Australian Sound Artist

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

STUDENTSzine issue #1

The very first issue of STUDENTSzine was released on December 1st and can be downloaded from

Put together by Dublin based, fellow sound artist Richard Carr, this online zine aims to 'bridge the gap between student and professional' and I must say, it fills a much needed void re: opportunity and community for emerging artists worldwide across all artistic mediums.

I highly recommend watching this one unfold and am proud to be a part of it's debut.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Live Arts Incubator - Conclusive Performance

: Last two evenings of the Live Arts Incubator :

Saturday and Sunday night proved to be two unique experiences, both providing Jacques and myself with rewards stemming from the hours/days/weeks of work beforehand. Final performance consisted of four parts, each flowing seamlessly from one to the other so as not to break the listeners immersion into the sonic experience. Presented works included three solo and one collaborative piece. 

My own solo work was created purely from the surround and stereo recordings that I had gathered from the Sacred Heart Cathedral throughout the first week of the residency. These sounds included a 5 bell peal, creaking pews, footsteps/voices and movement through the space, turning of pages, the playing of the organ and of a wood-carved recorder and voices chanting in prayer. My sounds were considerably naturalistic with selected segments being presented as true to reality as possible.

In contrast, Jacques Soddell used highly manipulated and processed sounds - some were recognizable and some were not.  All were incredibly pleasing on the ear in their textures and frequencies.

 Final setup included 10 speakers on two levels.
1st level was 6 x 300watt in circular formation 4.5m radius.
2nd level was 4 x (TBC) in diamond configuration, 1.5m above Level #1

All speakers were calibrated by true film standard of Pink noise @ -20db = 83 db SPL (reading taken from center of circle diameter.)

It was extremely satisfying to explore the experience of height. I have had the chance to do this once before, during the event, "Akousmatikoi" but it was not quite so controlled and as flexible as this set-up. Through the use of Audiomulch + midi control + sound system I was able to spatialise and perform live with stereo, mono and surround audio samples. Sounds were able to be triggered when and where I desired with ease. Panning selected sounds from left to right and/or top to bottom was effortless and I am looking forward to further developing my patch and my midi control.

One of the unexpected rewards of the first evening was a followup discussion and constructive criticism of the works by Punctum's artistic director, Jude Anderson and fellow board member, Stephen Henderson. As a sound artist it can be difficult to entice others to tackle the language of the medium and the guidance and reflections of Jude and Stephen were an unexpected luxury within the whole Live Arts Incubator experience. The support that Jacques and myself received in the form of equipment, studio space and technical expertise was matched by an emotional element. This element assisted in our confidence throughout the work process, encouraging us along the way and resulting in the completion of a live performance we hope to continue on with post Seedpod.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

The eye of the storm.............

: Day four, final week of Live Arts Incubator :

This week has been one of the most, 'Challenging' I've had for a while regarding computer related glitches and bumps.  (This would be why I am halfway through the conclusive week of my Bendigo residency and only just now entering my first post). I'll save you the kill-my-computer-don't-even-BOTHER-introducing-bootcamp-to-a-mac-yet-if-you-wish-to-use-it-for-sophisticated-audio-processing rant and just say that I suffered a couple of largish setbacks at the beginning of the week.

On the flip side to this experience - I can say that I now have successfully developed my new prototype for live performance and spatialisation. In the past I often used Logic pro teamed with midi controller, sampler and mixing desk. The new design replaces Logic with the astoundingly accommodating software 'Audiomulch' by fellow Australian Ross Bencina. The brilliance of this software (for myself working specifically with multi speaker spatialising) is it's routing capabilities. As a modular, patch-based software (think Max msp in lamens terms) the choices, possibilities and potentials are at the minimum - endless!

At this stage I am working on midi control of the basics

-Matrix routing
-basically all the elements that are utilised when exercising the traditional methods of acousmatic performance.

In the future however - I plan to venture into realtime signal processing and effects - unfortunately I doubt I will have time to explore this before the live performance
Speaking of which ...
If you happen to be in Bendigo, Australia this weekend - head to the Old Fire Station for an evening of auditory dazzling.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

SeedPod #6

Immersion Studio
by Jacques Soddell and Tessa Elieff
Sat Nov 13th and Sun Nov 14th
8pm Tix $10 @ door
The Old Fire Station/Engine Room, Bendigo

Sound does not know the rules that apply to us regarding walls, corners and closed doors. It travels through, beyond and around – being in numerous places at once yet existing as a single entity. It permeates our surroundings and impacts on our environment. Under the guise of being unseen it expands and contracts space, pulling and twisting the edges we construct around our perceived reality.

