Group Work

During week 7 I worked with Jasmine, Maya, and Kayla to recreate a version of Storm Room (2009) by Janet Cardiff & George Bures Miller.

We were all in a group because we all choose (Re)configuring Spacetime (story-telling through sound, image and interaction) as the core conceptual element we wanted to explore.

We found drip noises online (after some unsuccessful attempts to record our own) and had them playing on an iPhone that sat at the bottom of our bin. We also made an abstract version of a window with lightning crashing outside it that was projected on the wall.

[ Waiting on the documentation video 🙂 ]

The bucket was the most interesting element of the experiment, and something that would be good to expand on further (more buckets, interesting intersections between different drip loops, lighting on the buckets).

The experiment is very much falling into territory that I have already been thinking about and experimenting with, so I’m pretty happy about that. I do want to make sure that it is also useful for the other group members. I’ve had a bit of a read through their blogs to see what they are researching and proposing.

Maya is interested in storytelling through film editing and immersion through sound. I’m not sure how we would incorporate film editing into this experiment (we seem to be taking it out rather than putting it in). But she has also written about immersive sound techniques, from 3D sound to Japanese horror techniques, so I think that could fit in well with where this is going.

Kayla is interested in guerrilla marketing. In terms of this project, it seems like we can investigate this through unexpected interruptions in a familiar environment. Perhaps having the buckets in a non-gallery space? Or even somewhere without a roof?

Jasmine is interested in using augmented reality to explore the ways humans interact with computers. She is interested in inviting the audience to interact in some way to reveal or create the artwork. So how could we make this project more of an interactive installation? Not sure yet, but I want to keep it in mind. I also thing=k this could pair well with Kayla’s interests.


Project Pitch

So all of the research I have done so far has helped me to narrow down my interest to looping & dynamic scores (and the paradoxical tension between them). In trying to put down on butchers paper my conceptual core, Matt kindly contributed “architectural”, “emergent” and “sonic” as words to further specify what I am  working on. When putting down my MVP (Minimal Viable Project), I used my material experiment from last week; audio loops from sound sources embedded in a built space (ie. not just a one room blank gallery space) that you can move through and here emergent sonic ideas.

There were extra ideas written on the sheet when I came back! These added things like triggers (which would work nicely with the canon variation I tried out), and playing with sound sources that the audience is separated from.

Week 6.JPG
with bonus projection warm up screen

Some thoughts I had about expanding or further exploring this idea:

Playing on the use of electronic devices. Using video to have a fake lock screen and message/email/facebook alert pop up. A series of these would tell a story that the audience could get in what ever order they move through the space in. The sound could play on well known mobile alert sounds.

I know whenever alert sounds get used in remixes and films, people instinctively check their phone to see if it was theirs. I wonder if this is something I could play with.

I’m not sure if I want to get really concrete with the story telling angle or more abstract. I like the idea of drawing in research I have done in other classes, particularly CACS201 Social Intersections. We spent a lot of time talking about psychogeography and the dérive, and I think creating a space that someone can wander through and change direction and attention in response to the environment really starts to link in with these ideas.

This opens up a new line of research for me that I will not be able to do on this post, but will get into before next weeks workshop.

Apprenticeships & Mentors

Exercise One: Plan your apprenticeship.

Do some research regarding your field. Be bold and realistic about where you want to end up (what is your desired position) and where you are now. What are the steps required to make your goals a reality. What are the realistic time frames involved in reaching you goal?

Position: Composer/Audio Designer in a successful indie studio that creates interesting video games & art experiences

There are plenty of times that a composer moves from project to project in the games industry and there are also studios that specialise in producing sound and music, but there are also people that tend to consistently work with the same group of people because they know the kind of content they produce. I like the idea of consistently working with a group of people because that can really push and explore each others ideas.

To get to this goal, I can either aim to work within a studio or I can create a studio with a team.

Typically a studio involves:

  • designers
  • producers
  • programmers
  • visual artists (can be split further into concept design and asset artists)
  • sound designer
  • composer
  • marketing

In a small team, these roles often get combined. The bigger the studio gets, the more that people can specialise.

I am already getting involved with the game development community, which I believe is the first step to my goal. I have been getting involved with game jams (challenges in which teams make a game in a fixed amount of time, anywhere from 24 hours to a month). This is giving me a whole bunch of skills, I’m meeting people with different skill sets to mine, and I’m getting a better idea of what it takes to make a working game.

