top of page

Abiogenesis Begins With a Single Step on the Road to Nowhere

collaborative experimental environment

The performances and installation works documented here were the result of a five day workshop held at the University of Huddersfield during the Electric Spring Festival 2017. Nomadic interactive arts research platform LIBAT joined University of Huddersfield music students in an open atelier in which aspects of contemporary media, techniques, and languages were transduced through video and soundscape creation, embodied performances, and interactive 3D audio-visual environments. From a leaderless, voluntary collaboration, a combination of independent materials and artistic visions: Abiogenesis Begins with a Single Step on the Road to Nowhere. Jakub Grosz (Cz) / LIBAT Pascal Silondi (Fr) / LIBAT Eleanor Cully / University of Huddersfield Daniel Portelli / University of Huddersfield Jorge Boehringer / University of Huddersfield/LIBAT Elliot Buchanan / University of Huddersfield Kris Dodd / University of Huddersfield Dan Fisher / University of Huddersfield Electric Spring Festival LIBAT University of Huddersfield Multiple Systems of Events https://multiplesystemsofevents.wordp... Huge thanks to artist and curator Pierre Alexandre Tremblay for inviting us to be part of the Electric Spring Festival and for making such an amazing festival available to everyone.

Abiogenesis Begins With a Single Step on the Road to Nowhere

cross-media interactive environmental installation

Abiogenesis Begins With a Single Step on the Road to Nowhere (2017) was simultaneously a large scale environmental artwork and a venue in which performances took place. The work was presented during the University of Huddersfield’s Electric Spring Festival 2017 and resulted from a week-long workshop that ran concurrently with the festival.

I organized this event because I felt that the nomadic interactive arts research platform LIBAT (a French/Czech partnership of Pascal Silondi and Jakub Grosz with whom I have worked extensively in the past) would be a good match for the eclecticism present in the University of Huddersfield postgraduate community. My intention was to propose a workshop for open development of postgraduate-led projects, with collaborative assistance from the two guest artists, who are specialists in digital arts, interactivity, animation, and virtual reality work. In fact, LIBAT was largely joined at the workshop by eager undergraduate students, rather than postgraduates. Nevertheless, the workshop was a huge success for all, taking the form of an open atelier in the music building that ran from 10AM-11PM daily for seven days, in which the social dynamics of ensemble and interactive technologies were negotiated through discussion and physical experimentation. Technical approaches seemingly opposed to one another were fused to create an audio-visual environment that filled the space within the Creative Arts Building with sound and light. The evening length piece that ended the workshop combined generative and interactive approaches to yield two immersive Virtual Reality environments that participants could explore, activity within which, meanwhile, controlled the behaviour of the projection environment bathing the atrium of the building in light. In a similar sense, algorithmically composed sound was diffused throughout the space, its behaviours modified by the movements of the audience within the space itself, while aspects of the sound were analysed and used to tune changing parameters within the projected light environment.

In addition, a new sound sculpture of mine was presented in which a self-regulating pulse was performed on a large wooden temple block in the shape of a frog. This was repeatedly struck on the nose by a toy den-den daiko drum (a pellet drum of Japanese design) controlled by a motor. A tone produced from inside the frog parallels the frequency of the percussive attacks and the chain of events is regulated by the same sensor that tunes the tone produced, proportional to the frequency of percussive events. This is a both reduced and mechanised model of the procedure used in my portfolio piece Descent from the High Arches and the Bog Chorus.

The evening was punctuated by live performances from a new three-piece electronic music ensemble, consisting of undergraduates Kris Dodd, Eliot Buchanan, and Dan Fischer. This group was developed entirely within the context of the workshop. Two explosive improvisational performances on amplified and prepared instruments from participants Daniel Portelli, Eleanor Cully, and Phil Maguire followed. These performances focused on the use of transducers and speakers in combination with guitar, piano, and percussion instruments, using feedback from the signals produced by the instruments to drive the instruments. This work rendered immediately physical and audible some of the same feedback principals operating within the systemic audio-visual environment the simultaneously draped the space shared by performers and audience members.

Both the week and the closing performance-installation event were of an extremely chaotic nature, owing to the personalities of the artists involved. As the sole organizer of the event and also a

dedicated participant, I was very exhausted by the close of the last evening. However, it was also one of the most productive weeks of my postgraduate research period, and a platform of open and honest sharing of technical and expressive ideas. The open and inquisitive spirit this workshop and event created still resonates in my ongoing work, and through continuing dialogue with the participants.

Abiogenesis Begins with a Single Step on the Road to Nowhere
Download PDF • 168KB

bottom of page