Saturday, December 22, 2012

Farpoint Recordings releases Sonic Abyss

As the year comes to a close it seems there are still activities in my wonderful world of sound to report on. Here I'd like to mention that Farpoint Recordings has just now released recordings of the Sonic Abyss sessions from the Drogheda Arts Festival. As I previously reported, this took place on Saturday, 5 May, at the Barbican Centre.

Farpoint release recordings on various media and this time have opted for a free digital release through their website. You can download MP3 or uncompressed WAV. The first track includes Anthony Kelly, Harry Moore, Jesse Ronneau, and David Stalling. The second adds John Daly and myself.

While at Farpoint, check out their eclectic mix of offerings. One or two of these might make yourself a nice thoughtful post-Christmas present.
Friday, December 21, 2012

Prelude To "The Drones"

The Drones

I keep coming back to the drone. In some ways it's the essence of sound, from the primal to the contemporary. Ancients must have relished the thrum of the waterfall, the lash of wind in a storm, the rumble as a herd of herbivores massed in a charge, the sound of distant thunder heard first by the hairs on your neck. Instruments like the suburuburu (bull roarer) were held sacred in societies across the globe. From this simple twirling stick came a complex sound that seemed to mirror the cycles of day and night, tide on tide, season following season.
Wednesday, December 19, 2012

"Caged Birds" in NYC Tomorrow

We're coming to the end of 2012, the centenary of John Cage's birth, and to the final events of this very busy season. If you are in New York City, I invite you to White Box for winter solstice. From 20-23 December, Ear to the Earth presents 100x John: A Global Salute to John Cage in Sound and Image. There are performances, playbacks of soundscapes from around the world, and a chance to meet Phill Niblock.

I am proud to say that my piece, "Caged Birds (Augmentation)" is included in "Cagean Mix #1", which you can hear tomorrow evening (Thursday) from 7-10. It is also available to hear in its entirety on the project page (track 39). Details on the event itself, including the gallery location, can be found at the White Box site.
Wednesday, December 19, 2012

As They Ride Through The Remains Of The City


As They Ride Through The Remains Of The City

In the Vespa Café,
a dog named Peter sniffs the feet of strangers.
A cat sleeps on a wooden chair.
There's old jazz on the radio.

Surrounded by disused vehicle and coffee machine parts,
safety helmets and WiFi waves,
three women breast feed in unison.
Their babies are the beneficiaries of
second-hand americano and cappuccino --
an efficient display of caffeine exchange.
Thursday, November 29, 2012

Secret Thai Green Curry

Thai green seafood curry
There are a lot of things I could be writing about on this blog, only for lack of time. And one of them is food. Sometimes I think there are two types of people in this world... those who love cooking and those who think it is a chore. I am glad that early on in my life I took the positive path and decided to have as much fun making a meal as I do eating it. This doesn't mean that every day I cook a gourmet feast, though every now and then I have the chance to come close.

You can't get real Thai food in Ireland. In fact, I think it's getting almost impossible to get real Thai food anywhere. I can recall with clarity when the restaurants in Toronto -- one of the great food capitals of the world -- figured out how to dumb down the ingredients for white folk. (Not my words, but a paraphrase of what a cook actually told me -- though I don't think they said "dumb down".)
Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Sonic Vigil 7 this Saturday in Cork

Sonic Vigil 2012

This Saturday, 24 November, St. Anne's Church in Shandon, Cork is the place to be for SONIC VIGIL 7, six hours of music and sound experimentation beginning at 3pm. Presented by the Guesthouse and curated by Mick O'Shea and Danny McCarthy, this year's festival highlights the Quiet Music Ensemble, who have commissioned a number of new pieces especially for the event. One of these, "Agentia", is by yours truly. Other guests include Karen Power, Paul Hegarty, Tony Langlois, Harry Moore & Katie O'Looney... a cornucopia of Ireland's finest. (See the poster for all the rest.)
Thursday, November 15, 2012

Conflux brings Limerick one metric tonne of music

Things don't get much better on the musical front than they do this Saturday in Limerick. Thanks to some very enthusiastic local supporters, we get to hear over 20 acts on four stages, all for one low price... which goes to the Red Ribbon campaign anyway. So, no excuses!

