This is an archive of documentation.
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Aerobicide: Feel Better
'TotalSpray TM presents the complete wellness solution for the party crowd! Lifestyle/Microwave Cooking Guru Amelia de Frost and Electro-Punk Spiritualist BABYFREEZE will demonstrate the effectiveness of the Aerobicide system by partying with Extreme Wellness for three-hours non-stop! Join them in the dance health revolution of having it all! Aerobicide: Feel Better is a performance art installation that you can dance along to. You'll enjoy watching the performers succumb to the physical and existential toll of modern wellness culture, set to a pumping set of mutant dance-pop classics by the acclaimed Dead DJ Joke.'
I produced a twenty-minute cheesy electro dance workout soundtrack mix that repeats nine times throughout the performance. Aerobicide: Feel Better was performed at You Are Here Festival 2017, Bondi Feast 2017, and Crack Theatre Festival 2017.
Bunch of A5s
I organised and hosted an experimental music event for You Are Here Festival 2017. I commissioned Canberran composers Emma Kelly, Paul Heslin, Chloe Hobbs and Ben Drury to create new short works. BUT! the compositions had to fit on an A5 piece of paper. WHAT'S MORE! They were performed by a group of volunteer vocalists who only saw their scores a few minutes before performing.
By ‘basking in their limitations', the composers served up bizarre, wonderful, refreshing pieces. Some of the scores were based on text instructions, others were very open to interpretation. Ben Drury's A5 score was designed to be folded into an origami-style 'chatterbox'. All were tackled bravely by the volunteers. The composers' ideas and creative processes were illuminated via a quick-fire Q&A.
Later in 2017, I presented Bunch of A5s in revised form at Say Yes festival at Tributary Projects. This time, the whole audience were the vocalists. They performed Chloe Hobbs' earlier piece from the You Are Here festival and one of my new compositions, after which they collaboratively created and performed two of their own pieces.
Photos by Ali Goward and Morgan Little.
Superkick, superkicker, superkicking, superkicked, superkickable.
Superkick is a portmanteau of supercut and kick. It's an eminently-emulatable microgenre / remixing style / 'technical-meme'. Superkicks are much like YouTube supercuts, but with kick drums from club pop and hip hop music, cut in time to the beat. From June to November 2016 I produced many superkicks (and a couple of how-to videos) and uploaded them to YouTube, finally making the playlist public in 2017.
I'm naturally drawn towards increasing the sense of space in a piece of music. Superkicking achieves the opposite, at times creating claustrophobic gabber-eque sequences out of previously syncopated grooves, with little regard for the garbling of voices and other instruments. Much of my past work has used stretching and slowing techniques. This collection is an attempt at creating something new by lunging violently, deliberately, away from my instincts. I found this a highly satisfying process - perhaps simply because they're quick and easy to make.
Some videos have been removed for copyright infringement.
2015 - 2016
Slowtunes was a performance-lecture about slowed/slowing-down music, which I debuted at the You Are Here Festival 2015. In 2016, Slowtunes became a music radio program, airing a run of 26 episodes on 2XXFM on Thursday nights from January to June. Most episodes focus on a particular theme or genre or idea or piece of music history, including Chopped and Screwed, Paulstretch, the Inception soundtrack, Cumbia Rebajada, vaporwave. Other episodes are looser, a grab-bag of whatever I felt like slowing down that week plus requests.
Photo by Adam Thomas
Microwave Drone Ritual
Since 2014 I have presented a series of musical performances called Reuben Ingall's Microwave Drone Ritual. I kneel on stage in front of my microwave and cook a meat pie for 20 - 30 minutes. Numerous microphones including contact microphones are used to capture the sound of the microwave and my voice, which are processed digitally to produce lush improvised drone music. Starting from a frozen pie and cooking on a low setting, a hot edible pie is reliably acheived. Outings have included a set at Constance ARI in Hobart and the You Are Here festival in Canberra. A medley of excerpts of recordings from those performances was released on cassette on Moontown Records in 2015.
