University of Hertfordshire

By the same authors

The audio for Anarchy in the Organism (live concert-hall version)

Research output: Non-textual formPerformance

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Original languageEnglish
Publication statusUnpublished - 11 May 2013
EventHuddersfield Contemporary Music Festival 2013 - UK, Huddersfield, United Kingdom
Duration: 6 Nov 20136 Nov 2013

Abstract

Anarchy in the Organism is a collaborative artwork initiated by Simeon Nelson challenging our perceptions of cancer. It consisted of two outcomes – an audio-visual installation presented in four windows of London's Macmillan Cancer Centre before transforming into a live concert-hall version (for Eb Clarinet, Strings and live electronics).

The original installation version, displayed for fourteen months in 2012/13, consisted of four fifty-five-inch video screens embedded in a geometric pattern and displayed abstracted organisms. A series of algorithms generated a random depiction of cell growth, which would mutate, mimicking and depicting cancer development to varying degrees. Music, also generated from cell growth depiction, was projected into the spaces used ‘Whispering Windows’ technology – a method of attaching a transducer to a physical object (such as a window) to make it ‘sound’. An octaphonic soundscape was produced through the four windows.

In 2014 we were awarded further Wellcome Trust funding to transform the work into a live concert-hall piece. We are unaware of any other transformations from site-specific installation to concert-hall. A score was written for Eb Clarinet, Strings and live electronics.

Central to the concept, is the idea of interruption, interference and disturbance. The music uses a rhythmic technique the composer named (somewhat erroneously…) Pulse Time Modulation (PTM) - the idea being that a repeating sound (a pulse) is subject to a constantly changing tempo creating a shifting accelerando/rallentando effect. Where simultaneous multiple PTM’s take place, any definitive pulse quickly becomes perceptually complex and/or chaotic. PTM attempts to mimic the cycles of life - functioning on the macro and microstructure of the work (in a pseudo-fractal fashion). Breathing, tension and relaxation, physical and psychological time all come under the auspices of the technique.

The live version of Anarchy in the Organism includes a live clarinettist whose sound is processed and diffused using rhythmic techniques detailed above. The performer provides an additional function of interrupter, interferer and disturber. The audio-feed from the clarinet additionally provides an interaction with the algorithmic video.

The world premiere took place at the Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival 18 November 2013, with later performances at Kings Place, London, 12 January 2014, with the Goldfield Ensemble. The work has had further performances and is an established part of the Goldfield Ensemble repertoire.

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