Besides, I will be appearing live, playing actual music in an actual band (definitions of both terms remaining suitably flexible) for the first time in... oh, maybe forever. Details follow.
Tuesday, November 13, 2012

1 Minute Autohypnosis And You

1 Minute Autohypnosis
As an artist I believe in the unexplained, the unexpected, and the irrational. I pursue all of these with the scientist's rigour, the philosopher's logic, and as much generosity as possible. And sometimes I get gifted with something in return. Often not, but sometimes.

This article is about a CD you can't buy. But it has already arrived at your door if you were one of the sixteen contributors. (If not, read on to find out how to hear it.) Apparently it is called 1 Minute Autohypnosis Sex War Noise Faith White Truth Light Europe Death Seed Red Net. It comes in a transparent sleeve, adorned with mailing addresses and a bonus credit card with which can use to purchase karma, or perhaps faith, or maybe noise.

My track "Freeze-Thaw" is the sixteenth and final one-minute long selection on this mini CD. The project is idiosyncratic and intense. Missing 15 Minutes was compelled to conduct an interview with instigator Pedro Bericat. It's short and appropriately cryptic. (All spellings and typography preserved as received.)
Saturday, October 20, 2012

60x60 Canada Mix in Vancouver

If you happen to be in Vancouver, British Columbia you can drop by the Creative Hub, tomorrow 21 October at 7:00 PM to hear the 60x60 Canada Mix, which includes my piece "After Keem". If you live on the other side of the country you can visit the Suncor Energy Hall, St John's, Newfoundland on 8 November 2012.

Listen and download the track using the SoundCloud player above. Read on for more details and a second composition.
Monday, October 08, 2012

Sound and Architecture lecture

Lecture@SAUL Autumn 2012 [edit]

I will be talking tomorrow (5pm, Tuesday 9 October) at the School of Architecture at University of Limerick (SAUL). Architects Jim Corbett and Maria Donoghue will be hosting the event, an open discussion between Softday (Sean Taylor and Mikael Fernstrom) and myself. The three of us are practising sound artists, based in Limerick.

We are open to topics that interest those in attendance, but will certainly be incorporating such topics as acoustics and psychoacoustics; ideas of being and place; the role of close listening in apprehending our built environment; plus particular methods, processes, and concepts from our own practise.
Sunday, September 09, 2012

Cuisle Limerick City International Poetry Festival

audience at The Belltable for Cuisle 2011
This is a quick post for those who don't follow Facebook. Starting this year I am part of the organising committee for the Cuisle Limerick City International Poetry Festival. I announced that fact a few months back, in this post. Now I am spearheading our Facebook presence, putting out regular announcements so you can meet our committee members, find out about our activities, and learn which poets we have booked for you this year.

So, "Like" our Facebook page and keep up-to-date! We just confirmed Fred Johnston will be reading; a few days ago the Young Poet of the Year Competition was launched. More news to come shortly.

The photos above shows the audience at The Belltable for one of the readings at last year's Cuisle festival.
Thursday, August 30, 2012

Those Who Prefer Erasure



I live in St. Mary's parish, near King's Island in Limerick. At a major intersection nearby there's a site that has been disused for some time. This summer a few pieces of art appeared on the hoarding, around the time of the street festival on the Island. I don't know if they were directly related, since I was out of town at the time. I recorded the art in situ on 25 July 2012. Exactly one month later I went back and shot what remained. I took care to enhance the contrast in the paints and capture the bold colours in all their vitality.
Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Towards Solutions For The Graffiti "Problem"

facepaste montage
I am a poet, composer, photographer, and sound artist (among other things). I spend my time thinking about problems of knowledge, being, and action in the world. I investigate these through research and then create artefacts based on these ideas. In all this, it is a requirement that I am aware of my own context in society -- hence politics. But I am uninterested in party politics or simplistic answers to complex problems.

In all this, I am similar to many street artists today. Though I am not a visual artist myself, I have great empathy for those who choose a creative path. Furthermore, I believe that the only robust societal solutions arise from a process of communication, compromise, and empathy.