The next step will be to take a game jam prototype and continue work on it after the jam is done; polishing and releasing it. This will also involve doing marketing around the game’s release, getting feedback, doing testing, and updating the game if needed.

Once I’ve been involved with one or more smaller game releases, I would look at forming a team for a larger project.

I already have lots of skills related to music composition and recording, but am still developing my skills in implementation. I’m currently learning FMOD and a small amount of C# coding to help me with this.

Places to potentially get experience: KPOW Audio

Community Groups:
Wollongong Game Developers
IGDA Sydney
Bega Valley Game Dev Community
IGDA Melbourne
IGDA Brisbane
IGDA Canberra
Let’s Make Games (Perth)
Adelaide’s ARGGGh
Brisbane Indie Game Developers
Game Developers of Wellington
Looking For Game Developers (Australia)
Game Developers’ Association of Australia

Exercise Two: Identify potential Mentors.

There are 4  or 5 people in my life that have been crucial to my professional development. Only one of them employed me directly but all have led me to employment. These are my professional mentors. These relationships are not generally one of direct responsibility. I am not going to ask them to employ me but to offer me frank and fearless professional advice.Offering to buy them a coffee and pick their brains about their career is a good way  to begin a conversation with your professional mentor.

Identify three potential mentors – work out who they are, how they got where they are, and how you can contact them. Superstars are hard to contact and London is hard to get to- so be practical in your choices. You want someone with local contacts, knowledge and experience who will have the time and generosity to offer.

John Spence (already a mentor) – local composer and teacher. Really good for understanding working both in the art music scene and the more commercial scene (film & pop music production).

…this is a work in progress. not sure of others yet.






A history of GIFs (Media Archeology)


So when thinking about vectors to investigate to do with looping, I thought of everyone’s favourite internet phenomenon; the GIF.

GIF stands for graphics interchange format, and is an image format that has been around since 1987, when it was released by Compuserve. It had 256 colour, but was still easy to load on a slow internet connection. It also had animation, a feature that would ensure it lived on in infamy.

The GIF uses Lempel-Ziv-Welch (LZW) compression, which is a lossless compression algorithm. “a series of instructions that allows the very bits and bytes of images and files to fit into ever smaller packages (that’s the compression part) without slicing off any data in the process (that’s the lossless part)” [1]. It improved on the previous compression techniques such as run-length compression by not only compressing strings of the same pixels, but also repeated patterns.


[GIFs to learn about GIFs. How meta.
GIFs from]

This compression style would be interesting to interpret as a score, but I’m not sure how yet…

As for how GIFs are used, they have developed multiple, varied, interesting ways to communicate in a digital age.

Growing from their early uses on Web 1.0 websites and powerpoint presentations, pairing GIFs with unrelated phrases has become a whole new way to communicate in a silly, playful way. GIFs can also be used as learning tools, easily demonstrating the mechanics of systems, or the movements of dance or sign language.

Source: Sign with Robert
Source: Sign with Robert
Source: Sign with Robert

In an age where the image quality of GIFs can be much higher, new artistic experimentations with the medium have also developed. Cinemographs, a slightly animated photograph, have become a new way to capture a scene that does something different to a photo or a film. The small loop allows the viewer to focus on a detail in a way that travels too fast in a film, and doesn’t catch your eye in a photo. They have a sense of calm in a busy scene. This reminded me of my material research idea to create a blackout poem in audio. Perhaps this is another way of interpreting this idea?


Artists are also using the closed loop animation to create 2D abstract and surreal explorations.


In both the cases of the 2D animation and cinemographs, artists need to carefully consider the loop, making it as seamless as possible. Working out how the beginning and end will join made me think of designing tiled patterns for mediums such as wallpaper.




Material Experiment #1

I created a quick 30 sec piece with 8 different loops to put on various devices I own to try out a sort of surround sound system. One of the first things this experiment made me realise was just how many Apple product my partner and I own…

I put all the tracks on each one and set them off to loop forever, then placed them in different areas of the house if I could. This added the dimension of doors/walls/hallways to mean that each spot in the house got a different mix of the piece, and moving through it gave the piece a sense of focussing on one line and letting others fade. I quite enjoyed the effect. It felt kind of like a game of hide and seek, where you could move in to ‘discover’ which loop was coming from where. There were a couple of spots where I could hear a softer loops I wasn’t expecting to from the other side of the house (our house is pretty small). Even turning around on the spot gave a different sense of the music. The canon added another element to these effects because you could recognise parts of the music being echoed in different places.

