Populated Solitude is part of a walking tour of visual art works situated around the town which are curated by Brian Hegarty and, as Brendan Behan writes in Hold You Hour and Have Another “If you don’t get up and get down town you’d hear nothing” (Behan 1963, 18)
Creative ideas for the project stem from the idea of connections throughout the COVID19 Pandemic. From the initial contact by Brian Hegarty, inviting me to create a work for Culture Night 2020; in reading a post by Sean Collins in the Facebook Group Drogheda Down Memory Lane, alerting us to the announcement that the Westcourt Hotel was to close. Sean provided an incredible timeline of the history of the Westcourt Hotel, including Paul Murphy’s words about the hotel in 1963; in contacting Paul Murphy to ask him to talk about his memories of meeting Brendan Behan in The White Horse Hotel.
Following the initial inspirations I started to ‘pick-up’ audio recordings, such as the recording with Paul Murphy; photographs, such as the old photograph in Sean Collins’ thread about the Westcourt; and text, from both Paul Murphy’s original story from the Drogheda Independent in 1963, and Brendan Behan. I searched for works published by Brendan Behan in 1963, eventually buying some of Behans books from ebay and discovering the lines: “If you don’t get up and get down town you’d hear nothing, nor find out what they’re saying about you. And God send, they’re saying something. Good or bad, it’s better to be criticized than ignored” in Hold Your Hour and Have Another (Behan 1963, 18)
The creation of the collection of sound, vision and text has resulted in a performance using content with an online presence and a physical presence.
The QR codes, which can be read by simply pointing the camera of a mobile phone at them, reveal a wordpress blog which introduces the creative ideas and inspirations surrounding the project; an interview with Paul Murphy, former editor the Drogheda Independent who in 1963 met Brendan Behan in the White Horse Hotel; and the work On A Summer Morning In 1963, an audio visual work created using the text, visuals and sounds picked up during the project.
The aim for the project Populated Solitude is to continue to pick up more audio, visuals and texts relating to Drogheda town centre, in order to highlight the histories and connections and to present them in the online settings of WordPress, YouTube and Twitter.
The entire exhibition can be viewed as part of a walking tour in Drogheda until October 3rd.
Scribbledehobble is the opening word in one of James Joyce’s most important notebooks for Finnegans Wake. One of the key books underlining Finnegans Wake is Sheridan LeFanu’s The House By The Churchyard.
Whatever her grief was she could not bring herself to tell it.
Toole also caught her thinking of something else in the midst of his best bits of local scandal.
Mrs. Macnamara had received a note, at which she grew pale as the large pat of butter before her.
Come, now, Mullikins.
Show us the note.
Concerning A Certain Woman In Black
From the Freeman’s Journal.
“Mary Matchwell’s most humble respects attend the Nobility and Gentry. She has the Honor to acquaint them that she transacts all Business relative to Courtship and Marriage, with the utmost Dispatch and Punctuality. She has, at considerable Expense, procured a complete List of all the unmarried Persons of both Sexes in this Kingdom, with an exact Account of their Characters, Fortunes, Ages, and Persons. Any Lady or Gentleman, by sending a Description of the Husband of Wife they would choose, shall be informed where such a One is to be had, and put a Method for obtaining him, or her, in the speediest Manner, and at the smallest Expense. Mrs. Matchwell’s Charges being always proportioned to the Fortunes of the Parties, and not to be paid till the Marriage take Place”
There’s around 15,000 lines of hexameter verse. Using repetition, branching, drifting and no two performances or hearings will ever be the same.
The use of sound and rhythm is something we improvisors thrive on.
I set myself a task to write some text.
Starting with six titles: Travel Advisory, Pandemic Corona, Coronavirus Update, Symptoms 2020, Keep Your Family Safe, and Coronavirus Advice.
These became six internet searches, using the browser, Brave.
Then, using the found text from each search, I was able to write three verses for each of the six titles.