Thus, when I write about "solving" a problem, my purpose is not to dictate, but instead to suggest how the process might start. In this particular case, the dialogue is at such a rudimentary stage that any advance in thinking is beneficial. So it really is very easy to provide some starting points.
Tuesday, August 28, 2012

A Few Comments On The Graffiti Scourge

old bug

The dialogue surrounding graffiti in Limerick has reached a new low. In at least five major stories in just over a week, the Limerick Leader has hyped the "problem" of graffiti in the city. This paper has called this activity a "scourge", "blight", and "epidemic", a "shocking" and "disgusting" act. Apparently the writers are not well versed in journalism, since their language is far from impartial. They write of two people arrested for graffiti as though they were already accused of their crime, a mistake that would have them kicked off a paper that had any ethics at all. But the low standard of Limerick newspapers -- in terms of spelling, grammar, basic intelligibility, and ethics -- is plain to see and not really even that interesting. So let me move on.

The interests of the land-owners and commercial elite is obvious in this matter. Many times in the articles I surveyed, the properties were said to be "destroyed" by graffiti. This despite the rather obvious fact that paint does not cause structural damage and so cannot possibly be regarded as "destroying" a building, or any other physical structure for that matter. Perhaps instead what it destroys is a certain balance of power that sees (not just) the young as alien and a threat to society at large.
Friday, August 24, 2012

Rewinding Le Mépris

still from Le Mépris (Godard, 1963)
It's the first scene. The all-seeing camera eye focuses on... me. As viewer, I am made the subject of the lens of the Cyclops. I am placed at the epicentre of film itself.

Will I be the tragic hero of this version of the Odyssey? Only if I can forget that I am, at all moments, the object of the gaze. If I can forget that as I watch film, film watches me. If I can forget film itself, a gesture that Jean-Luc Godard is always willing to begin, but is ultimately unwilling to complete. Which is why he keeps coming back for more. And so do we, as viewers, even knowing what Godard is likely to give us...

End of film. Silenzio. Fin.

Then: rewind.
Monday, August 20, 2012

Best Directors According To Sight and Sound

There are lots of ways in which one can look to the Sight and Sound film list for inspiration, and many ways to mine it for statistical gems. I decided to tally up the films by director, in order to see which were the most popular. Bear in mind that this means "most popular" to the 800-some critics the BFI polled. This may or may not be a representative cross-section of film-goers.

Some directors don't stand a chance by this measure. Jean Vigo barely lived through his second feature, but everything he shot is vital. Dziga Vertov made mostly documentaries and shorts, so his films are rarely seen and likely wouldn't fit the criteria for this list. Ditto Chris Marker. Víctor Erice has only one feature available for English-speakers, but Secrets of the Beehive is essential viewing!

So, no, quantity does not equate to quality.

Nonetheless, the results are quite surprising. Here is the tally of those directors who got on the list more than once, working up to the unchallenged victor (by this metric, anyway). Along the way I'll throw in some of my personal opinions, since that's what makes it fun.
Sunday, August 19, 2012

Sight And Sound Films Revisited

It's taken me a while, but here is the rest of the film list, from the 53rd film down to the last one at number 253. You will notice an awful lot of ties, since none of these films got too many votes in the big scheme of things. Those who were wondering where Star Wars or North by Northwest had got to can now rest easy. But I find this list opens up more questions than it answers.

For example, I took it for granted that this was a list of fictional films. So why is Marker's Sans Soleil here? It's a documentary, even though it's a pretty genre-busting documentary. If that's included then I don't see how Koyaaniskatsi (Godfrey Reggio, 1982) can be far behind. Or Soy Cuba [aka I Am Cuba] (Mikhail Kalatozov, 1964) for that matter. (All three are in my own top 200, by the way.)
Sunday, August 19, 2012

The Sight and Sound Top Film List (easy to read version)

Every decade Sight and Sound publish their list of "the Greatest Films of All Time", after polling both critics and directors. This is the most comprehensive survey of its kind, and so pulls a lot of weight. Even before it was announced the magazine was full of analysis, so expect even more now. Also expect every knee-jerk critic on the web to cry "but why no Star Wars!"