Here is a mix down of all the tracks:

And here is a video I shot walking through the house (one of the loops wasn’t playing and I had to turn it on part way through).

Here is a second video where I set them to all play the same loop slightly offset to form a canon.

The third video is also the canon form, but I go through and turn things on one at a time then turn them all off again.


Do you have a hero in your field? If not, find one by researching into the field you identify with. (Your hero does not necessarily have to relate to your practice or your field. They can be someone you admire deeply.)
Austin Kleon


Describe their practice/work.
Kleon is a black-out poet and blogger. He wrote the books Steal Like An Artist and Show Your Work. I really admire the way he opens up and discusses his creative process. It feels to me that the even though he is a poet, his actual creative practice is his discussion of creative practice. He mostly does this through his poetry. He uses newspapers and books to create black out poems.


Describe how their practice is situated in a larger field. For example, are they pioneers in what they do? Or perhaps their works challenge the conventional ways of thinking or working? Or they are recognised as being excellent in their fields?
Austin Kleon started his practice of black out poetry without an awareness of any history of doing this kind of thing, and it wasn’t until he gained a big following and published a book that people started telling him he wasn’t original. He then stated to research this history and it went back almost 250 years. He used this to start openly discuss the process of “stealing like an artist”. He has had a lot of success in his field, and I think his openness about his artistic process and progress, as well as his support of other artists doing similar things has a lot to do with that.

What are the skills they started with?
He started out as a writer, and now describes himself as “a writer who draws”.

How have they contributed to their field?
He’s developed and popularised an incredibly successful method of engaging people in poetry, art, and creativity.

What is the most important thing for them that they ‘hold dear’? What is their core value that they never deviate from?
That all artists steal, but the challenge is to steal well. To do that you must keep learning (and unlearning), reading, collecting art that you want to steal from, and making it your own. I think that part of this value is an appreciation of community, that art doesn’t get made in a vacuum and that you want to be able o give to that community as well as take from it.

How do you relate to this core value?
I find this core value really aligns with how I have tried to be at university. My goal has been to learn and unlearn and absorb and critique and have as many influences and ideas impacting my work.

I find the vulnerability of being open about your process and your drafts as Kleon does to be completely terrifying, but incredibly creatively productive if I break through and do it.

I also love the idea of doing things that contribute to the artistic community, almost as a way to take the ego out of your practice. Instead of viewing other artists as competitors and protecting your ideas from being stolen, supporting and interacting with other artists. Understanding that ideas are constantly remixed. That you are remixing the ideas of others, and that your ideas will hopefully be remixed by others. This is done within a constantly evolving discussion of how to be a ‘good’ art kleptomanic (both in terms of skill/concepts and morality/socially).

I also like the concept of using an existing artefact and building from that. I think this would provide the basis for some material research and experiments.

What are their working methods? How do they work?
Kleon has talked about how he tried to make an iPad app that let people create their own blackout poetry, but found the experience ultimately unsatisfying. He said it turned out to be an important part of the process for him to have the smell of the sharpie and the texture of the paper and the analog process of creating. He has two desks, one that he does analog work at, the other that he does the digital aspect at.

I really relate to this. I struggled for a long time because I couldn’t compose without the sound feedback. Playing and composing are incredibly linked for me. The element of play and feedback during play is really important.

He also talks about how he creates a poem each day from the daily newspaper. In some way he is performing a similar act to saving a newspaper clipping. The newspaper is somehow fleeting, “old news” very quickly. Kleon’s poems are like saving little snapshots of human stories.

What is the ‘shape’ of their practice? (e.g. Peaks and troughs, successes and failures)
I haven’t followed Kleon long enough to have witnessed peaks and troughs for myself, but I do know that Kleon started blackout poetry because of writers block and a low point in his creative practice. In his book Steal Like An Artist, his opening remarks note that “All advice is autobiographical”, which I really understand to meant that the chapters in the book all relate to mistakes and what he learnt from them.


Using your answers, make a map.