See the world at a glance on our colour-coded map
Note that conditions can change rapidly
To receive updated travel advisories and alerts
The advisory is an extension of the Jan 23
Check the full advisory for further details
Is COVID-19 spreading where you're going
Avoid nonessential travel
Frequently asked questions and answers
Resources for Airlines
Guidance for Airlines and Airline Crew
Resources for Ships
Compare low prices
Book popular tours
Current international Travel Warnings
Foreign governments implement strict restrictions
Fewer international transportation options are available
Real-time counter, world map
Travel related restrictions, infection
Novel strain virus, symptomatic
Severe respiratory disease, far and wide
Spreading Flu-like, nationwide
CDC: Public Health Response
Spread of pandemic Covid-19
The Connecticut Department of Public Health
Transitioning to a new process
Daily collection of data
Hospitalisations and fatalities
Live now EarthCam Live
Times Square in 4K
EarthCam 314 watching
For dedicated cyclists
Continuing to ride every day is a welcome respite
Advocates hope the surge will last
Get the latest information
Confirmed cases, infection history
People confirmed infected
People confirmed dead
Everything you need to know
Coronavirus outbreak has sickened half a million
Killed more than 1000
Death toll reaches 1,868
Click on each country for detailed statistics
World tries to slow its spread
United Kingdom: 201,101
Coronavirus counter with new cases, deaths
And numbers of tests per 1 Million population
Historical data and info
Daily charts, graphs, news and updates
Here are the signs, from mild to severe
Underlying medical conditions
Developing more serious conditions
Novel coronavirus, Covid-19
Heart, lung or diabetes
Symptoms such as dry cough and high fever
Coronavirus symptoms you may not be aware of
Malaise and dizziness
The letter F
Stepping up efforts to tackle the new coronavirus
According to a study released Monday
Some of the nation's leading medical experts
First of all, just because you have these symptoms
We are learning more every day
The number of infections grows worldwide
Develop symptoms about five days after exposure
Colds generally do no result in serious health problems
Keep Your Family Safe
Keep your family safe
Keep your family safe
Keep your family safe
Keep your family safe
Safety is the Priority
Keep your family safe
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention
A clean household is one way to help keep COVID-19 at bay
Make sure you are keeping their mental health in check
This is an incredibly stressful time
Clean doorknobs, light switches & handrails daily
Pay special attention to cleaning the door handles
Everything you need to know to prepare for the outbreak
One of the best ways to slow or stop
Settings > Account > Family
Avoid touching face and cover coughs
Stay aware of the latest information
Through your national and local public health authority
Most countries have seen cases
Many are experiencing outbreaks
Follow the advice of the local authorities
Minimise your risk of exposure to coronavirus
Advice for people at higher risk
Including older people
People with health conditions and pregnant women
Free, practical advice for the citizens of Scotland
Visa and passport advice (COVID-19)
Guidance for British people travelling abroad
Specific precautions older people should take
Tailors advice for people
Find out how we are monitoring and responding
Subscribe to alerts for consumers
Most up-to-date information
The texts are now being randomly collated, published in a branching and repeating fashion on Twitter. I love twitter bots!
#BlackLivesMatter, #TheMovementForBlackLives, and #ViolenceCommitedOnBlackCommunities
Black Lives Matter
Human rights protest
Racial profiling, police brutality
Betterment of the African Americans
Incarceration is a way to destroy a community
T-shirts, clothing, apparel, posters and accessories
The aftermath of George Floyd's murder on May 25th
Tweeted over 30 million times
Black lives shattered
A global organization
Eradicate white supremacy
Financial and Spiritual.
Black humanity and dignity
We have a problem
There is a huge racism
Stand up Sundays
Keep everyone safe
The Movement For Black Lives
Seeks to reach millions
Mobilize hundreds of thousands
Sustained and increasingly visible violence
Mission is to eradicate white supremacy
Build. Heal. Learn. Organise.
Enough is enough
Fighting for a Fundamental reordering of society
Free from systematic dehumanization
End state-sanctioned killings
Build local power
Rooted in this wider Black Freedom Struggle
Non-violence is rooted
Coalition of over 50 black-led organizations
Free from sexism, misogyny, and male-centredness.
Cooperatives as a viable way
Opportunity to uplift.
Violence Inflicted On Black Communities
This violence left thousands dead
A culture that tolerated gruesome lynchings
Tolerant of crime and violence
Ideological and political intervention
Black and blue, Blindspotting
Accept the cold hard truth about black culture
Embrace the differences and diversity
Affiliations around the world
Long history of racial tension
The death of a black Minneapolis man
Latest tipping point
2.5 more likely to be killed by police
Prescription for a deeper, systemic issue.
A multi platform collaboration between Kelly McErlean and Claire Fitch.
Kelly has a set of 36 photographs dating from at trip to San Francisco in 1999. They are published on Flikr and are the inspiration for a set of 36 texts.
2, 1. Four empty cable cars 3 Two turquoise baskets Eight on the landing
Kelly recorded each of the 36 texts, sending me the raw audio files to edit and process into sound works. These are continuing to be published on SoundCloud and will form part of a 36 minute live improvisation.
We’ve also set up a YouTube channel, that will host videos created from the photographs and improvisations of the audio.
