BOOK: EXPLOSIONS IN THE MIND
Explosions in the Mind: Composing Psychedelic Sounds and Visualisations is my second monograph, which explores how to compose sounds and visualisations that represent psychedelic hallucinations and experiences of synaesthesia. Through a detailed discussion regarding compositional methodologies and technical approaches, the book aims to educate students, practitioners, and researchers working in related areas. It weaves together sound, visual design, and code across a range of media, providing conceptual approaches, theoretical insights, and practical strategies, which unlock new design frameworks for composing psychedelic sounds and visualisations. It has been reviewed in Dancecult, and the Journal of Sound and Music in Games.
COMPUTER ART: CHIPTUNES, SPRITES, AND LASERS
During the pandemic lockdowns I worked on various art and music, including chiptunes made on Commodore 64, PETSCII artworks (also Commodore 64), a 2D video game demo made in Unity, and an Arduino-based laser puzzle. These various mini-projects have been presented at various events including the Assembly Winter '21, Revision 2021, and Transmission64 demoparties. I also archived a box of Amiga demoscene disks in ADF format, performed a VJ set as Soundcat for Art Futura London in April 2021, and created an Arduino-based Megadrive adapter which allows the use of a wireless Retrobit Sega Megadrive controller on an Amiga 1200.
COMPUTER MUSIC: THE SOUNDPOD
The SoundPod is a custom-made listening station that was made for the Event Two exhibition held at the Royal College of Art, London in summer 2019, as part of the Computer Arts Society (CAS) collection. It contains a collection of contemporary and historic sound artworks that can be selected and listened to using professional-quality headphones. I curated the 15 works available, which use generative approaches in response to the theme of cybernetics. Among the newly commissioned works are unique pieces by Jan Robbe/Diagnostic, Mark Pilkington, Rajmil Fischman, Palle Dahlstedt, Jose Macabra, La Peste/Laurent Mialon, and myself. The SoundPod itself was designed and built by Sean Clark. It has also been exhibited at LCB depot in Leicester, and will receive future presentations as part of the CAS collection. An album release of the tracks is planned on the Entity netlabel.
BOOK: INNER SOUND
Inner Sound: Altered States of Consciousness in Electronic Music and Audio-Visual Media is my book that explores how altered states of consciousness have shaped the design of electronic music and audio-visual media. Taking a broad view across a wide range of media, from shamanic art and music to psychedelic rock, VJ performances and virtual reality, Inner Sound explores the capabilities of technology for representing and manipulating consciousness, at the frontiers of electronic music and art. Published by Oxford University Press, 2018. Inner Sound was launched at VJ London and has been featured in The Wire magazine (UK), Electronic Sound magazine (UK), Gonzo (Circus) magazine (Netherlands), and Corriere della Sera (Italy).
VIRTUAL REALITY: CYBERDREAM
Cyberdream is a virtual reality project that explores the visualisation of music. Aesthetically the piece fuses my VJ explorations with vaporwave, surrealism, altered states, rave and cyberpunk graphics. The concept is a high-tech form of 21st Century surrealism in virtual reality which elicits the irrationality of seductive media fantasias and the virtual audio-visual spaces of the Internet. Cyberdream has been featured various forms at events such as Sci-Fi London; ACM Audio Mostly; the Event Two exhibition of computer art at the Royal College of Art, London; and SIGGRAPH Asia 2021, Tokyo.
RESEARCH: DEEP SUBJECTIVITY AND EMPATHY IN VIRTUAL REALITY
The Affective Audio research team carried out an interdisciplinary study exploring how virtual reality can be used to communicate experiences of autism in order to generate empathy and raise awareness of autism. The study carried out an analysis of a VR application that aims to represent the experiences of a child with autism in a stressful situation. We discuss issues of design with regards to graphics and sound, and how these are used to provide representations of 'deep subjectivity' that give an indication of various aspects of sensory experience and emotion. The project thereby contributes towards our understanding of how VR can be used to communicate subjective experiences in ways that can bring have societal benefit. The project was published in the 2018 Springer textbook New Directions in Third Wave Human-Computer Interaction.
AUDIO-VISUAL: TECHNOSHAMANIC VISIONS FROM THE UNDERWORLD
Technoshamanic Visions from the Underworld was a looping video installation of various audio-visual works I created, which was first presented at the Carbon Meets Silicon exhibition in Wales, 2015. From 2016-2017, while working in Denmark, I created a follow up piece using computer graphics animations that I coded in Processing, as well as materials made with direct animation and other techniques. This led to Technoshamanic Visions from the Underworld 2, which is set to music by psychedelic rock band Hibushibire from Osaka, Japan, whose music is used with kind permission of the band. In 2017 the video installation was presented at Carbon Meets Silicon 2, and Breaking Convention. During this period I also created a series of new visual artworks, which were exhibited at Carbon Meets Silicon 2; these are discussed in a post I wrote for OUPblog.