Tessa Elieff is currently completing her honours in Bachelor of Fine Arts (Sound) at RMIT. Her work centres on recordings of natural sonic phenomena. Spaces and places that create their own unique audible environment.

Jacques Soddell is a sound artist producing electroacoustic music, with an interest in deconstructing natural sounds (field recordings) to create new sounds and textures.

During their time in the Immersion Studio Tessa has collected surround and stereo recordings from Bendigo's Sacred Heart Cathedral and Jacques has delved further into methods of manipulation, destruction and cohesion regarding sound.  Their final presentation will showcase a work created from their skills combined - one that entwines both the untouched field recording and it's manipulated Other.  Listeners will experience a piece that aims to challenge our interpretation of reality, provoking us to question everyday perceptions we regard as being absolute.

Monday, October 4, 2010

The Electric (Quiet) Car

-was quite excited to hear about the rebirth of the electric car

better late than never...........

One of it's noticable feautures would be the fact that it is
S I L E N T.
Joy of joys we have finally found one solution to one primary culprit in the crime of sonic pollution.

Alas my enthusiasm was to be curbed - but not completely destroyed, at the release of articles such as this one.

It would seem that we have acclimatised to the constant humm of traffic to the point at which a drop in the volume of the sound, generates feelings of unease - even of possible threat to our safety.
While there is no doubt that the sound of a car's engine is an excellent indicator and sensory alarm for those with and without visual impairment I think it would be wise to acknowledge the fact that we now have the luxury of choice. Perhaps a reduction in level could be implemented - encouraging a movement against the belief that 'It must be louder to be heard'.

A golden opportunity to wean ourselves off the barrage of noise we have become deaf to and rediscover the experience of sound?

I hope so.............

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

It's a wrap.......

: Day Seven of Live Arts Incubator :

Photos are of the workshop space we setup for our residency. Not only did we have 8 speakers at 1meter height for surround but also four in the ceiling for us to play with. Our final configuration is yet to be decided upon.......

The final day of my residency was spent capturing a Sunday Mass in surround sound. I had setup my equipment the night before, at closing time in the cathedral. (Mass started at 8:30am and I had no idea just how reliable my senses would be in the morning..) Microphones were placed in the middle of the pews with stands alternating between the benches. Care was taken to keep the walk-in pathway clear and to ensure that I was not in the way of the service attendants. Traffic was lighter on Sunday morning (why didn't I think of that before!) and I even managed to capture some sounds of morning birds filtering into the cathedral.

On listening to the recordings I'd say that the sounds I enjoy the most are the 'throwaways' or the ones which occur inbetween the main moments of action. Events such as the dragging of pews or the mixture of random conversations throughout the cathedral. People lining up and moving to the altar for communion - those transitional moments work very well and I look forward to working with them.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

The Pages Of A Book......

: Day Six of the Live Arts Incubator :

Have you ever noticed that psalm books and Bible's have a unique type of paper that is used for their pages? I hadn't consciously noticed it until now - at the moment when I decided I wanted to record the sounds of someone turning the pages during Sunday mass. I then realized that not any book would do - it had to be a book with pages such as those found in the above. A quick trip to the local secondhand book store and I have my mentioned manuscript - a hard cover no less - because we all know the sound a dropped book makes within the reverberant hall or church and it most certainly is not a soft cover or leather bound that we are hearing in our imagination.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Sacred Heart Cathedral Surround Recording


: Day three/four of the Live Arts Incubator :
Finally have some images to show of the Cathedral and of the setup I used to gather the recordings. As a last minute decision I moved the DPA omni's further out at either end, so as to adequately capture the natural effects within the chamber. Rode's were then positioned behind the DPA's.

The main downfall of the recordings is the traffic noise........

Sacred Heart Cathedral is positioned alongside of the main road Bendigo (it is one block back by definition but you'd never guess from the traffic level). Despite the fact that Monsignor Frank Marriott was generous enough as to allow me after hours access to the space, I was still unable to avoid the relentless hum that plagues cities, towns, and even countryside worldwide. All I could do was work with it as best as possible and hope that I am able to execute some kind of damage control in post editing.

Gathered sounds included creaking pews and doors, footsteps and a wood carved recorder. Despite the underlying constant of car engines I am very happy with the spatialised outcome. The use of the recorder was a last minute carefree decision made in the spirit of the artists 'let's hear what happens' - one that resulted in the discovery of a key sound for the planned composition. The tones and decay of the instrument in the space were audibly astounding and became the primary sound in the formation of the cathedrals identity.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

How Do I Record Thee - Let Me Count Thy Ways.........