Reflections on this post:
Monday: I felt a lot of anxiety about naming a hero. I don’t feel I know anyone’s body of work or practice well enough to claim them as a hero. I almost have this sense that someone is going to quiz me and find my lack of knowledge to mean that my choice of hero is flimsy, chosen without care, or inauthentic, or not experimental enough. I think it relates to our class discussion about the ego, that I am somehow putting too much of my identity on the line. So this exercise feels like an exercise in confronting that fear. I’m not sure if picking someone outside or inside my field is more confronting. Picking someone outside my field feels like I can use my lack of detailed knowledge of a different field as a shield that lets me just explore and ask questions, so I decided to start with that.

Tuesday: I feel like I pushed through and acknowledged a lot of my fear to my self yesterday, and that has enabled me to be a lot more productive today. I’ve just enjoyed finding out more about Kleon and get excited about all the new discoveries I’m making.


Material Research

Given the results of the exercises above propose three experiments or explorations that you will enact as a program of creative material research over the next week.

Ground your proposals in the research you’ve done. This might mean – exploring one of the (historical) qualities that you identified in your media archeology, or emulating a technique used by one of your contemporaries, or to test, explore or experiment with the ideas, concepts or questions posed in the academic research.Its important that this creative research be grounded in a particular field of inquiry that is well contextualised in terms of contemporary practice and historical development.Write up these experiments. What question do they ask? Are the experiments open (indeterminant/experimental) and generative?

1. Found objects as instrument {from researching Brian Reitzell}
Using found objects and toys as instruments, exploring their colours using found objects if percussion.

2. Writing a canon {from the Looping as Research Creation article}
This could be interestingly combined with the above experiment. I have done surprisingly little canon writing, even though that is how I initially came to own the loop pedal I have. I saw a woman play Telemann’s Canonic Sonatas and a canonic improvisation with a delay pedal, and I went home and bought the pedal she had and the music. I then discovered the loop function and most of my compositions revolved around that, but it would be good to return to that original impetus. My composition mentor (John Spence) has also recommended canon writing as an important exercise in developing your own harmonic language. It would be good to actually follow his advice. Perhaps I could try a daily small canon like Austin Kleon’s daily blackout poems.

3. Use multiple sound sources to create “surround” sound and phasing {from research on Brian Reitzell & Steve Reich}
Reitzell talks about wanting to create surround sound from the games he wrote for and wasn’t able to to. I’m interested in the idea of writing for surround sound, but the technical side will be a learning curve. That learning curve would be useful and allowing myself time to play with it would be no doubt productive, but my mind is still trying to find ways around doing it. I had a thought that the sound sources could be unlinked; a series of mono or stereo sources arranged throughout the space. This could produce some interesting phasing effects à la Steve Reich. This is a sightly larger scale, more intensive experiment, so I might use the other experiments to produce material to play with.

4. Record an improvisation on a theme {from the Looping as Research Creation article}
There was this interesting quote from the article about research:

In addition to its well-known academic meaning, ‘research’ also has a musical meaning, little known today, but fascinating in how it links research to looping possibilities. John Stainer and William Barrett’s A Dictionary of Musical Terms from 1876 defines “research” as “An extemporaneous performance on the organ or pianoforte in which the leading themes or subjects in the piece to which it serves as prelude are suggested and employed.” [28] Ephraim Chambers’ 1728 Cyclopaedia gives a similar definition: “wherein the Composer deems to Search, to look out for the Strains, and Touches of Harmony, which he is to use in the regular piece to be play’d afterwards.”

I feel like this is vaguely close to how I compose, but I would like to try this more directly. I will start with a theme (I think I will pick something existing and well known). Then I will do a long improvisations to “look out for the Strains and the Touches of Harmony”. This would hopefully be a generative experiment that creates material for future use/experimentation.

5. Recording improvisation to another media {from research on Brian Reitzell}
Reitzell talks about how he would compose & record straight to the episode of Hannibal the very first time he watched it, so that he could musically capture his first reactions to it. To do this I’d have to find a film and not watch it before recording to it. I think I could make this a follow up experiment to experiment 1. Or I could do it on the violin. Both would yield interesting results.

6. A aural black-out poem {from researching Austin Kleon}
This might need to be a few experiments. I will try making a field recording to start with. I could try “blacking out” by dulling or muffing the sounds I don’t want to highlight. Or by put something (a tone or chord) over the top. The blackout poem changes the flow of the existing text. We no longer read through it at the same pace. How to create that in sound? Just putting a tone over the top will mean that you still listen at the same pace. I will try these initial ideas though and then think more about how to change/interrupt the flow.


