Emergent Ears – Playing the multi channel system and becoming played by it

Craig Thomas Wells, university of bergen, Faculty of Fine Art, Music and Design

This project will advance from three integral confrontations between electronic music, live embodied improvisation and multi channel loudspeaker systems. Emergent ears is primarily concerned with opening electronic music to all possible permutations of interruption and spatial configurations. Of specific importance is designing and developing
performance interfaces in order to afford the body innovative ways of modulating and diffusing sound away from the computer screen. I will move towards alternative ways of re-thinking traditional instrumentation and touch, in which spatial devices will tightly couple gesture and haptic displays. The interval between movement and signal processing
will be shortened in order to move towards convulsive instances and somatic projections. Intuitive actions will create spatial rotations and spiral motions within the multi channel system; compositional material will not be stored but rather constantly reshaped by the body. Sonified gesture will become an instigator of acoustic space, where a hand
movement will dictate the intensity of the sound, its location, movement and timbre processing. Through this the multi channel system becomes a performer, where improvising bodies begin to follow its dynamisms as thematic promptings. The performance space will acts as a multi-phonic synthesiser for both music and sonic art disciplines to overlap, where traditional, avant-garde and popular approaches can coexist and mutate. I want to sculpt and physically play sonic space in vibrant and energetic ways. These engagements are proposed in order to depart from the traditional concert space, which is unsatisfactory in presenting my artistic endeavours. Playing the multi channel system and becoming played by it, will afford a rigorous and sustained immersion in developing multi channel spatial techniques.

I will depart from both the electroacoustic tradition of disembodied performance and the grid-lock of step sequences and quantised rhythms in which pre-ordained patterns are still prominent modes of production in a majority of genres that electronic music harbours. Electronic music is often paralysed by its own presentational rituals, the performer is
chiselled between stereo speakers, a press-and-play process where coded gesture becomes currency in selling the mystique of sonic climaxes, resulting in acute precision with very little movement. To further critique this observation I would like to bring attention to an ontological contemplation of the body, which can be understood as the physical
nucleus that is often supressed in laptop performance. The body moves, it feels and it feels itself moving and this is of central importance in creating a performance space that has symbiotic relationship with body and instrument. The notion of a body in a field of culturally coded sites, upon a grid, occupying already emerged positions, in which it is
defined by a pinning, reduces the body to a geography of ideological pathways, this is something that I aim to artistically disrupt and agitate.

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