VIRTUAL REALITY: GNOSIS
“Humanity"? The world in 2325 is a very different space, and this Archive is all that remains of the past. Created by Fathomable Ltd., Gnosis is a Virtual Reality (VR) artefact combining interactive puzzle gameplay, scientific visualisation and an immersive A/V performance. The player explores a synaesthetic, generative environment while engaging with a large network of knowledge mined from ConceptNet. I have made a few small contributions to this project in the form of audio-sculptures and consultancy on synaesthesia. The audio-scultures are animations generated from oscilloscope signals. These form part of a stunning immersive cyberpunk world that Gnosis creates through its innovative art style, narrative, and gameplay. Gnosis was released on Oculus Rift in 2018.
COMPUTER MUSIC: SPACE TEMPLE
Space Temple is a fixed-media composition of electroacoustic music, which premiered at Beast Feast 2017 festival at the University of Birmingham, on their amazing multi-channel sound system. From the programme note: "In the nexus of psychedelia, speedcore techno and electroacoustic music, Space Temple is a metallic temple of bass and geometry cast in the outer reaches of space. At once futuristic and ancient, the temple emerges in planetary alignment within the local system at the correct time, acting as both a repository for occult data and a site of transcendental technoshamanism. The Space Temple was constructed using analogue synthesis drum machines, concatenative synthesis techniques, and processed materials gathered from Tibetan Buddhist chants."
COMPUTER MUSIC: FLOOD CITY
Teknoshaman's Flood City is a collaborative music project with Sol Nte (Pharaoh Sol). Musically the work absorbs influences from dub, late 90s drum & bass, grime, footwork and free-jazz to create a cyberpunk space-jazz sound that suggests the dark, humid silicon cityscapes of a neon future. The record is available on hand-painted dubplates and as a digital download. Flood City first premiered at Leeds College of Music's International Festival of Artistic Innovation in March 2015.
VISUAL MUSIC: CENOTE ANIMATIONS
Cenote Animations is a series of visual music compositions, inspired by the cenotes (natural sinkholes) of Mexico. Utilising direct animation techniques on 8mm film in combination with motion graphics created in Processing, and stop-motion animation, the pieces Cenote Zaci and Cenote Sagrado create a technoshamanic audio-visual experience. The first performance of these works took place at Leeds College of Music's International Festival of Artistic Innovation in 2015. Click to view Cenote Zaci and Cenote Sagrado.
RESEARCH: AFFECTIVE COMPUTING FOR INTELLIGENT MUSICAL PLAYLISTS
This project by PhD student Darryl Griffiths (supervised by Stuart Cunningham and myself) examined how music playlists can be automatically generated to suit the user's context and emotion. Portable music players have evolved hugely in the last 10 years and listeners are now able to carry huge music libraries in their pocket. These devices have become increasingly pervasive and are used in all sorts of situations, such as: exercising, driving or relaxing. In this project, we are examining how sensors can be used to provide information to the music player about the environment the listener is in, what they are doing, and what their mood or emotional state is, with the aim of automatically picking music that best suits their current needs. For more information please see our Leonardo Music Journal article. Darryl was awarded his PhD in 2017.
VISUAL MUSIC: OPTICAL RESEARCH
In 2014 I curated a collection of visual music and related work: Optical Research. The collection includes 12 pieces by an international group of artists: Ryo Ikeshiro, Josh Simmons, Ocusonic, Benjamin Rowley, Maxime Corbeil-Perron, Diego Garro, Mark Pilkington, Richard Scott, Scott Kiernan, Victoria Keddie, Diego Capoccitti, VJ Chaotic and Vibrasphere, and myself. The work includes audio-visualisations of data, glitch and trips through 3D fractal universes, to hacked analogue video equipment and pieces produced using paint and 8mm film. With a distinctly dark, digital, cybernetic and psychedelic edge, Optical Research is a feast for the eyes and ears. It was presented in 2015 as an installation at the Axis Arts Centre (Crewe) and released as a DVD.
