Monthly Archives: October 2015


Rediscoveries 4 by SERG – Simon Hellewell

Peacock Visual Arts in Aberdeen was filled to capacity on Thursday evening as SERG continued its Rediscoveries series with Rediscoveries IV, an event so strongly grounded in audiovisual work that I would hesitate to simply brand it a “concert”. The evening had a theme of student work, featuring not only work from current postgraduate students at the University of Aberdeen, but also pieces by Pete Stollery and Suk-Jun Kim from their own student days.

The show got off to a great start with Yann Chapotel’s An Attempt at Exhausting a Place in Paris which, to me, ticked many boxes. The entire work viewed one location in Paris from one camera angle over the course of many days, observing the subtle changes over time and the people passing by. The use of a virtual cube on the screen, overlaying sections of the shot with the same section on different days was extremely effective, revealing many people and vehicles moving in the same physical space, separated only by time. The work used this to create a sense of connection, linking these passers by to each other through their presence in a space. Sonically, the work was soundscape based, and wedded the sound to the image extremely well, building towards a chaotic climax before winding down.

Following this, I was reminded that Pete Stollery’s Altered Images is always worth hearing in concert. I have listened to it through headphones a number of times before, which simply don’t do the work justice compared to hearing the piece diffused through speakers.

Torino, a collaborative work by composer Stuart Docherty from the Sonic Arts MMus with choreographer Jennifer Drotz Ruhn, and photographer Brian Vass, is an engaging short film, using many interesting shots to view a dancer on a beach interacting with the sea. The film is intentionally ambiguous in emotion, providing a blank slate for the viewer to interpret. The sound mirrors this well through its sparse sound worlds

Suk-Jun Kim’s Midong was accompanied by live visuals from Maja Zeco, a PhD student based at Gray’s School of Art and the University of Aberdeen. The sound and visual were both interesting and worked together quite effectively. My one uncertainty with this was in the program note. Midong is a piece concerned with small, almost imperceptible movements and I was unsure whether this was truly captured. In spite of this the visuals, which were produced live, were captivating and brought a fresh look at the music.

The Space was a technically sound piece by Bea Dawkins making imaginative use of a very limited sound source. The use of a narrator as the sole sound source was very reminiscent of past works using voice, putting an emphasis on the creation of sonic environments. I was uncertain of the overall structure, however the Bea’s manipulation of sound was very assured and I look forward to hearing her style develop.

The concert closed with another highlight in the form of Sound Drawing, a live audiovisual work by Aberdeen University’s new PhD student, Kwangrae Kim. Again using fairly minimal sound sources, the rhythmic sound was translated into visuals, with each beat represented by a splat of black ink which would then fade, over the course of a motif building up into intricate visual patterns which would then be drawn over by the next pattern in a shifting monochromatic world. I look forward to seeing more of Kwangrae’s work as he moves on with his PhD.

In summation then, it was a greatly enjoyable evening for both sight and sound, and a great look at some current work coming out of Aberdeen. Especially exciting, I think, is the leaning towards inter-disciplinary work and collaboration, both between individuals and between institutions in the form of Aberdeen University and Gray’s School of Art. With this in mind and the fact that there were more people than seats at a show of experimental music and images, it seems clear to me that the future is bright for such projects in Aberdeen. Bring on the Sound festival!

(Written by Simon Hellewell)


Shift-Return, our new live coding group, at the Suttie Art Centre, ARI.

On Sunday 25th October, four students of Aberdeen University’s MMus: Sonic Arts, together with one Phd student of Composition, Simon Hellewell, undertook a Live Coding performance at Aberdeen Royal Infirmary’s Suttie Art Space. The event was well attended by the interested and well-wishers, many of whom were from an Arts background.
The performance was preceded by a piece by the eminent Acousmatic Composer, Kim Cascone, who earlier that day had presented a workshop on Silence to the group. Thereafter there was a further rendering of two pieces by local artist Howard Hodgkinson, and finally, the group of Live coders who chose to call themselves “Shift-Return” for this activity.

They distributed themselves and their laptops, spaced roughly equidistantly around the room, each beside the speaker which was issuing their sounds in mono. Most had a second monitor facing towards the audience who, in turn, were seated at random in the centre of the room. During the introduction, however, the audience were invited to get up move around, in order to watch the coders work, or take a closer look at the monitors. A further large projection of one of the artist’s screens formed a decorative backdrop on the wall.

Following the brief introduction during which the audience were informed that every sound in the work originated from breaking glass which one of the members of the group Mark Dunsmore, had recorded earlier. Shift-Return used a real-time coding software called Tidal, introduced to them by their Sonic Arts tutor, Dr. Suk-Jun Kim.

The performance lasted twenty minutes and constituted five sections which flowed slowly into one another: Intro; Sharp Drone; Build-up from Bass; Hush-Cacophany; Drone Outro, with each performer’s synchronised phone-timer serving as score/conductor.

The work was enthusiastically received, with much pleasant feedback and exchanging of information on how others could get started Live Coding for themselves. Altogether this item – an adjunct to the SonADA ‘Slow Cooker’ series, was a successful and enjoyable evening which left Shift-Return happy to perform a return gig at some future date.

Shift-Return are, Bea Dawkins; Mark Dunsmore; Stuart Docherty; John Montgomery; Simon Hellewell; and tutor Dr. Suk-Jun Kim.

(written by John Montgomery)