Theoretical/Conceptual Research [IN PROGRESS]

  1. Identify 5 academic papers related to your field using the Libraries search function or using google school scholar. Work out which three are most immediately relevant and read scan them for Key Ideas (read them properly during the next week)

Samuel Thulin
Looping Research-Creation
Media-N, Journal of the New Media Caucus
Fall 2015

(edited book)
Ludomusicology : approaches to video game music
Equinox Publishing

Iain Hart
Meaningful Play: Performativity, Interactivity and Semiotics in Video Game Music
Musicology Australia

James Saunders
Modular Music
Perspectives of New Music
Winter 2008

Jane W. Davidson
Introducing the Issue of Performativity in Music
Musicology Australia

Papers I can’t source through UOW but also looked interesting:

Hyeonjin Park
Melodies of Distant Realms: World Music in the Context of Video Games

Prof. Isabella van Elferen
¡Un forastero! Issues of virtuality and diegesis in videogame music
Music and The Moving Image

Samuel Thulin
Sound maps matter: expanding cartophony
Social & Cultural Geography


  1. Go to the references section of each of these three papers. Identify where references are duplicated across papers – Are particular authors or volumes or journals used in multiple texts.
  2. Find three references in each paper and locate the referenced material in the library catalogue or online. Assemble a Bibliography of project reading for the next week using this method.
  3. Extend this method until your list includes 15-20 sources.
  4. Read through your list looking for a) potential material experiments b) new context (artists/histories) c) the context of the ideas – how are they situated within a field of thought? Where do the ideas come from? What is the historical context of the ideas or approach d) useful/interesting ideas/concepts.

What is my creative project?

As I’m completing these research tasks, I feel like I am getting more clarity on what creative project I am always working towards might be. I often felt a sense of overwhelm  because I feel like am interested in whole bunch of different things and that I am stretched between them all, unable to give any part the depth of attention that I would like. As soon as I begin to go down one rabbit hole, I remembered 3 others that I also want to check out.

Choosing artists and works and vectors to research has generated what feels like a more concise summary of my creative interests than simply saying I am interested in music, games, installations, textiles, etc, etc. At the moment this is “I am interested in creating modular, dynamic music & soundscapes”. This feels like something I can have as a central project to my creative practice that everything else can extend out from. Then I am no longer paying attentions to multiple projects and interests, but investigating and creating works that all lead back to a core idea. This core idea isn’t simple, and there are many things to unpack from it. Perhaps I will continue to refine and distill this idea, but for now it has given me a whole lot more creative energy and direction.

>Where did textiles go?
I wasn’t initially sure how textiles and crafting more generally related back to my core project. I was doing some more thinking about the class discussion about what makes art trivial or non-trivial. Here is the quote we were drawing from in class:

A chess problem is genuine mathematics, but it is in some way “trivial” mathematics. However, ingenious and intricate, however original and surprising the moves, there is something essential lacking. Chess problems are unimportant. The best mathematics is serious as well as beautiful—“important” if you like, but the word is very ambiguous, and “serious” expresses what I mean much better.

– G.H. Hardy,  A Mathematician’s Apology

We substituted ‘mathematics’ with ‘creative practice’, and ‘chess problem’ with what we thought was genuine creative practice but may be trivial.

I was wondering if my love of sewing and crafting was in a way ‘trivial’ creative practice. Trivial but essential. Creative practice that isn’t about concepts, but simply about the act of creation and refining a creative skill. It made me think that this could be a distinction to be made in general between Art and Crafts. This would be interesting to research, I’m sure people have written a lot on the divide and overlap of these two practices.

I enjoy sewing and crafting because of the fact that I get to indulge in the act of creation. As an artist who often feels stuck or paralysed, this helps inspire me and motivate me and break out of the stasis. In this way I feel it is trivial but essential. Perhaps it’s artistic self care? It doesn’t belong in the conceptual web of ideas of my creative practice, but in the same space as taking care of my mental and physical wellbeing. An important part of my creative practice has to be my health. If I am sick or depressed, then I won’t create interesting and non-trivial works.

This made me think  of Illustrator and Designer Christoph Niemann’s instagram account @abstractsunday. In the documentary series Abstract, he talks about using it as an exercise in creative freedom.

“They’ve been some of the better stuff I’ve been doing, but on the other hand they’re the most useless thing I’ve ever done.” (31’10”)

Although textiles doesn’t feature in the conceptual core project, it has been a really useful part of working out what the core is, and mapping it out with respect to different aspects of my creative practice.