Lisa Hall // News

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Tuesday, 25 August 2015

Mobile Audio ... compositon for a sonic bike

I am developing a sound work for the sonic bikes at the Bicrophonic Research Institute, together with a group of other artists (who are also new to sonic bike sound composition) for The Summer Pedalling Games, on London Fields, 5&6 Sept -

I've been annotating my maps as I create them, documenting the slow learning process of creating sounds, mapping sounds, and then test riding them.

It has been incredibly interesting and often unexpected to learn how the sounds are affected by a number of factors, despite anticipation and planning for these:
- affected by the place
- affected by the listening experience of riding,
- affected by the quality of the sound outdoors
- affected by the connotations of hearing those sounds in those spaces.
- measuring up against my ideas and intent for the work.

Sunday 16th Aug

  • Pink squares are the sounds 'zones' that the bike must ride through in order to trigger the sounds.
  • Black text is a simple name of the sound file that will play
  • Blue text is a description of my experience hearing it on a sonic bike.

The Summer Pedalling Games info & facebook event  |  Bicrophonic Research Institute  |  @bicrophonics

Thursday, 20 August 2015

Sonic Bike Workshop

Last weekend (15&16 Aug) I attended a sonic bike workshop at the Bicrophonic Research Institute, lead by Kaffe Matthews.

Together with 8 other artists and groups I learnt how to use the sonic bikes from a compositional perspective in order to be able to create my own sound work for the Summer Pedalling Games in September. We learnt about the mapping software, the capabilities of the mapper when working with the Raspberry Pi's and the practicalities of the composition on a musical bike out and about in the streets.

The Mapping tool.
Is brilliant. You draw shapes over a map where you want sounds to be heard. It all feels very simple and powerful. You suddenly have the ability to create new soundscapes on any street anywhere, laying over new sound spaces with a simple shape drawing tool.

Its not that simply though, and its easy to screw things up. You name the shapes exactly as you name your sound files, sound files must be saved and named in certain ways and of a certain size and length. Get any bit wrong and your bike might not boot up, or you wont hear your file, or in my case you get played noise at, very loudly instead of hearing your sounds. In short I ran from laptop to bike wielding a tiny usb stick until I get it right. And that was most of my Sunday morning.

Kaffe made us ride, sound free, around the park and nearby street to first get an idea of how long the streets are in cycle time, what the acoustics are, how easy it is to cycle and really to pay attention to anything else in these spaces that we might not have spotted on foot. How incredibly useful. My small test street that I had been focusing on in preparation, suddenly became just a 12second ride. So although you can map sound to things, points, objects, it's more appropriate to think of locations in a broader sense - spaces and streets.

My idea.
My proposal was to sound out the built environment, using the bike as the 'Bicrophone', amplifying the streets and the spaces around the bikes as it moved. I wanted to focus on how the built environment sounds, the bricks, the windows, the doors, the railings, shutters, hubcaps, lampposts, rather than the sound of inhabitation and social activation of these spaces (designated use). I had in mind Harbour performances, where boats and vehicles use engines, whistles and bells to create a spatial performance, but was converting this to a city symphony in my mind, where people opened and closed windows, rattled shutters and slammed doors. While I also had in mind the silent and often unseen infrastructure of our urban spaces - the hubcaps that give sign to underground tunnels, cables, pipes and utilities, the lampposts that we reply on for lighting but look past, overhead electrical cables etc - e.g all the signs of planning and purpose for the space that we look and listen past. Plus deconstruction, building in the local area being demolished, road works and dismantling. I wanted to create this work with field recordings and let the layout of the items on the street create the composition.

However, learning and testing how the system actually works has changed things slightly, and so my work will take a slightly different course now... let the composition begin!

 - -

The Summer Pedalling Games will be held on 5&6th September in and around London Fields.
More info -

The event is a Bicrophonic Research Institute event -

Tuesday, 11 August 2015

Sound Arts News & Public Arts News

Some of my lunch break reading online:

Sites of architectural and acoustic interest - UK

Full of Noises: A weekend of new music and sound art, Cumbria, UK

... to keep an eye out for the next year.

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Public sound art work - UK

Anthem: a public sound art work, Luton, UK

Central Bedfordshire Council have commissioned an audio work as a public art work for Woodside Link Road. Excellent news.