Finally, there is a Twitter bot publishing the pictures, texts, videos and sounds. Please follow and share.
I am a composer, I create using many mediums and many methods. Text, sound, code, graphics, soundscapes, requesting audience participation. We are all participating. So with this in mind, one of the easier ways to explain my interpretation of material, and specifically, sonic material, is as blocks, as ‘Audio Lego’, to build, copy, block, paste, and chop.
During my time working on the composition of various works for my practice based Ph.D. in Sonic Art at Queen’s University Belfast I remember thinking that some of the works were to be presented as linear media, designed to be broadcast on radio or performed in an installation setting. But, what about web presentation? Could it be a method to find new audiences? Could I create non-linear works by producing audio blocks, ‘audio lego’ that could be pieced together by the audience/participant in the online environment of a web browser.
This question led me to spend some time checking out the presentation practices of the Electronic Literature community. I discuss Electronic Literature in a previous post. FFDEAD (2013) was my first interactive work. I wrote a sonnet, recorded myself reciting the text, edited short fragments of audio files, and then developed the work in the game engine environment of Unity, writing scripts to control the behaviour of the audio files. I’ve included the link to the games score in the caption below the image and there is also a video available on YouTube. If you are accessing the game score the simply Left Click on the UI of the app. Every time you move the cursor it will trigger audio. If you leave the mouse still for long enough the work will return to silence.
There is an audio file uploaded to Soundcloud included below:
On time! I thought I could sink old lace. It ran though my brain as a navajo-white. Watching the memory hit the knowledge base Was like witnessing a car hit a wall.
Stemming the flow was key to the trace, Checking the system for a sprite in flight. Finding the byte that was out of place, Enabled that illusive conference call.
Here I am, in this imaginary place. Watching, measuring, with geometric pace. This is the moment with visible light, So search it, find it, then reinstall. Stop the run, take a seat, watch the show. This is not the end, not by a long sight.
We Called It Dirt
I’ve been developing further audio works and game scores informed by the same ethic of producing blocks of sound to use in the game development environment of Unity. With each project I answered another compositional problem, progressing through the experience of completing works. We Called it Dirt (2013) was developed after a collaboration with the wonderful Electronic Poet, Dr. Michael Maguire. The deal was that I tidy up the audio quality of the interviews and he would approve my use of a number of files for the purpose of creating a sonic art work. We both benefited greatly from the arrangement because the interviews with John Pat McNamara are excellent. My aim is to expand the interview, a simple one-to-one chat, to become a room full of virtual conversations.
I’ve included the link to the game score in the caption under the image, but there is also a video available on YouTube. If you choose to go to the game score presentation, the controls are the computer keys: W,E,C,A,L,D,I,T,R, and SPACE. Your performance results from the simple act of typing the letters WE CALLED IT DIRT. The audio files can be repeatedly sounded to build up a fractured texture and a virtual space in an attempt to create an endless web-based narrative.
My next work, Look(FFEBCD) (2014), draws on the cut up technique of Christian Verdun, who follows the inspiration of the Burroughs Cut Up method. Look(FFEBCD) won the student prize at HearSay Festival in 2014. I had the help of nine wonderful participants who recorded a sonnet I wrote for the piece. Thanks to Brian Brennan, Robyn Bromfield, Brian Conniffe, Lynda Cosgrove, Dr. Eileen Leahy, Barry Low, Dr. Barbara Lueneburg and Marie McStay. The audio files are edited and imported into the game development of Unity. I then wrote a number of C# scripts designed to control the behaviour of the audio when the participant interacted with the computer keyboard. When creating this work I was inspired by N. Katherine Hayles “Language alone is no longer the distinctive characteristic of technologically developed societies; rather, it is language plus code” (Hayles 2005, 16).
I’ve included the link to the game score in the caption below the image and there is also a video available on YouTube. If you choose to access the game score presentation, the controls are the W,A,S,D, Arrow Keys, and SPACE. The SPACE key control will move the presentation between one of nine scenes. There are wide variations between the scenes and the work creates a work of web-based endless narrative.
There is also an audio file available on soundcloud included below:
Look, I'm sorry, I know it's beige. It'll warm if you have time to gaze. Think of it more as a blanched-almond, Changing in hue with the light.
Try it now, up in hyperspace, There's always the power given in backspace. Trust the strength in its own understatement, It'll sit with the line of sight.
This selection is straight from the database. Fitting the dial and perfect in shortwave. Alternative to the delicate hue Is the thought that it will bring calm. Giving out some gentle bright, A glow that is good for the payment.
