Spowage, Rudi (2018) Editorial: Sound and kinetics – performance, artistic aims and techniques in electroacoustic music and sound art. Organised Sound. 23 (3)
On their web pages, Tate Museum in London has posted a short definition of kinetic art: ‘Art that depends on motion for its effects.’ In a sense then, music is a kinetic art, since sound consists of pressure waves propagated through air or another medium on its way to the listener’s ear and attention. Music has always been concerned with the movement and agitation necessary for generating sound-producing oscillations, and everyone who has played an acoustic instrument knows the intimate connection between their movement and the more or less musical result. However, with electroacoustics, this has all changed, and there is no longer a necessary connection between movement and resulting sound, although we can imagine it to be so.1 And many do, by mimicking musicians’ gestures or what they perceive to be the musical expression of the recorded sound, and by inventing new controllers and instruments to better fit their needs. But in music, it is still the movement of wavefronts that matters most.
Spowage (2018) Applying Kinaesthetic Empathy and Extended Mind Theory to Invasive and Discreet Instruments in Sound Based Performance. Organised Sound. 23 (3)
I have taken the ambiguous psychology of Kinaesthetic Empathy and the relatively recent ideas that form Extended Mind Theory and re-contextualised them so they are relevant to sound-based live performance. I then used these psychologies as a guidance to investigate how we interact with discreet and invasive instruments by analysing specific examples of performance, sound installation and composition. I have defined ‘invasive and discreet’ by using examples of how these instruments are presented as objects in the context of performance. For example, the way in which an object or system can physically invade, and make use of, the performance space when employing technology and physical sculpture; or how an object or system can interact with the performer through tactility and psychological presence. During the process of defining discreet and invasive instruments I noted that there is no binary differentiation because the instruments denotation is dependent on context, sound palette and how they are interpreted as objects for creative expression by the performer. I concluded that the physicality of invasive instruments gives strength to the presentation of ideas in live performance. This is in opposition to discrete instruments which I argue are better suited to studio production or acousmatic performance.
Bowers, Richards, Spowage, Topley, Frize et al (2016) One Knob To Rule Them All: Reductionist Interfaces for Expansionist Research. In: The Proceedings for New Interfaces for Musical Expression Conference, 11th – 15th July2016, Brisbane, Australia. NIME BEST PAPER AWARD 2016.
This paper describes an instance of what we call ‘curated research’, a concerted thinking, making and performance activity between two research teams with a dedicated interest in the creation of experimental musical instruments and the development of new performance practices. Our work builds theoretically upon critical work in philosophy, anthropology and aesthetics, and practically upon previous explorations of strategies for facilitating rapid, collaborative, publicly-oriented making in artistic settings. We explored an orientation to making which promoted the creation of a familyof instruments and performance environments that were responses to the self-consciously provocative theme of ‘One Knob To Rule Them All’. A variety of design issues were explored including: mapping, physicality, the question of control in interface design, reductionist aesthetics and design strategies, and questions of gender and power in musical culture. We discuss not only the technologies which were made but also reflect on the value of such concerted, provocatively thematised, collective making activities for addressing foundational design issues. As such, our work is intended not just as a technical and practical contribution to NIME but also a reflective provocation into how we conduct research itself in a curatedcritical manner.
Spowage, N (2013) The Speaker Bra With Wireless Shovel In: The Proceedings for Fascinate Conference, 27th-31st August 2013, Falmouth University, UK.
This paper discusses the development of a new electronic noise instrument using artist-led creative techniques that are informed by dance, sculpture, junk art and post-digital Constructivist aesthetics.1The aim is to integrate the gestural and pedestrian performance attributes of dance into live electronic music with a by-product of new creative performance practices and methodologies. The instrument is physical and haptic. It has two parts: a shovel containing movement sensors that acts as a wireless gestural controller, and a bra that contains a sound generating module, amplification and speakers. The instrument is battery powered and independent of laptop devices and large fixed public address systems. The imagery of the instrument approaches the topics of interactive imbalance and the male/female attitudes towards control of any relationship between traditional genders. The design and the agency of this instrument consider the level to which thematic sculptural concepts behind a tool can influence or limit the creative potential of the composer/performer.
Tanaka A, Spowage N, Altavilla A, (2012) Gestural Musical Affordances, Sound and Music Computing Conference Proceedings 2012, 11-14 July 2012, Aalborg University Copenhagen.
This paper is a comparative study of gestural interaction with musical sound, designed to gain insight into the no-tion of musical affordance on interactive music systems. We conducted an interview base user study trialing three accelerometer based devices, an iPhone, a Wii-mote, and an Axivity Wax prototype, with four kinds of musical sound, including percussion, stringed instruments, and voice recordings. The accelerometers from the devices were mapped to computer based sound synthesis parame-ters. By using consistent mappings across different source sounds, and performing them from the three different devices, users experienced forms of physical, sonic, and cultural affordance, that combine to form what we term musical affordance.
Spowage, N (2009) The Ghetto Bastard, A Portable Noise Instrument, In: The Proceedings for New Interfaces for Musical Expression Conference, 4-6th June 2009, Carnegie Mellon University.
Due to the accelerating development of ‘rapidly to become redundant’ technologies, there is a growing mountain of perfectly serviceable discarded electronic devices hiding quietly at the bottom of almost every domestic rubbish pile or at the back of nearly every second hand shop. If you add in to this scenario the accelerating nature of our society where people don’t have time or the motivation in their lives to sell or auction their redundant electronics, one can discover a plethora of discarded materials available for salvage. Using this as a starting point, I have produced a portable noise instrument from recycled materials, that is primarily an artistic led venture, built specifically for live performance.
CD album ‘SUGAR’, (2009) With The Screaming Banshee Aircrew
Thirteen songs (Being Alison, Circles, Cool Ghoul Band, Promised, Kind of Crazy, Shutter, Silence, Falling Down, Sugar, So Sorry, Saharan Stars, What I Want, The Birthday Song) on Resurrection Records, recorded and engineered by Jim Spencer (Cribs/Johnny Marr/Damned/Black Grape) at Chapel Studios, Lincolnshire, UK. Published in Europe through Plastic Head Distribution
Collins, N (2009) Handmade Electronic Music, 2nd ed., Routledge.