Sonic baton waved over Canary Wharf
MS Stubnitz at Canary Wharf photo by phalque

Digital artists and hackers perform aboard MS Stubnitz at London’s Canary Wharf: photo by phalque

Acoustic artist Joseph Young has developed a new technology that allows him to ‘conduct’ an orchestra of pre-recorded sounds. He calls it a ‘sonic wand’.

In his latest performance he magically summons up the sounds of Wall Street back in 2008, the day before the Lehmann Brothers crash that heralded the start of the worldwide economic downturn. He calls it ‘This is where the money is’ – a quote overheard from a passerby as he walked at dawn with his digital audio recorder from Number 1 Wall Street to the Hudson River.

Ableton Live

The sonic wand looks just like a conductor’s baton, with two buttons – red and black – and a power lead. When Young waves it, sounds stored in his software start to play. He lifts it to the right and that first sound crossfades smoothly into another, as though they were different musical instruments responding to the gesture. All the sounds have been stored in Ableton Live software. They combine fragments of conversation, music, footsteps and the wind along the riverfront.

MS Stubnitz

Playing to an intimate audience crammed into the hold of a former East German fishing vessel – the Motorschiff Stubnitz – Young produces a compelling soundscape. “It has a special resonance to bring the sounds of Wall Street to Canary Wharf” he says, since the Stubnitz is moored alongside the iconic towers of London’s Dockland financial district. Hear the full interview and an extract from ‘This is where the money is’ ..Joseph Young final

Shamanic rites

Stubnitz hosted the performance as part of the Kinetica Art Festival, which also included an innovative high-tech visual artwork by Kimatica. This uses a mapping tool to outline the female form of dancer Maria Ulmena and then project it instantly. She is performing a shamanic rite, wearing feathers and a head-dress, and believes the combination of ancient dance and hi-tech projection lends a special power to the piece.

Hackers’ playtime

After the arts festival the ship was taken over by pirates and hackers for an Electromagnetic Wave event,  with workshops on how to break into online locks and demonstrations of digital content creation.