Unfortunately their own site forces you to reload every handful of entries, which makes the process of browsing rather painful. So here, for your edification, are the Top 50 from the Critics list.
Friday, August 17, 2012

Reaktor Multitimbral Sampler Released

= strata = screen shot

= strata = is a sample layering instrument can be used as a multitimbral sampler, a generator of ambient soundscapes, or a synthesis engine in its own right. Included is a sample map and three presets to get you started. It is built in Native Instruments Reaktor and requires the full version of NI Reaktor to run.

However the instrument itself is completely free and licensed under Creative Commons. Registered users can download it from the Reaktor Library. Read on for details.
Saturday, August 04, 2012

Recalling Chris Marker

Bastt with shadowChris Marker is in the pantheon of the artists who have had a profound impact on my life. I do not remember when I first saw La jetée (1962), but it must have been in a film class in the early eighties. Though my degree was Theoretical Physics I often sat in on films with or without the permission of the lecturer. When I realised after four years I was one credit short of my papers, I took a film course to wrap things up. By this point I was buying photo roman when I found them at local used bookshops, this being the easiest way to "see" certain films I had no access to.

It took a long while before I managed to view A Grin Without a Cat (1977), Sans Soleil (1983), and Level 5 (1996). To these I should add important works by Alain Resnais: Nuit et brouillard (1955), on which Marker worked, and L'Année dernière à Marienbad (1961), one of the supreme achievements of film.
Tuesday, July 31, 2012

See Me In Cork for ISSTC 2012

ISSTC 2012 is the second annual Irish Sound, Science and Technology Convocation (ISSTC). It's called a convocation because it's a lot more than just a conference, with workshops, sound installations, and multiple performances / concerts. If you have any interest in contemporary electroacoustic music you should be in Cork for the next couple of days, 1-2 August.

On Thursday at 3pm I will be delivering the paper "Becoming Noise: Unwanted Sounds From Helmholtz To Hegarty", in which I find a new role for noise outside the negative dialectical structure in which it is normally confined. Then at 8pm I have a première of a composition that draws on my field reco(r)ding work and illustrates (perhaps) some of the ideas I have talked about.
Monday, July 16, 2012

For Those Who Wonder What I Do

Nihilist Spasm Band

Here's a typical Sunday for yours truly.
Sunday, July 15, 2012

Innovative Sound In Games: Superbrothers - Sword & Sworcery EP

Where does one start with a game entitled Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery EP? Well, maybe with the name itself, which references old favourites (Super Mario Bros) and so pays homage to eight-bit games. "Sword & Sworcery" is a silly riff on the game genre, preparing us to wander an environment gathering clues and slaying beasties in full-on heroic mode. And the addition of "EP"? Well, it's a short game, not long enough to be an LP, and is entwined so brambly to its soundtrack as to confuse expectation almost entirely.
Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Innovative Sound In Games: Limbo

I have recently been wanting to check out recent developments in games, particularly those with innovative sonics. Propitiously, a friend gifted me with the Humble Bundle V -- thanks Martin! This Bundle includes no fewer than seven independent games and four of their soundtracks. The innovative marketing includes a pay-what-you-can price structure. Unfortunately this Bundle is no longer available, but the games can be found as individual products.

Now this will be old news and terribly obvious to all of you hardcore gamers out there, but I discovered a couple of truly great experiences amongst these. And I use the word "experiences" advisedly, because to speak of these only as "games" is to force them into a label that no longer seems to fit. In fact it is only the gaming elements that could possibly be improved here; everything else is so much fun. In this article I'll discuss Limbo and in the next I'll turn to Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery EP (yes, that's what it is called).
Thursday, July 05, 2012

Architecture Of Ljubljana

building details
The centre of Ljubljana is full of quite lovely architecture, the oldest of which is commonly baroque in style. This is juxtaposed against the art nouveau look of the Vienna Secession. The immediate cause of this remodelling was the earthquake of 1895, which required the razing of some buildings and spurred the re-development of others. For example the open expanse which now houses the Ljubljana Central Market was previously a built up block. The period until 1910 saw the city shed its provincial past in a flurry of architectural development. And it's continued ever since.