And The Birds Sang
And The Birds Sang (2016) is inspired by Cobra (1984) by John Zorn and Robert Morris Box with the Sound Of its Own Making (1961). I encourage the participant to listen and respond with their own interpretation of how the sound was produced for the soundtrack, and to improvise to the visuals displayed on-screen. And The Birds Sang has been performed by an Irish brass band, Drogheda Brass Band and a Swiss trio of synth, horn and cello called Retro Disco at Music Current in Dublin, 2019. I’ve included the link to the game score in the caption under the image. There is also a video on YouTube. If you choose to access the game score there is also a set of directions designed to be a reference for the score. The graphics I created are informed by Manuella Blackburns Sound Shapes and I produced icons that represent short onset attacks, repeated and buzzing articulations, among others.
The audio recording from Music Currents is included below:
Questioning The Elements
Questioning The Elements (2019) was commissioned and performed by SPIKE alternative cello festival in Dublin 2019, it was also performed live on RTE Radio One during Arena. My aim is to consider the sound-making elements of the cello and also, the methods used by the performer. I spent time creating reference sounds: bowing, scraping, knocking the cello at various points. I also asked for participants to record a couple of sentences describing their thoughts of the sound of the cello. Massive thanks to Mary Barnecutt, Anthony Fox, Martina Murray, Raven, Nicole Rourke, and Yue Tang for taking the time to record and send me your thoughts.
I’ve included the link the Game Score in the caption below the image, but there is also a video up on YouTube. If you choose to download the game score, please enjoy interpreting the sound shapes and text instructions on-screen. The computer keyboard also provides some extra possibilities, so test the keys, a lot of them will result in either hearing voices or moving the graphic icons.
The audio recording from the SPIKE performance is included below:
Tale Of A Great Sham(e)Text
Tale of a Great Sham(e)Text is an electronic text first inspired by the consideration of citizenship. I created a Twitter Bot, a SoundCloud account, and a Blog for this project, and eventually I will also be featuring podcasts alongside the game score. Check out the Blog because I will publish pages on pre-composition and on the continuing production. I’ve included the game score below and there is also a video version on YouTube. The instruments I envisage are Female voice(s), Brass Player(s), and Computer.
I’ll continue to blog about other works and progress of new creations on this WordPress site. The process of developing a compositional workflow using techniques drawn from electroacoustic music and electronic literature continue to provide me with much inspiration and I will enjoy observing the directions the creations are going.
Hayles, N. Katherine. My Mother Was a Computer: Digital Subjects and Literary Texts. Chicago and London: The University of Chicago, 2005.
I am thrilled to be taking part as a ‘participant composer’ in this wonderful festival.
Music Current is a contemporary music festival run by Dublin Sound Lab, offering audiences a showcase of contemporary Irish electronic music and new international repertoire, and includes a participation strand for composers to take part in masterclasses, discussion, collaborations and performances.
One of the inspirations for And The Birds Sang draws on Gilles Deleuze’s discussion in Cinema I, of the movement of perception being between “two poles, objective and subjective” (Deleuze 1986, 71).
The work investigate the movement between our perception as performers and as audience members through the design and presentation of an electroacoustic work which can be performed and experienced in a wide variety of settings.
At Music Current the animated sound score of And The Birds Sang is visible to both the audience and performers. The horn, cello and synthesizer will investigate the sound-making potential of their instruments inspired by the combined visuals and soundtrack, the audience will perceive the work through the experience provided from hearing and seeing the animated score in combination with the performance of the ensemble.
Spike, Dublin’s alternative cello festival, will be back for its third installation Friday 8th-Sunday 10th February 2019 in venues across Dublin. After the festival’s hugely successful, entertaining and innovative 2017 & 18 incarnations, the 2019 programme will present unique events with some of the most talented and exciting cello artists & friends from home and abroad.
Then, in the first of the evenings at The Workman’s Club, Irish games composer and cellist Claire Fitch will premiere an interactive gaming piece for cellos and a big screen, commissioned by Spike. Claire, formerly a cellist in the RTÉNSO, has been writing music and creating sound effects for games since 2003, ranging from loud action shooters to quiet and cute educational games. For Spike she has created a project which will call on two cellists to react to movements on screen, as if playing a game, to create a piece of music. After this performance there will be an open mic chance for visiting and resident cellists to perform their own works in five fifteen-minute slots hosted by the festival.
The process of how I created this remix involved using Ableton Live, controlled by Touch OSC, plus having various external effects hooked up to the audio interface. Manipulating the digital and analogue effects is what has given this a really off the wall feel.
I plan to do many more!
There is an audio file uploaded to Soundcloud included below: