It was the Sonic Arts Network Expo this weekend. A free festival of experimental music and sound art from around the UK plus some exhibits by local artists. I was the muscle Friday lugging speakers around Tinside in the morning and then back onto the truck in the evening. Sunday was the Sonic Picnic which was to be held at Devil’s Point but due to the weather it all got moved to the New Cooperage Building in the Royal William Yard. Considering the last minute move, I thought it all went really smoothly. I was glad it got moved coz it then gave me a chance to have a good look around.
My favourite was the School of Fish Ebait which was put together by some PCAD students and Lee Nutbeam. Essentially it was a tank of water with 4 flat fish projected into it. Beside it was a pressure pad which when stood on sent vibrations into the tank that “fed” the fish. What was also nice about it was the at the other end was another vibration device that was networked to a real feeding device in a tank at the National Aquarium so that when the real fish were fed, so were the projected ones. Pretty damn cool. I also liked the Sonic Marble Run by Jon Pigott which was a big marble run that was connected to various speakers round the room. As the marble went down the rails, the sound made was amplified thru the speakers.
Of the local artists work, I liked Darwin’s Walk which used soundbeam technology and played the sounds of evolution as you got closer. And of course I liked the Digital Hot Dogs installation which Jamie worked on with Plymouth Music Zone. A hot dog stand that mixed sampled sounds recorded earlier of Janners. The uni was there as well in the shape of Chris Speed with the Silence of the Lands project. If you visit the website, you can even listen to a recording of the Digital Hot Dog stand.
This was a cracking event and it was nice to see something like it in Plymouth.
Jamie, Chelle, Chelle’s mate Kelly and I went up to London last week for the Camden Crawl, a 2 day indie music festival around the pubs and clubs of Camden. We all met up outside the tube, got our wristbands which would let us in to all the gigs and then found a pub to plan the evening. I really wanted to see The Damned who were headlining at Koko at the same time as Ash were doing the same at the Electric Ballroom. Apart from that, I didn’t mind who I saw. So Jamie and I went down to Koko first and saw I Am Kloot and Hadouken! before heading up to the Electric Ballroom to see Jack Penate and Air Traffic. Those 2 were excellent and if you get the chance to see them then you must. I then left Jamie and Chelle to watch Ash and headed off to see The Damned. They started off with Love Song, ended with Smash It Up and did Eloise somewhere in the middle. They didn’t do New Rose which was a shame but still a cracking gig. Then it was back up to the Ballroom to get the update on Ash before having an early-ish night.
Next day after a sausage and egg sarnie and a coffee, we had a wander around the shops until we could get our programmes for the next night’s gigs. Kelly had tried to get into see Amy Winehouse in the Dublin Castle but couldn’t coz it was completely full. As Travis were playing there that night, Chelle and Kelly decided that they’d spend the whole night there. As much as we wanted to see Travis, Jamie and I decided that The Charlatans might be more our thing so we in turn decided to spend the evening down at Koko. Whilst there we saw Hot Club De Paris who were good, Kitty, Daisy and Lewis, Marvin the Martian and a bit of Tom McRae. The bit I got to see was on the telly in the upstairs bar while I waited for a barmaid to serve me. There were only 2 other people in front of me but she managed to take a full 30 minutes to serve and pour their drinks before coming to me. Considering I only wanted 2 bottles of cider, she still manged to get them into 5 glasses! But, whilst waiting I bumped into Matt Bilson who is back from his travels. The Charlatans were excellent, when they did The Only One I Know the whole place erupted. They definitely know how to put on a gig.
After some food, headed back to their hostel to spend the night watching telly and chatting before getting the first train home. The crawl was brilliant. If I went again, I would try harder to see more bands coz there were a couple of others I’d like to have caught.
So, me and Chelle went up to Sheffield yesterday to visit Lovebytes. It was an early start for me as the train left at 06:20 with Chelle joining it at Bristol but from the stuff we saw it was definitely worth it. Unfortunately most of the events didn’t start until the day after we were there but we still saw some good stuff.
First up was q3apd which is a Quake 3 machinima thing that uses elements of the game to produce a realtime soundscape. I tried to capture the sound as well as take loads of photos but I’m not sure if you’ll get much of an idea of what it’s about from listening to it. Next up was JuneBum Park’s videos. First was Advertisement which shows giant hands manipulating buildings to produce an
d advert. Next was Parking which again uses giant hands but this time to move cars around. Finally was Puzzle which shows an overhead shot of people sat at tables but they move around like a giant kid’s puzzle.
After them was Dwelling by Hiraki Sawa. I really loved this. It’s a black and white video of planes flying around a flat. In and out of rooms, around the kitchen, bedroom and bathroom. I’m not sure if this was the inspiration behind it but when I was young and used to make model planes, I used to hang them from the ceiling of my bedroom and I immediately thought of that when I saw it.
The Showroom, where all of the above is shown, has a bar so after taking loads of photos, we paid it a visit and decided to have hot white chocolate. They have got to be the BEST in Sheffield, if not the world. Marsh mellows and shavings of white and milk chocolate on top of hot white chocolate – fan-bloody-tastic!!
After drinking them, we went along to Workstation so see Time Slice. Essentially it’s the same video sliced up into columns and rows. Quite interesting and the 2nd one with people in was the most effective in my opinion. It was stange viewing this coz it was in the reception of Workstation and it felt like we were intruding. I half expected the receptionist to come over and tell us off for taking pictures but she didn’t seem bothered.
So it was then onto the Millennium Galleries to see Bit-Scapes. This is a video installation that runs over 3 screens with the same footage on each. The first is untouched, the second is then slightly manipulated with the 3rd being completed manipulated digitally. You don’t really get the effect unless you stand back and can see all 3 at the same time but unfortunately with the screens being in front of a large window, you do get a lot of reflections which spoils it a bit.
And that was basically it. Apart lunch and a
wlak around the shops, all that was left was a visit to Access Space. We’ve been to a talk by James Wallbank at Fave last August so as we were in Sheffield it felt wrong not to pop along and have a look. It was quite an impressive setup with everything running on donated kit and using Open source software. Lovebytes was shwoing something there but it was later in the week so we were gonna miss it. I think they thought we were slightly mad having come up all the way from the South West just for a day so at least we brightened up their day.
All that was left was another hot white chocolate and then catch the train home. We collected loads of leaflets and handouts and our heads were buzzing with ideas following on from the stuff we saw. Lovebytes is definitely worth a visit and I think next year we’ll go again but later in the week so that we can see more stuff.
What a brilliant weekend even if we did
giet soaked and covered in mud. Spent it down at the Port Eliot LitFest doing the Port Pods thing for iDAT. On Saturday Jamie and I spent the afternoon there collecting sounds of the event from different locstions and interviewing people. It rained non-stop and we must have written off a pair of trainers each coz of the mud. Sunday, Sarah, Tim, Jamie and I spent the time wandering around the event trying to get people to rent an iPod shuffle to take part. Unfortunately noone did althougg we managed to Bluetooth some of the sounds to someone’s mobile and download them to someone else’s iPod so it wasn’t a complete loss. We took some photos and are hoping to load the souinds up so you’ll have to check back later.
The Litfest itself is held in the grounds of Port Eliot and whatever I say won’t do it justice so you’ll have to find out about it
yourseld from here – www.porteliotlitfest.com.