Wednesday, July 04, 2012

Street Art Of Ljubljana

wolf / snaga

My trip to Slovenia proved to be a delight. Days I mostly walked around Ljubljana, getting a tan and building up repeated thirsts that were ably quenched by the local brew Laško. The locals deride it, likely out of familiarity, but it has a nice thirst-quenching bite and is not near as bland as possible alternatives (for example the other national beer, Union).

The city centre is beautiful, full of the most appealing architecture from several historical periods. So it surprised me that most every surface was covered with the most brutal of tagging, without a doubt the lowest form of graffiti. However, there is also occasional expertise in the street art, which is what this post is all about.
Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Two Poetry Announcements

I'd like to take this moment to make two related announcements.

First, I have for some weeks been a part of the committee of the Cuisle International Poetry Festival, the annual event that transforms Limerick into a Mecca for versification. Headed by City Arts Officer Sheila Deegan, the committee includes Aosdána member Ciaran O'Driscoll, noted poet Mark Whelan, and tireless arts supporter and educator Bertha McCullough. Each member has extensive experience in the area; I am proud to have been asked to join their esteemed company.
Sunday, May 27, 2012

Recent Compositional Work

photos from a sound walk

This article covers some recent recording and composition activities, with a diversion into working practice.

I have recently completed five new minute-long compositions, since by some coincidence two separate calls were asking for such. The most popular of these is the world-wide 60x60 project. I had a piece accepted in a previous year, and this time sent in compositions in two categories.
Sunday, May 27, 2012

Catching Up (notes on photos and backups)

red on grey horizontals

I have to apologise to those of you who follow me through this blog, since Facebook has proven a much easier way of regularly reporting on my happenings and sharing photos as they occur. I do realise that not everyone cares to join that particular social morass, though I find it has its uses. First, I have come into contact with many new creative folk (musicians, sound artists, and so on). Second, I have re-established relationships with friends from my past. And third, as mentioned, it's easy to share my newest Flickr posting or what have you.

I will continue to use this blog for more substantive posts, even if those are like the last article, a simple narrative based around some of my photographs. (But those who are interested can find my Facebook page through the link.)
Wednesday, May 09, 2012

Traditional Day at Millmount, Drogheda

While I was in Drogheda this past weekend to perform, I took the chance to have a good look around the town. The result is a rather large amount of photos, mostly of architectural details, disused buildings, and that sort of thing. But on a happier note I attended the Traditional Day at Millmount, which is a fortification on a domed hill, known locally as the cup and saucer. The site contains a museum, several craft studios, and the fort itself, open to the public.

priming The Bailey
The celebrations involved re-enactments and all sort of fun for the children, especially. Here's a short photo series based around the firing of the cannon which, thankfully for the town below, was loaded with black gunpowder and grass, but no cannonball. Still, it made an impressive sound, which was a challenge to capture without overloading the microphones on my digital recorder. Read on for photos and the sound recording. It's yours to download, and will sound better then than hearing it in streaming form.
Wednesday, May 02, 2012

"Perturbation" Available On Gruenrekorder Compilation

perturbation / metal pole / struck
Gruenrekorder is a German label that specialises in phonography, the art of field recordings. Some of their releases are (more or less) untouched documents of the sonic world around us, while others are transformed with various compositional processes. This is very much in line with my own approach, and so it was only a matter of time before we got together.

Somewhere On The Edge is a free digital download in MP3 or FLAC format. It includes no fewer than 47 artists, which will take more than a little while to listen through casually, let alone digest. Get the music in the format you wish here.
Monday, April 30, 2012

Sonic Abyss At Drogheda Arts Festival

The Drogheda Arts Festival is coming up, from the 3-7 May 2012. I'll be playing next Saturday, 5 May, during The Sonic Abyss, three sessions of live sound experimentation, from 11am-4pm. Drop in and drop out of the Barbican Centre during the day. Admission is free.