Visual artist Bettina Furnée and sound artist Marcus Leadley are creating the work. local residents are asked to submit sounds that 'best represent the area', Leadley will then create a composition from this and Furnée will create a visual sound wave along the sides of the road.

"Every place is alive with sounds: the sounds of animals and birds, the wind in the trees or familiar sounds such as church bells and traffic sounds. Some are mundane and some are extraordinary. Some we hold dear and some we wish would go away! While we always hear sound we often fail to really listen. The Woodside Link public art project celebrates both sound and image, drawing the two together in a rich audio-visual mapping of the surrounding Houghton Regis and Luton area. We are asking people to actively listen out and record their favourite sounds and contribute them to the project."

A nice idea, and brilliant to read about public sound art, especially one that involves others in its creation. 

However, the sound is available as a download or CD which does not make it easy to access. The likelihood is that most people will see this work and not hear it. If this sound was transmitted by a radio, just locally to cover the road, drivers would be able to tune in and listen much more easily.

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Audio James Turrell - AUS

Climata: Audio work created for and in a James Turell light sculpture, National Gallery Australia.

Composer and sound artist Robert Curgenve has made a 'drone music' style sound works to be heard inside a Turrell light sculpture. He used recordings from 15 of Turrell's light sculptures around the world.

"Curgenven's Climata is a recording project which recharts the divisions of space as "heard" within James Turrell's Skyspaces" ."If James Turrell employs light to shape space, Curgenven is interested in exploring the manner in which the auditory can manipulate our perception of space and our perception of the shape of time. He has explored this equally within architectural spaces as well as in remote open spaces in outback Australia."

An interesting pairing of audio and visual works that sound as if they will be complimentary to the experiencing of each work. Something I would very much like to visit.


Perhaps the Yorkshire Sculpture Park in the UK will commission the works to show in their Turrell light sculpture 'Deer Shelter SkySpace':

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Hiroshima commemorative work  - USA

Hiroshima audio-visual art installation: University of Maine, USA

An audio visual installation made to commemorate the 70th anniversary of Hiroshima bombing. Created by new media artists N.B. Aldrich, John Carney and Duane Ingalls who collaborated with sound artist Adachi Tomomi.

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Monday, 20 July 2015

Sound + Architecture

Ooh.. Architecture to enable speech (J. Gordon) & to study affects of sound (A.Catelli) inspiring stuff at Free Range Degree shows on Brick Lane.

Thursday, 14 May 2015

Soundcamp - May 2015

Two days of urban camping at Stave Hill Ecological Park in London listening to a perpetual dawn chorus streaming live from around the world for 24hours, plus a bat walk with a bat specialist, a 4.30am dawn chorus walks with Peter Cusack and a raspberry pi workshop with Grant Smith.

Japanese frogs - underwater bees
Bird song
Flocks of Birds chattering in tree
Great tit
Blur tit
Panda Cam
Reed warblers
bat clicks, kisses
Rain on water
Distant traffic
Rain on plastic hoods
Waterproof clothing
Crunch of snails
The first bus
45mins of dawn
Rain on tent
Urban London - blackbirds song reverberating around houses off brick walls
Natives and visitors
Trill, churr, liquid, melodic
blackbirds song improves through the season (but you have to listen to just the one to tell)

Thursday, 19 March 2015

Sound art for the V&A Friday Late this March

I'm pleased to be exhibiting a travelling sound installation for the next Late event at the V&A. The event's theme is based upon the Alexander McQueen exhibition, Spectacle of the Species, and I'm collaborating with a fashion designer Quoi Alexander.

The sound work will consist of a cricket soundscape, worn by the models and carries through the galleries. 

Inspired by iPod culture for mobile music, this work explores an earlier form of sonic body adornment - a fashion trend from 1000years ago of concealing crickets in clothing for their song.

March’s Friday Late celebrates the V&A’s Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty exhibition. 
18.30 - 22.00 |  #FridayLate
From cocoons in gestation to birds in flight, the natural world was fashion designer Alexander McQueen’s most prominent source of inspiration. Join us for an evening of skeletal armoury, skins, scales and crystals as we explore the natural elements that were intrinsic to McQueen’s vision.