COMPUTER MUSIC: ENTOPTIC PHENOMENA IN AUDIO
As the culmination of my PhD work composing electroacoustic music, Entoptic Phenomena in Audio is a 12" vinyl record released on the Hardcore Jewellery label in 2014. The vinyl includes four pieces: Night Breed, Surfer Stem, Swamp Process and Entoptic Phenomena, composed from 2007–2009 and widely performed on the international electroacoustic circuit at events such as the International Computer Music Conference (ICMC). Absorbing a variety of influences including: bass music, free jazz, flashcore, music concrete and the writings of Timothy Leary, the end result is ultimately psychedelic, organic, experimental ambient bass music. Available to purchase here.
RESEARCH: SIMILARITY-BASED AUDIO COMPRESSION
ACERemix is a project that came out of Stuart Cunningham and the Affective Audio team's earlier work in Similarity-Based Audio Compression, following observations that the compression system would produce glitch type music when the settings were wrong or errors occurred in the similarity processing of musical audio. The result is a method of taking an existing piece of music and producing quantised, beat-multiple sample 'grains' that can be rearranged in various ways to produce glitch music remixes. ACERemix resulted in a MAX/MSP patch being developed that allows ACERemix versions of music to be manipulated, effects processing applied, and switched between in real-time, and so can be used as a performance tool. Find the Audio Mostly 2014 paper on the ACM digital library.
RESEARCH: SOUND DESIGN BASED ON AUDITORY HALLUCINATIONS
Auditory Hallucinations are the sounds people hear during experiences of hallucination, which have no acoustic origin in the external environment. This project investigates these types of sound by examining a large online database of experience reports, in order to form a classification system which is then used as a basis for designing these types of sounds in computer music. A collaboration with Stuart Cunningham and Darryl Griffiths, this research forms part of our ongoing work in devising ways through which altered states of consciousness (ASC) can be represented using sound and game technologies. Find the Audio Mostly 2014 paper on the ACM digital library. Related follow up work provides a Unity prototype, and advance theories for sound design based on subjective perception, looking at first person representations and virtual reality.
RESEARCH: AUDIO EASTER EGGS
This project investigates the use of hidden tracks and messages in a variety of music mediums ranging from vinyl LPs to CD, digital files and video games. Providing a contextual review of audio 'easter eggs', the project explores their meaning, purpose and considers possible techniques for incorporating them in modern digital technologies. The project includes a small Max/MSP prototype 'Egg Raid' (produced in collaboration with Darryl Griffiths), which appears to be a regular keyboard/piano at first glance, but turns out to hide a variety of audio easter eggs. Read the ICMC 2014 paper here.
FULLDOME INSTALLATION: PSYCH DOME
Psych Dome is an interactive visual music installation project. Psych Dome synthesises geometric visual patterns similar to those seen in experiences of hallucination, and provides an accompanying soundtrack. These are linked to the user's brain activity through use of a consumer-grade EEG headset, which provides control signals that affect various parameters of the graphics and sound in real-time. The first presentation of Psych Dome was in an immersive dome environment (fulldome) at Glyndwr University in 2013, which was also used as a basis for a human-computer interaction research study. Technically the software works using Processing and Max/MSP software.
RESEARCH: QUAKE DELIRIUM EEG
Quake Delirium is a modification/hack for the first-person shooter game Quake, which alters the game in order to simulate altered states of consciousness (ASC). The modification works by manipulating game properties such as graphical parameters and sound, which are usually static. By causing these properties to change in time and adding a supporting soundtrack, the project aims to provide a prototype simulation of a hallucinatory experience. In a recent update to Quake Delirium, we also carried out some initial testing with an EEG headset as a control device for the ASC effects. The project forms part of ongoing research regarding 'ASC Simulations'.
VISUAL MUSIC: MEZCAL ANIMATIONS
Mezcal Animations is a fixed-media piece of 'visual music'. From 2013–2015 this composition was performed internationally at such events as: Last Friday Listening Room (University of California San Diego), Seeing Sound (Bath Spa University), Sweet Thunder Festival (San Francisco), the International Computer Music Conference (Athens) and others. An associated article was featured in a special edition of the Canadian journal eContact!, which looks at video music as an emerging art form. The article discusses the creation of the piece from both artistic and technological perspectives, using a combination of 8mm film and modern digital technologies. Click here to read the eContact! article.
RESEARCH: MOBILE TECHNOLOGIES IN THE CINEMA
'Second screening' is the modern practice of using an additional display to enhance or control a primary display (such as using a mobile phone to view related information while also watching TV). 'Second Screen Comes to the Silver Screen' was a Technology Strategy Board-funded feasibility study carried out at Glyndwr University in 2013, in collaboration with Stuart Cunningham and two independent cinemas. Using an online survey and case studies regarding the cinemas, this project explored ways in which mobile devices could enhance the experience of cinema-goers. While synchronous mobile content could provide interesting new possibilities for films, the study suggested that in the cinema context audiences would prefer asynchronous services to enrich their experience. Read the IEEE papers here and here.