The complete line-up includes Harry Moore, The Quiet Club (Mick O'Shea & Danny McCarthy), Ed Devane, John Daly, Softday (Sean Taylor & Mikael Fernström), David Stalling & Anthony Kelly, Jesse Ronneau, and Cormac Crawley.
Sunday, April 29, 2012

My Winning Secret 7" Sleeve Design

rock / sea / sky / rain
Now it can all be revealed... Many weeks ago I found out I was one of the winners in a contest that was held for the Secret 7" project. But I had to hold my tongue until now; hard to do when I was jumping up and down in excitement!

The project started with Kevin King from Universal Records, who decided to choose seven pop acts and have them each release a limited edition of 100 singles on 7" vinyl. Each cover would be unique, created by a chosen range of popular designers, and also by unknown artists in the general public. To facilitate this, the social network site Talenthouse was used to host a Creative Invite.
Friday, April 27, 2012

The IKEA Cardboard Camera

The design group Teenage Engineering, led by Jesper Kouthoofd, has produced a cardboard digital camera for Swedish retailer IKEA. The KNÄPPA is assembled from one piece of cardboard folded around a single circuit board and the two AAA batteries. Simply fasten the sides together with two plastic screws and you're done.

A single button acts as both a power on/off switch and shutter button. Likewise the LED indicates the camera status: off (extinguished), ready (green), exposing (flashing green), memory full (flashing red), or battery low (red). The viewfinder is nothing more than a cut-out area of the cardboard. Photos are transferred to your computer using the built-in USB stick. To delete photos from the camera, simply stick a paper clip into a little hole!
Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Comparing Olympus PEN lenses: 40mm versus 38mm

PEN F lenses

Fascinated as I am by the cute little Olympus PEN digital cameras, I thought it was time to obtain one of the original film bodies. Thanks to a contact in Denmark, one arrived just today. Along with the camera came a 38mm f/1.8 lens, the standard glass included with a camera kit back in the day. The first thing I did was admire the camera itself (more on that in another article) and the second thing I did was try out the new lens. Since I already own and love the 40mm version, I was very interested in comparing the two.

Pictured above are the two lenses, an original lens cap, and the adapter that allows use on the digital range of PEN cameras. Read on for lens details and some pixel comparisons.
Thursday, April 12, 2012

Stolen Mirror CD Production

the finished product

I've been in production mode the last week, creating a batch of limited edition CDs for my publishing company Stolen Mirror. This has been more work than usual, since I am releasing not one, but two new titles in the next little while. So I've been busy making three different packages. No, actually four, since I have a promo-only compilation in hand as well. Whew!

My old printer recently shuffled off this mortal coil, so the first step was to try to locate a replacement that would allow direct-to-disk inkjet printing. But there was not one to be found anywhere in Ireland! It seems this feature is being phased out. But it's the core of the look I am after, since it is so much nicer than the silkscreen process used on commercial disks.
Sunday, April 01, 2012

The Great Spring Fly Hunt

Fly Hunt 1: licky, licky, I see a fly

This is just a fun post of grab shots I made when Schweppes was in full insect hunting mode. I didn't get any of her in full flight, unfortunately. But to her credit, I must point out that she scored two for two on the house fly count. They don't really stand a chance!

Titles are in the mouse-over text.
Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Olympus PEN Image Quality Test

Although all the Olympus PEN cameras use the same 12.3 megapixel sensor, incremental improvements to image quality have been made through the models over the last three years. In particular, a weaker anti-aliasing filter was introduced with the third model, the E-PL1, and maintained through subsequent iterations (E-PL2, E-PL3, E-PM1, E-P3). Here I will test the E-PL2 (released January 2011) against the E-P2 (released November 2009) in order to see if there is a discernible improvement in IQ.

