raw materials the seemingly disparate elements of porcelain’s biography, and colliding them together. Porcelain becomes a metaphor, at times fluid, at times opaque, moving between the macro and micro structures in a piece which is as much about process as product. Note: I understand if you skip these words and head straight to the play button. In fact, I encourage it. You probably don't have much time. Please spend it listening... The starting point for this project was the transformation process which take place under fast firing. “Because of the complex interplay between raw materials, processing routes and approaches and the kinetics of the firing process, porcelains represent some of the most complicated ceramic systems” (Carty and Senapati, 1998).
This valuation of cultural artifacts, with consequent labour markets, is explored, as is the history of the Chinese porcelain manufacturing, which has undergone many changes over such a vast period of time, with distinct evolutionary stages. The term ‘porcelain heart’ refers to a clinical paper written about a patient with hypertension and thoracic pain. The conceptual image that acts as graphic score the for this soundscape, is based on an inverted diagram of porcelain compositions (Carty and Senapati, 1998) and not only serves as a compositional framework but also resembles (somewhat!) a heart. Triangular diagrams are often used to show the compositional ranges in minerals, so triangulation seemed apt for use, retaining conceptual integrity across the very three elements necessary for porcelain - clay, quartz and feldspar. “Because of their three-part composition of clay, feldspar, and quartz, porcelains are referred to as triaxial whitewares (Carty and Senapati, 1998). The incorporation of granular synthesis - a form of particle synthesis - into the recording, helps represent the material transformation that takes place in porcelain production. In cardiology, auscultation refers to skilled listening - and it is this central idea that ties together the disparate parts of the Porcelain Heart soundscape. More about this piece here (with references), but for brevity here's the text-annotated graphic score:
Referring to this score, one can understand the piece better; English speech (representing quartz) decreases over time, as the firing process (granular synthesis) changes the composition of the raw materials. However crystals of quartz (labour - represented by quotes from the porcelain factory workers in Boyd Gillette’s research) remain, affecting the strength of the end product. This double entendre refers to both strength of the industry, as well as to porcelain itself. Meanwhile reverberation is used to a decreasing extent on the tracks containing water (reverberation being ‘wet’ in the common sound recording lexicon, and water decreasing over time in porcelain firing). Tracks containing fire are heavily processed using granular synthesis, to impact their opacity. Changes to timbre (representing clay) are made to the factory worker quotes, partly for practical reasons (other recorded speech was conceptually tied to the other core materials of quartz and feldspar, and had been processed through granular synthesis where this stream of speech had not been effected) and partly for conceptual reasons (there were historic and cultural reasons for varying clay content and thus colour in porcelain production). Finally Mandarin speech (representing feldspar) is processing through granular synthesis to varying degrees over time. This reflects feldspar’s value as a flux in the production of porcelain.
Flamecho This piece was inspired from many journeys I made, after moving to west London whilst continuing try to keep up with flamenkitos in east London, whose stamina for parties always outlasted my own. Returning on the tube on the way home from a night of flamenco, remembered sounds blurred with the rhythms of the tube in a liminal state of dream and waking, punctuated by the rhythms of the night that was, and the one that still is.
Novelstalgia Audiovisual installation using surround sound and projection-mapping, with eye-tracked sonification of a graphic score. There was also a workshop allowing participants to create their own scores. Installed at Chatham Historic Dockyard, Kent.
The Long Way Home Because sometimes it's not about how efficiently we do it, it's about jolting yourself awake in the most habituated behaviours, to gain some perspective.