Alex Cook - Shane Dickinson - Nile Marr - Millie Thomas - Freda Wallace
Working from the theme of rebuilding and reconstructing, ‘Sonic Reconstructions’ focuses on reconsidering the traditional paths of sound making, encouraging artists to reevaluate their practice and push the boundaries of what their musical output can be.
Assessing if de-constructing and re-contextualising is necessary or a productive notion, 5 artists were chosen as they rethink their approach to creating music and the environment it is experienced in, through multi-media installation. Immersion of audience participation and analog equipment is utilised to bring a unique experience to every interaction. Machines traditionally used to measure or facilitate music are repurposed as instruments, manipulated and enhanced to experiment with how changing the context of an object can construct new sonic effects. Cooperation between the viewer and the artwork is centred to incorporate elements of chance, spontaneity and biological factors which affect the succession of the sounds.
Alex Cook, Millie Thomas and Shane Dickinson have collaborated on ‘The Quadraphonic Plant Synthesiser’. It raises awareness of the encroaching environmental breakdown through its use of bio-data of plants to trigger a host of synthesisers to create an immersive experience. Attaching sensors connected to a midi Sprout device to the leaves of the plant, they measure the galvanic response given and convert this data into MIDI. This MIDI data essentially triggers the synth to create sounds and that data can be used to make compositional choices. This technology is similar to that of a lie detector test or polygraph test for humans. By connecting all the plants to the Playtronica device, participants complete the circuit by holding the metal spoon and touching a plant which will trigger a software synth.
The audio from both setups is split, one is semantically manipulating a laser and the other signal is sent to a quadraphonic sound system, created by Alex Cook, with the ability to send the sound between four speakers placed in the room. This piece creates a sonic network between the plants and the audience highlighting the greater environmental network between humans and nature. The artists believe modern life has a tendency to hide the relationship that we have with nature. As a result, the project's intention is to reveal and spread awareness of our vital connection to the environment, with an emphasis on art that can communicate a strong message to the public and help create new communities that approach issues directly.
Nile Marr’s ‘Midnight Blooms’ materialises the process of deterioration and sonic longevity, facilitating the need for sound that is constructed in order to be deconstructed. Marr has created 7 unique ambient compositions recorded onto cassette tape, which are heard individually for the duration of the exhibition. The tape loops around an acrylic cylinder, passing over a magnetic speaker, striping data and distorting the track with each cycle. As the track deteriorates, participants are encouraged to change the levels on the 8-track machine to bring different elements of the composition to the forefront. This creates an experience unique to each showing, as the magnet and participant are agents of change which are uncontrollable by the artist. This creates unstable and fragmented sonic arrangements, instrumentalising the elements of decay and corrosion within the composition.
When Freda Wallace thinks about musical instruments, she views them as complex machines that when combined with human interaction create harmonious or percussive sounds. The metronome, traditionally is not used as an instrument as such but a device to keep time. It is a tool to syncopate sounds. It works by its own internal clock when set by human hands. It requires no other interaction. Wallace places the metronome as the main sound, the guiding beat; stripping down sound to the simplest noise. ‘The Click’ represents that simple keeping of time, the heartbeat of music. The metronome is seen as a ‘beautiful simple time keeper’. Its basic sound is so slight, she amplifies that sound and gives it the sonic treatment usually afforded to guitars. The reverb, the echo and the overdrive. The Metronome is both time keeper and noise maker and is indifferent to time.
With special thanks to project partners PINK, SEESAW and 86 Princess Street for their generous support in making this exhibition possible.