Category: Events

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floodtideimage498x227Can a computer become a composer? John Eacott certainly believes it can. He has just completed another live performance of river song. It is his idea, but the music is actually created by technical hardware and software.

Eacott submerges a sensor in a tidal river to measure the ever-changing speed of the water, then uses wifi to beam back the data to a set of laptops in the performance space. The latest live gig at the Roundhouse in Camden, London rendered the notes dictated by the rushing tide into song. Volunteers from the Central School of Speech and Drama sight-read the score as it appeared on their screens – no easy task!  River music is unpredictable and sometimes dissonant because the wind and waves affect the metrics.

Sensor smashed

The Flood Tide concept has been refined over the years since John Eacott first experimented with it in 2008. He has sonified the river Thames in several London locations and the river Orwell at Ipswich. But it does not always go according to plan – he says he has lost two sensors that were smashed to pieces by large lumps of driftwood. Hear the full interview with John Eacott and an example of Flood Tide music here..JohnEacott FloodTide

Future Intelligence Editor Peter Warren predicts that the next iteration of the Internet will be created by musicians and artists. Both keen sailors, he and John Eacott both agree that it will also involve a combination of the natural and the technical.

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.