I was commissioned to create a 16-channel sound work for the installation Hexadecibel, created by Sam King (sound) and Adam Thomas (light). It ran for the duration of the 2014 You Are Here festival in their hub space in Canberra city. It also featured pieces by King, Charles Martin and Paul Heslin.
A video of my piece playing, and a conversation with Chris D:
The space (photo by Adam Thomas):
An abstraction for panning that I used in my Puredata patch:
Hit The Floor Together
Hit the Floor Together is a full-length contemporary youth dance work, created by independent choreographers Dean Cross, Daniel Riley McKinley of Bangarra Dance Theatre and Deon Hastie of Kurruru Youth Performing Arts, with Artistic Director Ruth Osborne. It was a collaboration between creative Indigenous and non-Indigenous young people from Canberra and surrounds, plus visiting dancers from around Australia. It had a season at the Canberra Theatre Playhouse from 31st July to 3rd August 2013, including several matinees.
I worked with Cross, creating a score for his piece Bloom, and also performed heavily-processed guitar live on stage. As young dancers in the early 2000s, Cross, McKinley and I were in several QL2 (then Quantum Leap) Canberra Theatre Playhouse productions together, so it was great to reconnect.
In this video snippet I am up the back of the stage generating the sound with my guitar and computer.
Drawing in 3D with Wiimotes
2012 - 2013
I created a 3D-drawing app for artist Robbie Karmel. Coupled with the free programming environment Processing, Nintendo Wii Remotes are inexpensive motion-capture tools. Oriented at right angles, a few feet apart, aimed at a center 'canvas' in the air, the motes' IR sensors capture the movement of an LED light 'pen' and stream the data wirelessly to the software on a laptop. Using X-axis and Y-axis data from one wiimote and X-axis data from the other as a Z-axis, the program draws this movement as a line in virtual 3D space. The space is navigable with a virtual 'camera' which can be flown around the drawing using Gen-Y-intuitive FPS-gaming-style controls (WASD keys + mouselook).
I gradually developed and refined the software to Karmel's needs. Features include the ability to save and load drawings, alter line weight, colour and transparency, render a 360 degree pan around the drawing (as in the video below), and export as a 3D graphic in DXF format (to allow for further 3D modelling, rendering and 3D printing).
Some early drawings by Karmel using the software:
3D prints of Karmel's work using the software:
ARTillery: Sonification, shepard tones, saxophones
On the 29th of June 2012 I performed with saxophonist Andrew Fedorovitch at ARTillery: At Arms Length, an evening of art and performances on the theme of the arms trade, organised by Scissors Paper Pen for Amnesty International.
We performed a piece I composed that used some computer-trickery to create a perceptually ever-ascending chord progression from Andrew's saxophone. A young poet and refugee John Duot was to join us but couldn't make it, so we mixed in an earlier recording of his performance.
For more context, here is part of a piece I wrote for the Scissor Paper Pen website in the leadup to the performance...
photo: Adam Thomas
I'm interested in data-aggregation, sonification, visualisation, and their potential for creating art. Data-visualisation is ubiquitous, from a humble pie-chart to the psychedelic visuals found in most music-player software. Fewer people may be familiar with sonification, representing something with sound, turning data into sound. There are practical applications like Geiger-counters, popular projects like mapping the digits of Pi to musical notes, and there's actually a lot of people converting seismic data into Theremin-style noises.
My most formative memory of a piece of sonification art didn't even involve any computer data-wrangling. It was a recording of Ben Cohen dropping ball-bearings onto glass, with each ball-bearing representing a Hiroshima-sized nuclear device. He says something like "This is how many it would take to wipe out Russia" - he sprinkles half a dozen ball-bearings, which bounce noisily across the glass. He says something like "This is the current USA stockpile" - the harsh and deafening noise of ball-bearings being POURED from a bucket onto the glass goes on for around thirty seconds. I later found out the audio was from a video, and while intended as a visualisation, the data and the message are just as clear and effective when communicated as audio only. So while doing some research on the arms industry, I kept my eye out for graphs and data-sets that might lead to an interesting piece of music if sonified appropriately. After being pretty overwhelmed by much of what I was reading, I drew my own graph.