I will provide the usual disclaimer that I am no equipment tester; I have no special gear, charts, calibration equipment, etc. Most of the time I simply take "normal" photos and see how they turn out. Every so often I resort to shots under more controlled situations, and that's what I will share with you today. Likely others have performed this same exercise before, but I like to prove things to myself!
Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Overview of the Olympus PEN Camera Range

E-PL2 (left) and E-P2 (right): front view

I've written previously about the handy Micro Four Thirds (MFT) format cameras, first in an Introduction and then a three part review of the Olympus E-P1 (Part One, Part Two, Part Three). In this article I'll answer the question "which Olympus PEN should I get?" by comparing the seven different models released since July 2009.
Monday, March 26, 2012

Advice To A Would-Be Wedding Photographer

Wedding of Robbie & Jen

I'm not much of an expert at event photography. I've shot a handful of family functions for close friends, a christening here, a wedding there. I'm simply not the sort of person who could do this for a living. Now that even the professionals are struggling to make ends meet, I wouldn't exactly recommend that it's a great time to leap into the wedding photog game.

But everyone has a camera and it's easy for that "anyone" to be asked to shoot a wedding. I see an awful lot of questions on photography fora that start the same way: "I'm shooting my friend's wedding for free and..." The problem is, that's the wrong place to start. The odds are stacked against you already and it's unlikely that a group of well-meaning internet strangers can help you.

Though it might sometimes make sense to volunteer your time for free, I think it's a big mistake at a wedding. Read on, and I'll explain.
Sunday, March 25, 2012

Garrykennedy Woods

trunk and vine

These photos are from the Mother's Day trip our family took out to the woods on Lough Derg. It's challenging to render botanical matter in an interesting way. It might look great to the eye, as one is enjoying a stroll. But it can be confusing and messy within a frame as the camera sees it. Here are four samples I think are successful. Two are in B&W and two are in colour, since I can never settle on one approach or the other.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

More on the Olympus VF-2 Viewfinder

Sennheiser and the living room

In my last article I introduced the VF-2, an electronic viewfinder for the Olympus PEN series of mirrorless cameras. It's the first EVF I've used for any length of time. Although I am still in early days, I want to take this post to share my initial opinions, and also write something about camera stabilisation.

Those who have compared, say that this is one of the best EVF units available. To avoid confusion, I should mention that the original VF-1 model is a simple optical framing device for a single lens, more a rangefinder accessory than anything else. The subsequent VF-3 model has lower resolution (920K instead of 1440K) and was introduced mainly to provide a less expensive choice. The Panasonic EVF, available for their line of MFT cameras, is also said to be of lesser quality.
Sunday, March 11, 2012

On the Vampiric Edge with the VF-2 Viewfinder


There are plenty of sites where technophiles post their experiences with the latest gadgets, advance copies of pre-production cameras and other adventures on the so-called "bleeding edge". And there are also those who harbour an almost fetishistic fascination with cameras from yesteryear, marvelling at how difficult it is to take photos with them, how much specific knowledge and practice is required to get them to perform to standard (and how superior they are once all that is accomplished).

I am sympathetic to both extremes, but find myself somewhere in the middle. I'm content to seek out the best deals in gear two or three years old, without sacrificing the convenience and functionality of recent technology. This is motivated not only by a desire for value for money, but also out of a distinct dislike for consumer culture that mandates the release of three (or six!) slightly different models a year. By buying slightly older units discarded by bleeding edge dudes, I do my small bit to help prevent electronic landfill. And save lots of money.

What's the opposite of "bleeding edge"? Perhaps the "vampiric edge", sucking the remaining life-blood out of something that would otherwise be discarded.
Thursday, March 08, 2012

Sublimation in Montréal

My short composition "2003 UB313" may now be heard at Oboro, Montréal, as part of the exhibit Sublimation: An Exercise in the Immersive. This collection of audio and video works was curated by Helen Frosi, of SoundFjord gallery in London; Yann Novak, sound and video artist based in Los Angeles; and France Jobin, sound artist from Montréal.

After a successful opening 3 March 2012, the exhibit runs through 7 April. Fluid Radio has a comprehensive article with links to video clips.

I wish I could say "see you there". But if you're in that part of the world, it looks like an unmissable show.
Wednesday, March 07, 2012

Website Reboot

Website Reboot 2012

Welcome to my 2012 website reboot! It is still the case that I have many different sites, but I've cleaned out the deadwood and kept 15 links on my hub. This is now nicely decorated with CSS, HTML, Javascript, and a soupcon of amoeboid protozoa.

