Wireless Imaginings

Recently N4rgh1l3 performed at the State Library of Queensland as part of the Douglas Kahn / Other Film presentation “Wireless Imagination“.

Over two nights, the vacuously named “Queensland Terrace” became a science fair of experimental music machines and sound sculptures including Rod Cooper’s superb “Vessel” augmented by a group of manipulators and Anthony Magen’s playful use of data projection.

Saturday night was an ungainly pile-up of where all performers grabbed a space and commenced braying to an increasingly diminished audience of fair-weather intellectuals. Within this morass we found an abstract corner jutting out into the night to project a new work entitled “Aurora Magnetica”.

n4rgh1l3 : A Roarer Magnetica pt1 from Andrew Thomson on Vimeo.

Technically this is not a projection mapping as we had not mapped the surface prior to setting up, however the abstract nature of the visuals suited a non-standard boundary and the play between shape and outside elements (mirrored ceilings, city backdrop) change the nature of the composition. The section above was recorded during a “showcase” segment where each of the artists were encouraged to solo. For us it worked much better on the second night as the material (sonically at least) was designed to function as part of a greater whole.

The setup for this performance utilised Ableton Live 8 and VDMX from my trusty Macbook Pro laptop. I setup the software as a split screen to enable Andrew to work the video section with mouse/keyboard while I could still see through to Live and manipulate sound elements with the APC40 controller. All sound to image correlations are imagined in this case as there was no synchresis: the audio analysis was not working effectively in VDMX so we shut it off. To reflect the theme of “Wireless Imaginations”, which riffs off Kahn’s interest in electromagnetic interference, I used the sounds of machines humming and buzzing alongside some of our Wired Lab recordings to construct the soundscape in real time. Source footage combined our usual obsession with saturated plays with shadow and light reduced to greyscale and combined with a number of choice renders from Artmatic Pro; a software purchase that I feel will become my holiday game as I remain as fascinated as I am baffled with how it works. An unintended consequence of projecting on a dark olive surface is that the greyscale transformed into a monochromatic green redolent of 80s IBM DOS display.

n4rgh1le: A Roarer Magnetica pt2 from Andrew Thomson on Vimeo.

For the second night the idea was to focus on short sets from each of the performers and so we prepared more connective tissue between sound and image. Aside from a messy mid section and relative lack of communication between Andrew and I regarding changes this variation is slightly more “together”, though I wonder if engagement will dissipate outside of real time in comparison to the first piece.

So in all this practical work i’ve let the theoretical and ethnographic sides of my research down a little and i’m hoping to make amends with a couple of upcoming engagements. So as not to make this blog a wall of text I will deal with these in the next post.

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