30 June 2010

Reworking the Sshhh presentation

I'm rewriting my Sshhh presentation for Friday's panel. I'm drawing a little from the research I'm doing for my dissertation project with observations on how kids observe silence. That has given me the chance to contrast John Cage's philosophy with that of Dizzee Rascal. I'm also trying not to be too rigid with the layout so that it feels a bit more informal.

Bigger Than Words - starts tomorrow

From salford.ac.uk:

Conference, gigs and film showings to explore the concept of 'noise'

Wednesday, 30 June 2010

The concept of 'noise' will be taking over Salford venues this weekend as the University of Salford hosts a series of music events, film showings and academic debates.

Musicians including Stuart Braithwaite of cult band Mogwai will join academics from around the world to explore the entirety of noise in modern society. This includes noise pollution in the city, the depiction of deafness and tinnitus in movies and how the noise of the courtroom affects legal proceedings.

Music forms a key theme through the conference with Nicola Spelman's paper on Lou Reed's musical responses to undergoing electrotherapy and even discussion of a punk band that entered Russian politics after the fall of communism.

There will be a film showing on Thursday at the University's Adelphi House. The Beat is the Law Part 1 is a film following the Sheffield music scene in the 80s and 90s featuring Jarvis Cocker and Richard Hawley.

Music or 'noise gigs' will also take place at the King's Arms, Salford where electronic solo-pieces, computer glitches and para-musical videos featuring improvised instruments will be on display.

Conference organiser Michael Goddard said: "Noise is all around us in modern urban environments. Sometimes it is considered a pollutant and, at others, a cultural force. With this conference we aim to explore the whole range of ways in which noise affects our everyday lives."

'Noise, Affect, Politics' runs Thursday - Saturday at various locations in Salford.

Contact Michael Goddard on m.n.goddard@salford.ac.uk or Benjamin Halligan on b.halligan@salford for more information.

19 June 2010

Bigger Than Words panel

So the Bigger Than Words, Wider Than Pictures conference is a couple of weeks off. I'm re-developing the presentation I delivered for that. A new structure I have for it is:

  1. Personal introduction.
  2. Opening quote and a bit about my own philosophical stance regarding noise perception.
  3. My personal research and the recordings that were taken.
  4. The development of a visual project and the influence of Cage's theories plus the visual influences that came courtesy of synaesthesia research and the Kiki/Bouba effect. Also some additional related ideas that Steve Goodman discusses in his Sonic Warfare book. [Which ended up being my holiday reading, by the way.]
  5. The development of the completed book and the idea of sound as carrying the 'essence' of a particular space.
  6. Questions and comments.

I wish I'd had the opportunity to get this breathing space before the last presentation as I've re-evaluated the project and feel more confident that I know what are the more interesting elements. Admittedly, some of this has come from the likes of SPARC where I got some feedback from people unfamiliar with the territory. So, while nervous, I'm a bit more confident that what I'll discuss will feel fresh while I also reckon that I know what it is that interests me about my work.

Further to this, I've been asked if I'd like to chair a panel at the conference. It's the parallel session on 'Noise & the Digital' featuring:

The matter of numbers: sound and the experience of noise in analog and digital models
(José Cláudio Siqueira Castanheira, Universidade Federal Fluminense - UFF, Brazil)

Glitch Studies Manifesto Presentation
(Rosa Menkman)

Xenakisian Sound Synthesis; Its Aesthetics and Influence on 'Post Digital' Computer Noise
(Christopher Haworth, Queens University Belfast)

I've not actually done this before but, given that this semester's project has largely been about participating, I said yes. Although I will need a few pointers from the organisers about what's required.

10 June 2010


SPARC [the Salford Postgraduate Annual Research Conference] was interesting.

Due to previously being rather prolific via email, I finally got the opportunity to put some faces to names/addresses including one of the people that has been intrinsic to getting all the elements together for my AHRC funding application. Then I met my PhD personal tutor too. In fact the latter was in the audience when I did my 60 second "pitch" and caught up with me afterwards - having not noticed my name - as he was interested in what I'd outlined. Which is handy. Especially as he's one of the organisers of the Bigger Than Words, Wider Than Pictures conference. And what I was outlining was what I'll be revising for that.

Additionally I spoke to the coordinator of the Graduate Trainee Assistantships who will be in touch ahead of my post in October. And she was really nice too. Also amazing was the further contact who expressed genuine interest in the development of the ideas within Sshhh and mentioned another proposed conference that they will be organising. And also asked if I would be interested in speaking at that.

I did feel a bit out of my depth at times. As mentioned, most of the research work displayed was hard science rather than the kind of visceral work that I have a habit of developing. In fact, work from the school of Art & Design appears to be under-represented within programmes like SPARC [I was the only one - although there was a contributor from the school of Music, Media & Performance]. And some of the panels were very much outside of my comfort zone. Plus a woman asked if my work was for my Masters. When I said yes, she pointed out that SPARC is a post-graduate research conference. I replied that I was a postgraduate student presenting a research project and she insisted that it was for PhD research. I disagreed [because, like, I was there and had therefore met the criteria to contribute to the conference] and she commented that I was the only Masters student there. I've just had another glance at the section clarifying eligibility and it doesn't mention MAs. Just that it includes MRes, MPhils and MSCs by research [in addition to all PhDs] so she might have had a point. But then I wasn't completely wrong either.

Meantime my new blog - which will be used for my dissertation project (given that this one is still ongoing) - is now live at http://musicecology.blogspot.com.

06 June 2010

SPARC poster #2

The poster arrived for the SPARC conference that is happening this week [it is closer to the colour below but the photo was taken while it was particularly overcast]. The sound recording card was delivered too so I'm just recording the sounds to that while I've also made the stickers that show where to push to generate the samples. I'll update how that all goes on Thursday. However I already feel that the other SPARC abstracts are really science-y and tied into really solid research while mine now feels very much about looking into a subject, finding out some stuff and then formulating a solution that is based on what I really want to produce. In a way, it is as much informed by my own taste and feelings as it is the theory that I applied. I can't see that particular approach being mirrored by those postgrads that have been working in medicine and other 'serious' subjects.

Meanwhile I'm also seeing the external examiner tomorrow. On Wednesday we're getting briefed on the final MA project/dissertation too. I'll be starting a new blog for that one.