VIDEO GAME DEMO: PSYCHEDELIC SUBMARINES
I created some demo video game projects to learn Unity, the first I made following Will Goldstone's tutorial book. Following this, in 2012 I went on to program my own side-scrolling 2.5D shooter demo: Psychedelic Submarines. All the sounds, graphics and 3D modelling is original and produced by myself in Maya and Unity. Any references to pop groups from Liverpool are purely co-incidental!
GAME AUDIO: ASTRAWARE
Around 2012 I carried out some game audio work with the mobile video games company Astraware Limited. I produced sound effects and music for Astraware Word Games, a puzzle game released on various mobile platforms such as iOS, Android and Nook Color. I worked with the team on an ad-hoc basis producing sounds as required for various other mobile titles, ultimately resulting a small sound effects library which is being used by Astraware on an on-going basis for various other published titles.
In 2012 I was awarded my PhD with title: 'Altered states of consciousness (ASCs) as an adaptive principle for composing electroacoustic music'. The focus of the project was on composing works of electroacoustic music, where the design of sonic materials and structure are based on experiences of hallucination. While situated within the electroacoustic idiom, the project drew significantly on Western psychedelic culture and electronic dance music. The outputs consisted of a creative portfolio of compositions, software, and a written commentary (the thesis). This project was funded by the Arts & Humanities Research Council.
VISUAL MUSIC: TINY JUNGLE
Tiny Jungle was an audio-visual composition based around my altered states of consciousness research, incorporating a mixture of 3D graphics, hand-drawn artwork and other digital processes in order to construct a psychedelic narrative. The soundtrack explores an organic approach to breakbeats, and incorporates jungle/dubstep influences. To make this piece I created an original Max/MSP/Jitter patch: the Atomizer Visual, which allows stroboscopic visual materials to be generated in real-time. The piece was performed at Noisefloor Festival in 2011.
COMPUTER MUSIC: ATOMIZER LIVE PATCH
The Atomizer Live Patch is a real-time Max/MSP patch for live performance or generation of material. Designed for use with the Bitstream 3X MIDI controller, the patch provides several sound generating modules using various forms of sampling and granular synthesis. The patch enables surround sound spatialisation in 5.1 audio. Aesthetically the patch was based around my research regarding altered states of consciousness, and incorporates flashcore influences. In 2010 I used this patch for a laptop performance at the ISSUE Project Room in Brooklyn, NYC. It was also used for Atomizer: a 60 second piece included in Robert Voisey's 60x60 project. This project was discussed in an ACM Audio Moslty paper.
COMPUTER MUSIC: MUTATIONS
Mutations is a piece of software which I programmed for hybrid composer Robert Ratcliffe, which was designed for Roberts's musical composition Mutations for piano and electronics. Designed for use with a Korg NanoKontrol, the software allows the triggering and looping of various samples of piano material, which can also be processed using various digital effects. In 2010 the composition was performed by Zubin Kanga at New Interfaces for Musical Expression (NIME) in Sydney, Australia. The piece was discussed in an eContact! article.
COMPUTER MUSIC: BASS DRUM, SAXOPHONE & LAPTOP
Bass Drum, Saxophone & Laptop was a collaborative improvisational performance with Sol Nte (saxophone), exploring real-time psychedelic performance with live instruments and electronics. To facilitate this I wrote a live performance patch in Max/MSP which provides real-time effects processing and sample triggering using automation paths which are either generative or derived from the amplitudes of the performers. In 2010 we performed with the patch at Keele University. In 2014 our experimental music/industrial group Repo Jazz (also with circuit bending expert Dan Wilson) supported Peter Brötzmann & Steve Noble at Fort Process music festival. Read the eContact! article.
DJ MIXES & ELECTRONIC MUSIC
Until around 2010 I DJ'd at raves and student nights. My mixes incorporated styles of music such as: hard techno, jungle, breakcore, speedcore, acid techno, dubstep, grime, noise, free-jazz, drones, shoegaze and psychedelia. In 2007 I DJ'd at the Sonic Arts Network Expo Plymouth in support of Sileni and Superconductor. I also produced electronic music with Renoise in acid, breakcore and chiptune styles as The Turtle which was released on Analogue Mind Control and TestTube.