: Day two of Live Arts Incubator :
: Enjoying Bendigo and the welcome of Jacques and Fran Soddell :

The last couple of days have sparked what I think will be a sharp learning curve in my surround recording technique. As part of my artist residency at the Old Fire Station in Castlemaine, I will be recording the sounds of the Sacred Heart Cathedral in surround configuration.

I would like to mention for the record, that the body and infrastructure of the cathedral is mind achingly different to that of a six level stairwell.............

After spending a number of hours/days/weeks/months etc researching surround recording setups that are both within my budget and suitable to my own ideals I have managed to decide upon my own recording technique. This setup is a hybrid consisting of the designs of other recordists, interwoven with my own.

The first recording design relevant to my own requirements that I stumbled across was that of Peter Caeldries. (I highly recommend having a look at his website as it is not only informative but also incredibly coherent and easy to understand.) It was via this website that I came across the idea of recording in MS configuration but replacing the cardioid microphone that is traditionally used for the Mid with an omni directional. Selected mic's would now be the Sennheiser MKH 30 and the MKH 8020.

While I had considered this combination of figure 8 polar with omni in the past I has never had confidence in it as an idea. I liked the theory of using the MS technique and allowing it to develop into the surround domain via the use of the omni and on reading Caeldries entries have decided to go ahead with the setup. The second source of information and inspiration came from John Willett, who just happens to have designed his own Rycote shock mount and blimp system suitable for my selected microphones. (Many thanks to Willett for being so helpful with all the details re: equipment list.)

The combination of both these two ideas will form the center of my recording configuration. In addition to this, the front facing side will have an omni directional DPA  4060, headed by a stereo Rode NT4. The rear will also have the same configuration (Omni DPA, with Rode NT4 pointing out).

Spacing between the microphones will be kept tight - I hope to fit the configuration into roughly 60cm length. The body of the cathedral is quite long hence, why I have decided upon a placement of microphones in linear form from front to rear. After listening to sample recordings I gathered within the space using only a spaced pair of DPA 4060 I was surprised to find that the natural reverb and delay at the rear of the building was slightly lost - again, this gave me further reason to place microphones in linear form.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Field Recording @ Puffing Billy

I spent today gathering field recordings for New Media (projection) artist James Wright's next short film.

Place of recording was the Puffing Billy train station in Belgrave, Victoria.
-and of course, the sounds of interest were of the trains as they chugged 'full steam ahead'.

Selected microphones included a SoundField ST350 Portable Microphone System (thanks Phil), the C-ducer contact microphones and my tried and true Rode NT4 (stereo).

I have not yet decoded the ambisonic recordings from the SoundField set-up and am curious as to what my own opinion will be regarding it's spatial capabilities. The C-ducer were appropriate for filtering out the chatter of other passengers and capturing the brutality of the carriage movement. Thuds and creaks gained the feel of added weight and body mass behind each sound. Sub frequencies rumbled with a delicate intensity that these microphones are renown for capturing. The last recording was made with the Rode. I was pleasantly surprised to find that it's sound was as appealing to me as always - managing to stand strong alongside of the ST350 (through headphones at least).

Many thanks to the Train driver at Belgrave for fitting me into his drivers compartment.....

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Artist Webzine

Recently I was contacted regarding contributing to a new webzine directed by Richard Carr, dedicated to creating a platfrom for discussion and dialogue for students and emerging artists.
Selected artists come from across the globe - from all genres of media.
STUDENTS - have a look here
Issue 1 includes texts by Brian Hand (course director of BA hons @ Wexford campus School of Art IT Carlow) and Natasha Conway graduate of NCAD, one of Saatchi's new sensations and also selected for Jerwood Contemporary Painter 2010. Other contributers include Serena Caufield, Oonagh Latchford, Tessa Elieff, Evelyn Morrison, Andrew Kenny, Fergus Doyle, Tiago Esteves, Joaquin Gasgonia Palencia, Craig Bell, Barbara Smith, Trash DIY, Laura Payne, Dagan Wald and Sanjay K Sharma.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Seed Pod Residency (Live Arts Incubator)

September & November 2010
Old Fire Station, Bendigo, Victoria

A joint venture of Jacques Soddell and myself into immersive audio via a temporary multi speaker studio. Project will include one week of private studio time for the artists followed by a second week including an open workshop and final performance.

This event was made possible through Punctum and their Seed Pod Sponsorship