Ok, so I guess the term 'graph' is not the best - it doesn't chart a data set, it doesn't graph a ratio or any mathematical formula. What it does is communicate an in-principle relationship. To 'guns', you can add other weapons, particularly land-mines, and to 'gun-deaths', you can add injuries, crime, human rights violations, oppression, hunger, human suffering...
I thought that maybe a Shepard Tone (not 'Shepherd') would be an interesting way to represent this sonically, and I wanted to try to make one myself as they have always fascinated me. A shepard tone is a sound that is perceived as perpetually ascending (or descending) in pitch. It is an illusion created by layering tones that fade in and out in cycles. A shepard tone never stops 'moving' in the direction it is traveling. Like the arrow on the graph, it symbolises a relationship that continues in the same direction off the graph, off the page, out of earshot.
2011 - 2013
Resonance 1.1 is a real-time performance installation of movement and sound manifesting the textures of materials not normally associated with performance. The interaction between the mediums and audiences in this responsive framework creates an unusual performative space. Resonance 1.1 places the performer upon a bed of pebbles, creating sound to be processed and manipulated live. This new soundscape stimulates improvised movement from the performer, in turn affecting the sound with continual, dramatic tension. - You Are Here 2012 festival program
In October 2011 I collaborated with choreographer Adelina Larsson to create a performance for the Canberra Contemporary Art Space's Close Range film and performance event. The result combined sound art, movement, improvisation and interactivity. The success of this performance earned us an invitation to develop the work in the Canberra Museum and Gallery Gallery4 space for a series of performances as part of the You Are Here festival in March 2012. An adaption of the work was later comissioned for performance at the 2013 SoundOut festival.
Using many contact microphones and Puredata patches, I manipulated the live sound of Adelina's movement on and around a small pile of beautiful black stones in the gallery space. I also used the incoming audio signal to automatically trigger audio events such as tones, effects, changes to various attributes of the sound coming out the speakers. In turn, this influenced Adelina's improvised movement, creating a feedback loop of influence and inspiration in which both of us had control over the pace and direction of the piece.
Mechanics aside, I thought personally that the stones sounded fantastic in the space. There were moments of chaotic noise and delicate stillness, physically and sonically. You could hear the very subtle sound of the stones scratching across the floor, Adelina's breathing, thumping and rumbling of footfalls accompanied by sine waves sliding in and out. As a fan of concrete, experimental and minimalist music, it really pushed my buttons. I felt that the patterns of cause and effect between dancer and software, movement and sound were apparent enough to be engaging, but complex/tangled enough to keep it from being predictable. In some moments, It seemed like the whole apparatus of pebbles + microphones + software + speakers was akin to an instrument Adelina was playing and discovering. Meanwhile, I was continually changing its nature, tweaking the behaviour of the software.
Photo: Adam Thomas
In-browser 3d music environment thing. Fly around with w,s,a,d keys + mouse. The cubes each have a sine tone note whose volume is controlled by your proximity. This might not run in modern browsers. Launch
A series of interactive video pieces made with Flash for a university assignment. Move your mouse over the video to distort slices in time. Launch
Idiots Like Me Have Your Picture
A controversial Internet/street art piece in which I copied pictures from over 100 Canberrans' Myspace profiles, printed them on A4 sheets, and pasted them up on posterboards in the city centre captioned with a link to IdiotsLikeMeHaveYourPicture.tk - the original site is archived Here
An audio-visual-textual narrative. A song, at your own pace, with lyrics by Paul Kelloway.
Supercollider code for cutting, shifting, reversing, mashing samples live with a wacom tablet. (I had a ponytail once)
An escalating dilemma, made with Flash for an assignment while at university.
Light is an interactive audio-visual applet. Download for Mac or Windows. You are presented with a burning match. Your audio input via microphone causes the flame to keep burning up at the top of the match. Without sufficient and continued audio input, the flame will burn right down the match and go out, leaving the screen black. The applet can be reset by clicking the mouse. Disclaimer: 2006 software, may no longer work.