Theatre of Noise still has pride of place, since this is where I post my activities across all areas of interest. I even post about my website changes, which flirts with recursion. This blog is an easy place for people to get updates, thanks to the handy RSS feed. My most vital activities are as a composer and performer, so Remanence is next, followed by the escalation 746 site since that too is oriented around music production. (I have a new remix to post soon.) Further on, I've chosen to highlight my Vimeo and Facebook pages, but haven't done the same for my many other social networking sites, since they are under-utilised.

Further update details follow, since this is the best place to remind myself of what I've done.
Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Wind On Moytura: Field Recording Praxis

Last week I found myself on the crest of the Moytura ridge, on the east side of Lough Arrow in County Sligo. It had been raining for hours, on and off, sometimes heavier, sometimes only light drizzle blown on steadily by a wind from the west. The ground was almost swampy in parts, so the twenty minute walk up-hill from the roadside had soaked my trousers six inches from the soles of my shoes. My hands were numb from setting up microphone stands, adjusting microphone positions, fiddling with digital recorder levels, and listening, always listening, to the sound of the wind on everything it touched.
Wednesday, February 08, 2012

Days On End Festival this weekend

TACTIC drone marathon

I'll be in Cork again this weekend for the Days On End Festival, a new venture that brings experimental music, fun social interaction and a rather chaotic aesthetic to the city. I think it's going to be fantastic!
Saturday, February 04, 2012

Can Gear Reviews Preserve A Critical Function?

Every time I post a tech article on this blog I wonder whether this is really the place. But then I get so many positive comments back that I feel justified. The hitch for me is that any article about some new piece of gear is at risk of promoting hardware over wetware.

Consider my popular threads on small digital recorders. I get a lot of hits from these, though I'm not selling anything so these only boost the ego. I am happy to point out to you, my readers, which recorders are better value for the money since I want to reward good design, good engineering, attention to detail, and responsiveness to the needs of picky users -- and not just gadget freaks. I have had manufacturers write me and others post comments, so I know some are reading and, hopefully, taking note. So that's some sort of justification.
Wednesday, February 01, 2012

Dorothea Tanning: 1910-2012

"A long time ago I said that I want to seduce by means of imperceptible passages from one reality to another. The viewer is caught in a net from which there is no escape save by going through the whole picture until he comes to the exit. My wish: to make a trap (picture) with no exit at all either for you or for me."
–- Between Lives, 2001
Monday, January 30, 2012

Cage Day In Cork

Katie O'Looney, special guest of The Quiet Club

I just had a great weekend down in Cork shooting the Cage Day celebrations, orchestrated by John Godfrey, director of the Quiet Music Ensemble. There were three events in total. What follow are shots from the first of these, "Inlets" at the Glucksman Gallery, on University College Cork, 27 January 2012. The four members of the QME teamed up with the similarly named Quiet Club (Danny McCarthy and Mick O'Shea), their numbers further augmented by guests Katie O'Looney and Derek Foott.
Saturday, January 07, 2012

Tank Performance In Cork


Now this is a great way to kick off the year! I will be performing with Ed Devane, John Daly, Harry Moore and Mick O'Shea at Triskel Christchurch, that hub of artistic activities in downtown Cork.

Join us at the entirely civilised time of 2pm, 14 January 2012. Even if you need a coach back out of the city, you will still have time for a pint with us afterwards.
Friday, January 06, 2012

Record Sleeves Designed For Charity Competition

The Cure - Friday I'm In Love

This is a single cover for a design contest TalentHouse is organising for the Teenage Cancer Trust. Secret 7" involves inviting regular folk like myself to show off their artwork. A number of winning entries will be exhibited and one cover chosen to house the actual record on release. There are seven participating bands. I ended up making covers for four of them. (What can I say -- not all were equally inspiring.)

Vote for each entry by clicking on the link I provide, which will take you to the corresponding page at TalentHouse. Then click the "Support Robin" button. It costs nothing and helps me out!

Vote for my take on The Cure's classic "Friday I'm In Love"
here. I tried to evoke a nice sunny, but at the same time nostalgic, feeling.