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Waterfall Effect

audio visual sound text

This video uses material from a live audio-visual performance by Core of the Coalman. The first performance of this piece was Friday 15th of June 2018 at the Creative Arts Building, University of Huddersfield, UK. This video presents a binaural recording of the 8 channel electronic music accompanied by the original video used in the audio visual.

Waterfall Effect is a recent audio-visual performance piece for 8 channel sound system, projection screen and live performer. The piece is approximately 26 minutes long. This is documented here as a video file recorded with binaural audio, which, if listened to over headphones, gives some sense of the field of sound created in the live work.

The work is intended as a live performance, and yet my intention was to encourage listeners to approach it as they might in listening to an environment, rather than in listening to a concert of music. This is similar to the approach I have recently taken in preparing Small Island in Ideal Colours for presentation at Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival (HCMF). To this end, I focused on material that seems to imply movement and stasis at the same time, and that is likely to provoke after-images.

The title of the piece refers to a characteristic after-image. In viewing a moving pheonomena, like water, for an extended period many viewers experience a sensation of their visual field itself moving. I was particularly interested to find out if motion after-images would occur in response to video. I videotaped several local areas that I found provoked water-based motion after images for me, shooting at locations along the Huddersfield Narrow Canal, and at a waterfall in Gledholt (TP) woods close to my house.

These were combined with sampled and synthesized material in a manner reminiscent of several of my recent works, particularly Island in Natural Colours. The synthesizers used in Waterfall Effect are slightly modified versions of the additive synthesizers I developed for Island. This is embellished in places with percussion sounds synthesized using white noise in the manner of the classic Roland Tr-808 drum machine.

The waterfall and other field recordings of diffused sound environments that occur in its vicinity where deployed in the 8 channel sound field in circumstances both evocative and contradictory. The recorded environmental sounds where captured quadraphonically, but they are presented in superimposed fashion and out of phase with one another such that their teleological and causal logics become blurred through their combination with one another. Rather than being independent pieces taken from a diversity of temporal environments, they are presented in my new environment as a body of processes which audience members apprehend as a unified thing, and from which they constitute meaning.

A great deal of recent psychoacoustic and perceptual research highlights relationships between sound and visual processes in the experience of motion after effects. While I did not have time to digest much of this research, this project heightened my awareness of these topics while providing me with the opportunity to further develop tools and phenomenological approaches for consideration of sound, temporality, and perception in the constitution of our experiences.

A full score for how to perform the piece with the texts provided below will likely eventually emerge.

This text accompanied the sound and images in the performance:

I BELIEVE when Having steadfastly looked persons turn away from THE LACK OF REFERENCE looking for a few seconds at objects IN NATURE at a particular part in motion IS A NEGATIVE QUALITY OF THIS e.g., rivers, of the cascade, and IT'S AN EXERCISE IN admiring especially those which flow very rapidly, ABOUT PAST CULTURAL EXPERIENCE. they find the confluence and THERE IS NO ENGAGEMENT WITH ANYTHING, the visual stimulations and discussion still present themselves, AND THIS LACK for the things of the currents really at rest, OF ENGAGEMENT seen forming IS THE MAIN REASON FOR THE moving. when liquid drapery of waters, ART IS MADE persons turn away and then suddenly from looking IT IS ITS MAIN FEATURE, THE ONE WITH WHICH directed my eyes to the left at objects I DISAGREE VERY DEEPLY. in motion, the vertical face ART IS e.g. rivers, NOT PLEASURE, the sombre and NOT A RELAXING ACTIVITY, age-worn especially those which flow very rapidly, OR rocks they find that ENTERTAINMENT. immediately the visual stimulations contiguous AN ENGAGEMENT to the waterfall I saw tHE rocky face still present themselves, WITH LIFE AND as if in motion upwards, THIS LACK for the things and A RELATIONSHIP with an apparent velocity equal to that of really at rest TO NATURE IS the descending water seen Moving THE LACK OF A RELATIONSHIP when Having steadfastly looked TO A REAL MOTIVATION persons turn away for a few seconds TO BE from looking at a particular part of the cascade, at objects ALIVE. IF WE admiring DON’T FEEL the confluence in motion, and THIS e.g., rivers, and RELATIONSHIPS especially those which flow very rapidly, discussing THE NATURE, of the currents WE ARE CUT OFF FROM they find that forming the REALITY. WE ARE the visual stimulations liquid drapery of REAL waters, Still present themselves, BECAUSE WE ARE BORN and then suddenly IN NATURE. and then suddenly for the things directed my eyes to the left THIS􀀟IS USELESS to observe really at rest TO ME the vertical face of the sombre age-worn rocks are then seen moving BECAUSE immediately contiguous to the waterfall, when persons turn away I saw the rocky face ITS AN INTELLECTUAL EXPERIMENT from looking at objects in motion, and e.g., rivers, with an apparent velocity equal to that of the descending water and Especially those which flow very rapidly, AND they find that the visual stimulations still present themselves, AND NOTHING ELSE. for the things really at rest are then seen moving

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