I recently returned from an exhilarating few days in Portugal, where I ate grilled squid, walked up and down urban cliffscapes, explored the local beer culture, recorded some amazing environments, and presented no less than three times at the Invisible Places | Sounding Cities symposium in Viseu.
This conference ran for three days, but had activities embedded in the larger festival Jardins Efémeros (Ephemeral Gardens) which enlivened the entire city with song, dance, installations, food... everything really. I don't think I have ever seen a more joyous congruence of cultural activities. It seemed at times that the entire population of the city was on the streets enjoying themselves.
But it's not as easy to get here as it should be.
It used to be that there were many flights into Shannon Airport, which is the closest and most logical choice. Unfortunately that once prestigious transportation hub is only just coming out of a long period of decline and mismanagement. It currently has far fewer flights than Dublin.
Both airports suffer from what is a terrible Irish problem, the poor rail service. In fact, there is not a single Irish airport connected to the rail system! Worse yet, if you choose Cork, Knock, or some other point of entry, you won't even get good coach service, and will be practically forced to rent a car. In my role as festival organiser I've often advised people against Cork, which, though significantly closer to Limerick than Dublin, requires a change of buses in Cork City, making travel next to impossible at morning or evening hours -- when flights are actually likely to arrive.
So that leaves Dublin as the next best choice, in the event that you can't get a good connection to Shannon. You'd think it would be a piece of cake to get from Dublin Airport to Limerick. There are indeed several options, but read on and I'll fill you in on the best choice.
I am overwhelmed to be an invited guest at a very special evening of food and improvised music. Pauline Oliveros was just granted an honorary doctorate in music from UCC. Now it is time to celebrate!
Musical contributors include John Godfrey, Karen Power, The Quiet Club, Harry Moore, and yours truly.
At the Guest House, Shandon, Cork, 9 June 2014.
Advanced ticket sales only and sold out long ago I assume!
Here's some news for you: I have not one but two films featured in the conference Transit Spaces/Transitory Encounters, happening over the next few days, 29 May – 1 June, here in Limerick. This is the international conference of the Association for Intercultural German Studies (GiG). As such, it is conducted mostly in German. It is being hosted by the Irish Centre for Transnational Studies at Mary Immaculate College and University of Limerick. You can visit their website for details.
Announcing my next performance!
Sonic Vigil is a festival of improvised music, sound art, and video that takes place every year in the wonderful city of Cork. For Sonic Vigil 8, the festival is extending its reach into 3 days of activities, from 2-4 May 2014. The main event is Saturday from 2 to 8pm in St. Anne's Church, Shandon. It's easy to find, since the steeple is the famous tower with a clock on each face, visible from all over the city.
The format is amazing... musicians will be selected at random with a Max patch, and will then create an ad hoc performance with whoever else pops up on the computer screen.
I started with Reaktor back in version 3 and have been hacking away steadily for 15 years. It's a fantastic system for developing your own instruments, effects, and audio utilities. One does this either by hacking together pieces from existing tools or simply building virtual circuits from scratch in a graphical interface. It's a lot like Max/MSP except easier to get started, and with thousands of ready-to-go ensembles, many of excellent quality. Back when I started all this, Max had a poor interface and provided no way to customise the look and feel for performance. Also I didn't like the sound. Both of these factors are no longer the case, but still Reaktor has the edge in some departments. (For one, it works as a VST so it is easy to integrate with any DAW.)
In this interdisciplinary conference, we explore the intersection of soundscapes and acoustic ecology studies with urban, applied ethnomusicology’s focus on human subjects and with sociological understandings of the cultural restructuring of urban space, through an evocation of "critical citizenship".
Given my ongoing attempt to interrogate this field, it should surprise no-one that I will contribute in no fewer than three ways. An excerpt from one of my pieces is being included in the soundscape collage Echo-Locations, which will be played at various locations in the city.
I am proud to announce that you can now purchase the album "...between..." from the lovely people at German label Gruenrekorder. It comes in high quality FLAC files with an assortment of photographs.
Places are made real as we encounter them, through our physical presence, memories, and imagination. This album was created using location recordings and the timbres of musical instruments. These have been transformed into landscapes that are perhaps as fictive as they are real. Birds eat bread from a frost-covered wall. Trains rattle over bridges in the centre of London. A mysterious drone sounds out in rural Ireland. Someone throws stones into a stream. A police siren plays a duet with a piano.
Iteration is the act of repeating a task in order to approach a desired goal. This process is at work in many natural phenomena, notably plant growth. Aristid Lindenmayer, a Hungarian biologist), first modelled cell formation using a simple iterative process. He later discovered that the same principles could be extended to larger plant forms: stems, leaves, petals, and so forth. He introduced the L-system (Lindenmayer System) in 1968 and subsequently proposed various geometric interpretations in order to create 2D and 3D renderings of this data. The best source for information is the book he co-authored and in 1990 (shortly after his death). The Algorithmic Beauty of Plants is available as a free PDF download.
So, being recently in receipt of the Olympus PEN E-P5, I decided to compare its noise characteristics throughout its ISO range, which extends from 200 to 25,600 plus a "pulled" ISO 100 that is useful on particularly bright days. I put this up against the Olympus PEN E-PL2, which has settings for ISO from 200 to 6400.
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